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About bigfootnampa

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    Senior Member

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    Blacksmithing, whitesmithing, woodworking, photography, fly fishing, faux painting, fine finishing.

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  • Location
    Saint Louis, MO
  • Interests
    Woodworking, metalsmithing, photography, fly fishing, carving

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  1. bigfootnampa

    Favorite files

    Pferd files are excellent! They are currently one of the largest manufacturers... so... widely available. Grobet (Swiss) files are superb, though costly! Grobet does have many specialty styles available. For standard types of files I find the Pferd brand is difficult to match up to... especially if your budget is not very overfunded! if you’re not committed to all new files. You can often get good bargains at flea markets and antique shops. I’ve acquired many from such sources that were nearly as good as new after a day or two soaking in vinegar!
  2. bigfootnampa

    Clam shell rapier guards!

    If it were my project, I’d probably use an old rotary mower blade for material. Most of mine (mostly from high end commercial mowers) are about 1095 or 1080... something like that. At 1/4” thick they’d be pretty heavy! I’d probably thin them to no more than 1/8”... by forging.
  3. bigfootnampa

    Get a load of my new Grinder

    Hmm... much to consider in Latticino’s post! I find most of it in complete disagreement with my own experiences though. Let’s start with slack belt work. I vastly prefer slightly convex grinds to other types! I control the degree of convexity with pretty good precision by adjusting the pressure which I apply. My viewpoint is... “why grind a secondary or micro bevel, when I can do it all at once and have a smootherblade that slices more effectively?”. I do have a 10” contact wheel which is always available if I move off the slack belt area. I use this for heavy removal work but move to my slack belt for refining edges. BTW I usually use a bit more acute angle for my edges which allows the slightly convex bevels to present just the optimal angle right at the cutting edges! Now as to my buffer. I use my buffer as an integral part of my sharpening sequence. I remove the wire edges with my buffer and also polish the edges just enough... just enough to make them sharper and longer lasting than any other type of edge finish that I have tried! The one exception is to polish the edges with polishing stones to a mirrored surface. This takes days or even weeks... but the results are stunning! My buffed edges are very nearly as good with mere minutes invested! Because of the lower number of cutting edges, I find that for blade grinding, any grits beyond about 50 or 60 grit will actually slow my work significantly. If you do lots of grinding on annealed stock or mild steels you’ll find more use for coarser grits. All the work that coarser grits would do for me... I achieve by forging! I am really confident of this advice and use it regularly myself. If you disagree, well do it your own way... but here is gold if you want to pick it up! Joy of the forge to all of you! I’d buy a round if we were close enough!
  4. I have often experienced poor results from partial quenches. IMO you’d be better off doing a full quench and then drawing temper differentially. You might also consider a few normalizing cycles to address grain growth BEFORE heat treating. For beginners, grain growth is a common problem. They tend to heat too much and move the metal too slowly... a good recipe for excess grain growth. I agree with all the advice above re oil quenching too... it is my standard method. Water quenching can work well in certain situations... IMO it is best used by experienced smiths.
  5. bigfootnampa

    Feeling Lost.

    I have to agree with JHCC, nails are useful and good practice. Tongs are kind of tricky work... lots of pretty good smiths are not comfortable making them. Handmade nails are not at all the same thing as what you can buy in the hardware stores... they can be vastly more useful. Hooks are also great projects to get you started. A good J hook is quite useful and an excellent skill builder!
  6. bigfootnampa

    What did you do in the shop today?

    Vaughn; Sharpen your punch with a slight point on it... like a center punch with a pretty steep angle. The slight point helps to prevent sliding or skating off center. It won’t affect the punches function otherwise. I do like to finish up with a drill bit... just for efficiency sake, it’s faster. I do like to use a bob punch to create the countersink, which I sharpen as above and then it’s easier to just drill the through holes cold.
  7. bigfootnampa

    The road to the workshop.

    I did not know that. Thanks!
  8. bigfootnampa

    The road to the workshop.

