Donnerstag, 28. Januar 2016

Ahlhauser ironforge website online!

Roland had a fit of creativity;-) and set up a new site for our founding club. Visit:

to get the static data and informations on founding (if you can find it in you to make a donation, feel free to do so!;-), we have a roof to put on and are desperately in need of funds. Any amount, however little helps and is put 100% into restoring the buildings and the historical machinery. Use the contact form on the website if you need a receipt!

Choose this bank account:

Ahlhauser Hammer
Märkische Bank Hagen
IBAN: Nr. DE48450600090066445600

And, of course, if you´re in the vicinity, drop me a line, and I´ll show you around.

Donnerstag, 21. Januar 2016

Frozen lands

 Ice was gathering up on my window, and the beams cracked with cold; and the woods did call me to give me lessons of life. So I walked away from the hostile world of man into the realm of deadly winter... just some 100 m away from the warmth. A different world is waiting for those who can see it.
 Is this ice or a map of a land unseen? Winter is death, but without death there would be no life. We can witness what happens when people want to neglect and renounce the fact that all things must end... to blossom anew. If this is a map, it is alien to our sight. It shows not a path from here to there but a path of how and then.

This is the dew of winter; precious as the moon in a silvery night.

The stars rise even in the vine that throttles the fern; I quest the fern for the runes of the frost... the ancient Math ap Mathonwy did not know... ahem... too much more than I.;-D.. just a tiny bit maybe..;-D. or a tiny bit more...ANYWAY:-D, what I find there is no speech that can refer.

The trees were swaying in a silent breeze, stone-cold, bone - cold, sawy, toothy, gritty as sand, and yet there was a gentle, silent song echoing in my soul.

Somewhere twilight, twilight falls...

Night is nearing while there is still light.

And yet, besides the holly, the old well springs up warmly from the bosom of the deep and dark soil.

Winding paths I  walked through woods all crooked...

Where does the moon wander when the night is dark?

Where does the river flow, two ways at once?

Twilight falls.

Remake of an old Puukko

 Now this knife had been on my shelf for quite some years now gathering dust, and if knives do so, I ask myself why they do so. In this case I tested the blade again (crucible steel / file steel Damascus, 40 layers) and found it well enough, but the handle (walnut with a copper ferrule) felt awkward, because it was oddly shaped and far too much out of proportion. So out comes the hacksaw and I shortened it and fitted a butt cap out of yew. Since this is no machete, no need for peening the tang over it, and the glue stands up to the same tensile force as construction steel, so I just epoxied it on.
Now I like it far better, and it´s waiting for a sheath... it´s a good whittler and will serve well for a bimble round the local woods, if not for a bigger outing.

Stainless by accident;-)

 So, this is a typical Fimbulmyrk´s - gone - over - the - top-story. A knife that´s stainless by accident. I already told the tall tale of how I first thought this one to be Damascus and it turned out 440C and that I did not trust it that much and stuff. Now, with a maple handle fitted (mosaic pins, just love ´em), I have already done some testing.
The blade is somewhat on the sturdy side of slicey, ahem;-), but cuts well enough due to the high convex, almost flat grind to almost zero. It devours tomatoes and slices thin slices of onions and salami. Feather sticks are a joy. Chopping antler shows no adverse effects, it just feels right... and the balance point and ergonomics are right there. I like it.

And this is the real reality check.

It has a fine enough grain, it does almost everything my crucible, Damascus, spring, file and tool steel knives do, but is stainless in the bargain. Of course you can seldom find 440C by the roadside, but thinking of that I have made fun out of stainless steel for over a decade... I have to apologize, not that sincerely, but still:-). You can make it work, actually. Really, you can.:-) And I haven´t grown rashes, either. Of course, you can get a slightly sharper blade with carbon steel, but most people would not even notice. It shaves and cuts funny patterns out of free-hanging newspaper, what more do you want?

As I said, for a bushcraft knife, this might be one way to go in the future... but we will see.

Donnerstag, 14. Januar 2016

Why Tai Goo is a master;-)

Yeah, of course I am not always agreed with the guy (I was taught to use different techniques), but here´s some real bladesmith porn...;-) enjoy.

