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  1. How do you set up your tables at craft fairs?

    I've never run anything like this but I've visited quite a few art fairs, swap meets, etc. The "bunker" arrangement for display is nice for getting a lot of fairly small form-factor things visible at the same time. It's also handy for giving the retailer somewhere to store their cashbox, lunch, dog, etc. As a visitor, I've been to more than a few "bunker" setups where the proprietor was so deeply engaged in their conversation, pet, lunch, computer, etc. that I couldn't attract their attention. The personal connection to the maker is a huge part of why people go to fairs. It's gotta be exhausting to be personable, engaging, and attentive to all the people coming into a booth. I suspect a fair amount of burnout is to be expected on the trade show circuit. The inverse arrangement offers the same amount of display space, but obliges the retailer to be out among the people. There are booths that I've entered on the strength of the retailers personality. If these folks are listening, they'll gain valuable feedback from the visitors. I often compliment talented artists whose work is simply beyond my financial reach. Most artists appreciate the compliment, but there's the rare few who act on the information and offer something I could afford. At a minimum, their card goes on my wish list. More than once, I've followed up on a lead later and made a purchase. While I don't think the table arrangement factored into that decision, I can say that the personal engagement was more important than anything else.
  2. Need to change my name

    JB, While I understand your desire to maintain consistency, I think it's worth considering a bigger picture and what constitutes the best marketing decision. Take J.A. Henckels for example. According to Wiki, it was founded by Peter Henckels. The touchmark is twins or "Zwilling" in German. Peter's son Johann Abraham Henckels renamed the company but kept the touchmark which is now 286 years old. The company's name wasn't originally communicated in the touchmark at all. When it was added, it's noteworthy to me that they also included the city of manufacture; Solingen . People identify with locations and nature much more readily than some clever turn of phrase in the company name. Many places are named for notable local features in the settlers native tongue. Whatever caused them to stop their roving and settle there is likely to be as impressive today as it was then. Standing out from a huge crowd of companies on the internet requires a name that's truly memorable. Odds are good that very few knife makers are going to be in close proximity to your business. So a potential customer who knows which city/county/state/province you're in is much, much, more likely to find your website. It's difficult to come up with the kind of money it takes to "teach" google to bring your website up on the first page of a client's search. Just now I googled "JB Knives". Whoever JB Knife and Tool is, I can see that they've spent some serious time and money getting themselves onto the first four results on Google. From there, I'm seeing what looks to be two other makers, and one knife store. JB Knife and Tool reappears on the first page list one more time. All totaled, JB Knife and Tool constitutes about 60% of the search results. Without clicking on anything, I can't tell you where JB Knife and Tool is located. In contrast, I googled "Knife Makers North Carolina" Three manufacturers appear on a map, not one of which appears to be paying for the ad banner. I see six separate knife makers along with four results pertaining to the North Carolina Custom Knifemakers Guild. It's noteworthy that the #2 company on the list is named "Carolina Custom Knives". Even if I misspelled a company named after a city in South Carolina, Google's going to find the correct company because the city names are centuries old. In comparison, a misspelled search for any of the above suggestions would bring up completely different results with each one. Unless you've got a packed showroom selling your stuff for free, it's going to be important to get customers onto your website. People misspell things all the time, especially when using smart phones. Just throwing this out there, but Gransfors Bruk axes are hand made with the individual smith signing their work in addition to the companies touch mark. Today you might be a one-person shop, but I hope things go so well, you end up with lots of smiths working for you.
  3. Flattening hammer (easy way)

    How much do they weigh? I've found that heavy top tools require a lot of striking force to overcome their inertia.
  4. Stanley Fatmax 4lb Rounding Hammer?

