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About bigfootnampa

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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. As regards to your power grinding, you should get quality ceramic belts for your heavy stock removal steps. You’ll find that you can get lots more work done without overheating the stock and that the belts will vastly outlast aluminum oxide belts. You’ll still need patience when working thin edges and especially toward the points of blades. I keep a water dip handy but rarely use it. Start out with cool metal and use very light pressure when grinding thin areas. Grind several pieces at a session and you can have several cooling while you work on others. Remember that the belt heats too so don’t try to work too fast overall. Good ceramic belts only seem to be available in about 120 grits and coarser... so I use the aluminum oxide belts for the finer grinds. Just work slow and carefully as you get to the finer grinds... light pressure and short spates of work on each piece. BTW variable speed grinders are essential IMO and slower speeds are better for almost every step, but especially the finer finish grinds. If you are using a machine designed for woodwork... it is likely way too fast for doing good blade grinding!
  2. I have watched a highly skilled hammersmith who uses 1045 and regularly quenches his hammers in water... with no adverse results. He never just tossed them into the water though! He would dip them and then pull them out. Basically lowering the speed of his quench by his technique. Water tends to be a very uneven coolant when the work is not carefully agitated. This may have some bearing on your problems. Personally I prefer oil quench for most purposes including hammers. Severe cracking seems to suggest fairly serious stresses and maybe a combination of factors at work. I suggest slowing down your whole process and being attentive to each step.
  3. Thanks Frosty! I am leaving it with Jymm till Saturday evening so that people can look at it. Then I’ll have to make a stand and retrieve my coal forge from my Saint Louis smithy. I also intend to make a Hoffman style propane forge. So scale is a few weeks away yet. I’ve got at least one pre-order waiting! I’m looking forward to the demos today!
  4. 110 pound Jymm Hoffman anvil! Of 30 ordered to sell at this BAM conference... this was the ONLY one that didn’t get sold before the conference! Jymm is one of our demonstrators at this event. I came early to get in on the good deals. I got a nice hammer and this anvil from Jymm today! I am excited to put it to work! This is hardened to 52 Rockwell and cast of solid H-13 steel! Isn’t it a BEAUTY? It is Jymm’s design for an improved European anvil style. I think it is as fine as any anvil I’ve ever seen! I am thrilled to be it’s new owner! It takes about 30 weeks to get an order for these anvils cast and machined and shipped. Yes... I could be slipping back into smithing addiction. Pray for me! Odd scraps of metal are making my fingers tingle again!
  5. Black locust is a very strong and flexible wood... even fully air dried. You’ve done good so far! You could put a single coat of something like an oil finish, or even a wipe-on varnish (essentially a thin varnish). I would advise against putting on a thick rigid finish as it’s likely to blister, peel, craze, or do other bad stuff, as the staff dries and shrinks. Rot is unlikely. Personally, I’d likely use some “Tried and True” finish... which is beeswax and linseed oil in a food safe version. Any large cracks from shrinkage can be fixed with a carved and glued insert or a good flexible epoxy... with or without fillers or coloring.
  6. I like them! Nicely ground surfaces. I might suggest a bit more curve along the length of the heads on future models. It seems like these might drag a bit through the curve of most bowls.
  7. I once used the wood from a very large old black locust that had grown in my yard for firewood. It was a tree with a stump over four feet in diameter! All firewood should be seasoned. Green burning leads to creosote buildup in your chimney... which leads to roaring chimney fires... which leads to having the fire department in your attic all night on Christmas Eve... which I know because I was crawling around up there once myself! Besides which burning green wastes much of the potential heat value... it’s like quenching your fire with a spritzer. That tree produced about six or seven cords of wood and heated a large old house for major parts of three years through Idaho winters! It did burn much like coal! Big logs would burn red hot for hours with little smolder! It reminds me of how my coal forge burns when I have it really going! When I moved from Idaho I still had some of that locust that I sold to a good friend.
  8. I am currently in Branson... but my forge is still in my High Ridge location (just south of Saint Louis). I have some moving to do. I have a dealer that I trust in Japan... I’ll check with him about getting some of the steel. I thought that some of the bladesmith suppliers in country might have it. I used to do some teaching at the Woodcraft store in Saint Louis... but I know that they are not in the steel supply business. Finished tools is likely all they will offer. The tool that I like best is a hand forged gouge with a shallow curve that has been sharpened to a fingernail shape with an elongated edge on the left side (looking into the concave side of the gouge while holding the handle). I think it’s pretty old and it might even be handmade steel. I find it a remarkably handy tool and I think it will be great for spoon carving! My plane blades are mostly the blue paper steel though and they have superb edges... better than my Swiss carving tools.
  9. Thanks for the info Steve and SLAG! I plan to be at the BAM conference in May. I’ll ask some of the vendors and Smith’s there and see if maybe I can get some while I am there. I am not in any hurry... just thinking ahead. I’ve picked up some older Japanese tools lately and I love them! Some of the edges will literally shave hair with astonishing ease!
  10. I have been thinking about all of the blades and edged tools that I own. All of mine have serviceable edges. There is one type of steel that stands out as a consistent high performer though. It’s the “blue paper steel” that many of my Japanese tools are made of! I assume that many of you here are familiar with this steel. I would like to get some for my tool and knife forging. Do any of you know about a source that I might contact? I’m also interested in any tips that you might have for working or heat treating this type of steel. I just admire the fine edges that it will take and how well they hold up as I work with them.
  11. I would advise you to begin with forging a head and fitting a wooden handle. The all steel type will be a significantly more advanced piece of work. I also think you’ll prefer the wooden handle anyway... I know I would! I do have both types BTW. Using breaker bits for material is an excellent idea! They are often mostly 1070 to 1090 steels but often have custom alloy content that improves their abrasion and shock resistance. Another good source, when you can find it in large enough sizes, is old star drills. 1090 is better than medium carbon steels like 4140 but you have to temper it appropriately.
  12. It’s machined like a fine shotgun... a Purdy perhaps. It would pair well with such!
  13. Many of the mower blades that I have spark like pretty high carbon steel! I even have some brand new ones that spark test like pretty high carbon metals. I’d not hesitate to use them for utilitarian cutting tools. Clearly mine are different from what you have though. My new “Oregon” blades have really nice spark showers!
  14. The sparks look good, but... you need to compare with a known steel sample. It could be an old axle or some such thing.
  15. Thomas; Look up 2” roughing gouge on google. You’ll see near duplicates of that tool. I don’t turn anymore but I used to own a couple almost exactly like it. They are very useful for turning square to round or rough smoothing log or branch stock.