    WOW! Monet would feel right at home there! I bet you have lots of bees and hummingbirds!
  9. bigfootnampa

    Get a load of my new Grinder

    My advice... get 80 grit ceramic belts for your heaviest stock removal work. Coarser grits are LESS efficient! Set up where you can get a good access to a slack belt area... I do about 75 percent of my grinding on my slack belt space. The addition of a high quality buffer has made my work much simpler and superior in quality.
  10. bigfootnampa

    Question on brass horn repair.

    Target carries Sugru. You can also order online. The shelf life is a problem with it. You can’t just keep stock on hand. IME (which is quite a bit) most brass puddles at VERY close to the same temps as easy solders! Soft solders are a different story. You are dealing with pretty thin brass sheet there. It heats quickly. I would consider it too risky. If I didn’t use Sugru I would go with epoxy. The Sugru would be easier to make it pretty with though... and extremely durable.
  11. bigfootnampa

    Question on brass horn repair.

    NONE of the hard solders are anywhere close to low temp enough to make that repair safely. To my mind the best way would be to use something like Sugru and make a strap clear around the tube and fillet around the nut to make a smooth streamlined joint. Avoid color issues by using black, which will harmonize with the rubber parts.
  12. bigfootnampa

    Coffee and Steel

    I have used French presses but I don’t like to. I grind my coffees pretty coarse and brew with an old style percolator... a new model though. I recently bought some organic Kona coffee and it is terrific! As good as Jamaican “Blue Mountain” at least! This is better than any Kona coffee or blend that I’ve had before! Absolutely NO bitterness at all! My pan... 10” diameter “Lodge” with 3” sides. The higher sides help to keep the beans in when I get a little wild while stirring!
  13. bigfootnampa

    Coffee and Steel

    Daswulf; I just set my pan on an outdoor propane burner, pour in a heaping half cup of green beans and shake to level them. Then I stir them until they are about the right colors. I like my roasts a bit lighter than most... so when most of the beans are a nice tan color and about one third of them are dark coffee brown... I tip them into a stainless steel colander and shake them around a little. I use a silicone spatula to stir with (this too has become permanently stained). I usually roast around four such batches at a time. The process creates a bit more smoke than you might want inside the house as a regular thing, hence the portable propane burner... outdoors. The oils and smoke seem to create the patina. I scrub pretty good with my chain mail scrubber... but the patina inside the pan is unblemished. In this way I always have freshly roasted coffees at hand! I usually grind enough for two to four days use at a time. One advantage is that the green beans keep very well (up to a year at least). I can order my beans off the Internet this way and still have fresh custom roasts. I usually keep about three varieties in stock and change them up for different tastes. The green beans usually sell for about $3 per pound less than the same beans roasted, but better flavor is my motivation. I have been amazed to find that my own roasts are invariably superior to ANY that I have bought from any source! I have considered buying a good roaster... but the terrific results I am getting make me reluctant to alter my process! My roasts seem a bit more uneven in color than what I’ve bought pre-roasted. I am not sure but what this may be part of my recipe for success! BTW if you try this, keep a good BBQ glove handy to handle the pan with! I wonder whether one might be able to devise a system combining the tempering of a blade with roasting beans to create a nice patina? Perhaps a hook or similar item could be plunged into ground coffee while still at red heat? At the moment this is just a hatchling of an idea. I hope that some of my resourceful brethren of the forge, here, can help me develop it!
  14. bigfootnampa

    Coffee and Steel

    So I’ve been roasting my own coffee for a while now. I am no expert... but we’ve never had such terrific coffees! I use a cast iron frying pan to roast my coffee. I have noticed that this pan has developed a very dark and durable patina! I clean the pan with hot water and scrub it with a piece of stainless steel chain mail after every use, as I clean my pans after cooking. The patina persists and I wonder if it might be useful to treat smithy products with coffee? Has anyone experimented with this? I have not hitherto discovered a patina that seems as dark and durable as this one! It certainly seems much more durable than any bluing that I am familiar with!
  15. bigfootnampa

    Questions on making a push-pull hoe

    1080 would be excellent. If you bend it to a sort of flattened U shape... you could just fit the upper legs to the sides of the handle and through rivet them. It will be important to get the angle right for the user! Temper the 1080 to a bit softer than you would for a knife. Many mower and scythe blades are made of 1080 or similar steel.