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Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

Here is a little knife I just finished up. It’s got a 1095 blade with a nice distal taper, and it’s pretty much zero ground, which means the edge is nearly sharp before you even hone it.

boakmoose

The handle is some Black Oak that has been sitting on the bottom of Lake Superior for over 100 years. When all the old growth virgin timber was being logged in the upper peninsula of Michigan and Canada  there were a lot of logs that were lost to the bottom of that frigid water. Recently there have been people diving down and salvaging those long lost timbers.

In addition to the Oak the handle has a piece of moose antler, with a classic ring and dot motif and a copper bolster.

boakmoose2

The sheath is hand stitched vegetable tanned leather, stamped with the ring and dot motif as well. It has a copper reinforcement, leather hanger, and antler button.

boakmoose3

This knife is for sale. Please visit my etsy store for more information.

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There is a certain aesthetic that I prefer for my knives, and part of my goal is to really develop my own voice in this craft.  However, in order to truly find your style I feel that it takes years of experimentation. You must be open to new designs and techniques, or you will  become stagnant.  I suppose this goes for all aspects of life, not just craft.
This summer and fall have been quite busy for me, in personal life, and work. Here are a few knives that I completed from August to October.

First up is a custom order for a knife and spork set. Laminated blade with curly oak handle.

A traditional Scottish Sgian dubh that was made for a customer’s son’s wedding.  Much simpler, and cleaner than I prefer, but it was very rewarding to make.

Here is a style that I love, I actually based it off of my own knife that I made myself many years ago. The handle is local peach wood.

Being a blacksmith first I welcome jobs like this bottle opener.

I always try to keep some less expensive knives in stock.


Here is another departure from my normal style, very clean, but hopefully it still has character.

Finally a larger knife, somewhat of a camp knife. I’m experimenting with different size blades. It is my desire to make a useful tool, and lots of big blades are far to fat, heavy, and have much too obtuse of a cutting edge. this one is durable, and light.

Some of these blades are available for purchase on my etsy site. www.etsy.com/people/NateRunalsBlacksmith

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Here is a project that I just finished up, it’s a kit that I made to be used for mushroom hunting and wild foraging. It consists of a knife, a trowel, a brush, and a bag to carry your finds out of the forest.

 

The knife is another laminated blade with a copper guard, antler, and oak that I darkened with vinegar and iron filings. The sheath is leather with copper reinforcements and a depiction of fiddleheads growing on the bottom of the sheath.

 

 

The trowel is a piece of an old cymbal, iron, copper, and cherry. The brush is boars hair, and antler.

 

The bag is stitched out of burlap, and the patch on it is a hand cut hand printed block print done by my wife Rosie.

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I generally use new materials on all my knives, especially for the blades.  With a lot of used materials there is no telling what it’s really made of (metallurgically speaking) so it can be difficult to get the best heat treat out of the steel. When I sell a knife I like to have peace of mind, and know how it will preform over long term use.  There are some things that I love to repurpose for blades though, and good quality files are among my favorites.

This blade is made from an old Nicholson file that was dulled beyond use for much of anything, however it makes a wonderful knife! The handle is a black walnut cutoff from a local wood worker that I know  Chris Otto. The blade is 4″, and is very handy for all sorts of different tasks. This knife is for sale at my etsy store.

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I love making and using axes, however sometimes it’s a little hard for one person without the use of a power hammer or press, so I don’t end up making as many as I’d like. The method I’m about to show you is really great for a one man shop. It’s nice because unlike the standard “wrap around” eye this axe still has a poll (the back part of the axe) which balances everything, both physically and aesthetically.

This is a very small hatchet, the whole thing weighs only 1 pound making is capable of the most precise work.

The materials are wrought iron from a 100+ year old wagon tire, and brand new 1084 high carbon steel.

The first thing is to mark everything out. You want to decide on the length of your pole and measure out from the center of the bar the length of the pole in both directions. In this case I want a 3/4″ pole so I found the center, center punched it, measured out 3/4″ on both sides and marked that.

You also need to decide how large you want your eye. This is probably dependent on the size of your drift. There are formulas for determining this, but what i do is just measure the diameter of the drift and divide by two. From your last markings measure out the however far the diameter of the drift was divided by two, do this on both sides.

It’s important to leave enough material for the drift to just sort of ease open the eye. You don’t want to stretch the material (especially with wrought iron, but we’ll get to that later) because it’s already pretty thin, and your hole will not be as nice and consistent.

Next step is to draw out the cheeks of the axe. This will be the inside of the eye. Between the first and second set of markings from both sides is where your eye will be, drawing down the cheeks in this manner is much easier than trying to draw them down on the drift. Having pronounced cheeks on an axe really help when it comes to fitting a handle, it allows for much more wood to metal contact.

Use a ball pien, or a rounding hammer for this.  I guess you could use a small cross pien, but the ball just seems like a good way to do it.  If you’re working wrought like I am here be sure you’re only hitting the iron when it’s very hot otherwise it will split on you. This happened to me on the cheek, but being wrought it’s extremely easy to weld back together. Just heat, flux, and tap back together.

The next step is to flip the bar over, opposite the side you just forged, and cut half way through in the dead center of the bar. This will be the outside of the axe.

Fold the bar in half. Be sure the wrought is real hot when you do this otherwise it will snap in two, which wouldn’t be a problem really, this method just makes welding easier.

As you can see, the cheeks aren’t exactly the same. This isn’t a problem, as I’ll be profiling with a file or grinder later. Just a little extra work to reward the carelessness.

The next step is the welding, weld the pole together, then insert your high carbon for the cutting edge and weld that in place.

There really is not any magic to it just heat, bush, flux, heat some more, and weld. When I first started blacksmithing I was so intimidated by welding that I pretty much never tried it. One day I was frustrated that I couldn’t weld, so I went out to the shop and welded up a bunch of steel, since then I’ve had no problems.  I really think that the biggest obstacle that a young smith has is themselves.

Not to mention wrought iron is about the easiest thing to weld on the planet.

After it’s all welded up it’s time to drift the hole. No secret to this either, just drive in the drift almost all the way on one side, flip it around and do the same on the other side. This creates an hourglass shape which allows for a very good fit with your handle. If you’re making a tomahawk, or a different sort of friction fitted tool, only drift from one side.

Next start forging, use dies available (hammer faces, anvil parts, etc.) to move the metal in the direction you’d like.  Always work at a very high heat,  a little lower than welding temperature.

As you can see here the blade end of the wrought started to split again, no big deal. It’s easy to weld back, and in this case I’ll be trimming the edge a little bit anyway.

The axe is all forged out now, time for profiling, and stamping my mark.

Even with the heavy forging done to the high carbon steel, the grain will still be too big because of the multiple welding heats. The cure for this is to heat it up to critical (which is non magnetic for 1084 being that it is eutectic) and let it slowly cool. Depending on the rate of cooling it is either normalization, or annealing. I usually triple normalize my work prior to hardening.  Again this reduces the grain size making a more durable tool that obtains and keeps a better edge.

After the normalization cycles the blade is heated again to non magnetic, and quenched in warm oil.  Then it is tempered 3 times with a torch. An oven works well, even using the fire to temper is fine. The key is doing it multiple times.

Here is the head all sharpened up and ready for a handle.

For the handle I choose some nice straight grained shagbark hickory from my property.

A good axe needs a sheath

This is a very nice mini hatchet. It’s great for fine detailing work. Being only a pound it would be a great tool to bring hiking.

If you’re interested it can be purchased here.

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