    I agree with Frosty about using heavy hammers with top tooling. I built a guillotine tool that uses 2" x 1/2" stock for dies. The top die runs roughly 6". I was really surprised at how much energy it takes to overcome the inertia of the dies. I have a 6lb hand hammer that's really good as an uphand sledge for a striker. Even a small person can work the heats without wearing themselves out. Since tennis elbow/ blacksmiths elbow set in this spring, I've been sidelined. I'd recommend steering clear of anything that puts undue wear and tear on your elbow. I have a new appreciation for how long it can take for tendons to heal. Once my elbow was injured, it was tough to get anything done without making it worse. Even after protracted rest and physical therapy, it's easy to "anger" the injury with a hammering motion. When I was younger I could swing heavy framing hammers all day without any trouble. Now when I see those super lightweight titanium headed framing hammers, I understand why old pros pay so much for them.
  5. Good News

  6. How to tell if your forge weld will hold

    JHCC, that's a really useful tip. WWN, A while back someone posted a video of a guy who did some destructive testing on forge welds to determine what was good, bad, or indifferent. The main lesson was that a "one and done" forge weld was basically a tack weld with limited strength. When he repeated the forge welding process on his first weld, the joint was substantially stronger, but the weld joint failed before the parent material. When he did three forge welding passes on the joint, the resulting weld was stronger than the parent stock. Some of the old blacksmith books I have recommend three "steps" for forge welding. While they might call the steps "tack", "weld', and "dress", they do all of the work at welding temperatures which would be consistent with what this guy was doing.
  7. I see a pair of trends in the responses. The "pro/old school" approach is to learn by rote. The "amateur/teacher" approach is to pace yourself while the teacher/experience encourages anything in the direction of progress. Obviously there have been examples of successful people who followed either approach. I think we're missing something significant here. Enthusiasm can be a catalyst for learning. Once you've mastered something difficult to do, it's tempting to focus advice towards that approach. As the beginner, there's this enthusiasm to do something awesome that's just beyond your current abilities. The sooner a beginner achieves something they see as similar to the awesome they aspire to, the more enthusiastically they make the connection between practice and learning. I used to teach beginning guitar lessons. Lots of students quit within the first couple of months because it's difficult, painful, and often doesn't sound good to be a beginner. I figured out that if I could get them to where they thought they sounded like their hero for even a moment, within their first few weeks they'd stick with it. Since then, I've tried to find examples of "attainable awesomeness" for any new pursuit.
  8. Upgrading a belt sander to a belt grinder

    Will, It might sound too rustic, but an angle grinder with a sanding disk backer can achieve admirable results for flattening out hammer marks. The sandpaper disks can be had in aggressive grits that hog off material pretty rapidly. The main limitation is the diameter of the wheel. Most angle grinders have higher RPM's that work well with coarse grits. In my opinion, the sandpaper disks are superior to stone wheels because the backer keeps them cutting flat. Just for clarity's sake, I'm not referring to the sandpaper flap disks. Those are great for blending curves, but they don't cut a flat.
  9. Three Nail Forge - Clean up

    Christopher, Plywood makes an excellent shear-wall membrane. If you used self-tapping screws to fasten it to the legs of your stand, the plywood would add considerable structural strength without welding. Even if you only put it on two adjoining sides, the frame would become much stiffer. Building on Thomas' suggestion, you could also use the cementitious board that's sold for stone tile underlayment as a heat resistant bench top material.
  10. Upgrading a belt sander to a belt grinder

