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I Forge Iron

Bjorn makes sharp things. My beginners log book


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No it doesn't have a crosspiece. I had intended to do a bit of spear throwing with it, so I would probably clip myself in the ear if it had a crosspiece.

Boar hunting with a spear sounds quite interesting. Too my knowledge there's a fair bit of hunting of feral pigs around here, and I think knives are the weapon of choice. Somehow it never struck me that a spear might be used for it as well.

I wouldn't trust my spear though. I like the leaf shape as well, but this was one of the first forging projects I started. Charcoal in broad daylight, and I'm quite sure I forged it both too hot and too cold. Lots of stress fractures in the junction between socket and blade and it didn't harden properly. Decided to finish it roughly anyway, because I still like how it looks.

 

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Feral pigs are what we were hunting. I used to hear rumors about them having been hybridized with Russian boar but wasn't too sure about it. The Florida dept. of fish and wildlife found a few during their genetic study about ten years ago that did in fact have Russian boar DNA. I assume someone imported them to hunt back in the 80's when south Florida was a free for all but who knows. 

I'm sure your next one will be better.I've not had much luck with welded  sockets myself but I think I know where I was going wrong. 

Pnut

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I think I read something recently about how domesticated pigs change quite drastically when they become feral. I can't remember where so I can't really verify that. I can't imagine it changes their DNA though, so sounds like somebody imported Russian boars to Florida as you say.

Thanks. I sure hope so. I did not weld the socket on my spear either. As i understand 5160 (which I think this is) is pretty hard to forge weld to itself? I just closed up the socket and attached it to the handle with a single rivet through the middle.

 

 

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Thats a good looking first try at a spear. Keep it on the wall as a reminder of everything you can do better now that you've had some experience.

There are no native new world pig species, so all wild pigs are feral in the Americas. They can change drastically from being domesticated to "going wild" in 0 generations. If your pig got loose and you see it 2 years later you almost wouldn't recognize it. They grow more hair, longer tusks and get much meaner dispositions. Some people say they get longer, but it's more that they are skinnier so they look more stretched out.

It also goes the other way too, you can catch a very young feral piglet and keep as a domesticated one and it wont have as much hair, be much fatter and can be warm, affectionate farm animals who will eat you the first chance they get. Just like any other pig. They won't produce as much meat as domestic stock because nature selected for survival instead of meat production.

No DNA change that I know of, but I believe that there are studies that suggest RNA can change with environment. Though I'm not sure if it changes in the base animal or in further generations.

The Russian boar DNA has made it to the states which makes a larger animal, but that's more from the hybrid vigor than anything else. It can happen from crossing 2 domestic breeds as well. The first generation of unrelated crosses can be, but not always, much larger than either parent breed. Think about the size difference between a lion, a tiger and a liger (though with the liger, a size limiting gene is missing). Every generation past the first thats crossed into either parent breed will be closer to normal sized for that breed until the hybrid vigor is gone. If your crossing 2 hybrids, the reductions will be slower but you still lose some vigor. 

Last I checked, the evidence showed that hogzilla was just a domestic pig that went feral and had gone through the change because his DNA didn't closely match any of the wild groups in the area.

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Thanks! I will certainly keep it to look back on as I improve.

It's an interesting subject. Genetics has definitely never been my strongest suit, but I would be interested to read more on it. A lot of organisms have some type of plasticity in response to a changing environment, but I know nothing of the underlying mechanisms.

And is it male lion with female tiger or vice versa for the liger? I know one coupling produces a liger and the other a tigon, but it's only the liger that grows so humongous which is quite facinating.

I think I remember the first time hogzilla popped up online. Quite the beast. Cross breeding can lead to some quite unexpected results too. I think there was an attempt at breeding arctic foxes for a better temperament. Unfortunately, better temperament was also correlated with worse fur. Is the hybrid pig noticably larger than either of the two parent species?

