Freitag, 25. Juli 2014

Experimental bushcraft knife design-integral bush Barong

This is something I currently have in the making. I was thinking hard about my way of knifemaking, and while I like to make ornamental and artisan concept knives, even spiritual knives, I certainly lack the talent for eloquent ornaments like the ones by my love. What I HAVE a talent for, however, is brutal backwoods beaters that can support your weight;-) but look dead ugly. Now this knife was admittedly inspired by Dan Koster`s Muck camp knife and a Barong in my collection. One of my latest bushcraft knives put to painful questioning here has a slightly offset angle of the handle which makes chopping and whittling a cinch. But the straight edge line makes it a bit difficult to actually use all of the edge when cutting on a flat surface. The Barong style has a curved edge line making for a better compromise when using it for kitchen tasks without compromising whittling and chopping prowess (or so I hope;-)). Now it is not thought socially adequate to carry a big and hefty Barong on your belt around these parts, so the blade has to be under 12 cm in length, which is fine for me, for most of the time I do not need anything larger. The blade also has a very gentle convex bevel, which in unison with the wide blade will make for an excellent slicer even with a 4 mm spine. For steel I used super-tough train wagon leaf spring steel. It does not take the highest of all tempers, but is tough as grandpa.  Forging it was a bummer, that I can tell you!;-) The blade is selectively tempered, of course. I have to correct the tang a bit and drill it out some more for balance, for I want the balance point on the index finger. Scales will presumeably be Corsian "pepper" juniper wood or G10 / micarta, in either case with mosaic pins and red G10 liners... we´ll see... and I want to design a decent kit sheath for scout carry mode for it.

Carving on Úlenfang done-for the most part, that is...

So, I did the carving of an owl ornament I wanted to do on Úlenfang´s reindeer antler handle. Fitted some mosaic pins, too, for eyes. I am not too fond of the outcome, especially when I compare it to the magic troll´s art, but then I have never said I am an artisan, did I ;-)?

But it grows on me, and I have to refine it some, still, and there will be some runes added. The eyes give  a bit of a mad expression to the owl... and this suits me*ggg*. Overall, I love the knife´s balance and rock-solid feel. It just falls into your palm and fits snugly there. The carving gives you a good orientation in darkness. The blade (ancient crucible steel I found in the woods) cuts and slashes extremely well, and this steel gives a very, very fine edge with hair-splitting sharpness to be achieved. The Kopis shape makes it also very able for woodworking tasks. I guess I will forge another;-)...

New En-Nep EDC with damascus

Had this piece of damascus lying around leftover from a knife I made some time ago for Drui (remember, CUTIE;-), when I used to give you complete knives? Those were ´em days...;-)), and I made this En - Nep from it some time ago and fitted a handle recently. The blade is 120 mm long and 2 mm thick. It has a selective temper that was a right challenge to do, for it warped this way, then the other and another still. I had to straighten it after quenching on a wooden block with a wooden hammer while tempering with the spine heat. I can tell you, I wished I had five hands;-)! Just a tiny bit of warping in the tip was left, and I ground this down with a water stone. It has a convex bevel, and it bites like your little sister, making it a great snack knife, yet it is way tougher than I expected, for I bend it 30° each way and it came out straight. I like it and have already a sheath in the making waiting to get tempered itself. Watch this place...

This is a knife that is certainly built at the limit of my personal ability, and I like that. It is funny that when you look at real tribal knives, they often tend to have very thin and slicey blades, even those made for hard backwoods work. The thickest spine of a tribal knife in my collection is that of a Syrian curved dagger, and this comes at 3,2 mm. A Touareg dagger I own measures just 1,8 mm, another even just 0,8 mm(!), a Turkish Zelim even comes at just 1,5 mm. Those are knives made for cutting, and this they do extremely well. And do not get me wrong, those knives certainly have seen some pounding in their lives, judging by the scars and nicks on the blade surface. And still their edges were in great working order.

The smiths that made them often have only marginal equipment. Often there´s just a hole in the ground for a forge, a plastic bag for a bellows and a lump of iron for an anvil. And yet, making knives like those that they make is a right challenge to me.

My respect to them!

Donnerstag, 10. Juli 2014

A hike with CUTIE;-)

 When I was in Marburg, the magic troll and I set out to do some hike to our favourite place... it has become sort of a tradition to have a look if things are all in place... and those Marburgian hills are simply beautiful.
 In case you wondered how she gets all her gear around, the 4 - people tent is in her bag as well as a car, a railway station, a chainsaw, an entire goldsmithy, a carpenter´s shop, and some other things to be treated discreetly, including a worm hole and another universe. She told me the secret, but I have sworn to keep silent. That much I can say that she once had a friend called Aoífe...

