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Donnerstag, 29. November 2012

Looking for a dress Sgian Dhú? Being my own worst enemy;-)...

Now this might be a bit counterproductive, but if you are looking for a dress sgían dhú, there is also another knifemaker in my periphery, whose knives are not as tribal as mine. It is Thomas Pludra, who also is a member of Clan McLaren Friends Of Germany. He makes knives like this one below.
His knives are of some great quality. He uses spring steel mostly. They come, for the most part, with a rattail tang halfway up the handle. His dirks are peened over a buttcap.

Now, what am I up to? Do I want to sell MY works or that of others?*ggg*I have no business license, so I don´t sell professionally in the first place.

Let me shed some light into that: My knives are different. They are ugly bastards, but each and every one is tested to the extreme. But there are times when you do not want an ugly bastard that looks like it has been made with a hole in the ground and a plastic bag for a bellows and on a stone as an anvil, (which in fact, comes quite close to the truth.;-))

Thomas is a great guy, and his works are great also, and much more refined. He uses power tools to a much higher degree and has learned his trade in Solingen, where there are the best craftsmen around.

So, if you insist on having a beast, I´ll make you one. 

If you want something more refined to go with a dress kilt, take a look at his works.

Mittwoch, 28. November 2012

A dark day in the smithy and the birth of a bush proto;-)

I went to the smithy on Sunday to prepare some work and to help out smithing. Michael was there, and we did a children´s birthday party that day. The I forged pendants, ear hangers and the like for the upcoming Chrismas fairs we will forge on.
And, feeling very inspired by Ilkka Seikku´s knives, I started myself a bushcraft design. Not wanting to simply copy another knife, I contemplated what was proprietary to my style and what I wanted to achieve with it while sharing some characteristics with the intent in Ilkka´s knives. It shall be long enough to be useable, rugged, but an able cutter. To achieve that, I chose spring steel that I tempered selectively. I am also fond of a slight recurve design and I figured I wanted a finger grove for the index finger and a milder version of the handle shape I have come to like as quite ergonomic.
All the while the forging fest with the kids went on, and I helped out whatever I could.
The forge had been repaired by Viktor. I really love the versatility and the simplicity of a forge with no electricity. It could work just about anywhere, and I like that.
Renate, Volker´s girlfriend, provided us with a steady flow of caffeine... man, I drank like a gallon of the java stuff! Was feeling slightly queasy afterwards...*ggg*
That´s the downside of working with a low-key forge and anthracite coke: If you go for a leak or have to do some filing, you have to build a wood fire to keep it going....
The weather was foul the whole day through. It was very dark, and a bit of a drizzle fell from time to time, but no harm done, really.
As you can see, the knife´s forged into shape with little stock removal required once again.
I also made some copper ferrules for a certain Sgian Dhú ;-). It was some strenuous work, but a very satisfying day.

Craig´s Sgian Dhú is finally done;-)

 This project has cost me quite some nerves... and it has been on the bench for a long time. The handle failed several times. Now it´s finally done, and I like it. I sincerely hope Craig likes it, too, for I value him a lot. No clan crest yet, and a simple rustic finish. The handle is made from extremely rare iron-ore - impregnated bog oak, which lay submerged in an ancient coalmine in the Muttental for some 150 years or so. The ferrules are handforged from copper, and the tang is peened over the buttcap.
 The knife in its sheath and outside of it. The blade is not rusty, but waxed against the moisture of the simple sock-sheath I made. It will get another sheath to go on a belt, that will see some carving. Either sheath is / will be wet-formed and hotwaxed around the knife. The blade is spring steel, selectively tempered with an approximate hardness of 59-61 HRC. 
 The spine is just some 3 mm thick and has some filework on it. The blade measures in at some 100 mm give or take. The fullers are first forged, then ground out.
I already tested it, and although it is no prybar, it can take a beating, and I hope it will serve him well! My apologies to Craig for the long time, but I hope the finished product will make up for it!

Donnerstag, 22. November 2012

A hike with Kai and into the spirits´realm... a strange sighting.