 

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The liger is a male lion with a female tiger. In lions the females pass on the size restricting gene, while in tigers the male passes it on, giving the size discrepancy to the ligers and tigons. Funny thing about ligers/tigons is that they can produce offspring, unlike most true hybrids like mules. Showing that lions and tigers are more closely related than horses and donkeys. Lions/tigers and cheetahs can't reproduce even though they are from the same continent, but pumas and cheetahs can even though they are half a word apart. Large cat group vs small cat group

I remember hearing about the foxes bred for temperament. If I recall correctly they took "wild" foxes from fur farms with the requirement that the fox showed curiosity or indifference and no signs of fear or aggression (those that didn't cower in fear or attack). Then through selective breeding of that temperament they found certain traits that may be linked to domestication like spots, curled tails and a "bark". The problem I saw witht the experiment is that the foxes weren't wild. Though there wasn't any selective breeding, they had been bred in captivity for their fur since the 20s. With pictures in the 30s of foxes with similar marking from some of those same farms they chose from. So the genes were already there in receive form in a restricted gene pool, they just pulled them to the surface.

The hybrid pigs can be noticably larger, but thats only if they get the right mix of genes, you can also get some that wont ever get as large as either parent breed, so its kinda a crap shoot as to what you'll get. We've been breeding pigs most of my life, and we prefer hybrids to pure bred stock, but we use pure breeds when introducing outside blood. Our current sows are red wattle/Gloucester old spot/Hampshire crosses (with some Yorkshire and large black way back in the bloodlines as that's what we started with). Our next new boar is going to be a heritage Duroc, we will cross him on to our best sows. We have other pig breeders with similar bloodlines to ours, so a son will go the them and we will get a son from them the next year and this is who we will use for the next generation of piglets for breeding. Our next 2 outside blood boars will be Hampshire and red wattle to pull them back to what we like (~4 and ~8 years from now, respectively). This will add outside blood and hybrid vigor but still be close enough bloodlines to keep our consistency, which to us is crucial. We'd rather have 8 consistently good piglets vs 3 great ones, 6 good ones and 3 poor ones, which is more likely with outcrosses. Until we get that crossed boar we will use the Duroc for terminal crosses (those we won't keep for breeding) so we can still have pork. The Duroc puts on great muscle, grows faster and has great marbling, but we don't want to keep too much Duroc blood as they are known to have nasty dispositions and aren't great mothers, but the piglets we will get from the cross bred boar will be more like their mothers temperament. The first requirement we have to keep any of our animals is a good temperament, mothering ability is also shares that spot as both are heredable. No use keeping a nasty sow who won't mother her babies. 

We keep a similar mindset with our Dachshund lines, though our outcrosses come from breeders with no related blood because you can't sell a pure bred dachshund with some whippet in the background.

Sorry this post became long winded, it wasn't my intention, but once I started typing I couldn't stop.

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No need to be sorry about that. That was a really fascinating read, and I always appreciate learning something new. Thank you! There's clearly a lot of thought that goes into breeding that I wasn't aware of. And I didn't realise that ligers and tigons could actually produce offspring. Do you know whether the offspring of ligers and tigons remain fertile? Considering a lot of these big cats should logically have been separated for... I don't know how long, but Gondwana broke up a couple of hundred million years ago so that can't be it for pumas and cheetas. I wouldn't think they would be even within the same family after that long. Some sort of recent migration event like crossing the Bering strait or something along those lines?

I'm finding my interest in evolutionary biology invigorated again where I'm sitting, so it might be time to pick up some books again. Most of this is over my head at the moment.

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On 4/8/2020 at 9:43 PM, Shabumi said:

remember hearing about the foxes bred for

I'm familiar with this also. Strange how their color changed too. There's a Russian dog used for bomb detection that was bred with black backed jackals iirc. I can't remember what they call them. It sounds like salaika but the TBI is causing problems for me today. 

The pigs that the Florida department of fish and wildlife found that had Russian boar DNA were all hybrids animals. Their DNA was predominantly  domesticated pig breeds. Hybrid vigor is why I used to prefer mixed breed dogs.

Have you read anything about the effort to bring back the orox(sp.) during WWII by geneticists employed by Hermann Goering? 

Pnut

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15 hours ago, pnut said:

Have you read anything about the effort to bring back the orox(sp.) during WWII by geneticists employed by Hermann Goering

No I hadn't, and thanks for the great read. Though I certainly don't agree with the political views of Mr Heck, I must say that was quite the endeavor to try and breed his way back to an extinct animal from multiple related species. I could probably go on forever on this subject, but I realized that I hijacked bonnskij's thread so I'll leave it at that.

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Never heard of the attempt to bring back the orox either. The Nazis sure were overly ambitious with a few of their projects it would seem.

Wasn't there some success in bringing back an extinct subspecies of Iberian ibex relatively recently?
 

