Saturday, August 25, 2018



Introduction to Blacksmithing

September 7 - 9
October 13 - 15
November 9 - 11

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Beardmore Sword - Discussed at the ROM

Free. RSVP Required.
ROM Admission is not included.

2018 Edward S. Rogers Lecture in Anthropology

Beardmore: The Viking Hoax that Rewrote History 

Inspired by the true story of Viking swords in the ROM's collections, historian Douglas Hunter offers up a real-life museum detective story. In 1936, long before the discovery of the Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows, the ROM made a sensational acquisition: the contents of a Viking grave that prospector Eddy Dodd said he had found on his mining claim east of Lake Nipigon. The relics remained on display for two decades, challenging understandings of when and where Europeans first reached the Americas. In 1956 the discovery was exposed as an unquestionable hoax, tarnishing the reputation of the museum director, Charles Trick Currelly, who had acquired the relics and insisted on their authenticity.
Speaker: Douglas Hunter is an award-winning Canadian author with a PhD in history from York University. He has written widely on bussiness, history, the environment and sports, and was a finalist for the Writers' Trust Non-Fiction prize and the Governor General's Literary Award for his book God's Mercies

Date & Time

  • Sunday, October 21, 2018, 2:00 - 3:00 pm


Royal Ontario Museum
Signy and Cléophée Eaton Theatre
Level 1B
Doors Open: 1:30 pm
Talks: 2:00 - 3:00 pm



Note : All of above stolen directly off the Royal Ontario Museum web site - advertising this event. Copied here in the spirit of sharing and promoting!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

'You can't always get what you WANT...'

but you get what you * PAID FOR *

On 2018-08-20 7:46 AM, N. S. wrote:
I recently received a damaged “Sword of Saladin and Scabbard” made of 1065 High Carbon Steel:
from the original seller's web site (1)

By Windlass (meaning made in India).
Here is how Windlass describes itself (taken from their own web site)
Founded in 1943, Windlass is today the premier supplier of military dress and sabers and accouterments, motion picture props, and a whole lot more. We are proud of our military contracts with governments in six continents and the excellent replica props we deliver to Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters.
You will not find this specific item still listed on the actual Windlass web site (2)

Check around the inter-web:

From the Museum Replicas web site:

Sword and Scabbard of the Great Saladin

from the Museum Replicas web site
$444.95 US

This sword has the unique "fork tongue" blade crafted of 1065 high carbon steel. Features 24K gold plated pommel and cross guard. Includes wooden scabbard covered in leather and accented with 24K gold plated fittings. Overall length of 41-1/2 inches. 

a) Any time the description and the product images centre almost entirely on the *furniture*, not the actual *blade* you had best understand what you are paying for is the *flash* NOT the *function*.

b) The blade description? *Crafted* is what it says. Not *forged*. Not a word about the heat treating. Best assume this will be perhaps a suitable (if simple) metal alloy. But most likely ground out by machine from annealed bar stock - with no hardening or tempering undertaken. Meaning not at all *combat* ready. 
(I do realize that this was not the question given to me!)
c) This item is shown as discontinued (Museum Replicas & original seller). It is not listed or described on the actual Windlass site at all! 
What was not provided was if this purchase was made at the full retail - or at some discount. If at a discount - then 'buyer beware' certainly needs to apply.

Both edges of the sword and the scabbard. I tried cleaning it with Lysol, Windex, Brake Cleaner... nothing worked. Took it to a local blacksmith who only works with military swords and he was able to remove a lot of the gunk on the blade, but scratched the sword in the process. Please see pictures.
image from N.S.

image from N.S.
image from N.S.

So here is the problem:

If the corrosion effect I see in the image (just by the lion pattern etching) is the problem?
You should have returned the blade to the seller and required a replacement.

