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I Forge Iron

Two Knives

John Martin

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First, I have been visiting Peter Martin about once a month for lessons and he has helped me a lot and I am very grateful he is willing to teach and put up with me. hehe...

The first knife is a 30 layer twist 1095/15n20. Bought the steel from Peter. So I weld it all up, twist. Forge out the knife. HT, then I got it to 220grit. Hadn't etched it yet, and I took it with me this weekend to show Peter my progress and he asked if I wanted a sneak peek at the pattern, and we etched it real quick. Well I somehow achieved a hamon like quench line on the blade. Have no idea how or why. Upon seeing this Peter, actually finished up the sanding on the blade for me and etched it so that he could see it better. Well here are the pictures. Sorry for the crappy pictures, my camera isn't worth anything. So my question is how did the hamon like quench line happen? I thermal cycled it. Then annealed it to work on it. Took it to HT, normalized. Then brought upto temp and used a air compressor to harden the spine to spring steel. Then brought up only the edge to temperature and edged quench.

The second knife is my first order. 300 layer random damascus billet by Doug Ponzio. The oil on it makes the whole thing look ripply. Plus the pictures aren't great. Anyhow here it is.

Any hints on how to get better pictures guys?







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Hey, sorry I'm new to blacksmithing, so no info there, but for the pictures, they seem to be blurry because your camera has trouble focusing items so close.
If you have a macro focus, you should enable it, if not, you should take the picture from further away from the blade, and zoom in either with your camera (if it has optical zoom) or with a pc program.
And, if you could turn off your flash, and take a picture somewhere with a lot of light (sunlight lets say) but the blade should be in a shadow, that should help with the reflection.
Anyway, i hope some of this helps :)

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You're right, the pics are hard to see.

Like Aral says back off a couple feet and crope for the closeup with a photo editor.

Tilt the blades a little so the flash isn't reflected directly back at the lens.

And cover the flash with a single ply of tissue paper to act as a diffuser.

A hamon is caused by the difference in hardness between the spine coated in clay and the edge left unprotected. You have done essentially the same thing by heating and hardening the edge only.

That's what I THINK happened anyway and will happily be corrected by the more knowledgeable.

The profiles look pretty nice, I await clearer pictures.


Edited by Frosty
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Blade profiles look nice. is that your makers mark stamped on?

Its not to difficult to take good photos. I use a plain black background (I think it helps not to have anything else in the shot that the camera might try and autofocus on).

I find a nice bright area (window sill etc), but not in direct sunlight. Move the blade around untill you can see the pattern well, without reflections by naked eye. Then take your photo from that angle.

I switch the flash off, and switch 'macro' mode on (little pic of a tulip?) The beauty of a digital camera is you can take lots, and then choose a good one :)

If you look on my website ive just started making the photo was taken as above, cheapo digital camera, no light box / diffusers / etc!

Welcome to Shadow Forge

hope this helps some!

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For taking better pictures with a common digital camera or camera phone, no macro function:

Use a tripod, monopod, or some other camera rest (book, stick, elbows, door frame) to steady your hand. Use optical zoom first (if you have it), then digital zoom to crop the scene before taking. Camera motion shows up easier as you zoom. The camera needs to be at least 3 ft (1m) away from your object to function well without macro. Setting the object onto an even colored, contrasting stage helps too, think pillow case or kitchen towel. A sheet of paper is good too, but feel free to experiment. Putting a plinth like object, such as a matchbox, under the backdrop may help edge detail show better by allowing some shadow. Using modeling clay to hold the object at an angle may reduce reflections and improve detail. Many cameras autofocus so you need to have the background at about the same distance as the object. Having better lighting can improve depth of field, but may wash out the detail depending on the camera.

For lighting use "bounce" lighting by aiming your lights at a light colored surface (wall, ceiling, cloth covered frame) to reflect onto the object. If your camera has a flash that won't turn off, use tissue paper as Frosty suggested. You can also cover lampshades with a white sheet or pillowcase to diffuse lighting. Lights get hot so be careful about heat, and dont let your "filter" touch the light bulb.

Alternately you can use a 5 sided backdrop that lets some light pass, and have your lights shine through the backdrop. Think about lining a laundry basket with thin fabric.

Changing the color of your light will tend to enhance detail in that color. Incandescent lighting is reddish, many fluorescent lights, including some cf lights, are blueish. Using a small colored reflector like a piece of colored paper can change your lighting color enough to show detail better.

If you are unhappy with the results, use a different distance and/or angle to the object. Change your lighting if you have a clear focus, but lack detail. If the pic is very light colored, reduce light, if dark, increase light.

If you have a better camera, these principles still apply, but your camera will have functions to make life easier such as manual focus, macro, and aperture settings.

I currently use 640x480 pixels for upload.

Set the object on an even colored, contrasting surface
light using indirect lighting, natural or artificial, color enhanced if desired
steady the camera about 3-4 ft from object
use zoom functions to crop image
take picture
re-crop on the computer if desired.


PS John, that is a nice picture you took.

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Well, I tried different settings and light sources, and I can't get a decent one of the bigger knife. But I got one of the knife with the quench line. Thanks for the advice for shooting photos, will try other settings to hopefully get decent pictures. Here it is:




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