Friday, December 30, 2011

I gotta have SPACE!

I gotta have SPACE!

If anyone remembers the animated short “Creature Comforts” (which you can find on youtube), they will certainly remember the Brazilian Mountain Lion and his need for space. That is how I felt in our rental property.

Now, thanks to some substantial help from my Dad, we own a house. With some basic and very rough body measurements and a little math, we estimated the rental at about 900sqft living space. The new house is over 2700! Erica’s workspace is now about 2/3 the size of our old house – which is good since I’m pretty sure she used more than that at least part time.
Especially during the Christmas rush.

I think the old house shrunk during the Christmas rush period too. There wasn’t a flat (or semi-flat) surface anywhere that wasn’t covered in t-shirts, screens, or packaging materials. And no time to clean. I think that if I showed a picture, I would be shot.

Without the assistance of Alex, Erica’s brother, I don’t think we would have made it, and as it is Erica shut down Causticthreads for the season on December 14 to make sure that everything went out the 19th or 20th– the last mailing day to get stuff before Christmas.

In workshop news…not much. I helped Rocketpants finish up a shaving brush, and sold all three that we had listed on etsy. Haven’t even done much with the pens.

I did pick up a big box of Manzanita, but haven’t even opened the box yet to see what I got. Maybe I can make a vase or something – should be pretty if I get around to it.

Between work and children I feel like I have been too stressed out to do much, but maybe the new house will inspire something. After we finish moving in of course.

In honor of my blog and logo – I bought a t-shirt from Robotarot – the Hanged Man of course – check out his others, they are equally awesome! And then awesomeness of awesomeness I recieved a print of the picture for Christmas! #1 of 10! Thanks Rocketpants!!!

Oh – and we bought a new digital SLR! A Canon T2i. Nice. Hope to have pictures to share soon.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Late July, er.. August, no wait October 2011- Ends of Eras

Late August 2011- Ends of Eras

The end of the one child era:

When I started this post more than three months ago, the imminent arrival of our newest daughter Penelope, stress levels in the design studio had increased. This meant that I was stressed out at the time, because the studio is all in my head. Not that I am any less busy now, but stress levels seem to have decreased somewhat.

Little Penny arrived on July 25, 5 days early, satisfying both Erica, who wanted it to be a little early, and me, because I didn’t get the call while I was at work.

She's grown a bit since July :)

I made quite a bit of pen progress prior to her arrival, and a little afterward, and Erica has taken pictures of them now, so they are in my ballpark again to write up descriptions for them for posting at the store (

I’ve now made slimline, slimline pro, Designer NT, Polaris, .30 cal bullet, and big cigar rollerball/ballpoint pens, some fountain pens (several styles), two sketch pencils, several light pulls, a salt grinder, a bottle stopper, and a ice cream scoop. I'm probably missing some at this point. Wood turning is fun!

I tried to make a few more than I have, and made a few mistakes. I tried several times to make an Ancient Kauri pen, with a variety of problems. I did manage a AK light pull though. Hopefully by the time I finish this post I will have been successful. I've broken a couple of click pens, not sure why they aren't working right - so far only one success on those.

Friend Bill, who will be off to Art School in London in a couple of weeks, enlisted my aid in making a special pen for a friend, and whipped up a nice simple maple slimline for himself. Bills gone for a year and we miss him, but the pen got finished and a similar one for a friend of the friend as a result!

Friends Pen

Friend of Friends Pen

I just wrapped up a pair of knives, both for family, a nice hunter and a santoku style kitchen knife. Still have 8-9 in the moderately close phase, but not there yet. The most recent of all was an interesting hunter/fighter knife that I made for friend Rocketpants' trip to Australia. I finished it in time, and it went off and returned with him.

The end of the charcoal forge era:

In addition to being a proud father of a new child, I am also the proud owner of a NEW FORGE!!! Finally, I’ve moved from my interesting but inconsistent charcoal forge to a gas NC Tool Whisper Forge. Hopefully this will give me a little more flexibility, a more rapid heat up, a higher temp, etc…

Sadly, I haven't had the time or mental energy lately to work much on it, but it is a lot faster to get going..

This brings me to the experimental phase:

Mokume gane – I’ve stacked about 24 layers of brass, copper and nickel-silver sandwiched in steel, heated and hammered. Results...Not so good, some bits worked, other bits didn't. Probably the wrong kind of flux. Better luck next time.

Wire Damascus – Using some nasty rusty wire from some flood barriers, I’ve heated, fluxed and hammered. I’m not happy with it at this point, so I will probably do it again, or fold and repeat. I think the rust may have interfered with a good weld. Definitely need to work on my forge welding skills - all of my welding skills are pretty much non-existent though.

