Montag, 16. Mai 2011

Study of a real tribal design - Syrian Kurdish dagger with (supposedly) a Wootz blade!!!

 On Sunday, I got this dagger from Khalil, and thought I´d share it with you;-). It has a mild curve to the blade, the two edges are symetrically ground in a somewhat conical shape. The edges are purposefully blunted to be sold legally on a flea market, but not much. There are two fullers hand - carved into the blade. The handle is made from Coral, emaille, buffalo horn and brass into a rooster´s shape. The sheath is handmade from thin hardwood and copper. The copper is meticulously hammered into shape and then brazed.

 The rooster´s comb is made from red Coral. The handle shows some worm "corrosion", but no deep cracks and can easily be restored.
 The backside of the sheath features two loop hangers for a suspending chain. The sheath is made to be carried behind a belt or sash.
 This is an engraving (upside down) showing its origin in the Arabian language. I will provide you with news on this knife I want to to some research on!
 The well - preserved blade. I have a suspicion it might be Wootz steel, because I mildly etched it and it showed some strange "milky way"pattern.Cannot tell for sure, for I did not clean nor polish it first! A Mora knife cannot carve its edges, and a file has absolutely no effect either, but some tiny parts are softer than others. Those parts are too small to be due to bad tempering of spring steel or the like. I am not at all sorry about that!;-) And even if it´s spring steel, it´s a great knife! The bolster is bronze with a high copper content with a red patina.
The engraving on the sheath. I like this a lot, and I want to have a try at a metal sheath, too.

This knife cost me 18€.

70.Schwelmer Trödelmarkt - BIG flea market event I helped to organize

 I´d thought I´d share some pics of the Schwelmer Trödelmarkt, the biggest and most atmospheric flea market in the region, which took place on May, 15th. I work for the corporation that organizes the event, amongst many, many other projects of city development and management, of business consulting and political networking. The flea market takes place in the entire city of Schwelm, two times a year, and attracts up to 80 000 visitors per time. New goods are strictly forbidden, and we actually control it many times a day. It´s always some kind of burning man atmosphere, for we try to keep the necessary rules and resulting fees to a minimum. The market lives on the party atmosphere of traders and visitors alike. 
Many of them camp there in the city for two days, and there is bartering around the clock.
 The weather was not so fine, but there were all kinds of people, and all in all they all were relaxed and friendly. We just had one asshole molesting children in a very disturbing way, so we got there with police enforcement and took care of him. I would have liked to take care of that old conker in another way, but they would not let me;-) and I had other tasks to do!
 On one particularily interesting booth I saw this fine ancient navigation kit, compass, magnifying glass and telescope!
 That booth resplendent with buddhistic symbols and ethnic art all over the place, of ancient artifacts, old handforged nails and fittings and a load of old rusty files. have enough steel lying around, so I kept clear this time;-).
 Another booth with fine art and artifacts and tools!
This is the booth of Khalil, a Syrian Curd selling ancient coins and artifacts. We always talk a bit when we meet on the market or other markets. He is aware of his culture and loves it, and he respects my culture. I , in turn, am interested in his;-). So we respect each other. I learned from him, and he learned from me. Obviously, he wants to betray me;-) but that´s simply part of that game, and I will not be betrayed. We always barter and in the process start yelling at each other and then get a fit of laughter and have a coffee.


I got myself-oh, what will it be... an artifact to be announced;-), from Khalil, and we both were very happy with the trade;-).

It was a long day of working, but an even longer one for my coworker. It was the tenth flea market event in Schwelm for her in a five year´s row, and she always works at least 24 h non-stop in the process. I want to express my respect for that. We might not be agreed all of the time, and often times she could kill me ( and me her;-)). But we work together nonetheless. I worked for 13 h non -stop, and then rode home some 20 km. I was all finished, but I now have a day off. My coworkerhas not. Hats off for her!

