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Freitag, 7. Oktober 2016

Santoku Bushcraft - and some thoughts on utility

 Why is it that I keep constantly checking on reality? ;-) This is a knife I started some time ago and finally found my resolve to complete. I have worked with some pretty strange steels to date and have followed pretty weird concepts that were more art than artefact-not that they do not work, mind you. Máandevos is as good as they come and rides in my pocket constantly. It has abnormal edge holding capacity, and I also use it to remove grates from other knives, which actually made some jaws drop... ;-)....


This is but a study for a prototype. As you well know, I keep experimenting with shape, grind, tempering and fiddle with handle designs to achieve a refinement so that I can one day make a knife that has "the" feel. I have heard that Santoku shape is all the rage at the moment with "tactical" and Bushcraft users and I wanted to find out, so I made one with my trademark Fimbulmyrk handle. I hot-punched the tang and messed up a bit, but this one was just for testers anyway. I took some high-carbon spring steel, nothing fancy, roundabout 0,6-075% carbon, some silicium and maybe some tiny amount of chromium and manganese in it, a steel that most modern-day-knifemakers would not spare a second thought about.
 Spine thickness is 4-1.5 mm, tapering, and the tang tapers, too, albeit not that much. Length is a legal 12 cm. You do not actually need anything longer for everyday camp chores apart from chopping, but I find this length helpful in batoning and even cutting bread. Ever tried to cut a loaf of bread with a 60mm - blade? Then you know what I mean... the same goes for cheese and stuff, so I used up all the length the law had to offer. It´s not that you are not allowed to own anything longer, but you have to have a legal reason to carry it in public, and since I do not want to rely on rights of reason anymore, I tend to play safe. And if you mate it with a small campsite hatchet, you got everything you need for the most of occasions.

The blade is tempered using a three-step-process, with a soft spine, and has a high convex bevel, as is almost customary for me. I find when you do it right, a high convex bevel offers the best compromise between cutting prowess and edge stability. You do not want a hatchet grind, though... it is crucial that the edge has an angle of 15-40°. In this case it has some 20-25°, good and durable still but also cutting well enough.
 I fitted some birchwood burr scales on it, fitted with mosaic pins and a brass tube for a lanyard hole.
 The balance point to date is slightly back of the index finger, but I have to finish the wood still, so that will move slightly more forward. It handles quite dexterous.
And this is the culprit: Having tested and worked it some I can say one thing. The knife certainly is nothing fancy what concerns the materials and is certainly not a work of art. But I can safely say that it will take a lot of abuse and comes back for more. It chops deer antler and carves mild steel rods, and who could ask for more? It even whittles well, can be batoned through knotted hardwood and makes short terms of dicing onions and slicing up tomatoes being held by just two fingers. After all this, it still carved curves in free-hanging printer´s paper. It is a knife that works. On the one hand I am glad that making knives like this costs me less and less effort, so that implies I am on a good path. And while I like making concept knives, sometimes you have to check on your progress and on the sense in what you do. This knife will be a companion you can rely on. Everytime, everywhere. And isn´t this what a knife should do in the first place?

Making art knives is a kind of fetish thing. You tell stories, and that is okay in a world that is devoid of stories, and if storytelling is your fetish... yap, there you go. But you always have to keep in mind that your knives still have to work. They have to be a companion and a tool, and they have to be reliable. Nothing more, nothing less.

I hope I can manage the crossover between both worlds.

Mittwoch, 28. September 2016

Ram´s head wall hanger

 This is a project I forged during the International Hobbit Days event@ahlhauser Hammer from 22nd to 24th of September for Danuta. Nay beautiful, but rare.;-)
 The hanger´s made from mild steel... and I forged two of them over the days...
I found it quite inspiring... and I daresay I´ll make more along the lines.

Dienstag, 20. September 2016

Roasting spit for a pig

A roasting spit from mild steel I made for the upcoming hobbit day celebration@Ahlhauser Hammer. The handle is a leaf crank....

Was a bit on the clumsy side of dexterous when forging, but all in all, it was fun and refreshing to make.

Semi-integral Jagdnicker (German hunting knife)

 Another bar of steel I found in the woods, a piece of roe deer antler I found in the woods... a knife...
 The steel shows a subtle pattern even after initial etching without a polish. The blade  is selectively tempered with a high convex bevel, 120x 3mm.

The integral is forged 100% with no filing just to show I can ;-).

Yap, I like it. It´s mine... ;-)

Leaf handled blacksmith´s knife

 I must admit I am a bit proud of this... it has been some time since I last had the opportunity to actually forge more complex things, so I was quite enthused to get at it again.
 This is a leaf-handled knife apparently, from spring steel. The leaf structure is hammered out. The knife measures in at a handy 85x3mm. It has seen less than 1 % stock removal and is selectively tempered.
 I did a countertorsion on the handle to add some swing to it.
 The blade has a handy thickness that makes it feel quite dexterous. I have to redo the grind a bit, but then it´ll be good to go.
I am planning a more complex adaptation of the topic with a bit more spice in the steel construction... I will keep this one, though... ;-)

New hadseax for Tina

 This is a knife I made for a friend of the magic troll´s and me, a reenactor of Celtic culture and aspiring Viking ;-). The seax is made from steel I found in the woods, and which is apparently crucible Damascus.
 The handle is reindeer antler and birchwood burr.
 I carved a little dragon knotwork in...
 ...and fitted a raw garnet in the butt cap...
 The knife is rather thin and cuts very good. It´s roundabout 85x3mm long and thick with a high, almost flat convex bevel which should serve her well when carving, preparing food and other chores.
I just hope she likes it... I had to rush it some and I am not that content as always... but I guess she will...

