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  1. Zion, When I first started blacksmithing, I thought the differences in steel composition could be overcome by hitting harder. When that didn't work, I tried getting it hotter. I had some rebar that was harder than woodpecker teeth in one part, and just crumbly nonsense in another section of the same bar. Then I thought I was clever for using "free" coil and leaf springs as my starting stock for just about everything. The leaf springs were just really hard under the hammer. Everything was so difficult that by the time I was getting to the finesse work, I was so tired that I'd end up burning the work in two. I never tried mild steel because I mistakenly believed that my only sources were home centers where it's really expensive. Thomas Powers posted long ago about how metal distributors sell the same materials for 1/4 of the cost of home centers. My first time working with 3/4" square mild steel stock was a water-shed moment for me. It was like I was suddenly stronger, and the added mass of metal stayed hot for longer which let me get something accomplished in each heat. It's a whole lot easier to thin out a mistake than it is to "bump up" or upset the stock.
  2. So when do we reach the point where students "rediscover" classical solutions that can be applied to academically generated problems?
  3. Marc1, I suspect that being seen as progressive is the motivation behind much of what happens in academia. Thomas Sowell once said that "Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked, with what sounded good."
  4. I don't have an easy answer about drilling slots in masonry. I can tell you that Headed Anchor Studs are commonly used in applications where new steel meets existing masonry. They are generally epoxied or grouted into a drilled hole and the exposed end is welded to whatever you're trying to attach. Hilti makes a range of epoxy kits designed to match headed anchor studs. As memory serves, some are like a capsule that is inserted into the hole before the embed is hammered home. The capsule breaks, the epoxy does it's thing, and everything's locked down. None of that stuff is "rule of thumb", the capsules are engineered for a specific stud in a specific application.
  5. I recall reading that the word "set" has more meaning than any other in the English language. Many words have even reversed their meaning over time. Lots of people find it difficult to understand that accepted popular usage trumps academic/historical meaning every single time. It's easy to think that once a "new" word gets added to Websters (or whichever brand you prefer) that it's meaning is permanently fixed. Year over year, there are changes made to the definitions of existing words because accepted popular usage has changed. There have always been people unhappy with this arrangement, yet history has shown they are ALWAYS wrong in the end. If everyone uses a word "incorrectly", the meaning changes until it's no longer incorrect. I suspect that the change in definition is usually made by people using the term in a completely different context than the words origin. Currently marketing people use the word "forge" in branding merchandise that has nothing to do with blacksmithing. There are more businesses with "forge" in their names that pertain to food than to iron. It's my bet that the definition for "forge" will expand to include "Adjective, evocative of toughness or rough simplicity" simply because marketing people outnumber blacksmiths by huge margins.
  6. Frosty, I think your room mate example enforced a social contract with someone who couldn't/wouldn't realize that not making a decision is a decision. Empathy for someone who's stalled out in life cannot extend to stalling out your own life. If depression was a disease, this is how it spreads. You raised an excellent point here; I deeply respect the individual drive to do the right thing. Military and first responders are often called upon to act beyond their individual interests. Anachronist58, I think that's a worthy goal. There's a lot unsaid in your post but you've reminded me of something that might resonate in your life. When you're young, it's great fun to be against things. Establishments, traditions, social mores, it all constrains the youthful desire to expand until you've filled the space with your expressions. It doesn't matter what medium, be it posters on every surface, or music loud enough to be heard from space, the object is to fill the void left open by older people who "don't understand". As I've gotten older, I've encountered failures and setbacks like anybody else. I believe it was Frosty who quoted his dad a long time ago when he said: "You can't change human nature, you can only change how you feel about it". With patience and a more open mind, I can look back on many of those failure and setbacks to see how human nature played a vital role in what happened. In hindsight, it's obvious that failing to account for human nature was my consistent mistake. The establishments, traditions, social mores, etc. exist to provide a semi-reliable basis for human nature to peacefully enter social contracts. Codes of behavior like chivalry weren't one-sided. Everyone had to act within the code or suffer the consequences. Malevolent forces coupled with useful idiots have chipped away at effective codes of behavior since before Machiavelli's time. The way I see it, an individual can choose to be a victim, or they can get all Don Quixote and go forth as an example of virtue. Acting with virtue has always been laughed at, however victim-hood is depressions leverage on the soul. Just last night I heard about an old gent with dementia who's wife was looking after him. He's very sweet-natured which makes his condition more tolerable for everyone around him. I suspect that if he were a grumpy old cuss, he'd be in a nursing home so his wife could get some peace in her golden years. Wroughton: I've encountered plenty of passionate and ambitious people who would do anything to get ahead. I think what you're describing is someone who wants to achieve their goals on the basis of their own work. They value their work, so they tend to value the time, skill, and efforts of others. In my experience, these folks are quick to set the terms of understanding for any request. I've had such people offer to pay/trade me for the time to figure out what it would cost to do the job.
  7. The other day I encountered a quote that was attributed to Jack Kornfield. "If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete". My first thought was to take this as "permission" to be as patient and understanding with myself as I am with others. Frustration with my pace for learning new things, or falling short of my aspirations are ready examples of where this could apply. I got to thinking about some patterns I've seen in relationships and the whole thing took on a new meaning. A good example of this is when someone decides to be helpful in the hopes their kindness will be rewarded. Whether the reward is emotional, monetary, or status, doesn't much matter, the pattern tends towards disappointment. I think that's because compassion isn't a medium for exchange. If being compassionate isn't it's own reward, I should ask myself what I'm hoping to achieve. Wouldn't it be kinder to myself to be more honest about what's really going on? By extension, isn't it more fair to whoever I'm helping to clearly explain my reservations and/or expectations? I've tested it out a little, and so far, It's working pretty well. If helping someone is the right thing for me to do, I don't regret helping no matter how thankless the task. Anything else is a deal made clear to both parties. I figure there will be bad deals, but at least the bad actors know they can only fool me once.
