Posts Tagged ‘Albanian Blacksmithing’

In a time before man became civilized some battles were too costly. Civility had begun to make its way into the minds of the leaders of the clans. In the darkness of a cave resides the old wizard, mystic, master of fire and shaper of iron. He has developed a new tool to develop the strategic thinking. Here one is made,  reminiscent of days of old and yet somehow a reminder that all that was still is.

Hi Guys!
I made this for my friend. The idea came to me, and probably had seen one before, when I was looking at some Medieval stuff for a book that I was, might still do later on. Since my friend lives in Germany it just clicked in my mind. There are some leaps to connect these dots for sure. Hahaha.

DSCN2216

I like to make things with a minimum of tools and this was no different. I don’t have a lot of tools in my shop at this point anyway so sometimes it makes me be work differently than I am still inclined to do so. Ah if only I had a machine…. 🙂

Parts

Miniatures are a bit of a PIA to make. I deviated a little in design and they all fit on a 3.5cm square. The Pawns are 2 different style anvils, one an English style, the other European style. The European style fit on the diagonal as they kept coming out slightly longer. I think I was having too much fun making them and the size was small enough, but easy enough to make, so I just kept making them. Yes I could have filed them down to size and I did clean all the pieces up in a few spots, but I wanted them to be off the anvil as much as possible. Why? It is what I wanted.

Waiting for Rook Bodies to heat up
The Kings are about 12 cm tall, Queens about 11.5 cm, Bishops 11 cm, Knights 10.5, Rooks 8 and the Pawns about 5 cm tall. Pretty much straight forging. I started with the Pawns (anvils), then the King and Queens (hammers) and moved down the line. The Bishops are Tongs as we all know the Francis Whitaker’s quote, “If you cannot hold it, you cannot work it” and so rightly belong in the hierarchy of tools. The knights (files) were originally going to have a punch and chisel with them, but that was a lot to fit on that base so I set the punch and chisel aside. The Rooks were a challenge, what could represent them. Ahh, ha! A Swage Block upon an obelisk would do the trick.

2015-04-15 16.27.36     To dress things up a bit I had originally thought of using copper and steel wire to wrap the King and Queen handles in, but discovered all the solid wire was too large. I had copper wire, what I would call a #12 and even that was a bit large. 14 or 16 gage was what I had in mind, so I did away with the wrap down the handles and used it just around the heads and 3-4 turns under them. I had plenty of steel wire to use, but matched the copper wrapping for some balance between the pieces. I did drill the hole for the Tong Rivet and the Hammer handles. I allowed myself this luxury. Some guy’s voice in the back of my head kept telling me to make it easy on myself. Hahaha. He knows who he is. 🙂

20150425_13310720150425_133313    The box was an afterthought that my wife put there. I was going to have a wooden one made, but she reminded me I could just make one out of wood or metal myself. Yeah, but…. And the next day I looked around, I had some galvanized sheet that I am never going to use, so… a bend here and there later, Viola! I had a small piece of copper sheet and a brass dial holder from a long ago project still in my repousse tool kit that is what is on the top. The belts are new and I just cut and tipped them with the same galv. sheet. It has been a long time since I made a sheet metal box and I made several mistakes, but managed to make is all work. Finish is just wire wheeled and clear coated. I did use a regular rivet gun and then flattened them with a hammer. The metal guys didn’t have any smaller stock and I didn’t feel like making (50) 1/8” rivets out of my ½ round or square bar. Call me lazy. 🙂

There you have it. Oh the best is my friend loved the set, so it is a success. 🙂

DSCN2239Historical Note: No one really knows who invented Chess, but surely it could have been a Blacksmith! 🙂

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Hi Guys!

Just finished up the knife I was making for a friend ours that I had started before the holiday. The first pics are of the annealing tub, it is filled with ashes from a brush burn I did earlier in Nov 14.  Next up is the Master Sharpening tools and station. Hahaha, I forgot to show my my sandpaper station which I put the final edges on with. I do flat edges as that is how I learned how to put edges on. I use a piece of wood with smooth formica and a couple of pcs of wood to hold the wet/dry paper down. Rub-a-dub-dub and the finish will come out. I only have 400 grit right now, but I have an order for some 800 and 1000. I used to use a honing steel and strop for my edges, but don’t have either currently. The knife cuts paper as it is, but not as fine as I have done in the past. Bianca used told me I had to quit testing my chisels on my arm hair because it looked weird to have shaved spots on it. I could see her point. 🙂