Study and (mild;-)) review of a Janos Madaras Hungarian hunting knife

 This one is one of the highlights in my collection, and I like it quite a lot. It´s a blade made by Janos Madaras, 95 mm long and 440 C. It has a perfect, razor-like hollow grind that is so elastic, it shows a continuous wave when drawn over a testing steel rod, yet works to carve the same steel. It has an integral bolster, the rivets and the washers are handmade. The washers are  nickel silver, the rivets bronze. The baroque engraving is hand made by the maker, as is the sheath from thick, naturally tanned and formed leather.
 Akanthus engraving and hollow grind detail.
 The blade gets continuously thinner to the tip, a hint to being hand - forged (which it is). The scales from stag antler are hand-fitted with not so much as 1 / 10  mm tolerance.
 The hollow grind to nearly zero, and the bolster part. The only thing not so precise is the small leftover part from the blade´s ricasso on the bolster.
The hollow grind ground absolutely symmetrically.

So, I normally test my knives to the max. With this knife I am somewhat reluctant. I love its beauty, and the extreme cutting prowess. I even used it to shave my facial hair, for it has all the properties a good razor has, too! It cuts onion slices so thin you can see your dinner dated girlfriend through... can´t see why noone wants to date me...hmpf;-).

Dienstag, 10. Mai 2011

At the Smithy again: Viktor´s new steel rod breaking tool

 On Saturday I rode to the Muttental again to meet with Volker, help out a bit and have a chat and some forging. There was little traffic, so not much to do. Viktor was there, and I had the privilege to talk to him and help him out a bit. I have a deep respect for him, not only for his ability to forge wonders, but for his view on life and death. I had not said much, and we sat there on a stump, and all of a sudden he lay his hand upon my shoulder and said in his broken German: You must not be afraid. Look, that tree. I cut it recently. Mankind´s the same. If we are left alone, we strive and combat and cannot be modest. Then the boss (as he called him;-)) comes with some scissors, and cuts us to size. War is not to be feared, but survived. The only thing you must do is survive, and then, "bitteschön" it´s peace again. Some 20, 30, 40, 50years, and then it´s war again. It´s always been this way. You must not fight, but live in that manner, then you need not fight. They call it "Systema", but it´s all rubbish. They talk and talk. But you must do! Simply do, and just survive, You can do that, I believe.

I had not said a word about my fears, must I mention that? Then he jumped up, said: Your bike is dirty. You must not ride a dirty bike! I answered: I rode through the woods, it got dusty, and will again on the way home. He grinned and started to wash it. I could not stand that, and did it myself. Then he looked at me and said: Did you understand?

I did. And will not ride a "dirty bike" anymore. Nor a "dirty train", as I have stopped early in my life. Viktor is a very rare man indeed. He appears a bit over the edge sometimes, he drinks too much, as many Russians do, but he has every right to get any respect I owe him. He knows to make EVERYTHING himself, from tools to Vodka to perfume, to medicine. He cut out and treated his maligne melanome he discovered one day himself. In Kazakhstan he pulled out teeth, as was the custom that blacksmiths did, too. He healed horses and people alike, what we call "bushcraft" is a commonplace to him. Making damascus: Just take some springsteel, forge it out, put a file in, weld it with new steel a thousand times, and then "bitteschön" you got some quality blade... He´s a farmer, a hunter, a fisherman, oh yes, and a major in the Russian army, and I heard he had something to do with the Speznaz, too. I will not ask him directly, for the Afghanistan war has hurt him and traumatized a lot. He taught me to make cancer soup and what herbs fit best and what you can do when no pot´s available. All this in some two hours time!

We talked about harvesting strawberries, about mowing the lane, about forging, woodworking, about philosophy and literature, about blades and tools and making coffee.

This is a steel rod breaking tool Viktor made. It´s basically a tempered plate with holes for the rod drilled through, and a strong lever with a tempered insert. Works like a cinch;-). The plate is to judge the length.

