Saturday, May 29, 2010


We went camping up in the Jemez Mountains last weekend, and climbing, and sight-seeing. Autumn came along of course, so did our friend Jon “Rocketpants”, and his dog Melvin. We were out of cell phone range for most of the weekend, which was kind of nice; and a little nerve-wracking since there was a work issue that was ongoing. We all survived without our electric leashes though.



Autumn was a little afraid when we arrived at the Redondo Campground, it was dark and different, and we didn’t bring enough blankets, so it was a little cold for Erica and me. Autumn doesn’t take up that much blanket, but it was enough to take it away from the two of us. I ended up wearing my jacket to keep warm. We bought a couple more blankets for the next night.


So, after very little sleep the first night, we had bacon and eggs and hot chocolate (or coffee) for breakfast, and headed out to go climbing at Los Conchas. It was already pretty busy when we got there, and the route that I wanted to go up was occupied, so I picked a line that had an easy looking beginning…and it was for the first two bolts, easy enough that I wouldn’t have felt uncomfortable without a rope. Then it got hard. The headwall was pretty much vertical with small and reachy holds. After a lot of struggle I made it up, and set up a top-rope for Erica and ‘pants. I haven’t been able to figure out what the route was rated, it’s not in either guidebook, and I can’t find anything on-line either. Now I really want to know, since I felt pretty wrecked after that one climb.


We did the garden wall after that, without too much difficulty on anyone’s part, then repacked everything, and wandered along the stream, had some lunch, continued on, ‘pants and I climbed on “the sponge” and then we called it a day as far as climbing went. Autumn enjoyed playing in the stream, Melvin enjoyed the spontaneous “dog parties”. Autumn also enjoyed sitting on Melvin.

Autumn on Melvin

We headed off to the unusual town of Los Alamos after that, to pick up gas and let Autumn sleep.

Then a little more hiking, where we lost the trail almost immediately, tried again, then practiced cartwheels in a meadow for a bit before heading back to camp.

Dinner was burgers and brats, and beer, corn on the cob and FIRE! I love camp fires. We played with Rocketpants’ firestarter for a while then cheated and used a lighter out of laziness. Eventually it was bedtime and we spent a slightly warmer night with our new blankets.


Sunday we got up a little later, had bacon and eggs and FIRE! For breakfast, then packed up the camp, and headed to Jemez Falls for a little while, where Autumn threw her bottle down the falls. Bad Girl! After that we headed to Bandolier National Monument, and unfortunately they don’t really allow dogs, so ‘pants and Melvin left us, and Erica Autumn and I toured the place. It was pretty fascinating, but I was pretty tired too. So was Autumn, so I got to carry her a lot. She still walks kinda slow too. I suspect Erica will write a little more about Bandolier in her post over on Acrylicandsteel.

After Bandolier we headed home, had some spaghetti for dinner, and called it a night.

Not sure how something can be rejuvenating and exhausting at the same time, but that was what the weekend was all about.

Kiva Ladder


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Red Wolf

Painting by Ross Bach

I don’t think that it will surprise anyone if I mention that I read a fair amount of science fiction and fantasy. I don’t know what the first book was that got me started, whether it was my parents reading to me as a kid, or what it was they read that got me going, but I have loved the genres for a long time. Early in the memories are one of my dad reading to my sister and me some Isaac Asimov, and my aunt B giving me the first book of The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, I think that she got me my first Lord of the Rings trilogy as well. I don’t know if these are actually accurate memories or not, but it was a long time ago.

From there Dungeons and Dragons was a short step away, and that hobby of quintessential geekiness carried me up through highschool, with many many books and other role playing games thrown into the mix (Carwars, Battletech, Call of Cthulhu, Elfquest, TMNT/Hero’s Unlimited, Shadowrun, Cyberpunk, Whitewolf (Vampire/Werewolf/Mage), and I’m sure I am forgetting a few more.

Through that group of friends, I was introduced to the Society for Creative Anachronism, but I can’t say that I ever got truly involved, always too many other things going on – primarily school and work.

It is unsurprising I guess, that I have always loved knives and swords as a result of these hobbies, but I digress. I was talking about books, and in particular fantasy novels.

I just finished a new one, from a new author (at least to me). The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V. S. Redick. I was pretty impressed. I don’t know why I really like stories set aboard ships, but I do. And it’s about a kid, so there is a coming of age aspect, and there is magic, but it isn’t overwhelming in a fireball sort of way, as usual, there are prophesies involved, but none of the classic demihumans, no elves, dwarves, etc, but there are crawlies (tiny people), and a few intelligent animals and many more interesting elements. There is a knife that keeps coming back, but I don’t know yet if it has a higher purpose, this is only book one after all.

Unlike a lot of books written with teen protagonists, it doesn’t have a lot of angst. There is a love-story, but it is more subtle, since the characters don’t really seem to have time for it, and there are plenty of things in the way. The motivations of all of the characters certainly are not clear yet, Nor are all of the affiliations, betrayals. I like the twists that keep popping up. A moderately insane captain adds a bit of spice.

In short – Good work Mr. Redick, I guess I’ll have to buy the next book, The Ruling Sea.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Inventory and Updates May 2010


On a whim, I decided to lay out all the knives I had made and haven’t sold or given away on the floor of the shop. Some of them are posted over at Acrylicandsteel, but some I never got around to listing. I lay them out in numeric order AR5 – AR40, and put the other numbering systems to the side, the DSK series (made from Diamond Saw Blades), the L series (letter openers), The last remaining band saw knife (unnumbered), the lone SV (Sandvik), and the two folders. I included my personal carry knife, the kitchen knife that we use, and at least one that is not for sale, but if you are interested in any of them, let me know and I will come up with a price. Some of them have sheaths, most don’t, but I can always make those.

