RicelandMeadows


Heat on a Cold Day
January 29, 2019, 11:54 am
Filed under: January 2019 | Tags: , ,

heattreat1

January 29, 2019

I am trying to get over a winter cold. I felt better, so I decided a day in the shop was in order. I did accomplish a few things, but did not kick my cold…so the sniffles continue.

I have a couple knife projects in the works. I decided to heat treat the blades as I move through the knife making process. I had spent a little time making some door handles. My fire was mostly clean coke and very even. This is the ideal time for jobs like forge welding or heat treating, because of the absence of impurities in the fire.

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After the steel has reached critical temperature, I plunge the hot blade into the quench oil. This hardens the knife, giving it the property to hold an edge and stay sharp.

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This job must not be done by children and should be done in a well ventilated area. Careful consideration to ensure no flammables are nearby. You can see in the photo one of three fire extinguishers in the shop. They are overkill, but give peace of mind. I also have a cover for the quench pan for snuffing out any flame that may pop up.

The knife blades are next annealed to give them some flexibility. All that remains to complete the projects are polishing and handle fitting. These jobs take the longest for me. I can’t even say that I like doing them. I like the finished product, but the countless hours of sanding and buffing I find very tedious.

I am sure things will get better as I learn more. Like any job, the tricks and shortcuts make them go better. In any case, it is a warm job on a cold day. I like the forge and the expression it allows, so I will continue to heat, beat and repeat.



New Year
January 1, 2019, 1:11 pm
Filed under: January 2019, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

2018orrnements1

January 1, 2019

As last year came to a close, I spent quite a bit of time in the forge shop. I made gifts for many folks. I worked outside of my comfort zone, but had a great time honing my skills.

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Elk handle, a farrier’s rasp and some brass pipe allowed me to make this rustic exhibition Bowie knife. A few old railroad spikes were turned into container gardening tools.

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I even forged all the pieces to make a small “Hit and Miss” engine toy. A 3/4 block of steel, a piece of pipe, a rivet, a few washers, a block from the toy box and lots of imagination. It brightened the day of a long time collector and made my heart smile.

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The flywheels were taken off a broken toy tractor. It was a fun project.

I made hooks and hangers of several types. I made a few tools to help me make the things shown above. This new hobby for me is very relaxing. It pushes my mind and promotes creativity. My hands are happy near the forge and anvil. My body enjoys the warmth on wet, cold winter days.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope your year is filled with the people and things that make you happy.



Harvest and Thanksgiving
November 27, 2018, 10:31 am
Filed under: November 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

snak18

November 27, 2018

November has been a very busy time here on the farm. The ear corn for the animal feed has all been harvested. The animals are tucked in for the winter. Butchering season is upon us now. This job is the last one for the year. The meat sticks in the photo above, were made from venison. Our 9 year old grandson bagged his first deer. His request was for snack sticks and jerky.

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We made jerky from the ground meat. There is now a family, happily munching meat snacks!

Thanksgiving, is a big word for a great holiday. It is set aside for us to count our blessings and give thanks for them. This post is delayed, because I have been busy counting!

I have been busy in the forge shop making Christmas gifts. Sorry no photos of those gifts  for a while, I don’t want to spoil the suprizes. I am really enjoying this new venture. It forces me to think and allows me to work with my hands in a very different way. In fact, it lets me “harvest” from steel!



A Day for Me
October 16, 2018, 11:50 am
Filed under: October 2018 | Tags: , , , , , ,

knifeblankheat

October 7, 2018

I think it is very good for us as humans, to take some time out to do what pleases us. We need to take care of responsibilities first of course, but some time to relax is a necessity. I am guilty of working too much in the past. Life is short. There is no way to go back and spend time with people, see an event or watch a sunset from a comfortable chair. Those days are behind me and I have regrets for sure. I will try harder to spend more time on the things that really matter…and one of those things is just some time for me.

It is no secret that I have found a great hobby with forging. I like to heat the steel and make it move in my hands. I like to create. I like the solitude and alone time. I read somewhere, that men and steel get second chances. Its true. The metal can change, reshape, bend and harden. Men are the same way…it just takes guidance from a master to make it happen. Choose your master well…don’t choose money, work or pleasing others. Stay true to self and go forward following your heart.

I have been making blades from old files and rasps. The hardened steel has to go through fire before it can be made into a knife. They are very hard as tools. The fire restores flexible steel, reducing the hardened tools to malleable steel once again. They make fine blades with hardness restored in their cutting edges, while leaving the rest of the knife flexible enough to bend when put to a test.