 That´s the knife Volker started. he messed up a little, so I helped him out and made this Viking style tang for him, quenched and tempered it and did the grind.
 Oh, and what might be hidden in the flames;-).
This En-Nep-style blade out of spring steel...

It´s always a wonder what people I meet at that smithy. It´s a place deeply connected with my life, deeply rooted in my heart, not only because of the opportunity of forging there, but for the people. I am very grateful for that.

Two sensible EDC knives;-)

 When I go to work and prepare for a stroll after that, and can´t take my entire equipment with me, nonetheless I like to be prepared, so I have my EDC survival box(es) in my jacket or vest, and these two knives get to rest in my pocket. The EKA hunter because it has a great blade for carving and bushcraft, and I trust it nearly as much as my fixed blades, it´s a solidly feeling knife. The blade is made out of 12C27 and tempered to some 58 HRC, quite high for that steel, but since it did not fail me, I will not complain.;-) The Victorinox locksmith has taken me out of so many challenges when working, that I can´t leave it at home, when I can´t bring my multitool. File, saw, blade, cap lifter, can opener, Philips head and flat screwdriver and awl, plus pincers and a toothpick I have never used for cleaning my teeth, but to clean the other knife;-), the pincers to remove legions of ticks, all make for a versatile and light package. The blade could be better, but it could easily be worse;-).

YABR-Cheese bannock

 I almost exclusively feed on bannock and herbs and veggies from the woods these days. It´s cheap, versatile and feeds you, and I even feel healthier this way. For this one I took:

7 tablespoons oat meal
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon dried hederacea glechoma
2 finely chopped leaves wild garlic
1 half finely chopped onion
pepper to your liking
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon nutmeg
1 knifetip salt
water for a thin dough
6 slices of your favourite cheese;-), mine was gouda;-)
Vegetable oil for frying

heat the pan, add the oil, heat till sizzling temp. Pour in the dough, turn down the temp to milder heat. wait until  the surface shows some bubbles, put the slices of cheese on. Pour some more fresh dough on top. Wait until the surface is dry, flip over. Bake it golden brown. The dough gives out to two big cakes and a little something to my experience.

Afiyet olsún! ;-)

Reprofiled an old blade

This knife you might be familiar with. It has a blade out of the St. Jakobus pilgrim´s trail that runs near my home. The trail is virtually made out of steel, because the woods belonged to some Funcke corporation specializing in making saws, spades, picks and shovels between the big wars. They used their crap metal to fill up the trails. I found some steel that might be something with a carbon content like silver steel, but with a very strange spark image, with dark red, articulated specks amongst the bright ones with articulated star sparks at the end. Took that, forge welded it to a file I found there, too, et voilá. The ferrules are copper, the handle is Caucasian walnut root. It measures in at 87 mm for the blade, with a rather thick spine of 6 mm. I reprofiled it to a Scandi grind and to fit in a Scandi sheath. Since the pattern does not show so brightly anyway, I decided not to etch it. It now cuts wood like mad. Thin slices of salami, that´s another story, though;-). But the, who wants thin slices of salami?;-)

