Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Layin' About...

It was suggested to me, as an effort to re-kindle sagging creativity, to pull out and sort through past / uncompleted projects.

Bladesmithing Uncompleted (most of it)

So this from two 'boxes' of partially completed work. (1)

I bet at this point (already) any other long working blacksmiths are rolling their eyes - and thinking about their own similar piles...

In that overall layout, the stuff is loosely grouped by type / work progress.
Taking a closer look :

Pattern Welding

Left : Partially prepared single rods  / most with 9 or 11 layers (not marked)
You can see one has already been twisted, two as octagons ready to twist. The smallest is 1/4" square, the others more or less to 1/2" 'round'
Centre : Part of the (failed) 'Wedding Sword' project.
- one billet with two cores and spring steel edges (about 14" total / 10" to blade). This was part of the original billet created - could be forged into a large knife / spear.
- 26' long (sword length) bar set (two cores and spring steel) ready for the final welds to billet. You can see how one of the edge bars broke on me (what killed my enthusiasm for the 'Wedding Sword' project).
Right : Ragnar's Sword project / Gilling West (post 1 / post 2)
Total of eight potential core rods (six will be needed). Four are welded and drawn (about 5/8 square). Four as the starting stacks of 9 layers each.

Layered Steel Billets

Grouping of layered steel billets, many ready to forge into potential blades. There is a big spread on the dates these were created, not all are marked on layer count. (2)
Left to Right
- Two high count twisted plus flat stack with carbon core = 205 layers
    - 5 x 1 1/2 x 1/4"
    -  4 1/2 x 1 1/2 x 1/4"
Both left over from the 'Heavy Camp Knife' commission (2010)
- three twisted plus flat stack with carbon core ≠ 46 layers (?)
    5 x 1 1/4 x 1/4"
- four twisted ≠ 108 layers (?)
    6 x 3/4 x 3/16"
- two twisted with two outer flat stack ≠ 36 layers (?)
    4 x 1 x 1/8'
- two outer twisted with central flat stack ≠ 27 layers (?)
    6 x 1 x 3/16" (shows possible weld flaws)
- two flat stacks on a carbon core ≠ unknown high count (225 range?)
    10 1/2 x 1 1/4 x 1/4"
- flat stack ≠ unknown high count (225 range?)
    7 1/2 x 1 1/4 x 1/4"
Shows two different methods of producing the 'bulls eye' pattern. One side was punched then ground, the other side drilled then flattened.
- flat stack = 103 layers (in progress)
    5 x 3/4 x 5/16"

Any of these could proceed to a forged blade

Partially Forged

This next group all need differing levels of continued forging to go onwards.
From top to bottom (see note on measurements)
- Pattern Welded spear head, two twisted rods each side on a carbon core ≠ 28 layers.
    6 x 1 1/8 x 1/4 " (blade)
Socket complete, forged to rough point and distal taper. Requires edges forged out.
- Two Bloomery Iron slabs with alloy steel core, mate to 'Hector's Bane' (2012)
    10 x 1 3/4 x 5/16"
Massive failure just before final tempering (!) Stress fracture in what was almost a completed knife. Will require re-welding, resulting in complete re-forging of blade shape. (3)
-  'Welder Pattern' test 3, carbon steel with mild steel lines.
    5 x 1 x 1/8"
Needs a bit of straightening and perhaps re-shaping of (boring) profile.
- Two 'insert core' demonstration pieces, folded angle with carbon core.    
    3 1/ x 7/8 x 5/16"
    3 x 3/4 x 1/4"

Norse Replicas

Someplace here should also go a small number of Viking Age replica pieces.
- Three spear heads, mild steel. All rough forged to profile, welded sockets. Range from 8 to 5 inch blades. These were originally made for the 'History in the Making' episode #6 (which honestly, I have never seen the final video of).
- Curved draw knife (scorp), mild steel, rough forged to profile. Loosely based on the sample from the Mastermyr tool set.