I think I'll leave it at that.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Autumn, Crazy Horse, Uncle Jed, and Rust

If I wrote this blog more often, would anyone actually read it?

Maybe. Probably not though. I can’t say I promote it much.

So, in the news… Erica is due at the end of July with (odds are) baby girl number 2.

This is exciting, as it will:

1. Give Autumn a moving toy to play with for the foreseeable future.

2. Fulfill replacement value reproduction

3. Reward the parents with a tax break

4. Be another cute child

5. Give the grandparents something new to talk about

This is less exciting because it will require:

1. The purchase of Diapers for a few more years

2. Another baby seat, filling the car completely

3. Tolerance of house being a disaster for additional years

4. More of Mommies time, leaving less for Daddy

5. And will reduce the number of hours that Daddy can sleep

Generally, blacksmith shops are not considered very baby friendly environments. Carpentry shops are almost as bad. And Blade smith shops the worst of both worlds, plus some sharp edges.

I don’t know why, but people seem concerned about mixing a child (or children) with limited hand to eye coordination with a scattered and disorganized pile of blades you could shave with. Go figure.

I don’t think that I have ever seen Autumn hold a knife the wrong way, and she knew what they were and what they were called before she was 2.

I keep her out of the shop mostly because I don’t have protective gear small enough and she doesn’t like to wear it when it falls off like that. Also because she makes it more likely that I will hurt myself due to the distraction.

At least she can’t really open the door to the shop while I am working yet. But I can’t imagine that day is too far away. Sigh.

And here are some recent pictures of Autumn, since I was talking about her...

With her brand new big girl skates!

And again...

and just waking up from a nap...

News item 2: I spent last week at the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society’s national annual conference at Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota.

Somewhat relaxing, pretty, nice and cool. Reminded me of Northern Michigan.

Now I’m back, trying to catch up at work. Sigh.

News Item 3: I did finish another knife though: Uncle Jeds Country Skinner!

UJCS: AR 61: 5 3/4" Nesmuck Style Blade of hammer textured Cru-Forge V, 11 1/4" Overall. Handle of recycled Texas fence post - might be some sort of Locust? Pins are brass tube, with copper filling. Black vulcanized contrasting liners.

And Finally: Then one of my co-workers brought me a piece of rust that was masquerading as a knife... a little WD-40, grinding, polishing, and effort later - and minus one blade that snapped off. We have a functional knife again!

Open... (there is another functional blade also)

and closed...

That's all for now folks :)


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bench Update - Shaving Brushes

Bench Update

I have a lot of projects on the bench right now.

Recently I discovered a place that sells hair knots for shaving brushes, so I bought a few as samples to try out. And then I played with my lathe and turned a bunch of proto-shaving brush handles. I didn’t really have a good idea before turning on the lathe how big they should be, but made a nice variety ranging from a huge piece that I made from purpleheart, to a tiny little tulipwood. Turns out that the smaller size is better for brushes. Right now I have handles of tulipwood, purpleheart, cocobolo, wormy pecan, salt cedar (tamarisk), pear, manzanita, apricot, and recycled ironwood fencepost, and I may be forgetting one or two more. I only have three brushes, boar (coarse), black badger (pretty soft), and silvertip badger (softer). All brushes don’t fit in all handles, but let me know if you are interested.

I bought a bunch of new wood, mostly domestic: Hickory, red gum, spalted ambrosia maple, rainbow poplar, and I swear there was another that I can’t remember. I use a lot of exotics, but some of these have some nice character as well. We’ll see what they turn into.

Knife-wise, I have a couple of big chef’s knives in progress (both CPM 154 Stainless), at least three full tang hunting knives (two drop point, one nesmuk), a few partial tang hunters, a couple daggers, and some miscellaneous others. I’m getting ready to start a couple more, with the basic idea of simple and full length tangs, so I can try out a couple of new handle ideas.

I’ve got some fancy decoration ideas for a couple of knives as well, like for finishing the copper and cholla dagger shown above. It will be pretty southwestern, lots of copper and turquoise. I just have to get around to doing some filework on the guard and pommel.

Using that idea I made this fancy manzanita brush with inlays of turquoise and copper.

That doesn’t sound like too much does it? Maybe it’s just that I don’t have any time.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A month or so late, but better than never...

I started this post more than almost two months ago now, and finally polished it off. Always too much to do, and I never want to get on the computer once I get home.

One of my coworkers brought me a couple of old fence posts of unknown species, but definately something pretty dense, and he called it ironwood, so I thought I would polish a couple up and see what it looked like with some oil.