Annealing tub

Annealing tub

Master Sharpening Tools

Master Sharpening Tools

The knife is made from a Leaf Spring of unknown origin and is about 6cm wide and maybe 4 or 5 mm thick, I forgot to measure that. The blade was forged to about its present shape and thickness about 2.5 cm. I used Walnut for the handle, nothing fancy, nice comfortable hand fit for the size. The bolster is steel, hammered out thinner and then shaped with a grinder and finished off with a file. I did use some sandpaper to take most of the file marks out of it, but my intention was not to give it a brilliant polish.
2014-12-09 10.05.26This actually works pretty good for these types of knives as the angle iron provides support while I file and sand it. I do use an angle grinder with a flap wheel to remove the bulk of the scale and indents and then I finish it off with a file and my sandpaper sharpening board.

I tried to get pictures of me hardening the edge, but they are a bit blurry. I apologize, but you get the idea. I first saw this somewhere on the internet on one of the Bladesmith sites. Maybe Don Fogg’s I don’t remember. I do know that Wade Brooks has the same type as I saw it in his shop, so I this isn’t something I made up. I heated the blade up slowly until I saw just a touch of yellow coming up to the edge and then I quenched it. I did this three times each time letting the color darken a little more until my final color of a just slightly beyond straw, but not dark straw. The file skates off of it so it is fairly sharp.

Quenching Tank

Quenching Tank

Quenching tank

Quenching tank

I just was very glad to see that I didn’t have any cracks in the blade when I was done. There is however a very slight bend at the start of the curve which I had tried to correct before and it came back. I guess I didn’t relieve all the stresses within the blade well enough. It wasn’t enough for me to redo all the work at this point. I am the only one who noticed it and I only saw it when I put the edge on it. The shine was slightly different on the edge and the sharpness wasn’t the same, so I knew something was off.

Width measurement

Width measurement

Blade and OAL Measurement

Blade and OAL Measurement

Guard measurement

Guard measurement

For those of you who don’t know – I have always left my knives rough except for the edge and unless someone is paying me for it I will continue to do so as I like that look. This is the largest knife that I can make without doing some changes to the gas forge and my forge to accommodate a longer one. That is fine with me at this point. My friend was very happy to receive it and I hope he uses and abuses it for years to come.

Thanks for stopping by!

See ya at the Forge!

Vince

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I finally got back to doing some work in the shop other than wood repairs of the homestead or fab work to enclose a section of property that needed a new fence/wall.

I managed to make two smaller crosses one a pseudo crucifix and the other with a rose. Both have been delivered to their intended recipients and both said they liked them. Success! I did start another more challenging project in the form of a larger knife, blade about 8”x 2.5”x 3/16 max., OAL about 15”. I was hoping to find some brass or bronze to use as a bolster, but that isn’t happening from my sources, sooooo. The plan is to finish it when I return to the shop after Christmas and the New Year. I also have to make a few things to allow me to get a better temper of the blade.

Crucifix starter kit

Crucifix starter kit

Small Crucifix

Small Crucifix

Cross with Rose

Cross with Rose

2014-12-09 10.05.26

I plan to do a few things to improve my shop in the New Year 1st and foremost to finish off the anvil repair. I thought I could live with the large chip out near the horn, but…. It drives me crazy and I would like to use that area without that interference. As I reported before, I believe that the repair actually improved the hardness of my anvil face as it seems to make the work easier, of course that could just be the satisfaction of having made the repair.

It seems that a few of my friends here have an interest in owning a knife made by me, so I will have to take a detour from decorative work to make a few. I hope to do a better job of sharing my work and processes, such as they are with you in the coming year.

It is hard to believe that I have been in Albania for over 2 years now. Time flies when you are having a good time. I hope that everyone has had a good year and is able to feel a part of the Christmas season. Furthermore I hope that everyone is:

Healthy and Prosperous in the coming New Year!

So until next year!

Surfing the Old Year out.

Surfing the Old Year out.

From Albania!

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Vince

Hi Guys,

    Bianca wanted a key holder and this is what I came up with. 

Key Holder - mixed  metals

Key Holder – mixed metals

Key Holder Back

Key Holder Back


The trunk or branch is made from rebar, the hooks reduced from 1/2″ rd. I made them a while back so I had them on hand.  The 3 flowers are galvanized cold work. The yellow rose is made from the sides of an aluminum spray can. I  just rolled for the stem and cut and textured the petals a little. The vine is some Turkish Brand welding rod that doesn’t work no matter what I do, so I have plenty to use for hooks, holders, etc. i spot welded the vine on the back. The aluminum stem I crimped and epoxied to the vine. Painted with acrylic and coated with a clear acrylic of some sort.