Sica and the 440C mishap

 Also on the bench these days are two obsessions of mine... the lower knife in the pic is another experiment with handle ergonomics and blade layout. I had one strange billet still lying around from the days of Matthias Zwissler, and it seemed to be monster Damascus. Okay, I looked forward to it and forged it out into a seax blade, a small billet and this bush design. When forging it, it proved a bastard with just a very small forging temperature window, and blimey was I glad to have a power hammer at hand! So, I looked forward even more to it, and normalized it for drilling and grinding, and did all the usual stuff I do to carbon steels, but-bummer, it did not work. I dulled my cobalt drills, and even my glass drill I normally use for weekend project blades that are already tempered did not move any material at all. So, back to the drawing board, some more annealing, and when I was at it I thought... well, why not punch it through, and with a bit of help by Moritz, hot-punched the holes, did some annealing (5 hours at about 600 ° C or so), until I could work it with a file all over. Then I ground it into shape and gave it a selective quench in pre-heated lard. Off to the polish then. It worked down my water stone, so I used the diamond strop instead. And grinding. And grinding. And when I was done grinding I did some more grinding with little effect. I was becoming eager and wanted to do a quick etch with salt, vinegar and citric acid. No pattern showed. Okay, I said, give it a coffee... no effect. But it was only after I had left it in 24 hours (normally ten minutes or so...) that I realized that this was no carbon steel. Since the only stainless steel Matthias had ever used was 440C, I guess the knife is 440C. Spark analysis shows a carbon content of 07-1,00% or so when compared to spring and file steel. First stainless steel for me, and I am surprised and pleased to see it gets a fine edge and seems sturdy enough to take a beating. Might be more stainless blades then for me in the future... I plan to fit some striped maple or elk horn handle with fibre liners and mosaic pins to it and give the blade some engraving and polishing. We´ll see.

The next one  is a very interesting style of historical knife. I found a historical piece of crucible steel in the woods that once seemed to have been a cold chisel, and it has a carbon content of about 0,7-1,00%, too, when compared to file steel and spring steel. I have always called this blade shape a "Kopis", but morphologically it is more correct to call it a Sica, a knife made famous by Dacian people in the iron age. There is a whole world of variations, the one thing in common is that they offer one sickle-like edge (the word "sickle" derives from Roman "sicula"-tiny sica). The earliest examples from the Hallstatt period (from 890BC) are often strongly curved with little or no straight tip section. Later on the tip section was becoming more pronounced for some examples resulting in a shape more like the blade I forged. The integral bolster is not authentic, at least I do not know any examples of this, and this would be logical if you keep in mind how precious iron, and more so, high-carbon iron of good quality had been at the time.

Look at these excellent articles (in Romanian language):

It is a most fascinating type of knife and I plan to do more of that stuff... watch this place!

German backwoods knife

 Hi there and a happy new year to y´all! I had a good time in my holidays, but with no smithing, and had no motivation to shoot any pictures for an article of riding or the hikes I did. What I did, however, is spending some time with the projects on my bench, and this is one I like a lot actually. What I tried to do is incorporate the Jagdnicker design into something more buscrafty and combine it with some thoughts I was inspired to by medieval knives and swords at the Solingen museum. The knife has a wider blade than most making for a high grind line and good slicing capabilities. For the traditional technique "ringeln" (German hunting colloquial for a special technique to remove the intestines via the anus of game, mostly roe deer, with the help of a kind of curling cut) it would be not so ideal, but few hunters do practice this nowadays in the first place, and I am no hunter in the second place. I mostly use knives for whittling, preparing food and harvesting, and for that a wide blade with a good balance does the job well enough.
Speaking of balance-the blade has a very distinct taper from a hefty 10 mm towards the bolster to just a mm at the tip. While it is no prybar, it is surprisingly well suited for prying. I have to add a buttcap (I plan to do it in brass, bronze or silver with some engraving), and hope to get the balance point on the index finger. This is a very delicate process few will appreciate, but in my book it´s well worth the effort. There are a lot of knives on the market with hefty looks and awkward balance, and I want to learn to do it right. Having had the opportunity to handle some good historical pieces it never ceases to amaze me how well-balanced even smaller knives were. I made this one for myself and I like to handle the knives I make while completing them. I have already doen some kitchen work with it. It is an able cutter and chopper at the same time as is and feels nimble and dexterous. The handle is relatively short. With just a tiny shift of grip the pommel will come to sit in the middle of my palm. Sometimes, when hunting (if I were so inclined, that is;-)) you need to apply force with a thrusting motion (Opening the pelvis, for instance), and this would be a good feature to have. But I am still figuring it all out. I write this because the nuances are fascinating me, not because I know it all;-).

The handle is stag antler and might see some carving, blade is 11,5cm x 10-1mm taper, spring steel, selective temper and forged at low temperature and then carburized, the grind is a very high convex bevel.

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