 I met with kai the other day and we decided to have a bimble into the woods. I hiked to his place, and we made for the hills. This is the Eugen - Richter tower we passed by. kai wanted to have a lookout for some suitable Hiking staff for him to carve-and found none.
 But we found a chainsaw sculpture and some cutoff tree discs...
 as a breakfast board or any such like. Kai is currently in some great pain for he suffers from severe back problems. The mad one went for the hike - which was no small one at all - nonetheless, so his facial expression on this pic might be excuseable;-). Get well soon, dude!
 We enjoyed a beautiful hike into the woods and relished in some good - natured  talk and some scenic vistas, clad into the vibrant colours of the dying year. At a local inn in the woods we had a good cuppa coffee and had some blacksmith´s tech talk... the other customers certainly must have had some funny thoughts about us having a coffee and talking in numbers and carbon contents;-)!
 The sun was not exactly out, and the clouds hung low. It was a very strange atmosphere the whole day through.

 When we came down from the hills, we said goodbye, and I went for the trail home. When I was on top of the next hill, I had a very strange feeling of the air humming with energy and vibrating through my very body. It was quite dark already, and I thought - since I am familiar with the feeling - to try and shoot a photo. It was not that misty, but this came out.

It was a weird effect, and I checked my camera, which is prone to do funny things these days, and made another photo with another setup just to be sure I did not get something wrong. Honestly, I do not know what this is, if it´s just some light effect due to the flash in the air´s humidity, but I could not help recognizing that there is some kind of structure in the picture, and if I look at it closely, I get the impression of a bearded face looking at the camera at an angle. Also note the strange diffusion of the light towards the ground, almost as if there were some kind of silhouette. It also reminded me of some hidden cave paintings in France. Also, when meditating in the woods, I have sometimes had a similar visual experience, eeven in the daylight. So, whoa Nellie, what I got here is a picture where presumeably the focus of the camera did go awry and the light diffuses strangely. I do not reject any superstitional theories, but do not buy into them either.

I respect the world of spirits, and, just in case, offered my greetings;-), and we both went on our merry
way;-).








Mountain man style blanket shirt in the making

I currently work on a blanket shirt, made out of new wool with a bit of Elasthane, with a loose fit I have come to appreciate. As is, it needs some sewing the pockets and cleaning up the edges and making a collar, and it will be done. Those are dead easy to make, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. As is, it´s comfy, warm and cozy. I like.;-)

And it teaches me skills I had not before;-)... as are repairing my garments with little ressources.

I will make a paper sheet scheme for it to illustrate - I just stitched away, but guess I can illustrate how I made it.

Montag, 19. November 2012

Check him out-The great man Ilkka Seikku!

Click here to get to his homepage

Ilkka Seikku is the maker of the "bush prowler knife", and, being a smith myself, I can say I would trust my life to those blades by looks alone, and when my bank account allows, I guess I´d get myself one. If it doesn´t, I´ll do it myself;-). Anyway, that´s a great knife I simply wanted to share. Most of you might have heard about this man, but, here´s the link again, lest you forgot*ggg*. Enjoy!



Yet another leaf handled knife-big ´un;-)

Made another leaf handled knife design, a longer blade for a cahnge, 140 mm x 6 mm with no stock removal so far. It was a right pain to make this time, don´t know why, but it drove me mad. It´s a bit hard at times to judge the length of the handle part properly when forging, given I take no measurements and judge it with the eye alone. Given that, it came along quite nicely, even if I am not content - as usual, one might add. It has a selective temper and will see just a tiny bit of grinding. Oh, and sorry for that lousy photo, I will replace it as soon as possible. Watch this space!

Donnerstag, 15. November 2012

A flaming autumn day´s ride, trail etiquette, cuppa tea and knife testing with a sundown as icing-perfect, I´ll take it.

 Yesterday, th sun was out and the day exploded with colours ever so vibrantly. I am currently depressed quite often, what with neither time nor money resulting in longtime "friends" taking their excuse, so to say, and grey weather in the bargain.

