Monthly Archives: June 2013

Forged Knife With Brass Handguard

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This knife I forged out from a bit of 5160 (number refers to the steel alloy) car spring steel, a little slab about a third of an inch thick and an inch wide. Forged it out to the same shape as it is now, then ground the grind with a disc sander held in place with a vise. The knife is stick tang, which means past the riccasso (the unsharpened section between the guard and the blade), there is only a little flat “stick” of steel protruding into the wood handle, secured with a Nickel Silver pin.

I did a little experimenting with this blade actually. I mixed up a little paste made of plaster of paris, burned ashes, and a bit of water. This mixture I spread over the spine of the blade, and heated it up to critical temperature and quenched it in oil. The shock of the sudden cooling hardens the blade, yet makes it brittle. However, the spine of the blade was covered with paste, and so cooled a little slower than the edge, making it much softer. This is the same technique that was used (yet perfected) by the Japanese on their katanas. Later I will be etching the blade with a weak acid (lemon juice), and the wave should show up in the blade.

Stone Options

Bi-colored Elbaite (Tourmaline)

Bi-colored Elbaite (Tourmaline) (Photo credit: Orbital Joe)

Everyone has a certain selection of colors that looks best on them (I’ll write a post on how to find them in the future), and so of course there are stones that look good on them. You may look just gorgeous with a deep blue Sapphire, buuuuut that’ll cost a few thousand dollars. So here’s a little chart that lists a few stones, numbered 1 through 5, 1 being the most expensive option, 5 the cheapest.

Light Blue

  1. Aquamarine
  2. Tourmaline
  3. Topaz
  4. Zircon
  5. Synthetic Cubic Zirconia

Deep Blue

  1. Sapphire
  2. Tanzanite
  3. Tourmaline
  4. Iolite
  5. Synthetic Spinel


  1. Ruby
  2. Spinel
  3. Garnet
  4. Spinel (lesser quality)
  5. Synthetic Cubic Zirconia

Opaque Blue

  1. Lapis Lazuli
  2. Sodalite
  3. Turquoise
  4. Azurite
  5. Synthetic Turquoise


  1. Emerald
  2. Garnet
  3. Peridot
  4. Diopside
  5. Synthetic YAG


  1. Padparadscha (Orange Sapphire)
  2. Sherry Topaz
  3. Garnet
  4. Tourmaline
  5. Feldspar

Apple Green

  1. Jadeite
  2. Chrysoprase
  3. Malachite
  4. Nephrite
  5. Aventurine

Pink (Now before you look at this, let me make myself clear. If you have white skin, stay away from pink. It looks horrible on most white people, with very few exceptions)

  1. Kunzite
  2. Morganite
  3. Topaz
  4. Garnet
  5. Rose Quartz








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Adding Piece To Person

Silver filigree handcrafted necklace

Silver filigree handcrafted necklace (Photo credit: Tikanchay handcrafted jewelry from Peru)


Jewelry. What is the main purpose of


ID #1234 Malibu Waves Full Persian Chain Maill...

ID #1234 Malibu Waves Full Persian Chain Maille Necklace (Photo credit: The ChainMaille Lady)


jewelry? To look beautiful, right? Wrong. Jewelry serves a higher purpose than just to glitter.


Jewelry’s main purpose is to make its wearer beautiful, or at least to attract attention to her. If her eyes are spectacular, the right earrings can “steer” the viewer’s eyes to hers. If she has a very prominent nose, a long necklace can bring the viewer’s eye down to meet the pendant, or a correctly styled earring could bring attention above the nose, to the eyes or the hair.


With the correct jewelry, a person could appear taller, shorter, thinner, heavier, lighten or darken skin tone, older, younger, extrovert or introvert. And, almost as important as these, a piece must complement the colors of a wearer’s hair, eyes, and skin tone.


This is quite a large part of a professional jeweler’s job, and often poses quite a challenge. What looks just dastardly on one person can make another looking celebrity. I’ve been studying these techniques and “rules” of jewelrywear, and I’ll post a summary of my learnings in the next few blog posts.

Interestingly, I’ve never really thought of jewelry other than to bling and look pretty. Jewelry is not supposed to look pretty, it’s supposed to make the wearer look pretty.

