Variations on a theme

A sci-fi adventure strip by comic book artist Clint Hollingsworth.

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Variations on a theme

Postby Storm Crow on Mon May 10, 2010 9:13 pm

The pink-handled knife that I made for my girlfriend has been my most successful one so far in that it a.) actively discouraged some creepy guy lurking about in the college parking garage simply by her nonchalantly transferring it from her purse to her back pocket and b.) leading to several commissions from folks wanting similar designs.

One of those has already been posted here, the one with the forge finished blade and bodark and mesquite handle.

Well, the fellow who commissioned that has a nephew who is interested in knives. The nephew's family came to visit over the Easter holiday, and said customer had me help the nephew forge out a knife blade with my guidance. The nephew did quite well, doing over half of the forging on the blade, with me showing him the processes and then handing it over, and then doing tweaking as necessary. As is my custom on knives where I don't do all the work, I stamped my touchmark on the opposite side of the blade from where I typically do.

Unbeknownst to the nephew (but beknownst to us), we were actually making his early birthday present. I finished it out and now it's going to be mailed out to California this week to surprise him.

So here it is:

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As with the uncle's knife, the blade is car coil spring, forged by hand. This time, I cleaned up the profile by grinding, but hand filed the cutting edge and false edge entirely instead of doing any grinding on it, leaving the main part of the blade forge finished as before. It was hardened in vegetable oil and tempered in a toaster oven. The guard is of railroad spike, the spacer is bodark (Texican for "Osage orange"), and the main handle is mesquite. The sheath is Kydex.

Here it is in comparison with the uncle's knife. It came out a bit larger, and I've learned better how to blend guards with handles since then. You can see how handling has darkened then wood of the uncle's knife.

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The Wasteland Crow Project: http://wastelandcrow.blogspot.com

Proud to be a Neo-Tribal Metalsmith scavenging the wreckage of civilization.

Visit a new blog that a friend and I set up to share our thoughts and projects:

http://shareourcampfire.blogspot.com/

My new blog dedicated to the metalwork that I make and sell: http://helmforge.blogspot.com
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Storm Crow
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Re: Variations on a theme

Postby lochsa on Sun May 16, 2010 5:07 pm

I'm curious: you always say 'from the coil spring of a car,' yet it seems far more likely the steel is from the leaf spring of a car.

If I'm wrong, you must have to--what?--heat the whole coil spring, somehow straighten out all those twists, then flatten it from its 3/4" diameter into the 2" flat stock you seem to be using?

No criticism here, just curiosity.

And to add a literary note, have you read "The Old Man and the Sea"? At the end of that book, the old man makes it back to shore with his now-skeletonized swordfish. He had fought sharks by tying his knife to an oar and stabbing at them, but one of the sharks (I'm remembering this from 20 years ago, so may be a bit off) rolled, and either the knife broke or got torn from the stick.

So at the end of the book, the old man tells his friend to Go and get a bumper from a Ford (I think) and make a piece of it into a knife. The line that has always baffled me follows this, and goes "not forged so it will break" or "not forged, so it will break." Hemingway didn't use many commas, and sometimes things get confused.

So maybe you know: did he mean not to forge the knife, so it would break, or to not forge the knife, lest it break?

If you have a cop of TOMATS lying around you could confirm my memory, but it is if nothing else an early example of your motto--forging new things out of the wreckage (I'm paraphrasing).

Keep up the good work . . .
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Re: Variations on a theme

Postby Storm Crow on Sun May 16, 2010 8:27 pm

Nope, it' forged from a coil spring, not a leaf. Forging is heating the metal to make it easily shaped with a hammer and then hammering it into shape. I cut off part of a loop from the coil, straightened it out (hot), and we then hammered it into shape. It was a lot smaller dimension than you're thinking. The blade is right at 5 inches long, which lets you estimate the final width. The coil was about 1/2" prior to forging.

I remember the old man talking about making a killing lance out of a "spring leaf" off of a Ford, but don't recall the part about breaking. I don't own a copy, but if you can find what it says word-for-word, I'll try to interpret it.

Iron has been recycled from old stuff to new for a very long time. I'm just continuing that.
The Wasteland Crow Project: http://wastelandcrow.blogspot.com

Proud to be a Neo-Tribal Metalsmith scavenging the wreckage of civilization.

Visit a new blog that a friend and I set up to share our thoughts and projects:

http://shareourcampfire.blogspot.com/

My new blog dedicated to the metalwork that I make and sell: http://helmforge.blogspot.com
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Storm Crow
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Joined: Tue Jun 25, 2002 7:52 pm
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