Well there you have it!

See ya at the Forge!!!

Vince

Hi guys,
In case you forgot I broke my fine 1 year (almost) old vise trying to bend a piece of larger rebar at the end of April. I looked around and couldn’t find a decent forged machinist or post vise here. I had what looked like two good leads, but both of those didn’t pan out. That left me with two options; buy another cast one and hope for the best or make one. I decided to make one. I was often tempted to make Brian Gilberts vertical vise back in the States, but since I had two post vise’s and several really nice machinist vises I had no need to do so. I didn’t make Brian’s vise here either. I took another course and it was a combination of Brian’s and a woodworkers parallel vise.

I had a discussion with my friend about the pivot point for the movable jaw and he mentioned just letting it pivot on the floor considering the way we use the vise. He mentioned having a vise like that where I used to work, I remember the vise and knew that it was actually adjustable on the bottom to make it parallel, very useful in woodworking and not actually pivoting on the floor. Taking his comments into consideration and some of Brian Gilbert’s design I combined those three thoughts and this is what I came up with.

Cutting the jaws

Cutting the jaws

Stationary jaw in place

Stationary jaw in place

 

Materials: 13mm x 7.5 cm x 30 cm flat, 4cm x 6mm x 6 meters flat bar, 3cm sq x 120cm bar, and some 22mm threaded rod, washers and nuts and some welding rod. I used  rebar for the handle.  In the future I can find a length of acme threaded rod I would prefer to use that as the regular TR tend to wear out relatively quickly in this type of use.

The 13mm flat is the base for the fixed jaw on top of the wooden post. This is the same post configuration that I had the old vise on so it is fairly well supported coming off the wall with two stabilizer brackets that I use for a tool rack.

I used the same rod that I used for the jaws as the main adjustable leg support welded on to the 4 cm flat. The heavy leg structure only goes just beyond the spindle. I didn’t have enough to go the entire length and this is the normal set up for post vises on their adjustable legs would end here. It makes sense to me.

I have leaf spring and took a section of it and bent it in the middle. I let it normalize and then heat treated it.  It appears to work, well, time will tell.

 

Side view of vise w/o spring.

Side view of vise w/o spring.

Vise w/o spring or paint

Vise w/o spring or paint

 

What is better about this and what is not. Dare I tell the truth?!!!!
Cons: I still some slight give when the jaws are tight and I go to twist. The jaws do not have a flat face, but the two surfaces mate almost perfectly and will have to use soft and hard jaw plates for a perfectly flat surface. I have to us spacers to keep the jaws parallel. The foot of the adjustable leg will eventually have to be repaired due to being beat on and only being made of mild steel.

Pros: I can smack the hell out of it and it will keep on ticking – if it breaks, bends etc. I can repair it. It is 2.5 inches wider than my old one. I have better clearance on each side. I have a bending jig between the fixed jaw and the base plate (there is a nice space there that I can use to make rings, bends etc using the jaw of the vise). I have a hook on the side that serves as my ground connector and place to hang stuff. I have a useable vise, right now for less than the cost of another cast vise. Replacement in kind is about 60 bucks, my costs in materials is about 40. Time spent building about 16 hours, cutting, cleaning and painting. Satisfaction – :0 :):):):)

 

 

Vise complete with Spring in place

Vise complete with Spring in place

Hi Guys,

  I have my new hood in place over my forge and had it fired up the other day. I think in order to weld properly in it given the temps off the charcoal I have I will need to have a deeper pot. I will make a square to go around to contain and raise the heat column. For heating the 2-1/2 deep pot works just fine for heating and beating the smaller work that I do most of the time here. So that will work out. The dust blower works fine for that sort of work and will save me lots of charcoal. I do have a hair dryer hookup for additional and constant air flow to make welding operations easier. I am sure welding will be as easy as using my favorite coke in no time with a little practice with my new setup. Because the guy who was going to build my hood got sick I decided to build it myself. I didn’t really have the work bench to do that size project and that is why the tabs are on the outside and not inside. Plus I really didn’t want to buy a pop rivet gun as I don’t plan on doing anymore sheet-metal work after this. That is the plan anyway. So here a  few shots of the forge hood and forge in operation.