She loves chicken...*ggg*
 The light was radiant and warming our hearts... we do not want any gems of treelight...
 ...for it´s there all the time.
 This is the view towards the Marburgian castle. It is nice to dream that artists and writers like Clemens Brentano, the REAL Grimm brothers, Goethe, Schiller, Hermann Hesse and many more went for a stroll into the same hills. I find Marburg breathes this atmosphere still. The fairy tales are alive and well there.
Take for instance this horse head. Okay, so you all know it from other posts, but I am just fascinated by the idea that someone just gets out into the woods with his chainsaw and does some fun carving and then leaves it there. In my hometown few even consider doing this (most are not even capable of spelling their own name correctly, let alone doing something with their hands not ordered by the long-time-unemployed-integration program), and most certainly would not do it for free. If they would, the authorities would hunt them down as easy prey, for they are just artists without being licensed and could be jailed much easier than the professional criminals (bankers, head citizens, pimps, drug dealers).

Over here, someone just gets out and does it, and does it lovingly. Of course there was a tiny badge advertising you could buy stuff like this, but hey, that´s a small price to pay for a bit of enchantment in the woods near the city. And everywhere around people keep telling tales and legends, doing it naturally and consciously, telling and listening. Talk about culture and cultural diversity without sacrificing the soul to Mammon. paying tribute, maybe, but doing no shortcuts. This is beautiful.
 As is this;-).
 We took to the deeper woods, and who might be living here?
 Found some spruce sprouts for syrup and tea.

 Hello, ancient, how do?
 There was a birdhouse in the stem of that old tree and a stand for watching and servicing it.
 Beside the trail a spring waited with blossoms of Iris...
 Over hill and yonder dale we went....
 It is traditional to ahve a cuppa tea, and here´s one of those shots...

And beside the trail I found some Jasper for applications in knife handles or summat...

 And home again we went, through those green, green meadows....
A beautiful stroll. Thanks, my wonderful magic troll, for those wonderful outings...

Short review of a Sampo Puukko

On a recent medieval reenactment fair near my home I had the opportunity to get me a Puukko cheap. It´s distributed by Sampo corporation, and according to Klaus, whom I met on the fair, and who is the owner of the shop, is made by hand in Finland. It costs 77,00 € when purchased regularily. It´s made from beautiful birch burr and reindeer antler. The tang is peened over a brass disc and the reindeer buttcap, which shows the natural surface at the end. The blade is 90x3,5mm, made from some unspecified carbon steel, but it appears to be something with manganese in it. Even as is, it would have been a good enough buy, but the surprise came when I checked the hardness on the edge. I estimate it to have 62 - 63 HRC IN THE EDGE. I emphasize this, because this appeared to me that someone got off his rocker on a production knife and cut short on the heat - treating process, until I realized the blade gave that familiar ringing sound only selectively tempered blades have. I then checked the spine hardness, and it came in at an estimated 49-52 HRC. At this prize, this is frankly insane! Out of the box the knife came wickedly sharp. Without any work by myself, it was hair-splitting sharp, and this after being transported all over Germany and lying in the heat, and the cold, and the rain, and the cold again, being fingered by thousands of customers and such. As is to be expected, it´s a most able whittler and even should stand up to quite an amount of abuse. If you use it for light batoning, it should even handle this, but remember that no rat-tail-tang is made to be pounded with a heavy baton through knotted hardwood  burr constantly. The sheath is made from top - grain leather with a plastic insert that is actually molded into shape, not just some piece stuck into the leather as with those Roselli sheaths. One complaint is that the belt loop could be more caringly put together and drilled together. 

For most any bushcraft and camping tasks, however, this is one knife you can bet your arse on. It´s also a great first knife for beginner viking reenactors, and, last, but in no way least, it´s a beaut.

And best of all, there´s plenty more of them, including Saami sets, Leukus, whittlers and whatnot.

Sampo also sells those wonderful reindeer hides... so pay their site a visit!

On the bench- another Fimbulmuk from crap steel

This is something I have in the works to date. This design is becoming a favourite of mine, and I prefer to call it a Fimbulmuk;-P, for there are some minor differences to your common Nessmuk design. First and most obviously, the blade is offset to make it easier to use in a kitchen application. That way, slicing onions or processing herbs is a cinch. But there´s always some kind of downside to an offset blade, as e.g. the Grohmann Canadian Belt knife, which is good enough. But I find knives like the Grohmann a bit awkward when whittling. I thought long and hard about that, and one of my all - time favourite backwoods whittling knife is the Roselli carving knife with the 85 mm blade, closely followed by this one:

So I found out that a knife whittles best when you can draw an imaginary axle through the butt and it is in a straight line with the tip. Also, if you draw this axle through the blade, the major contact points of the hand should not be too far off. With the Fimbulmuk I think I solved the problem by radically curving the handle. Take note that both edge line and handle silhouette follow a whiplash line, which I think makes for more dynamic cutting. To put the balance point on the finger tip, however, I had to shorten the tang a bit, because drilling out the tang was not an option with the shallow silhouette. I solved this one problem with a cigar - shaped end, and the knife will get a short lanyard fitted with those lovely lanyard beads by my CUTIE *ggg*magic troll (she always get mad when I call her cutie, and she´s so cute when she gets mad*ggg*). The blade is made from an old wrench I found in the woods, apparently out of crucible steel, 85mmx3,5mm, olive wood handle, screwed and glued on with a screw cut / rolled into the tang and scales. Convex bevel, that will see a lot of polishing still.

