Doug Ayen (blackanvil) wrote,
Doug Ayen

Yesterday's open workshop

Overall, I think we had a good workshop.

Having gotten stung, oh, 30-40 times by yellowjackets the day before, I had retired early the previous night and actually woke up early Saturday morning, about 6am. Did a bit of house cleaning, formed the loaf of bread for a party in the evening and started that rising, and got to work on the new forge.

I had hoped to have the new forge up and running by the time the workshop started, but events the previous day had kinda prevented that, so I picked up where I had left off earlier.

The new forge is based off of ideas from the book "Gas Burners for Forges, Furnaces, and Kilns," with the exception of using a portable air tank instead of a propane tank for the shell. I'm using a 3/4" burner, which should provide ample heat for hitting welding temperatures. So far I had as of Saturday morning cut ports on both ends, discovered that the 2" kaowool insulation wouldn't fit in through the ports, cut off one end, installed the insulation, welded the one end back on, coated the fibers with satanite as a stabilizer, poured the floor over the blanket/satanite and let that set, cut the port for the burner, and bought everything else I needed for final installation except a 1/4" to 1/8" pipe adapter for the burner hookup. I also have the propane-tank hardware, regulator with pressure gauge, hose, hose clamps, barbed pipe adapters, and all the bits that make up the burner itself.

One of the things needed was a mounting collar to hold the burner in the proper position. For this I bought a pipe flange mounting, which didn't quite match the curve of the shell. First productive thing I did on Saturday was to forge that into shape, to match the curve so I could weld it. This turned out to be quite doable, though I had to re-forge it once as the piece straightened out somehow between the first forging and when I test-fitted it in place. Once it was properly curved, I drilled and tapped some holes for the bracketing screws. I have pictures of most of the stages of production, and will post them in order once I get this thing finished.

While I was working on this, Carl H. and Scott S. showed up to join the workshop. Carl worked on some S-hooks for his SCA pavilion, and Scott picked up an old piece of his that had been sitting around rusting in the workshop. Shortly thereafter, a new workshop attendee showed up, John, who wanted some help fixing a knife he had bought, and who stayed to start learning the art of knifemaking.

The knife he had bought at Pennsic, just a couple of weeks ago, had already started rusting. The blade was obviously high carbon steel, not stainless, and while its lines were nice, the edge was at least 1/16" thick at the edge before the sharpening bevel, the scratch pattern was pretty much random, and once I knocked the surface rust off it was apparent the blade was already pitting.

Fortunately, with the steel that thick, pitting isn't much of a problem. I started with A65 and worked the blade down to a mirror polish, which was quite the improvement over the old random-direction scratch pattern. While I didn't address the too-thick-a-blade problem, John thought the reworked knife was a great improvement. I gave him the standard advice on knife care: don't store in the sheath, do keep it dry and oiled. Then I was able to convince him to start his own knife. :)

For his first knife, we decided to go with a fairly straight forward single piece forged knife. Starting with some 7/16" scrap steel (hardenable steel from a tire iron -- probably 1050 or 1075 or so), we forged down the material for the blade, formed the tip, lined up the back of the blade with the handle, created a spiral of steel for the pommel, then textured and twisted the handle section. What he has now looks knife-like, but he will have to come back to forge in the bevels, grind, polish, heat treat, and finish the knife another time.

Went to a great party afterwards, had a good time chatting with friends and playing "Guillotine," an amusing game about killing French aristocrats.

Overall, a good day.

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