The marks look suspiciously (to me) like finger print created corrosion. (Touching the blade and not wiping it off afterwards.) This is a corrosion / rust deposit right into the steel. The surface is actually pitted.
The only way to correct this is to re-polish / grind the surface down below the level of the pitting.
Normally this means reducing the level of the surface down for the entire length of that edge. Otherwise there will be a noticeable 'divot' at that point.
Do note that the imperfection is right beside the etched design.
How to shave the surface down below the pitting - without actually effecting the shallow etching?
You might be able to remove metal just at the pitting, by carefully using a set of small grinding / polishing burs via a dremmel style tool just at the corrosion site. Given the high surface polish down the rest of the blade surface - this will always reflect light differently - and so be visible.

1065 carbon still will *always* rust - unless you constantly keep that surface lightly oiled. Even WD40 would prevent this.
Fingers touching the blade surface are to be avoided on almost any steel surface - especially carbon steels.

The first bladesmith has cleaned out the existing corrosion. That pitting is right into the metal at this point.
The surface has been scratched? To be expected unless the entire blade surface was ground down below the pitting.

'Made in India' ? (2)
To ship items overseas, usually some kind of lacquer is applied to the metal to prevent surface corrosion during long shipping. These coatings are often not evenly done. Removing the *lacquer * sounds like what you attempted. (Noting that none of the solutions you applied will effect lacquer - maybe try actual 'lacquer thinner'?)

Overall ? - I am not surprised.

I would be quoting in the range of $600 + : JUST TO FORGE THE BLADE.
The cost of the elaborate carved hilt, cast cross guard would easily push the quote into the $1000 + range.
This is a mass produced item - made 'offshore'. The selling cost reflects this  - and also the relative quality for that price.

And no - I would not be willing to undertake the kind of repair work being requested. (3)
a) With corrosion pitting into a metal surface, there is no real way to completely remove this - without also visibly effecting the surface.
b) The imperfections on the thin 'gold' plating on the hilt detail are either a result of poor application of the plating at manufacturing, or possibly damage after the fact. In either case, the underlaying metal (likely brass) would have to be re-finished, then new plating applied. This involves taking the metal collar seen completely off the sword. Given how gold reflects off surfaces, this also makes it likely the repair would also be obvious afterward.

(1) I have deliberately NOT cited this supplier - who is also in the business of selling primarily *costume* pieces. I have personally ordered various things from them in the past. With care in selection, my choices have represented good value for the reduced prices. I have found their service excellent. My working relationship with that company remains very good. 

(2) Look - this company does have a 75 year history. There are smart people in India, and family operations there who have been making blades for *hundreds* of years. This is not intended as a snark about 'made in India', in any way.
Look what Windlass actually specializes in, makes and sells. 
*Costume* pieces. 
Even their 'Military' lines are *dress* blades - not *functional* weapons.
(The exception to this may be the 'Kukris' they have described as 'Genuine Gurkha Regimental'. This appears to be how Windlass established its original reputation. They do provide detailed specifications for these blades, but the low price (quoted at $50 US) makes this perhaps questionable?

(3) Increasingly, I get requests to 'beat the price' or 'fix the mistake' related to what are nothing more than cheap 'wall hangers'. Surprisingly - I am not at all interested. 
Please take the effort to at least look at my body of past work, and decades of experience?

Friday, August 17, 2018

Design via Inspiration (Legge workshop)

As I had posted here much earlier, over the last weekend I took part in a 'Design Masterclass' by Adrian Legge, organized by Sandra Dunn at TwoSmiths in Kitchener.

Honestly, I found the whole experience exceptional. Adrian is an excellent teacher, combining insight and knowledge through a very direct and honest manner. I was especially impressed how he was able to cut to the core - and present guidance well suited to each individual student. The class group varied considerably in terms of technical ability and past experience, but it was clear direction was given to each as best needed.