The other pic, by the way, is of a knife I made years ago from cold -rolled file steel, selective temper, Scandi grind, elkhorn handle with brass fittings, 90x4mm blade. I tested it hard these years. The handle has minor cracks towards the end due to constant exposal to the elements, but is trustworthy as a rock still.

The more I get into knifemaking, the more I get interested into the finer points and details. Peter Johnsson did a lot to promote my thinking geometrically when blades are concerned. What´s good for a sword can´t be bad for a knife, if you know when to apply geometry. And the principle of the whiplash line fascinates me ever since I first heard about its use in the art nouveau movement which far transcended mere art.

Still so much to learn;-). As is, I am content with the outcome. If you want elegance, look elsewhere. But I think I can safely say that I am nearing the point where I can make knives that actually work.;-)

Mittwoch, 9. Juli 2014

Some of the things I did in June...

 So, long time, no post, I know. It´s just that I am a bit undermotivated to date for blogging, what with no real camera, no ressources whatsoever and working hard and most of the time for next to nothing. It just seems I always struggle the best I can (and get a lot of positive input for my work), but the money seems to avoid me as if I had the plague. I am to date thinking about starting a business with knifemaking and blacksmithing tutorials for children. But the market is definitely down to next to nothing for knives. I could sell a handmade knife with a spring steel blade that cuts mild iron and chops antler, complete with stag handle and sheath for 35 €. We´re talking handforged here, and that´s not a price at all. When I sell knives at all, I just make blades to be finished with a Paracord wrapping and no sheath. My day job´s stuck at a dead end of course, no career in sight. My mother wanted to sell my property flat while I looked away just once to an estate speculant at a ridiculous price. So, not exactly an easy life at the moment, but now everything´s under control (as far one could say that for any life) again, and I can concentrate on the nice experiences again. And at the beginning of June I stayed at my love´s for holiday, and while there  were a lot of beautiful days spent together, here´s just a short account of the highlights. Hikes into the hills, getting up late, having fun, meeting, friends, having great food and some greater music, great weather, and a beautiful city. Oh, and "ain´t she sweet?"...
 ... The hills above Marburg...
 One day Daniela, a friend of ours, the magic troll and myself drove out towards the Goldborn spring. We went there for meditation and spiritual practice. A local legend says that he who sits by the spring for three fullmoon nights in a row without speaking, will find a golden treasure. We did not stay for three months;-), but we spoke little. It was a very peaceful atmosphere with the creeks singing and golden light seeping through the leaves. We first went on our respective ways, and it was great to be with people, regardless of our way of acquaintance, with whom this is possible.

The song of the creek and the trees merged into each other, and there were voices from the deep sounding up into the world of man and beast and tree. It is difficult to describe, but if you are still enough, you might be able to relate to the experience. If you don´t, there´s no way I can make this plausible to you.

When I returned from my solitary journey, I found the magic troll sitting with her feet in the water and chanting a gentle song, so low I could not hear much. She has a lovely voice, sure, but most impressively was the voices that rose from the creek and that blended into her singing. It was certainly one of the most beautiful things I have heard in my whole life.

Then Daniela returned and took to playing the flute sitting on a rock in the creek, and that was another very beautiful and touching thing. In the meantime, the magic troll and myself prepared some food and we said our thanks and had a feast on handmade cheese and bread and cake and water melon and a cuppa tea.   
 Suddenly all was over and we drove home with a heart full of peace and joy. On Friday then Erich came, the magic troll´s father, and a great guy to have around. Especially when some beer is involved. And, no, I am NOT ashamed ;-)
 We prepared for combat with a black beer helmet, for it was Münzenberg reenactment fair ahead, and we had still to train for full contact martial arts. We chose an enemy of mankind to be fought. Alcohol. I am glad to say that the enemy was utterly defeated!
 The magic troll in assault mode...*ggg*
 Off to Münzenberg.
 I could rant on endlessly how great it was, how friendly the people. It was great to meet with Jonny again, and talk away the hours with Lotte, his wife, to trade weird jokes with Heika and André, and Steffen and Dipali, and Meggy and Peter and all those other great people on the fair. Erich bought himself half a ton of bronze axes;-), and some pretty Birka jewellry for the girls. I also had the privilege to meet with Danuta, his new companion girlfriend, another great person I was glad to meet. We enjoyed this quality time together.
 Oh, and the fights? Look here to see some real fighting, no sword ballet:



And a great vid of the Polish national team

We drove home to prepare for the next day*ggg*.
Kidding aside, when I got home I took out Íshakùthr, ye olde viking swordie and gave it some polishing up. Blimey, I have to forge some armour...;-) some real armour, that is.

News from the magic troll´s shop;-)

 Now this is a blade I made for the magic troll...;-) A Seax, three layer laminate, carburized spring steel / mild steel, 120x 3mm or something. This is after she polished it some.
 In the meantime she made this at Susanne´s shop...Susanne is a friend of hers, a gold smith tutoring her a bit... and seeming to learn summat, too;-).
 Then the magic troll made this out of my crappy steel;-).
 I LOVE those carvings.

 ...lost for words...

Am I proud? BOY, am I!!!!;-)

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