Old Fence Post Old Fence Stay

I recently finished a project for me with the old post for a handle...

AR60 in hand (mine)

In Sheath

With Sheath

AR60 - Drop Point Hunter - Full tang - Cold Blued (Formula 44/40) Cru Forge V, 4 3/4" blade, 9 5/8" overall, recycled ironwood(?) fencepost handle, brass pins, red vulcanized liner, stainless thong tube. Horizontal draw sheath.

I also finished up a project that started quite a while ago, when a couple of the guys came over and I let them pound on some steel. I decided to go ahead and finish up one of those blanks, to be provided as a birthday present. The first handle attempt failed, but I like the one it ended up with also. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out overall, even though it cost me some blood. Part of the polishing process involves a lot of finer and finer grits of sandpaper, and I thought I was almost ready to stop one evening, when I found out the pointy way, that I had already passed the time to stop. So, I added another ½ inch stab wound to my right thumb, which interferes with a lot of things. Sigh. But that was last Tuesday, so it didn’t impact this weekend too much. Not too sure what I would call the style of this one. Utility/paring seems to be the most appropriate. Still need to make the sheath though.

In Hand (Erica's)

With Sheath

In Sheath

AR59 – 3 5/8” Blade, 9” Overall, O1 tool steel, hand forged, heat treated and hand polished to 2000 grit. Macassar Ebony Handle, Brass Pins.

I plan on an On-the-bench update too, but that will have to be another day.

Later y'all.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

From the bench - Mid January

I had a pretty good weekend in the shop. Actually got to fire up the forge TWICE!

Now I don’t know if my shoulder is sore from the tetanus shot or the forging J

I put together a couple of stock removal stainless blades, and heat treated them: one dagger (CPM154), one small clip-point (S35VN). I don’t know why I keep working on daggers, since they are such a pain in the butt, but I do anyway. I’ve got some ideas for this one – possibly a cholla handle with crushed turquoise and copper powder in the gaps, maybe a little ebony and a carved copper guard. We’ll see what actually happens. No real designs yet on the clip point.

Also heat treated another old file knife – this one is looking kind of like a steak knife. The jury is still out though.

Upside down...

I also started a couple of forging projects, one in CPM154 – probably a santoku, and one in Cru Forge V – small hunter. I have plans for both of them – one is a gift. The other I am thinking of a cord wrapped handle.

I also cast my bronze into a bar. I will try forging it next time. I hope it moves pretty well and doesn’t just crack and shatter. We’ll see.

I also (finally) added the stems to the pear knife stand.

Now if I can just finish the stand of the Manzanita Chef’s Knife…

There's more, but its a secret....


Monday, January 10, 2011

Goodbye 2010

I think this year went by faster than any other that I’ve experienced. I know that perspectives change a little as you age, but I think that this is about the most stable year I’ve had in recent memory, and that lack of upheavals may have had something to do with the speed with which it passed. Just hypothesizing. We’ll see how 2011 goes.

Since the last post, almost two months ago, I can’t say that I have spent all that much time in the shop, and in the last week or so it has been cold enough that I haven’t wanted too. Despite that, I have wrapped up a few projects, and am almost finished with a couple others.

The revised AR36 – now known as the pear knife, is much cooler now. I did some wood burning on the pearwood handle, and almost finished up a stand made of a couple of pears that I turned out of the same pear wood. They are waiting for stems, but this is what they look like now.

AR56 - I made a hunting knife for one of Erica’s dad’s friends. It’s a pretty simple one – basic drop point hunter, hidden tang, Madrone Burl handle, with a stainless guard. Simple leather sheath, but it turned out OK.

AR57 – Finally wrapping up the Dog Bowie. Sub-hilt fighter with Bowie style Stainless blade, finished with a gloss gunmetal blue bake-on Gun-kote protectant. I tried my hand at casting bronze for the guards, and set dog teeth (provided by the customer) between the guards. The sheath also has an inset panel with a cast bronze dog footprint. The handle is ebony and spalted maple.

I didn’t make any jewelry this year, but I did make a door. A fairy door that is. Not my usual thing, but Mom asked, so I gave it a shot. This one is cut from Ancient (30,000+ y.o.) Kauri from New Zealand, with a Pear stoop. The frame is domestic wood. I did some wood burning and painting, and Erica printed the stained glass window. Sadly it doesn’t open, but I’ve heard that only faeries can open them anyway.

The Door and The Door showing stained "glass".

I’ve got some idea’s for the shop, but you’ll just have to wait and see.