Mittwoch, 14. September 2016

New tripod

 This is a collaboration in our smithy... a new tripod for outdoor cooking and our re-enactment camp. Thomas Dicker from, my favourite bushcraft and outdoor gear shop told me of thios idea. You got two poles with loops and one with a spiral.
 This makes it versatile and easy to carry: You can use it as a tripod or as two poles with the third one as a spit or a gallows for a long fire. Henning forged one of the loops and the big hook, I made the other and the spiral. Daniel and Nick also wanted to add some personal flavour and tried their best at two more hooks.
This is cool: We will sit around the cooking fire and join in the meal with equipment we all contributed to. Folks, I really like you! ;-)

Knives from way back then

We recently had a chat amongst us about progression and scrolls... and I thought about how I started. Sometimes it´s important to get back to do a reality check. These knives I forged in 1998 with a dirt forge, and an old sledge as anvil from crap steel. The knife below is, apart from the lousy scroll quite good. It´s made from file steel with a bainite temper (an ancient urine concoction recipe), with a very thin and slicey blade. Might be I´ll hacksaw the scroll away and fit another handle, but as is, it is a document of those days... The topmost knife is made from spring steel I found in the woods and simply pounded it into shape any which way ;-). The handle was made from stag antler and did crack, but I simply filled the cracks with glue. But it cuts and has seen quite some heavy use... not good, for sure, but still... it worked.

Progress is important. But to achieve a sensible progress, you have to at first realize where you are standing, and you have to admit where your flaws are. And there are times when "it works for me" simply is not enough.  I realized those scrolls were lousy, so I practiced and asked senior blacksmiths the how-dos. Before tempering, I did a lot of studying and experimenting. So I certainly did not do a perfect job in ´em days, but I learned to do it intuitively- and to get it right eventually. I cracked a lot of blades, but I did not give up.

I owe these times a lot, and I miss them. I could forge whenever I wanted to, and forging I did, with the flames soaring up to a winter starlit sky, or while having a beer with buddies in summer. Those times were certainly in one aspect more difficult, for I did not have the experience nor the equipment and messed up a lot... but on the other hand, they were more fun. And they have not only made me the smith I am, but also the person I am. Looking back, those times look like a fairy tale told to me about some mythical character... but it was me. We all are a story, and I am fully aware of this... but sometimes it gets more clear.

Tomahawk for fun ;-)

On the bench... with a lousy pic by my old camera... a tomahawk I made for fun throwing. The head is spring steel, haft is yew....

A hike to Krenzer Hammer Schmiedefest (blacksmithing fair) 2016

It was that time of year again, and I had some time for a change. The fair at Krenzer Hammer ironforge, another historical smithy in the Ennepetal, which is still producing most excellent blacksmithing tools, with an own lineup and for Ridgid and Peddinghaus. Look here for more info:

When I got up, however, I was not overly fond of meeting up with a bunch of people, so I was being late for the rendezvous with Nick and Natalie, Willy´s daughter. No harm done at all, I thought, and went for the bimble solitarily...
The woods were vibrant with light, and a heavy peace was enshrouding the atmosphere, heavy with the perfumes of late summer, and the faint singing of the birds filled my heart with the oh so needed peace.
By the trailside there was an old beam from a railroad track, and I found these old clamps, which were in use pre-1950, so it can be quite probable that this is something high-carbonish... ;-)
The trails were enchanted with dazzling light. Most interesting are the remnants of the old iron mines that are barely visible to a neckid eye...
Like this, see? ;-) those ditches and dents and small heaps of stone hint of a very long mining history.
The entrance to one of the old mines. Now they are a habitat for bats and small nocturnal animals.

I really took in the solitude and silence and the vibrant colours of the woods.
Through the thicket I went...
...and on one of the main trails I met with Natalie, Jonas and Nick. It was a jolly meeting, and we had some good-natured chats and traded some weirdo jokes, and Jonas got himself some spalted oak for knife handles.
Then we arrived at the fair, where there was a lot of crafts going on. Julia and Kathrin went there by bike and were already attending tutorials in flute - making.
I had a chat with this lady who gave me some valuable insight on the making of glass - beads.
Woodwork on display...

Rolf was there doing some leatherworking tutorials for kids...
...and Meinhard, who is now going semi-professional with his knifemaking. He had a lot of goodies on display!
I especially liked those wharncliffe designs he made from old sawblades...
But also this big Damascus hunting knife.
Meinhard and Rolf are absolutely obsessed with knives and knifemaking, and they are nice guys to boot! Here Meinhard shows off one of the big choppers Rolf is making from a new kind of steel with an abnormous degree of edge resistance...
Rolf is also doing some restoring work onb those old and beloved grandpa´s knives: Old and new! he does a very great job and yap, while I have an altogether different approach to knifemaking I daresay I can learn a lot from him still.
The big choppers. Rolf is full-on sole-author and makes the sheaths himself.
Also some more handy knives, by the way... a German Jagdnicker design.
...licce skinner... with ivory scales (with CITES).
One heck of a cool hatchet!
This is Rolf´s maker´s mark in copper. He also does them in tin and silver.
More to my liking is this more neo-retro design... forged from an old file.
and a neck knife design...
Thern we met up with JUlia, Nick and Natalie... and had a chat of sorts, but soon split up again to browse the aisles.
...back to Rolf´s and meinhard´s, that is... ;-)

Rolf did a lot of tech talk and tutoring and provided customers not only with the goodies to start knifemaking but also with a lot of info on it. My respect goes to him for that!

All in all, it was some nice day to boot. I got myself a new forging hammer and a lot of inspiration.

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