Hood Side cutout

Hood Side cutout

Hood Side tabbed

Forge and with new hood warming up

Forge and with new hood warming up

New forge testing the full draft.

New forge testing the full draft.

Before I decided to make my own hood I started to build my bedroom bench and will be using some re-bar for most of it. Re-bar is popular here. I also have made a couple of re-bar tools such as the drift chisel I used to make the first set of eyes in the legs of the bench. I did round up the holes with a drift that goes up to about a ½ inch. The eyes here are about the same diameter as the legs a little under ½ inch. Everything here is in metric and I haven’t quite assimilated completely yet. I still have to convert everything to visualize the diameters and lengths. This project was put in the holding pattern while I finished the hood.

Bench Legs

Bench Legs

This project is on hold for a few weeks as my friend Evis and I built a couple of kayaks. Kayaks are not readily available without costing an arm and a leg. The materials just to build one is still about $350, to buy one here is about $1300 and that is used and not in good shape. So the decision to build one was made.

Here are a couple of shots taken today (3-23-1014) early in the day. The goal was to set up the strongback and get the frames cut out. We accomplished that and only need to redo one that for some reason or other doesn’t line up with the others. No problem, that is why we are going slow and double checking everything. So far it looks good. We are waiting on an epoxy glue that we had to order and after that arrives we will do a test fit and set the keel. Things will really be off and running then.

My Shop taken over by Kayak materialsKayak Plan w-corrections

Kayak Plan w-corrections
Okay I am ready to start Vince - Do you know what you are doing?

Okay I am ready to start Vince – Do you know what you are doing?

I don't know what I have gotten myself into here

I don’t know what I have gotten myself into here

  I know it isn’t blacksmithing, but since I won’t be doing any blacksmithing while this is going on I hope you find it interesting. We won’t know if we are successful or not until we set sail in the water. Evis says he swims really good. Hahaha.

See ya at the Forge!!

Hi Guys,

Here’s the status of my new forge – I am waiting on the hood and chimney. It should be ready tomorrow or the next day. The same guy making my chimney also sold me the blower. We talked about it when he came by and he told me he could make the modifications that I want, but I may find that it doesn’t go what I think it will. Okay the guy has been making stuff like that for 50 years and I am deferring to his experience. I can always modify it later. He is doing the repair for nothing because he felt bad that it broke after only using it for 2 hours. Good guy! I didn’t ask he told me he would. So I didn’t have that and it kept me from the temptation to use the forge without a chimney in the shop. 🙂

 

I moved on to a project that I started before I left for Italy: a crucifix.   I smoothed out the texture I put in the bar I was using for the cross as I didn’t care for it. I decided to twist it and I liked that better so that is what I have. Next I took a 2 x 1/4″ pc and cut the lines of the arms and cut off the excess from the legs and head section. I left a stub on it to move it in and out of the gas forge easier.

Christ Body being formed

Christ Body being formed

After shaping the head and arms somewhat I added some ribs and the spear wound. The idea was for the essence and not a detailed carving. After I was satisfied from the waist up I cut him off the stub and reduced the leg sections somewhat. I had to use a chisel and file for the close spots near the loin cloth. I don’t have a decent edge on the anvil, yet…. I will take a look at fixing that once I get my blower back and chimney set up. Pre-heat is a must with this much work. I rounded the legs up gave them a bend and something resembling feet. Viola the body is done. I originally heat colored it, but buffed most of that off. There is some on the loin clothe and a few smaller spots. It made the body almost disappear.

Christ Body finished

Christ Body finished

I cut the pcs for the cross and lined them up for the body to be nailed to it. The cross itself is riveted together.  I used three flat head nails that I hammered into square heads, filed them off and bent them over on the back side. After I was done I found a small piece of copper in my repousse box and did a very rustic INRI and nailed that to the top. Since the riveting and nailing were done cold I sprayed each piece before to keep rust off for years to come. I have no idea what kind of coating it is. They were out of lacquer, but had a multi-surface transparent coating and while a little shinier than I like seems to have bonded well.

Photo-0112This was a piece that I had wanted to make a few years ago and now found the time to do it. I used only a few basic tools this time around. I left out the file from the picture. If I make another I will make a smaller chisel, fuller and butcher to add better detailing and I will add a crown of thorns. But that isn’t until next time. I have other projects that I want to do before I return to this.

Photo-0119

See ya at the Forge!

Vince