Anyway here is the overview.

Bdoodles’ and NJJ’s knives are in the mail! Finally!

Bdoodles knife is AR 38, and I forgot to measure it, so I can only give a materials list, but it’s a little bigger than AR37 (which was 9 ½” overall, with a 4 ½” edge). Description: Slicing/Boning Knife, Cru Forge V high carbon steel, hidden tang,the handle is made of blue mahoe, copper with turquoise inlay, aromatic cedar, with mosaic pin and copper tubing for accents. The stand is blue mahoe and aromatic cedar.

I know you’ve seen this one before, but it’s gorgeous, so enjoy it again:

NJJ’s knife doesn’t have an AR number, and I forgot to measure it also, although I think that I remember a 5 ½” blade, and about 10” overall. Its description is: Camp Knife with false edge on spine, Cold Blued Cru Forge V high carbon steel blade, full tang, Mule deer antler bolster, staghorn sumac handle, blued mild steel pins, suede leather thong with mule deer antler toggle and beads. Sheath is dyed 8oz leather with sinew and leather lacing, snaps are blued, and the beads are mule deer antler.

And here it is once again,

My anvil is no longer on the floor. This might not seem particularly exciting to most of you, but it is to me. No more crouching over or at least a lot less of it. I acquired a huge stump, routed out a spot for the anvil, and voila! Anvil stand.

The LOR Machete (AR39) is pretty much done. The heat treating didn’t go quite as planned since there is still a little ripple right on the edge of the blade, but the whole knife looks pretty interesting, and it will certainly cut. Can’t say I’m looking forward to using all the leather it will take to make a sheath though. I need to take it out into the field and do some chopping. The final specs on this one are: 10 1/4” Blade, 15 3/4” Overall. Machaira/Machete. Heavy Duty Truck Leaf Spring (Dodge?) Blade. Unknown drift wood for handle. Peened mild steel pins. Still needs a sheath.

I put a new handle on the little file dagger as well. Bodice dagger, 3 1/2" blade, 6 1/2" overall, file steel blade, handle is ebony with mosaic and brass pins. Looks much better, I think I will make a neck sheath for it. It is AR 40.

My first Puuku is finished too! AR 41: 3 3/4" blade, 7 3/4" overall, CM 154 stainless steel blade, Puuku style blade, bronze bolster, ornamental birch handle, with brass pins. Still needs a sheath too.

And, as you know from the last post, AR42 is done too: Creepy Cleaver, 5 3/8” blade, 10 1/2” overall, 1095 high carbon steel blade, red oak handle, framing nail pins, and a suede thong.

A set of custom orders has rolled in: a set of oyster knives with English walnut handles, a Harley inspired chef’s knife, possibly a dog inspired Bowie, and a few more maybes. I might have to start a waiting list one of these days.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Creepy Cool...(slightly modified from the Acrylic Version)

My wife is the coolest! Who else would say…you should make me a creepy knife?! I’m itching to get started. I have just the chunk of steel… and that was 3 months ago.

If you know Erica, you know she likes creepy things. Creepy dolls, creepy paintings, zombies, skulls, etc.. I think that is fantastic, so obviously this was a project that I wanted to do, and to put a little thought into...

So…what is a creepy knife? I guess its one that you can imagine seeing in a horror movie, rusty or bloody or sinister. Is it creepier to have an odd bone saw or a bloody butcher knife, or a rusty machete, or… what about a cleaver?

I’ve seen butcher knives with blood stains enameled on. But that just isn’t going to…cut it.

Something super rusty would be cool, but unusable. Lightly rusted is ok. So nothing stainless.

Mostly I just kinda like the idea of a rusty cleaver.

So I started it…

It all started with the chunk of steel, in this case 1095 high carbon steel, which is what I started forging knives with a few years ago. This particular chunk is the heaviest I've worked with, at 1 5/8ths wide and 3/8ths of an inch thick. That’s a lot of metal to move with a little hammer. Makes me wish I had a power hammer, although I do like hand forging. Sometimes I wish for a hotter forge too, but charcoal is pretty good and it feels like being back in time (except for the Dustdevil blower that I use).

Here's the chunk, with Autumn's hand for scale:

And an intermediate stage:

I thought I had a couple more intermediate stages, but I can't find the pictures anywhere, its a pretty big jump to go from the above stage, to the below stage.

Before Quenching:

After a few forging sessions, and a little grinding, I got the shape about where I wanted, quenched it, and ground an edge to it, leaving the forging and quenching patina on the back edge as well as leaving it a little rough, and polished the actual edge.

After Quenching:

I decided to go with oak as the handle, because it looks kinda basic, and was torn between rough twine and leather for the keeper cord that it will hang from. In the creepy theme I probably should have tied it off in a noose, but didn't.

Anyway, I think it is pretty awesome, its heavy like a cleaver should be, sharp enough that you could probably shave with it, and creepy enough to meet the desired goal. We both kinda think that it should have a block to store it in, ya know, a head or skull or ribcage or something, but for now its going to hang on the wall.

I know its not rusty, but it did cut me a couple of times - I have all kinds of nicks on my hands - so its a little blood thirsty.

The final specs for AR42 (and I know I haven't published the specs for 38-41, they are ready though...) 5 3/8" Edge, 10 1/2" overall, 1095 high carbon, cleaver, Red Oak handle, 16penny nails for pins, suede leather strap.

And I finished it on Mothers day :) Happy Mothers Day Honey!

What do you think?