Forged - Requires Polishing and Hilting

The last group are completely forged to shape (all annealed). They require various levels of grinding / shaping / polishing. Then remaining heat treating, hilting.
Top to bottom
- 'Celtic Short Sword', antique Wrought Iron / reading for hilting (??)
    19 overall / blade 14 1/2 x 2 x 3/16
My intent with this piece is to use a cast bronze hilt, based on La Tene artifacts. I've yet to have a real inspiration on that design. There has also been a significant equipment build (still in process) to allow for casting bronze in the needed size.
- 'Welder Pattern' test 4, alloy steel with mild steel lines / at profiling
    16 overall / blade 9 x 11/2 x 1/4
- 'Forged in Fire', high carbon steel (2015) / ready for grinding
    overall 14 / blade 9 x 1 7/8 x 3/16
- Iron Knives, antique Wrought Iron / partially profiled
    seax (blade) 5 x 1 3/16 x 1/4"
    tool (blade) 4 x 1 1/4 x 1/4"
- 'Wolfgar's Tool', mild steel slabs with carbon core / partially polished
    11 1/2 overall / blade 6 1/4 x 1 3/16 x 5/16"
Mate to 'Laugh Taker' (personal commission), with nickle/copper molkume guard
- Dagger, lower layer count flat stack ≠ 27 layers / ready for hilt (re-polish)
     10 overall / blade 6 x 1 x 3/16"
- Slim Seax, mild steel / ready for grinding
    9 overall / blade 4 1/4 x 1/2 x 3/16"

Not sure if any conclusions can be drawn here. Looking at the total pile, there is some work (early layered billets) that date back to the mid 1990's.
There are projects that 'got away from me', or things where Iost any of the original inspiration in the technical burden.

Honestly - the reasons why I have spent the time on this compiling of uncompleted work (and some outright failures) is a bigger question ??

Note on Measurements:
My standard is to not count the last half inch of any blade in length (basically not counting the point.

1) Add to this (just the bladesmithing):
- one tub of much older pieces, some rough forged. Includes a pile of commercial blade blanks (multiples of various profiles) remaining from the long past. During the early years I did a lot of hand painted, then etched, 'tool' knives, with slab handles.
- two sword blades :
    one carbon steel (needs last polish before hilting) - (2018)
    one pattern welded, ready for hilting (considered 'failed' quality) - (2014)
- huge pile of 'one piece' blades of mild steel, remaining from teaching demos
- about a half dozen axe heads of various sizes and types, mostly rough forged

2) A note on counting layers.
Traditional 'flat stack' / 'Damascus' is normally counted by multiplying starting stack + additional pieces x 'folds'.
When I count Pattern Weld ('interrupted twisted core' to some) I add starting stack for each bar x bars. I normally will make a separate piece that is two flat stacks on a carbon steel core.  Lengths given include the 'solid' part of each billet (often the ends have weld flaws, which would be forged into the tangs). I normally do keep notes on each layered billet I make, if I wanted to attempt to dive through past drawing books.

3) There is a long (painful) story here concerning cutting corners to speed work and the resulting disaster. This blade was about five minutes from going to the tempering stage at point of failure (which would have removed the stresses involved). Compare with Hector's Bane, for which the asking price is $1000.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

'Distancing' at the Wareham Forge

'Can I attend a blacksmithing course at the Wareham Forge?'

Benefit vs Risk

A) Exposure to Infection

First, please read and consider ‘The Risks - Know Them’ by Dr. E Bromage. (Originally posted May 3)
1) “ We know that at least 44% of all infections--and the majority of community-acquired transmissions--occur from people without any symptoms (asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people). You can be shedding the virus into the environment for up to 5 days before symptoms begin.”
2) “Some experts estimate that as few as 1000 SARS-CoV2 infectious viral particles are all that will be needed” (to get infected).
“ The principle is viral exposure over an extended period of time. In all (the illustrated) cases, people were exposed to the virus in the air for a prolonged period (hours). Even if they were 50 feet away … , even a low dose of the virus in the air reaching them, over a sustained period, was enough to cause infection “
3)" ... with general breathing, 20 viral particles minute into the environment, ... (worst case presented) ... you would need 1000 viral particles divided by 20 per minute = 50 minutes.
4) ”Speaking increases the release of respiratory droplets about 10 fold; ~200 virus particles per minute.”