By all means keep at the conversation. It is quite fascinating :D

Anyways. I don't have too much new to show for on the forging side of things. My draw knife now has a second tang and a bevel. The cleaver has a bit more shape to it and a longer tang. I've got some wrought iron that I practiced a little bit with and found a tiny offcut from a leaf spring that I decided to just wing it with and see were I ended up.

1586501117954.jpg.9ebc04ca4f916bff65450fdd062b7d6e.jpg

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I think they were marginally successful. If I'm not mistaken there's still some of the animals they bred living in the wild but don't quote me on that because it's been years since I've read about it. I like the blank for the drawknife. I can't find my drawknife anywhere. I might have walked off and left it in the woods. 

Pnut

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Thanks pnut. To me there's no woodworking tool more fun to work with than a drawknife. Last time I did I picked up one that had probably not been touched in a hundred years and it carved up a tree branch like it was butter. I can't wait to have it finished.

Thomas, yes I had never heard the name orox before. Figured Aurochs that I am used to was probably just the German name for them. There's a few big animals like that that seems to have gone extinct fairly recently. The ibex in question i think was around 2000. Another I am aware of is a subspecies of wild horse barely a hundred years ago. I am just glad that we still have at least one survivor from the ice age. The muskox. Probably one of my favourite animals! (Which i learned only a few years ago is actually more closely related to goats than oxen). But I've gone off on a tangent again...

 

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*We* survived from the Ice Age.  Gives me hope that we are a climatological resistant species.  I've been to the Blackwater Draw site near Clovis NM to see what our ancestors  did using stone tools on the local fauna back before we started metalworking. 

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We are indeed quite adaptable. And widespread. That helps too I guess. I think humanity was very much on the bring of extinction at some point due to global climate change and I hope that wont be the case again. Seems also smaller animals are better at surviving extinction events. Not many truly big 'uns that survived the ice age far away from the equator. There's bison and muskox i suppose. And various deers and elks and such from a slightly smaller size bracket.

Would love to see some neolithic dig sites. A few archaeological digs around my hometown, but they go back only 1000-2000 years as far as I'm aware.

 

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Well if you are ever in the states, give us a shout. It's about 4 hour, 248 mile, drive to Clovis from here and there is a small museum as well as the actual dig site.   (Being from Australia, you probably are used to some space between things unlike our European smiths.)

It's only an hour to the Trinity Site; of course there isn't much there as it *worked*! (And is only open 2 Saturdays a year.) I've been mentioning to a smithing friend who works out there how the Trinity Jumbo container would make a *BUNCH* of improvised anvils....

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If I am ever in your direction, I will certainly give you a shout. Thank you. I appreciate that! Yes, I used to think the 80-odd kilometer drive between Sandane and Førde was the longest drive imaginable. Now There's been several 2000 kilometer long weekend drives for the sole purpose of digging for fossils and I've driven 100 kilometers for  a good pizza no worries.

Never even heard of the trinity jumbo container before, so I had to google that one. Man that's a big container! That would certainly make a lot of anvils. It's the weight of roughly four mbt's! And not even the nuke destroyed it! Amazing!

 

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Besides the Jumbo most folks haven't heard of the 100 TONS of TNT calibration explosion they did prior to the Atom Bomb test.  100 Tons of TNT during a war...they were quite serious about this.

What type of fossils?

Have you forged any custom steel display pieces for any of the fossils?

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I'd imagine even 100 tons of TNT were peanuts compared the total cost of the Manhattan project. That is one serious calibration run though.

The large majority of the fossils have been bivalves, fish scales and vertebrae as well as turtle shell fragments. The most exciting finds though have been a shark tooth, a belemnite (which I was hoping was a kronosaur tooth), an almost complete side of a richmondichtus fish and a jaw segment of an ichtyosaur. All around 100 million years old.

I haven't forged any display pieces, but that is certainly an exciting idea!

 

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I used to pick up Belemnites in the field near one of the Holmdel NJ, USA  Bell Labs buildings; same field that Karl Jansky  "discovered" radio astronomy in.  The local creek had fossil shark teeth.  During the first release of the movie Jaws a HS friend was selling them to folks for necklaces; I don't remember if he was telling them how many million years old they were.

One of the expenses of the Manhattan Project is that they didn't have time to test different methods serially.  They went right ahead and built up both expensive methods at the same time hoping one would work.  I worked with a local fellow who's family remembered the Trinity test.  They were doing a deathbed watch for a relative and saw the double sunrise.

