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Samstag, 4. Juni 2011

How do you spell catastrophe-how the knife of Mr. Rothenberg was born...

 Last week I had my first forging tutorial on schedule. Mr. Rothenberg came around to forge his first custom knife. We agreed on file steel, and a wooden handle made to fit his hand. At first he wanted a "groot" upswept skinner point, but we discussed it and agreed on a drop point for its versatility. We started at 10 a m, and did fairly well. Then something extremely weird happened. I had the file steel precisely at forging temperature, when my student hit it with a hammer, and it just exploded as if we drove Borax out of a damascus! This was just the first of many events soon to follow. It started to rain, but no harm done. Thunder groaned above, and lightning flashed. Still no harm done, I love that. I find it adds scenery;-). Finished forging
just before lunchtime. I wanted to do a bronze bolster. heated the bronze, quenched it to be able to cold-work it with a chisel, all business as usual, eh? Not. Seems it was powdermetallurgic bronze from a bearing. It went all boom and lay there in shards.Even the drilling machine with a HSS cobalt drill fitted would not drill it. So I called it a day, told my student it was things going all off the path and offered to forge a scroll for a bolster. So far, so good. So WHAT? Made it, first one broke. Second one: Broke. Third one, worked. Made a steel plate to rivet the tang against, and fitted the handle (some aged oak from the beams of my old home). We did a quick burning fit. Then I quenched and heat - treated the blade. During the process, it was raining hard, lightning flashed, and the thunder groaned overhead. Hard to refrain from growling "Thor!", I can tell you...;-) I heat treated it higher than normal and longer to make for more elasticity, for it should be a backwoods knife.

Then we tested the blade. I let it fall, tip first, on a concrete floor. Carved annealed steel and spring steel with it. Everything fine. Slammed it, broad side up, across a round piece of wood. Did the same on the anvil. Everything fine. It was only just when I tried to slam it into a round piece of mild steel rod, that the tip fell off.

So I sent Mr. Rothenberg  to lunch, for I guaranteed him a serviceable blade after the workshop. While he was eating, I forged the blade anew after the outlines of the old one and made the fittings and handle to ... er ... fit?;-). When he returned, I heat treated the blade even more conservatively. After an even more severe test, we mounted the handle with dual compound glue, and filed it with a rasp and file to fit his hand, doing it nice and slow.

I sincerely apologized for all the mess, but sometimes it´s the thrill of solving the problems that make out the character of a work. We still have to put a razor edge to it, and will do it in "my other museum";-) with a belt grinder. As is, it cuts, but not too well. Mr. Rothenberg liked it nonetheless, which I am very glad of! It was fun to work with him, even if many things (he were not responsible for) were not ideal at all.

I learned a lot on this afternoon. First and foremostly, I will not offer to make a complete knife on one day, except viking style scroll knifes, bush knives or other all - metal designs. I will prepare some stock to simplify the process. And I´ll call it a day when it starts to rain cats and dogs and dinosaurs...;-).


  1. Some days just take a direction all their own!

  2. Yes, they do, and I guess that life´s always this way...chaotic, and you have to always be flexible to react.

  3. Whew! Well, it will burn the day long into Mr. Rothenberg's memory, and hopefully it will be a good memory. He'll definitely have a story to tell...

  4. I hope so, either!;-) And I hope that knife will last him and help him in the woods. That was the reason I did all this brutality to the blade;-)!


Now go on, discuss and rant and push my ego;-). As long as it´s a respectful message, every comment is welcome!

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