Over old hills and far away: Historical Ennepetal iron trail

 Two weeks ago I set out to do the Ennepetal hike. The trail follows the lines of the Ennepetal valley, with the river, the Ennepe flowing in a somewhat deep crevice in the landscape, the valley. I like this valley, for it has dark woods and some dramatic scenery and little abundance of people;-). The valley itself is embedded in limestone rock landscape and has a history of iron mining, a regional variation of crop rotational farming (Haubergswirtschaft) for charcoaling, charcoaling and blacksmithing. You can still find slag heaps from the medieval ages in those woods, charcoaling sites, and even the flora of those woods is deeply influenced by the "Haubergswirtschaft", which meant that hardwoods for charcoaling were planted one year.
 As they grew, the woods were used to feed pigs and smaller lifestock (sheep, goats and the like), but also cattle on the underbrush vegetation. When they had reached stock height, the trees were cut, but only so that they would drive out again. Around the stumps, wheat or oat were sown, and the crops were harvested. The hardwood was used primarily for charcoaling, but also for fences, building timber and many other purposes. As the trees drove out again, it was animal farming again. The vegetation is still influenced by this crop rotational system. Mainly red beech, common oak and other hardwoods are to be found, the underbrush consisting of blueberry, blackberry, raspberry and heather, plus multiple sorts of grasses.
Of primary interest for the forager is that there are also many, many edible herbs along the way;-). That´s a butterfly, all yellow with black dots I could not make out which one it was;-).
 This is a cliff where some wild rock carvings are to be found. Yap, that, in principle, qualifies as vandalism, but most of them are extremely well made.
 A triton carving.
 That is a charcoal kiln commonly in use throughout those woods for ages up to the 20th century! In a central fire funnel out of big timbers a straw and light wood (needle wood) fire was lit. timbers were erected around this central funnel, with some tiny air channels left on the ground. Then it was covered with earth and clods of grassy soil to achieve a reducing atmosphere. One of these babies burned for about ten days. The coaler lived beside it in a coaler´s hut out of branches, birchbark and leaves, their quality ranging from mere shelters to solidly built cabins, depending on the site.
 Found some lady´s mantle (alchemilla vulgaris, in German: Frauenmantel) and took it home for tea and salad. It can be used in wound antiseption, against head- and stomach aches, menstrual problems, cramps. It was used as a magical implement, too, but I could not make out for what;-), when in doubt, take it against witches. Almost everything is against witches;-).
 And that´s some root on display. Some strange people with long hair live in a house in the neighbourhood, making fire, cropping herbs, building laavus and a sauna, and using knives in public... saw a car with a Finnish numberplate on the parking lot, a battered old camper with peace symbols on;-). Witches, if you ask me;-).
 That´s how the trail stays for kilometres on end. Love that. Love to ride it by bike, too! This one is near the Krenzer Hammer, a smithy in the Ennepetal still making tools aftter ancient patterns.
 Oh, and an assembly of goose on the way home. Found it sort of funny, how they stare in one direction. What´s missing in my opinion is a black one staring to the opposite direction;-).
I went home on foot, this is the trail leading through the hills towards my home. As usual, I was quite exhausted, but with a bag full of treasures (found the lawnmower, the herbs and loads of impressions).

Mittwoch, 4. Mai 2011

Wild garlic paste

I took three handfuls of wild garlic, together with two handfuls of Parmesan hard cheese, milled it through, added some basil and oregano, stirred with peanut oil and basil vinegar to make this "pesto" from it. Delicious on fresh rye bread, and with cheese!

Works with jack-by-the hedge, too, but I prefer wild garlic.

YABR-Yet another bannock recipe;-)

Damn it, photo´s crap, but it´s as good as you´ll get, so don´t grumble;-). I took:

7 tablespoons oatmeal
1/2 tablespoon baking flour
3 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons almond splits
1 coarsely chopped apple
1 knifetip salt
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardomom
1 teaspoon nutmeg
water to make a thin dough
vegetable oil for frying

I mixed it all to a thin dough, thin enough to pour, all the while heating the frying oil in a small pan to sizzling temperature. Then I turned down the heat, waited for half a minute and poured the dough in. Baked it golden brown from both sides. The dough gave three thick bannock cakes, great for a long, long hike!

I love bannock a lot. It´s cheap, it´s nourishing and it tastes great to boot!