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How I Limit Myself

Part of the reason I was able to reach 200 posts is by limiting myself as to how much I write, time-wise. Doing this helps me so I don’t pack in too much information, and stay focused. And it makes this post-machine (me) much more efficient. Here is my strategy:

Really, it’s pretty simple. I limit myself to one hour of writing. Fifteen minutes to half an hour researching the subject, and about half an hour writing. The trick is when researching, to beforehand imagine exactly what I need to know about a subject, and research just that, without getting off-topic on other subjects. I use Wikipedia for most of my researching (I rarely use Google; too broad normally), and I try to keep myself from wandering onto other articles. Once I have the information I need, I begin writing, and keep doing so until I’ve finished or until I’ve run out of time. As soon as my hour is up, I stop, save draft, and leave it until the next day, when I continue and finish writing. If I finish a past post on a given day, I prefer not to start another, as facts from the previous post tend to jumble up my brain.

This little technique is actually very effective. You know how I know that? I’ve been using it for the last three years!

How Many Posts I Hope to Write

As you know, recently I reached my 200th post on this website (and sent out the prize from the #200 Post Contest). I’ve written on this blog since the 4th of July, 2010! That was about three years ago. That was about two-three posts a week, not counting sick days, holidays, and blank-brain days. Of course, as I’ve gotten older, my post count has increased, so now I’m doing about 4-5 posts a week. Now, how many posts will I do (on average) in the next year? Or even ten years? And as a question for you; will you keep reading it for that long?

Well, if I continue average of four posts a week, that would be 208 posts in one year. Of course, there’ll be a lot of sick days, brain-blank days, and holidays, which I would average of about 30 less posts. That’s 178 posts per year. In a ten-year span, that’s 1,780 posts.

Frankly, I’m pretty surprised I got even this many! Three years on this site, and I’ve got two hundred. And seventeen hundred and eighty posts. That. Is a lot. I’m not sure I’ve got that many posts in me!

You Can Get Hurt


Whirl-fire (Photo credit: Loving Earth)

Bladesmithing. Forging steel into extremely sharp knives. Sounds pretty dangerous, right? But what specific part is the most dangerous, to either the smith or his wallet or sanity? And how could one prevent, or at least minimize this danger?

Bladesmithing is very dangerous, it involves sharp knives, torches, red-hot steel, smashing steel with a hammer and anvil, inhaling poisonous dust from antler or wood, or grinding metal with high-speed machines that could easily take off a finger if misused. Another biggy is the insanity you get when a blade one has worked on for days just up and snaps.

Probably the most dangerous is the risk of fire. Not necessarily burns (that just results in a lot of pain and yelling), but the risk of the shop itself going up in flames. This can be caused by a piece of hot metal left carelessly on a wood workbench, lack of good insulation and heat dispassion, or just a torch accidentally waved over a wood surface. If something does catch fire, the result is made even worse by the fact that there is always a tank of gasoline or acetylene nearby. I think you could guess what happens when fire comes in contact with gas.

To keep this from happening, I have modified my propane forge to be contained inside a metal barrel, and I also raised the whole thing off the wood workbench. There is already a fire extinguisher next to my workbench so no worries there. I also have a large jar of water (that I normally use for quenching) that I can splash over any possible smoldering, as well as a couple miscellanious bricks laying around so I have something to lay hot steel on if I need to do something else. There is also a water source (garage sink) that is only two or three strides from my work area, and lots of rags that I could damp and smother a fire in no time.

Surprisingly, I’m not really afraid of the risk of fires, mainly because of the above precautions, but also because I feel quite confident and in control around heat sources. I guess you could say fire is a friend that I trust.

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Poem of Steel

Gripping the tongs with my dirty hands,

Over the red steel, my careful eye scans

The bar of steel, colored bright red

Will, by my hands, become a warring spear head.

The heat on my brow,

The smell of the coal,

Takes on me at all, no toll.

Now I raise the hammer above the red steel,

And after a brief pause, I begin smashing with zeal.

The hammer begins to flatten the head out,

Every clang coming to my ear, as a joyful shout.

When it becomes much too cool, I place the head back in the blue flame,

Which I know for a fact, I must carefully keep tame.