So - this is the preparation work that was given to each of us: 

Two Smiths design class
Adrian Legge

Prior to the class I would like you to do some Initial Research
You might like to investigate the potential for developing a personal style/creative identity or perhaps you are more interested in looking at a particular design problem such as something that addresses a specific site or uses an established aesthetic style that you are interested in

Collect 25 examples visual information that inspires you, comprising of both primary and secondary source material

A)    Primary source material can be e.g. observed drawings from your sketchbooks, photographs taken by you, actual objects, investigative forge examples etc

B)    Secondary source material can be e.g.  downloaded or magazine images, examples of work by others, research, creative writing etc

Try to avoid just collecting examples of ironwork that you like as this will tend to push you towards working within an existing style

C) As you collect the information to be selective and intentional  in your approach- have a reason for your choice

D) For each example produce a word or sentence that ‘explains’ what you like about it. Try to use emotive rather than descriptive. For example ‘I like this because it reminds me of the spring’ rather than ‘this is a snowdrop’
Choose images and words that excite and inspire you and that you will be able to use to generate ideas and concepts. (1)

And here are the images / objects I chose (2)
These are set loosely by source type, not in order of my initial selection:
A) My own photographs

* 'Chaos Theory' (iron smelting slag tap)
'Combined Elements' (dinosaur skeleton)
'Surprise Detail' (crab on stone shore)
B) Images by others
* 'Colour, Scale?' (fish scales, micrograph) (a)
'Curves' (leaf centre) (b)
* 'Fantasy' (CosPlay image)
'Influences' (Japanese sand garden) (b)
* 'Nature Surprises' (sea mollusk)
'Organics' (natural plant forms)
'Complex Patterns' (false colour of atoms in cloud chamber) (a)
'Patterns, Scale?' (overhead view of settling pond) (a)
'Symetry' (sea creature burrow) (a)
* 'Variation Pattern' (detail of starfish) (b)
 C - Work by others
'Structure from Organics' (Paris Metro, H. Guimard)
'Texture & Material' (Lee Sauder)
'Flow' (the Batersea Shield / Celtic Bronze Age)
'Integration' (Castle Henrietta, H. Guimard)
'Repetition, Influences' (St Padridric's Bell Shrine, Irish c 800)
'Scale' (artist unknown)
* 'Spirit' (Lady of Shalott, Waterhouse)
 D - My own work
'Exploration' (Hector's Bane)
 E) Objects (insets show actual size on enlarged version)
'Antiquity' (water worn / pierced stone)
'Attachments' ('live rock' with kelp)
'Context' (cast bronze, found object?)
'Segmentation' (trilobite fossil)

A couple of things became clear when all the individual images were laid out and viewed together :

* Most of the source images are organic / show organic lines.
* Many of the images show complex patterns.
* A number of the pattern images show the effect of one line on to another.
* A number of the images were chosen for their colour as much as the lines (3)

The two larger format images, (starfish / cloud chamber) were the two sources I ended up settling on for further work inside the workshop.....

(1) Shared in the spirit of education. Text written and provided by Adrian Legge

(2) In most cases, I had collected these images over many years. Please consider them 'scammed' as in almost all cases I can not cite the source / owner:
a) taken from 'Discover' magazine
b) taken from the Mac 'screen saver' collection

(3) For presentation at the workhop, I had printed off each image. Only the ones indicated with (*) were rendered in colour - the remainder printed in grey scale.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Fire Steels - in theory?

(Taken from an ongoing discussions related to a research project on Viking Age / L'Anse aux Meadows and Vinland beyond / Flint & Jasper strikers / Fire Steels)

I freely admit that making fire steels has * not * been my best thing in the past.

Like many apparently simple things, the metal selection, and actual heat treating, for best results in fire steels is complex.

Quickly (as I understand it) :
The way these work is that the steel resists the tearing action of the stone. The pressure required eventually tears off a splinter, which due to the force heats under impact. Hot enough to actually heat the fragment above the 'burn point' of the steel. This makes the spark, with temperatures in the 1100 - 1200 C range.
Different carbon contents have different shear strengths.
Different carbon contents also have different burn points
You can modify the shear point (strength / hardness) of any one given alloy (carbon content) based on the quenching method chosen.
Different stones themselves will break with different applied force.
So this suggests there is a dance between metal type, making method, and stone selected - combines for best results

Generally my understanding is that a good fire steel would have a high carbon content to the alloy. Here meaning at least 0.05 % (spring), but maybe as high as 0.1 % (file).
But the quench may slightly on the slower side, to keep the result from becoming so hard the stone chosen can't actually shear off that small flake.