My saddest knife:-(

This is the saddest knife I made, still not mounted after all these years. I just could not stand working on it, because it hurt. Call me a sentimental old fart, but that´s how it is. I forged this one on the very last night in the garden of my old home. It was the darkest night of the year, two days before Chrismas. All our possessings except the forge and shop were already moved, and yes, they drove us out at that time of year... It was cold, and snow fell on my way through the woods (Went there by walking). When I reached the shop, it stopped, and the stars came out. I lit the forge in the darkness, using charcoal I had made myself in the garden. I forged this one with the dirt forge from an old cold chisel. At first, I wanted to make an Athamen, but I let it cool in the ashes. I had some beers too much beside the dying embers, while a piece of my heart died with them. I just sat there, and I knew I would never again be able to be there. Yap, I cried my fill, but the cold, cold stars were there to soothe my searing wound that was to become my heart. Frost came, and it went colder still, and I made for the long and lonely walk home. The blade I left in the dying embers to anneal and for the stars to shine upon it. But another smith came to forge it, and his hammer was older, colder and mightier than mine; frost bit a crack along the middle of that would- be Athamen. I have not yet quite understood the story that this tells, but I want to understand it. I ground one half away in Matthias Zwissler´s smithy, who was so kind to teach me and let me do it. There now is just a tiny hairline crack along the integral side, but runs away from the blade, so I will use it. The wood for the handle lies beside it, and it´s a part from an old rotten 98 K Wehrmachts carbine I found in the lake when the dam was to be repaired. Noone wanted it, so it´s still at my mother´s. It lay forsaken for sixty years, deep in the water. It is a part of a weapon thrown away because peace made its violent way. I like to see it this way. You can see it otherwise, but still there are sixty years of lying submerged in the water, beneath the trees, the wind in the leaves. I see it as a gift of the power I worship, which has so many names and still no name that comes close to it. I will make a bronze buttcap to counterweight the dark walnut wood, and I forged a dragonhead to top it off. But I still have to take my time.

Progress on the little integral...

So, this is the integral I started in the smithy at the Industriemuseum Ennepetal. The bronze finish has worn off, unfortunately, but it now has a scandi grind. The blade is silver steel. The surface is ball-peened to a reptile-skin-structure (or the like;-)).

I am about to decide, what handle it will get. I am thinking of elk antler, reindeer crown with a carving, oak, birchwood burl or pepperwood (Corse juniper) burl... maybe bronze ferrule and cap... I am still thinking, as I said. ;-)

Lawnmower: Dead!;-)

 Went for a stroll along the historical Ennepetal trail, and what did I find? This historical electric lawnmower, all dead;-). Did harm to it with my multitool and took:

-The blade for blades,
-the wheels for building a belt grinder
-the handle for a pipe tuyere or something else

The chassis I will fetch another time for building a forge or something like that;-).

Luckily noone hastens to take crap from out of the woods, so it will remain there for the next 50 years, if I don´t fetch it.

What hatchet? One of the many reasons I still forge;-)

 That´s one of the many reasons why I, despite all the great Moras of this world, still forge. Had an idea. Made for the fire, took the hammer, and did it. Did not work out the way I wanted (closed the tang somewhat sloppy and forgot to straighten it again, so I´ll do it again. Have to practice this design, however, for I am doing a tutorial with some soldiers of reserve soon...;-).

That´s a bush knife inspired by Tai Goo and Todd from primitivepoint (edit: and Perkunas from perkelesblog). Made from heebie-jeebie-goobalaba tank bearing steel;-). Oh wait, it´s unobtainium;-).... anyway, it´s magic metal....;-) the fairies gave to me, no, really!;-). I made it a legal carry, 11,5 cm long, with less than 1 % stock removal. It´s a fierce chopper, but due to the thinner blade, with just a ridge forged to the spine for stiffness, it actually works quite well for finer tasks. I haven´t tested it to the max yet, but it´s fast and nimble with the balance point on the finger groove. I chopped a spruce board with ease for a start, but we´ll see. When I´m in the mood, I am very fond of these knives. No handle to come loose, no frills to think about, just a piece of versatile metal.

Will make no po´man´s sheath, though;-), but one from leather, maybe with Molle straps or so... we´ll see...

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