But one thing has always been certain to me: The woods are out there, and the spruce tops are singing in the wind. It was the first sound in my life I heard, for after I was born in hospital, I lived in the forest for 33 years. I think to remember opening my eyes from a sleep that was deeper than life, and awakening to the wonder of green, with the vibrantly green leaves and the dark green of the spruce and fir tops moving in a breeze. There were runes there I could not decipher, and of runes i knew not in the first place, but I was calm immediately and looked at the gently moving signs amazed. It is a world that has always embraced me, and it was never natural for me to live in a city, and all the roaring noise frightened me as a kid. Now, as someone who is seen as an adult;-), I know exactly why it frightened me. I overcame my fears and now there is but a mild pity left for the ways of modern day man, and, with a sense of self - irony I realize that I am part of the whole mess already. I have to, as anyone has to, at least to a certain degree, partake in the everyday madness.

And yet, the woods are waiting. They are not self - conscious. They just exist. They are not nice, and you might die there as well as live, and the trees and beasts could not care less. But if you really want to, you can become a part of it all, and all that will not matter any more. It is not important if you are "but" a newborn child or a grown individual, in fact, you stand more of a chance understanding it as a whole if you see it with the eyes of a newborn child. And since it is not possible to refer to that phenomenon intelligently, for it is autotelic, I will shut up about that for now and tell you about the ride.
 I rode towards the hills, and I was quite exhausted, but I carried on and made it into the woods.
 I was rewarded ever so richly with the flaming gold of a low sun in a crystal-blue sky. The air was cold and frisky, and every silhouette was standing out clear and sharp in this clean atmosphere. This space made me breathe deep and calm, and, even if the trail went uphill quite technically challenging, I managed without a dabbing of a foot. Then I saw two horseback riders approaching in the distance. Noticing one of the horses was rather shy, I pulled to the side of the trail to let them pass and waved them on. As they passed, we had a chat, and this chat turned out in a way chats like this unfortunately have a habit of turning out; both of them were quite amazed that I had let them pass and had some friendly words for them, for normally mountainbikers yell at them, slam into their horses (which is a most silly thing to do, for who wants to be confronted with a ton of whinnying, kicking, biting, half - mad horse must have but some three brain cells, and those situated in the Amygdala at best), find it funny to scream at the horses while passing at top speed from behind. I have to believe those two horseback riders (and the many others I have talked to, and I sometimes feel ashamed for my "fellow" mountainbike riders. Many are Testosterone-blind morons only interested in their own "fun", which mostly consists in putting the hurt to their "fellow" riders. In my time in the club I have encountered every facet of antisocial behavior, from slightly moron to outright dangerous, from relishing in hurting others up the hill to leaving injured riders with a wrecked bike in the middle of nowhere and laughing afterwards about that while telling the tale, to spooking horses and destroying private property just in the name of the almighty "fun". Those individuals are, in my book, retarded, anti - social, superficial arseholes. I have worked for trail access since 1990, I have worked for bettering the communication between the "user" groups of the woods, and, for the most part, have lived to the IMBA rule codex.

I took my trash home.
I controlled my speed.
I respected other trail users.
I avoided shortcuts and stuck to the trails.
I avoided offensive behavior such as yelling, skidding, and jumping at the encounter of other trail users.
I only modified trails with the permission of the land owner / the forest bureau or rebuilt the natural state after doing so.

Of course, there are morons amongst the other user groups as well, but, hey, if you do not communicate, you cannot better any situation. And if you behave like an asshole, you deserve to be treated as one, mountainbiker or not.

The culprit is, I had a chat with those two horseback riders, told them to address the website www.mtb-hagen.de in case they had one of those unfortunate encounters again, we wished each other to have a fine day and went on our merry way, content with the fact that we had done something good. Simple as that. And it does not mean you can´t have fun. I had. I took the next trail down the hill, and really let loose.

But, if you don´t know what brakes are for, you should not ride a bike. Period. I know, and if anyone asks, I will teach anyone, for free even if you ask politely enough.