 

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That's pretty cool!

And is that the guy that couldn't get his amateur radio working due to background radiation from the big bang, some other doctor worked out the conundrum and the amateur astronomer somewhat undeservedly got the nobel prize? (I'm not sure I even remember the story correctly).

Makes sense it was a race not worth losing. Sounds like you have plenty of interesting stories to tell! I think the Germans focused on a heavy water based bomb, and their plans went to the bottom of a fjord near Rjukan thanks to Norwegian commandos.

 

I was going to upload some photos of my last few days of work, but for some reason all my uploads fail. In any case. I built a small, but heavy duty table for my vise that I can move around. Scrap pallet wood, but very chunky. Filed the bevels on a few blades. The draw knife bevel is now sanded to 600 grit. I have yet to sand the flat. That will be tomorrows job.

 

 

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Besides 2 generations working at Bell Labs, we used to be able to see an Antenna at the Crawford Hill Labs where they first detected background radiation from the BB and won the Nobel---and it was an accident, they kept getting "noise" in a certain frequency range on their antenna.  So they cleaned it out and re did the surface and it was still there.  Finally they contacted a University to ask about it was was told that people had been hunting for that for years and they had probably won the Nobel---which was true.

Jansky was tasked to find out where all that static was coming from---very bad in the old AM radio days.  He had a set of linear antennas he pulled around the field to triangulate where it was coming from and finally isolated that some of it was coming from space!   (I worked IT for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory for 9 years down here;  when I was asked if I had any background in Radio Astronomy, I was able to mention the founding of the field and the BB Nobel...)

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Quite something to earn an accidental novel prize. Would've thought the university researchers who worked on and identified the problem would be quite deserving of the prize, but such is life.

Certainly a great thing to put on your resume!

 

For more forging work, this evening has not been particularly successful. The drawknife has been filed and sanded. Triple normalised this evening and quenched. Didn't harden. Quenched again. Still didn't harden. Quenched (ridiculously quickly) in brine (as in it was still glowing when I pulled it out) before putting it in oil and back in brine. Still no success. Decided I'd find a scrap piece and break for study. Heated to critical and quenched in brine. Alright. Hardened. Didn't crack though. I fully expected that from leaf spring. Wacked it hard onto the concrete floor and... It didn't break. Gave it a good wack with a hammer and it snapped like dry spaghetti.

Now I'm far from an expert, but isn't the grain structure here surprisingly fine for having just quenched straight in brine without normalising?20200425214529_IMG_7854.thumb.JPG.02018e5fe2a599d2f1a5be3d4ebad1a0.JPG

Any takers on what steel I'm sitting on and what steps to take next? Leaf spring. Repeatedly unsuccessful hardening attempts in canola. Test piece hardened in brine without cracking.

-Have I ruined the steel while forging? (I personally don't think so. The blade itself has spent relatively little time in the forge, and I think I managed the temperature alright, but what do I know?)

-Am I using too little oil for the quench? Roughly 6 litres of  canola oil I think. I have successfully hardened a couple of blades from the same leaf spring before.

-What steel is this most likely to be? I thought 5160 was quite forgiving in time to cool from critical, so I'm assuming I might have something different. Should I just straight up quench in brine next?

And now my previously shiny blade is full of file marks from hardness testing. Oh dear. Live and learn.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Still having a bit of trouble with heat treating my bigger leaf spring blades, so I've been working on a smaller test knife, so I can experiment a bit and see if I can pin down where I'm going wrong.

I'm finding it hard to see the decalescence/recalescence points on the leaf spring and as I understand it, it can be very faint on some alloys. I've also been doing a fair bit of reading on heat treating lately as I obviously lack knowledge in the area.

Not much forging the past few days as the rain season seems to have hit at the point where it should have been over...

Also picked up some scrap metal yesterday for a hefty five dollaridoos. I have a couple of non-blade related projects thought out, but that's from some actual stock once I get that sorted. Does anybody have any ideas as to what I can make with my newly acquired bits and bobs?56039973_2020-05-2212_09_04.thumb.jpg.606b328ea79ebca25ccf5fa29e3e654a.jpg

 

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Wrenches make good bottle openers for mechanics, candle holder from the lug wrenches, longer lug wrenches make good hold downs for LP anvils. An rasps make nice snakes.

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