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Doug Ayen

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antique arms show; lathe practice [Mar. 19th, 2011|10:06 pm]
Doug Ayen
I went to the Baltimore Antique Arms show today; there were more swords there than I've seen before, with a large selection of European and Japanese blades. I didn't see anything I couldn't live without, but did take some mental notes on designs. Prices haven't come down any, unsurprisingly, even with a relative glut on the market. Guess I'll have to make my own.

Speaking of making, I got a new, larger three jaw chuck for the lathe, all installed and tested out now. This means I can work on some of the larger chunks of steel for pizza wheels. I chucked in a piece of pattern welded stock, originally it was a piece of 1.25" steel cable, which I welded up in the forge then upset lengthwise, instead of the more traditional approach of flattening it out like a bar of steel. I was hoping for an interesting, possibly honeycomb-like pattern in the steel, but it looks like I had a big old hot-shut near the center. Still, it's good practice, and I'm getting better at lathe work, though I'm sure a traditional machinist would scoff at my cutting things by eye and not measuring anything. I may even finish this off and see how it looks when etched, if it's a nice enough pattern, I may try it again.

I'll see if I can get some pics out tomorrow, assuming there's anything to show.

Not the worst of days, productivity wise. At least I feel like I got something done.

Next weekend is the local Fire and Brimstone knifemakers hammer-in, www.fireandbrimstone.com, should be fun.

[User Picture]From: blackanvil
2011-03-20 03:28 am (UTC)

more detail

A bit more detail:

Got up late, just felt like sleeping in, but still managed to make it out before the crack of noon. Had brunch at a diner on the way, decided since it was approaching noon to just go straight to the show and not hit the antique tool auction on the way. I resisted the temptation of hitting the flea market on 340 near Charlestown, WV, which I hadn't expected to be open. I may check it out tomorrow.

Anyway, once I got to the show, I just did a round of all the tables. There were lots and lots of civil war era and more recent military blades, but they're not really what I'm interested in. One table almost right away, had a dozen good 16th-17th century rapiers, a mix of english, french, german, and spanish, both swept hilt and cup hilt. One very nice blade, early 17th century, was a spanish cup-hilt rapier, with a cuttlefish theme in pierce-work on the cup, and a serpentine blade. Sadly, I don't have the $6,000 he wanted. Several other vendors also had rapiers in good condition and looking nice, but nothing less than $3,000.

There were more vendors this year with japanese blades, but almost all were WWII-era blades, not a sign of folded steel or any interesting activity in the hamon. I didn't really take the time to examine most of the blades, as they were sheathed -- don't these vendors realize that the fittings you can see on a sheathed katana say nothing about the sword underneath?

What I was hoping to find, of which there were several good, inexpensive examples a few years ago at this show, was some wootz blades. I only saw one, and that was from a vendor who either only spoke Russian, or who didn't want to talk to me about a sword that didn't really fit in with the rest of his wares. A little disappointed, but that's the nature of this show -- what's carried varies so much from year to year.

I did actually buy something -- one vendor had a chromic acid based wood stain, normally used to fake an antique finish on gunstocks, and I bought a bottle as you can also use it as a good way of bringing out the grain in maple -- tiger stripe and birdseye in particular.

There were lots and lots and lots of guns, though. I'm not really into guns, but you could fight a large, if very anachronistic war with the firearms for sale there -- literally thousands on display, from every civilization that's had guns and from every era but the modern one. the cutoff seems to be a about WWII for rifles, and there is a strict pre-1898-only rule on handguns.

Once I got home, I installed a new 5" chuck on the lathe, and decided to try turning the aforementioned end-on cable damascus piece into a pizza wheel. First, I chucked it in the chuck, as centered as I could make it, and center-drilled a hole for my homemade arbor. I also faced-off a bit of the area around the hole so I could get a flat, even surface to clamp to. It was while during this I saw the large, almost 1" long cold-shut from the center radiating outward. I don't know how deep it goes, and just before calling it quits for the evening I started the other side and didn't see a similar cold shut, so I may get one good face out of this -- we'll see.

Tomorrow, I'll see if I can finish facing both sides, see if I have a good solid steel edge, in which case I'll probably finish this off. Otherwise, it's just scrap.
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