  8. papa, I found that wearing shade 3 safety glasses has really reduced my eye fatigue. It doesn't seem to be very popular among smiths, maybe because all color rendering is harder with a green tint. I have more than one tee shirt with lots of little burn holes right where my leather apron stops. Forge welding sends a lot of hot stuff in all directions. I think a leather apron is a good way to go.
  9. I second that!
  10. JHCC, That's an interesting distinction. I've never heard anyone refer to them as a "German Chef's Knife". According to Wikipedia, you're correct that the German chef knives have more belly in the blade than the French chef knifes. The Sabatier knives I've handled personally had bellies similar to the German knives, but they were old and it's probable that their owner ground a curve into them over years of sharpening.
  11. Latticino, If that's what his customers want, it's not wrong. The photo you posted reminded me that some french chef's knives have an integral bolster that comes down to the choil. For example, Wusthof and Henkles "Classic, and International" lines have them. It occurs to me that different techniques would steer people's preferences. I bring the choil down onto the board which pops the spine at the tip into the fingers of my support hand. I maintain a bit pressure on my support hand fingers to bring the tip back down to the board. If you've ever seen a skateboarder doing an "Ollie" it's the same motion. One side pivots the other end into the air, where counterpressure on the airborne side pivots the low end off the ground. Since the off hand only needs to provide downward pressure, you can keep your hand open with the finger tips on the spine. The knife hand is holding the handle with a pivot grip where the thumb and middle fingers are on either side of the bolster. That gives the knife hand freedom to generate the bouncing motion. If there as a flat area, especially one that's a good quarter of the blades length, the knife hand would have to strike the board harder to keep from losing all momentum. That would be more work and it would probably reduce the top speed of the mincing. With all of that being said, I worked with quite a few prep chefs and none of them cut at "woodpecker" speeds. Going back to Jaques Pepin, he would often cook a dish alongside Julia Child where she would use a power tool and he would use a manual implement. She didn't beat him often and he wasn't out of breath from the effort either. I learned the "woodpecker" mincing by mimicking him and Martin Yan. One of the more memorable ones was whisking eggs into a meringue. Julia used a standing mixer, against Jacques with a whisk. She started the episode with a starters pistol and they raced. As memory serves, it was a draw. I'm curious if modern culinary arts teaching has moved towards power equipment rather than maximizing manual technique. Maybe the popularity of stuff like Sushi has shifted the culinary arts focus towards slower precision? Lots of sushi knives have flat edges.
  12. Ionic Muffin, Most of my kitchen knives are tapered (ground) both distally and from the spine to the edge. There's a small secondary bevel for the actual edge. Most "French" style chef knives have no straight section to the edge which allows them to rock smoothly until the bolster at the choil hits the board. That part is critical if you want to be able to "pop" the top of the spine at the tip into your support fingers to achieve the really fast mincing motion that sounds like a wood pecker. Knives with a long flat to the edge won't "woodpecker" worth a hoot. Even a slight curve in the edge will create a shearing motion rather than chopping motion. Shearing requires less force which makes the knife seem sharper. Balancing the weight at the choil makes it seem lighter too. Flat sided chef knives are often used as a crushing tool for stuff like garlic. The skin is released by crushing the clove between the flat and the board. Then after a quick mince, the pieces are sprinkled with coarse salt and the knife flat is used like a spatula to crush the garlic and salt together until it's a fine paste. Once that's done, the blade is often used to lift the garlic paste off the board. If you ever get a chance to watch Jacques Pepin on the old Julia Child shows, you'll see him doing this all the time.
  13. JHCC, I'm assuming that would have lost something if it was translated from the original Klingon.
  14. Templehound, Thank you for the explanation and the excellent photo's. That's a neat idea and it's elegantly executed.
  15. carlson, The offset will make the tongs imbalanced which isn't necessarily a big deal compared to the advantage of being able to grab along the length of a piece of stock. It will however, make a difference in the overall amount of work you do with your wrist. Another area that it might prove a little cumbersome is if you're bending the stock along it's length. Having the jaws in line with the handles puts the reaction forces straight through your grip. With the handles offset, it's easier for the jaws to slip axially while bending. To counteract that, I suspect you'd find you have to grip harder when bending with offset tongs. One reason they might not be as common as ordinary bolt-tongs is that longer stock is usually easier to handle without tongs. There is an advantage in grabbing a long piece along it's length, especially since you wouldn't need to cool the "handle" end. That's a bid advantage with high carbon steels that shouldn't be quenched. I've seen knifemakers using offset tongs to pick up stock they dropped on the floor. They seem to work a little better than ordinary bolt tongs for that. Of course, dropping stock is generally a sign that the tongs don't fit the work. I have a pair of wolf-jaw tongs that are by far my most-used tongs. They're able to hold 1/2" round or square either lengthwise or endwise. They fit in stuff like hammer eye's and they're agile enough that I can adjust things in the fire with them. That being said, bolt tongs are about as good as it gets for holding stock by the end.