But, as is my wont these days, shredding simply does not suffice all of the time. So I visited my oaken friend atop the hill overlooking that lake (I hope you appreciate I spared you another picture of the vista*ggg*). There, I had a cuppa tea (ten, in fact;-)), an apple and some bannock, and out came the bush knife for some testing.
 It´s the one I made in the Bethaus smithy the other day. I put a bevel on it (not that it needed it:-), take note I was proud:-/)
 I did a quick leather wrapping to the handle and it was ready to go.
 Spine thickness is about 6mm. The blade is 140 mm long, and made from selectively tempered spring steel that has seen some very conservative heat treating. It supports my weight. As a prybar, it´s a cinch!
 First came the prying test. I slammed it up to 1 cm into that log and levered the tip out-no damage whatsoever. In fact, I kicked it with my boots to pry it out. No harm done.
 Then I hacked halfway through that log. Then I realized that a cylindrical handle shape as with that knife is not feeling exactly right for that kind of task. Also, I blistered my hand on the sharp butt of the handle. Not so good. What was more grave is that it did not shave after that. But I forgot to test sharpness before, so it might as well be the bevel was not fine enough in the first place. I have to check it out encore un fois at home.

I leant the ride gainst a tree and snuck inside the stems of the three-stemmed oak...
 I sipped my tea and savoured the golden light and the fading warmth. Then I had the sensation of warmth radiating from the bark of the tree itself, and not only the energy it had stored from the light of the sun. It warmed me from my belly up, my heart as well as my head. I smiled, had another swig of tea and thanked the tree for its gift.
 It has been the source of many mocking, cynical remarks by many people I met, but, yes, I love trees. I love them as a piece of creation, as my fellow beings, and for no reason especially as well.
 In the depth of the bark, there were tiny ants squirrelling along, and in the cold autumn air some few midgets were dancing their strange dances, their wings translucent with flaming, golden light.
 There are worlds inside worlds, worlds above, inside and neighbouring, life everywhere even in the autumn, even in winter. Life itself is wonderful and deserves better than the ridiculous mess humans make of it.

I then really enjoyed practicing my feather stick skills with my new Nessie. It makes some really delicate shavings. It feels light and nimble. Not a knife for hacking, though, even if batoning works quite well, too. There are better whittlers, too, due to the offset of the edge line, but you can grow accustomed to that. I think I´ll make more like this...
 Then the sun was sinking, and I relished in the vibrating colours.


 I put my headlamp on and made for the trail home. By the way, I was on the road with the last shred of light. I have, of course, done rides where I could not avoid being in the forest after dark with a torchlight on, but doing so scares the animals, who need all the rest they can get in winter. So please, if you have any sense in you, do not ride at max speed with max headlight on through the woods. Going silently and unlighted is another matter, if you can do so, or, if you must, stick to fireroads that are also widely frequented during the day. That way, animals can grow accustomed to your impact and do not panic all the time.
 Overlooking the hills of home with the last shred of light.
It was a beautiful day, and a solemn calm filling me up to the brim. Of course, all the peace in my heart did wear off suddenly with my next encounter with the next urban human, but that´s another story, and it´s not worth telling at all.

The light, however, and the energy of the trees, are mine. And noone can ever take it from me.

Dienstag, 13. November 2012

New Leaf -handle blades

 I finished those two knives the other day and thought I´d give you some decent pics. Both are made from spring steel, with a selective temper. This one is more of an utility design. 110 x 5 mm, edge quenched.
 The backside.
 The leaf I forged with the peen of a small locksmith´s hammer.
 This is more of a kopis design. I love to make these for the flowing lines they have, and they really feel good and dynamic when cutting. They are also great for foraging herbs and green food. Removing bark from a stick also is quite a cinch.
 I have tested this one to an extreme defree already: It supports my weight, and I´m fat!;-)
 The backside.
And the leaf. I also like the fact that they are ready to use when the forging´s done. And for an all - metal design, they are very comfortable to hold onto. They simply work, and work great even when the going gets tough. So I will make more of them...*ggg*

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