I forged this at his request.
I hope you enjoy seeing it come alive!
Music by: Mr. Peter Biedermann “The Uncommon Man” (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Peter_Biedermann/)
Helpful links for the DIY blacksmith/bladesmith:
Heat treating 1084 thanks to Mr. Cashen – http://www.knivesby.com/knifemaking-Kevin-Cashen-treating-1084.html
Tool and knife steel from “The NJ Steel Barron” Mr. Aldo Bruno – http://newjerseysteelbaron.com/
Parks 50 Thanks to Mr. Kelly Cupples
Temperatures can be inexpensively tested with tempsticks. I get mine from markingpendepot.com.
A few months back I welded up a bunch of steel cable and forged this little bracelet. I’ve made a few more since. This one is still my favorite.
So I’ve been abnormally busy lately learning to do something a bit new for me. I hope to talk more about it soon.. But the NC state fair wasn’t so long ago!
Several NCABANA members and I were all there demonstrating blacksmithing for record numbers of people. It was an awful lot of fun. I made some neat things, even tried some new projects I hadn’t practiced before and let a crowd watch as I scratched my head and struggled with learning a new item or two. We answered many questions and maybe even inspired a few people young and old to take a more active interest in the craft.. But mostly I made and sold leaves and bottle openers oh, and my favorite change of pace.. leaf bottle openers..
Check out the art inspired by the experience in the Pirate Blacksmith webcomic
Ahoy! You may or may not be aware.. but we’re pirate people. Now I’m not for all the rapein’ an piligin’ we’re usually associated with. Ye be thinkin’ what be a pirate if ‘e ain’t robbin’ lasses of their booty an stealin’ everythin’ that ain’t tied down?
Freedom.. well to me alas pirates were only moderately scurvier or doggier than those sanctioned sailin’ men. And they often had more rights, ‘ell women were know to turn to the less than noble trade of piracy. Sure there were rules, but the sea.. twas often a satiable alternative to tyranny. That is my way of seein’ it anyway.
The pirate Lafitte was an American hero of sorts who just so happened to be co-proprietor of a blacksmith shop. Aye.. I’m at least third in a list of notable pirate blacksmiths, but Will Turner the barnacled belly-acher wasn’t even a real person!
I’ve never talked about it ‘ere but we actually had a pirate themed weddin’ where I made many of the cutlery and some of the decor early in me blacksmithin’ career.
So today ye should remember the five “A’s” as ye talk like a pirate. An dress like one too if yer’ ‘eart desires. ‘ell even drink like a pirate if ye be of age. An’ always remember to stay young at heart no matter how old ye get. Takin’ life to seriously will only get ye missin’ the ocean for all the waves so to speak.
Check out thepiratebay and download the new album by Ye Banished Privateers they’ve chosen to give it away at a fittin’ source. It’s good ‘ol pirate folk Irish punk.. what ever that be.. They give just a wee bit o’ advice for today on grog:
I had a fun time this weekend attending an event at Yates Mill in Raleigh with Solvarr! There was good food, lots of corn talk and music. If you’ve never been there, the lake is beautiful and the mill is a marvel.
The highlight of my day was getting to help out around the forge. I demonstrated how I make one piece steel roses.
I wish I had a photo of me working, but sadly I forgot to ask. If Ashley was there’ she’d have taken twice as many photographs. Alas I love to swing a hammer not take pictures. She’s been busy lately and has even started he own blog!
With out further adieu Yates Mill:
This may not be the fastest forge to build, but it was worth the time. These ingredients have been used on all my clayed forges. The secret is slowly curing and really rehydrating the kitty litter before hand:
A dirt cheap recipe for fire hardening clay in forges— Works great for projects big or small; I just winged it loosely off of some other recipes. This is an approximation. That was modified as I went along and needed more. I just went for something that “looked right”.. not that I knew what that was. I started off drier and got wetter to keep the large mass from cracking:
-1 20lb Bag kitty litter (the unscented bentonite clay kind) is barely covered with water in a wheel barrel.
-Add three full shovels of sifted red ground clay. (Sifting is really just a formality, but it should be done dry.. if it’s from a deep enough hole.. like a charcoal barrel pit then it’ll be well clumped and moist almost pure clay)
-Stir it all together and wait at least 24 hours. Occasionally stir to make yourself feel productive. =P This will soften the clay pellets as they absorb the water. Additional stirring will make sure all the mix stays wet. (The weather was mild, but cool at night when I did this so use less water in winter, and possibly more in summer)
– Once about half the standing water is soaked up or evaporated. Then add about equal parts wood ash and kitty litter to the mix until it’s to the desired consistency. For a single layer about an inch that’s something that clumps together in your hand without crumbling.
This mixture should to cure very slowly.
I would apply it in about one inch thick layers around firebricks letting them dry 24-48+ hours in between. I used a heater and halogen light at night because it was getting into the high low 60’s. I’d check on each layer to keep the outermost “skin” moist. The goal was to avoid lots of steam from the inside escaping and cracking a dry outside. After many layers were applied I waited maybe just over a week with 75-degree heat and air movement. Then I built a small wood fire in my new forge. I built it up to a nice sized fire taking up the whole forge over a few hours and then let it burn HOT for half an hour before letting it slowly cool.
This forge wasn’t a single afternoon project, but it’s served me for a long time now:
A tip with all clayed forges used with coal is to leave a thin layer of ash in the forge, or even apply a layer mixed with very little water. This will help prevent clinker from bonding with the clay. Instead it bonds with the ash.
Hardwood charcoal or bamboo charcoal are what I prefer to use n the trench forge. But coal can be used in a pinch.
Some relative information on clay:
Clay when used in bladesmithing for heat treatment.
I went on a quest to find out the science of how clay hardens… Instead I found debate!
I’ve been introduced to some new vocabulary that is very interesting: Sintering.
In lieu of a lengthy post I’m just sharing some photo’s from a demonstration my wife and I had a chance to help out with at the Joel Lane house in Raleigh, NC. Their fourth of July celebration was a lot of fun, great music, lots of crafts and good food. If you’re ever in the area give them a visit. The museum is a lovely place. The grounds are wonderfully maintained and attractive. A very friendly group of people working together to keep history alive and it’s mostly done by volunteer efforts so if you drop by consider making a donation.