5) Although not included directly in Dr. Bromage's commentary, physical activities will increase volume of breath, draw from the lower lungs, and frequency of breath - all increasing both number of virus particles expelled and their penetration into the surrounding air. (in the commentary, the case of a choir practice is used) 

The other important consideration is 'asymptomatic' individuals. 
Reference information taken from 'Coronavirus Incubation Period' by
1) " A new study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that the median incubation period for SARS-CoV-2—the new coronavirus that causes the respiratory illness COVID-19—is 5.1 days. "
" The analysis suggests that about 97.5% of people who develop symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection will do so within 11.5 days of exposure. "

There is a third element. What I call 'who do you trust' ? At point of writing (June 6) the available information indicates that the bulk of Ontario COVID-19 cases have been in the general 905 area. (1)

B) Distancing

The 'standard' that has been well communicated is '6 foot distancing'

The image above is from the main (coal) forge room at the Wareham Forge. 
The stool is placed 6 feet away from the anvil. 
It would be also possible for an individual to stand in the open doorway into this room (which would be to the extreme left of this image). However, with the required air exhaust system active, air would be driven past anyone in that location, directly over the demonstrator. 

The second image is shot inside the main working floor, from the rear layout table towards the entrance. For courses, normally the propane forge is placed at the rear milk crate stack. The anvil to the right rear is fixed, the one to the left rear can be shifted. Each of the red arrows indicates exactly 6 feet.
You can see it would be just possible to create a six foot distance between the triangle between forge and those two working stations. 
A demonstrator could possibly work from a second propane forge placed on the layout table at front left, with another anvil placed at the front milk crates. (2)

C) Observation

Including peripheral vision - colour would be clear focus.
 This image is taken from the perspective of an observer in the main forge room, at the location illustrated in the first image.
The piece of work on the anvil is the largest object made during the standard 'Introduction to Blacksmithing' course. 

How effectively do you think you would be able to observe, understand, then duplicate physical techniques illustrated from this visual distance? 

It should also be noted that the propane forges available at the Wareham Forge are not capable of generating the temperatures required for forge welding. The normal practice has been to use the coal forge for individual instruction on this technique.The kind of close observation required to properly learn forge welding is not possible under distancing rules


1) Typical workshop courses run 16 - 18 hours. Individuals will be working in a confined area for that exposure time, even if attempting to maintain distancing.
2) The activity of blacksmithing is a physical one, increased lung activity is certainly to be expected.
3) The existing layout of the Wareham Forge makes it just possible to provide the required social distancing :
  a) One single student for use of coal forge
  b) Two students for use of propane forge
4) The requirements of distancing greatly reduce the value of instruction.

5) Students present an unknown risk, not only to each other, but in this case most significantly to the instructor. ( 3 )

Stated Policy

On June 3, the Government of Ontario extended its original 'declaration of emergency' instructions to June 30

i) At the point of writing (June 6) the Wareham Forge will be cancelling any existing workshop programs to June 30.

ii) Full refunds will be sent to any who had previously made bookings with deposits (before the start of the current pandemic).

iii) Evaluation of the situation as time proceeds will be made at the beginning of each month, concerning the possible activities for that month (about July 1 for July month)

iv) At this point, it is unlikely any previously announced programs will be mounted, at a minimum to September.

All students must completely self isolate for a minimum of SEVEN DAYS before attending any program at the Wareham Forge. This includes ALL FAMILY MEMBERS (no individual outside contact of any kind).

If you wish to proceed with blacksmithing training in the near future, I can recommend the following alternate instructors:
David Robertson / Hammer & Tongs / Walkerton / www.artistblacksmith.com
Robb Martin / THAK Ironworks / Floridale / www.thak.ca
Sandra Dunn / TwoSmiths / Kitchener / www.twosmiths.ca

1) For the purposes of this discussion, the ideal would be a simple map with cases indicated. Lots of government and official news sites provide raw numbers, but actual maps showing case locations have proved difficult to source.

2) It would be possible to increase protection for the demonstrator in the indicated layout by hanging a plexi screen between that work station and students standing no closer than the between the two workmates. 

3) I fit into TWO of the indicated three 'risk' groups for COVID-19 as indicated by Public Health Ontario.


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

COPYRIGHT NOTICE - All posted text and images @ Darrell Markewitz.
No duplication, in whole or in part, is permitted without the author's expressed written permission.
For a detailed copyright statement : go HERE