    Will W. As Frosty mentioned, changing pulleys will trade speed for torque. While your machine might be slow for heavy hogging operations, it's probably closer to ideal for finishing work. It took a while for it to dawn on me, but the higher grit's have more surface contact than lower grits. The heat from friction is going to be a function of surface area (contact area), time, pressure, and belt speed. I have a fixed speed belt grinder and a 400 grit belt will heat the steel much, much, faster than a 40 grit belt. If I could slow it down for the finer belts, It'd cut faster because I could make contact longer. I have a Trizact A30 (800 grit) belt that heats the stock so fast that in some cases, I can only make contact for 2 or 3 seconds between cooling dunks.
  11. George, I think there are at least two parts to quality control. Generating a product of quality, and actually monitoring the outcomes to control what's getting out the door. As it stands certifications are largely permanent after they've been issued. Few if any of these organizations are actively policing their own membership on an ongoing basis. While I certainly see your point and agree with you about licensed pilots and so forth, I think you've chosen a fairly rare example of where ongoing scrutiny is part of keeping that title. My issue is with the utterly blind faith society places in organizations that never have to prove their worth. For example we can see declining job opportunities for college graduates. If colleges were imbuing the students with knowledge and skill that employers needed, the situation would be reversed. They get away with it because society accepted the premise that certification is a proxy for suitability/quality. Society also accepted their role as gatekeepers to prosperity which empowered them to raise tuition to where a lifetime of debt is the norm. I started my apprenticeship in the electrical union and I'd be the first to say they take teaching seriously in a way that's profoundly different to colleges. I very much believe they taught the best ways to do things, which prioritized productivity at work. That being said, a staggering number of members were an utter embarrassment to the trade. They wouldn't occupy those jobs if the union wasn't protecting them. I ruined my back earning my way in the trade while licensed drunkards slept through their shifts. My experience is by no means unique. Transparency, accountability, and competition are simple solutions that get little attention because they present insufficient opportunity for graft. Modern management is geared towards avoiding obviously necessary work. It's much harder to actually get out and verify that your people are maintaining the organizations standards. It's much easier to collect dues and defend the odd incompetent on the grounds that every member is equal. This cowardly and lazy approach devalues the true professional. Excellent and knowledgeable professionals will always be in demand. There's absolutely no reason that a trade organization or guild couldn't be comprised of the very best professionals. I believe many were founded on that principle. Any large group of people will eventually require management. The quality of that management is a function of how well it maintains those principles. I think critical thinking is the missing link here.
  12. There are a lot of insightful comments here. As I read the prescribed solutions, several thoughts jump to mind. First off, I think the guild/trade/certification/license/registration approach is assumed to be a meaningful way to achieve quality assurance. I strenuously disagree. On the "white collar" side,MBA graduates run businesses into the ground every day. Unethical people have no problem lying to an organization so they can gain credibility via membership. On the "blue collar" side, I've encountered scores of licensed tradesman who were total incompetents. It mystifies me how people who accrued the necessary hours, and passed exams can be so incompetent but it happens all the time. I suspect the reason this is happening is that it's a whole lot easier to set up a qualification rubric, than it is to police the membership. As a result, there really are no organizations that guarantee the outcome of their members work. Long before the internet diluted the value of information, we had "education" programs that rubber-stamped anyone willing to pay tuition and serve their time. Bringing back the exclusivity, elitist, and cloistered approach is how guilds lost ground in the first place. It's rebuilding the wall that kept information and opportunity away from outsiders. I think the "noise to signal" ratio has put the onus onto the individual to employ critical thinking. As Thomas Powers pointed out, it's not always easy to learn what's true, but it's still possible. Once we accept that responsibility, the accessibility of information becomes the greatest gift humanity ever shared.
  13. What are the little balls on gothic towers?

    I'm just spitballing here but I suspect they are there to create contrasting light and shadow. If it were straight and unadorned, they might seem shorter to an observer on the ground. The photos make them appear to be evenly spaced. If so, they provide visible "proof" that one building is X amount higher than another. I seem to recall an Architecture course that discussed how competitive cathedrals were. Being just a bit taller than the neighboring cathedral was very important to the congregations. It also occurs to me that aesthetically, the "fringe" effect they create blurs the line between the building and open sky. A lot of ancient architecture was based on repeated patterns and ratios. I suspect that the knobbly bits are going to be similar to patterns repeated elsewhere in the structure.
  14. The Steel Puck.

    I used some case hardening compound on the faces of my guillotine dies and it worked really well.