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I Forge Iron

Blades for The End of the World

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While a lot of knife makers have been getting ready for the Blade Show in Atlanta, I've been flogging to get stuff ready for The End of the World...primitive skills gathering in Idaho, put on by Ron and Karen Hood's Hoodlums forum. :D I was not able to attend myself, but Luke Swenson offered to take up there whatever I was able to make and take care of sales for me. Luke left early, so Ghostwolf, Charlie of Two Wolves Outdoor supply, generously offered to take my inventory up for me. Much appreciation for these fellows! I really enjoyed getting to meet Charlie briefly and chat with him a bit.

Here's what I was able to get together:

1.) Six socket-handled big blades. These are all forged from leaf spring, multiple hardened in veggie oil and given multiple tempering cycles. Handles are hemp cord wrap with cotton cord Turk's head knots and amber or black shellac sealer. Each one has a handle long enough that, in conjunction with the large choil, one can use it for a two-handed swing, or at least hand-and-a-half if you have gorilla paws like mine. Four of these are almost willow-leaf saber profiles, and I would consider them more of a bush sword than a machete. The other two are Southeast Asian style blunt-ended choppers.




2.) Six axes. These are forged from brand new 4140 and hardened in commercial quench oil. After heat treatment, I brushed off the loose scale and gave them a light etch in vinegar to darken them. The three on the longer handles all have heads just under 20 ounces, while those on the shorter handles have heads 16-17 ounces. I bought a dozen commercial hickory handles of each size, only to discover when they arrived that they were overly massive and even with my large hands were very uncomfortable. It felt like trying to hold a tree trunk! So each handle was carefully cut down, ground, rasped, and sanded to probably about half of their original mass, leaving comfortable, ergonomic shapes that are stil plenty strong. The profiles of the handles were also changed, ending up looking quite a bit different than what I purchased, and thankfully feeling a lot different as well. They were given a light stain and oiled.











3.) Two shorter socket-handled knives and a work knife. Leaf spring and 5160, respectively. Luke really likes the longer of these two socket-handled knives. :) I had hoped to get some more of the work knives finished, but slap-dab ran out of time.


4.) Four personal survival kit knives. A more substantial solution than putting a razor blade in your Altoids tin PSK. Two-finger grip, and shaves hair nicely. Made from plow disk, hardened in veggie oil, with high-visibbility orange nylon cord wrap sealed with epoxy. Charlie was sure eyeballing these. :D


5.) Small game gigs. Made from agricultural coil spring, hardened in veggie oil. You can lash it to a pole to gig fish, frogs, squirrels, etc., and the blade is large enough and sharp enough to process the critter aftewards.


6.) A sharp-nosed mouse. Little two-finger skinner with a nose, ears, and a tail. :) Made from plow disk, hardened in veggie oil, hemp cord and shellac wrap, Kydex sheath.


And finally, the reusable crate I had made to transport it in. I based it loosely off an old rocket box I have, but scaled up. There's a small chamber on one end to keep the small stuff in. I need to stencil "Helm Enterprises, Forging Division" across the front now.


And now, being very tired, I shall sleep. :D Thanks again to Luke and Charlie for their help!

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Thanks, guys!

Cliff & Willis - That's what I'm going for. My eye is initially drawn to flow of lines, so the overall form is what interests me. Embellishment isn't something I do a lot of.

Willis - Here's how I learned: http://www.ropeworks.biz/archive/Aturkhed.html I played that over and over and over and... I'll give you a trick for tying it with two strands: Double your cord over and tape the ends together. Then you just make sure that the strands don't twist as you tie the knot. :D

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RR, they look very nice indeed for that genre; particularly in the design as well as the execution. Good tough well made using blades! Hope they sell out and that box comes back full of orders for more.

I would stencil that box "Open In Case of Zombie Attack"

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Right on,Stormcrow,you're cooking,man!
Good stuff,all of it,i personally like the axes best.
If you have to put so much work into handles anyway,i'd just buy some air-dried 2x stock.It takes a moment to rough it out with a circular saw,and then you're practically where you start with the store-boughten garbage.EXEPT,the very important choice of grain orientation is now in your hands.
Again,great stuff,keep it up!

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Oh, 'bout yay thick. *indicates with fingers*

The thickness is less important than the size of the handle preform sillhouette. You just need enough mass to get there. I've been refining my handle shape and have settled on making the prefrom about 2 1/2" wide right below the blade and somewhere under 4", say 3 3/4" or thereabouts, at the butt end. I also make these handles extra long to account for rolling the end of the socket over (something I do that you don't have to) and for the Turk's head knots I tie at either end of the wrap. I think the final length is about 7", which is just about right and gives a few options on how you hold it.

And here are some videos I shot a while back showing the making of a socket handle:

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I generally advise new people to make their blades about twice as thick as I do---allows them to grind below all the "learning experiences" Twice as long too as nearly everyone has burnt up the end and so having extra means they can cut it off and continue. (I warn them 3 times and then let them go ahead and burn it up)

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That's a good video, Mat. The hammers squishing out the blades are interesting, along the same lines as the ones I've seen in the Swedish ax manufacturer Youtube videos. I came across a video some time back showing a blacksmith shop in a town in Mexico that makes tequila. The shop made the agave cutting tools and other agricultural hand tools. That had the same general two-stage socket rolling setup on a power hammer. I'll see if I can locate it.

Mark - You're not the first one to mention deanimating zombies in regards to the blades. Reckon why? Must have the look.

I demonstrated rolling one of these handles for the Balcones Forge monthly meeting that was hosted at my shop yesterday. It went really well, and was the first time I rolled one without having to use my mandrel to help clean it up. Pics eventually.

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James allowed Balcones Forge to come out to his shop for their June meeting. The press and hammer that he built are really impressive. If you are going to be there when he is using the hammer, you better get your fillings tightened before you go. Could not believe how hard it would hit. He had a good display of items that he has made and did demo making one of his knives with a socketed handle. Great Demo. Thanks James

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Thanks, Jerry! If it outperforms a commercial hammer in no other regard, mine at least makes more noise! :) I very much enjoyed having everyone there and would be glad to do it again.

Monty - No, any medium-to-high carbon steel will work with proper heat treatment. I chose 4140 for its toughness, as I have hit plenty of rocks inadvertantly while working on clearing brush and want to minimize the blade's chances of chipping out while still holding a decent edge. The alloying metals in it lets it harden more than plain carbon steel in the same range of carbon would be able to, I believe.

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I was curious what temp you tempered the mini blades and gigs to.

350 degrees Fahrenheit, if I remember right. They were done a good while back, I just finally got an edge on them to send out. Shave hair off your arm now. :)
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