(I took a fast look over the past blog entries - as I thought I had worked up something on the topic. Yup - based on something the same researcher had asked about back in 2011! )

   " I may order 2-3 fire-strikers from a couple of sites on Etsy that
   are selling Viking Era types (one site is a forge in Canada, the
   other's in Germany). Those might get us started with some basic
   experiments on how the jasper / chert responds (how many flakes and spalls are generated per 100 strikes, etc.) and of course we'll make
   some sparks, even if we don't have information on the carbon content
   of the steel. "

(site references deliberately removed!)

I think it illustrative that the Canadian chosen does NOT refer to the actual metal type used.
The German does state 'carbon steel' - which is what is needed for correct function.

from Marstein, Uppland, Norway : 7.7 cm. Common 'boat shape' forged from flat bar (Image from 'Viking Artifacts' - Graham-Campbell)
The German also is offering shapes that look more like the actual artifacts I am familiar with.
For this reason I would suggest the German (shipping is the only cost variable).

Readers may have seen way too many things as being named 'Viking' - when in fact they are not even remotely like the real objects! This is a *big* problem for me. Truth before Advertising please!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

WARNING - Blog being spammed

Readers here may be diverted to a spam advertising site.

I have messages out to both my ISP/ Support Guru and Blogger itself in the hopes of fixing this. (Both front and back door to Google, but given the mass?)

Curiously (?) this does NOT seem to be happening to me using Firefox as the browser access. My own tests using Safari or SeaMonkey also divert. I have had reports of Chrome also diverting (I work off Mac). This does not seem consistent however, some people report no problems.

A paid advertising site : Widget Server (dot) com is somehow grabbing visitors from Hammered Out Bits and shoving them over to some spam styled advertising site. Widget Server obviously 'sells' different spam pages (if you examine the actual URL used, you will see a randomly applied number to different advertising).

I am attempting to fix this - but please bear with me for just now.
I believe the problem lies inside Google Blogger itself.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Charcoal / Ore / Burn Rates?

On 2018-08-08 2:19 PM, Jeff wrote:
I remember that both you and Lee abide by the 1:1 weight ratio of charcoal to ore. But I can't remember how big and fast the charges were. Was it (like) 1kg every 10 min?

In North America, we normally calculate time per standard charcoal measure.
Most of us us a standard galvanised bucket - which runs about 1.8 kg dry charcoal (sized ) slightly depends on species.

'Bucket on a stick' standard measure (Icelandic / Hals furnace)
The standard is usually 8 - 10 minutes to burn that measure.
Anything below 6 is way too fast - cut back on air
Anything over about 14 is running too slow - increase air volume

The Europeans normally will report kg per hour
(most of us here just don't bother running the math)
The ideal amounts / time works out similar.

On ore
there is typically a ramping up of volume of ore over the progress of the smelt.
My group typically starts with 1 kg charges per charcoal bucket.
At first there will be a slight damping of temperature / increase in burn time as the cold ore works down the column.

A portion of ore charge (analog) added before being covered with a part bucket of charcoal.
Once the reduction reactions start, and the slag bowl starts to form, you should see the temperature / burn time shorten.
Adding increasing amounts of ore will help to keep the burn rate consistent - even though there is more and more ore inside the furnace column.
This makes the 'magic' ration even out to roughly 1: 1 ore to charcoal (by weight)
Expect in the later part of the sequence to be able to increase the amount of ore per charge - with the same burn time.
We usually hit at least a few 3 kg ore to 1.8 kg charcoal. I have managed a couple of times (on much larger total ore amount smelts) to get to 4 kg per 1.8 ! (Our usual is 30 kg ore, so we don't get to those big numbers often).
There is likely a 'type of ore' effect here too. Working with our bog ore analog, we have a high Fe2O3 content, without much silica (rock) impurities.

February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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