Men too, sometimes need to go through a “fire”, for them to change. I have been through a few low points in my life testing my mettle. I did indeed change a few things. In the end I am stronger than before, but I can bend.

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Slowly the knife blade takes shape. In men, maybe it is the loss of a job or failure in some way, that tests them. The birth of a baby or the loss of a loved one, will shape your life differently. It is not the reshaping that matters, it is the way you react to it. Be positive. Find the good in yourself and others. Change if needed, but at a minimum, learn from the new experience.

I stand at my forge and anvil. I hammer and twist steel into shapes. I make mistakes, but I turn out good stuff too. The joy comes not from the pieces of steel I bend and hammer, but from finding a skill that I didn’t even know I possessed! I wouldn’t allow myself to waste time on idle things…what a mistake!

So, the point of this post is to help my readers understand, the importance of rest and relaxation. We as humans need the down time to recharge and reset. The Bible tells us that on the seventh day, God rested. He was God. He didn’t need to rest…He did it because He knew that “we” needed it! This took me too long to understand, but now…I get it.

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Productive Rainy Days
September 12, 2018, 9:43 am
Filed under: September 2018 | Tags: , , , ,

raspfirstset

September 12, 2018

After oppressive heat and humidity, rain ushered in some cooler weather. The rains fell for three days here giving us 2.75 inches of moisture. I used the wet days to complete a couple of projects. The knife and hatchet set, forged from a farrier’s rasp was a fun project and is now complete. I learned a lot during the process. I will continue to put this new skill/hobby to work for me. I must say I really enjoy it.

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We also completed putting a new wagon rack on my horse drawn wagon. This is the second rack on this same running gear. The last rack was 9 years old. It rotted out even though it had been painted. I now have room to keep this one inside during winter weather. It should last a good long time. The boards were wet as we built from rough cut hemlock lumber. Once it dries out, I will seal it from the elements. It will be all ready to gather firewood and pick our field corn.

The cooler weather also makes me get excited about fall plowing. The horses and I can do more in the cool comfortable days of autumn. This summer’s heat was one for the record books. It did make for a great corn crop. Timely rains and hot weather kept the pastures lush and green. Hay making was a challenge as we would get “pop-up” showers that didn’t do much more than wash the drying hay. It makes the hay dusty, okay for cows, but not for horses. Oh well, we can’t control the weather, but we can work with it…like doing something productive on a rainy day!



Rough Around the Edges
August 27, 2018, 9:56 am
Filed under: August 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

rasp1

August 27, 2018

This knife I have been making as time permits over the last week. I made it from a farrier’s rasp that was given to me by my farrier. This is my second knife project. I learned a lot. I had to soften the rasp steel, then forge, grind, harden and temper the knife. The handle fit went much better this time. I still have to sharpen and polish it, but it is coming along quite well.

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I left the rasp’s character showing as I worked the steel. This knife will be a gift for my farrier. I think he will use it or perhaps just display it, but I am pleased with my efforts. I think leaving it a little rough around the edges makes for a great conversation piece. I say this because those who know me, know that I too am a little rough around the edges…and conversation is my specialty!      (Some may even say that I am a bullshi**er!)



Steel Away for the Weekend

tillknif1

August 16, 2018

I had a great time last weekend at Tiller’s International in Scotts Michigan. I took their knife making class. Last year, I took two blacksmithing courses. This was just “continuing education” I guess. I learned a bunch of new stuff thanks to good instruction and hands on learning.

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This very simple “clamp” in the photo above, became a good friend as I sanded and rubbed on the steel knife. I forged the blade from 5160 steel, then learned to grind and sand the blade into a functional piece.

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We learned to fit a handle on the blade. I am pleased with my first attempt to make a knife, but I see imperfections that I will work on for the next one. This is a good blade… even if it did take me two full days to make it!

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I even ventured into file work. I free handed the “X’s” into the back of the blade for my thumb to rest on. Again, I learned things that I will do different, but am satisfied by my efforts. I need to work a bit more on the finish…but… “It will cut” as they say.

Tiller’s International is an institution that strives to bring old, early American methods in farming and homesteading to poor countries. They build small agricultural equipment out of materials found in those poor countries, like rebar, shipping containers, and bicycle parts. They make hand tools and oxen pulled pieces as well.

The international part of the Tiller’s mission, is made possible by training learned from preserving America’s past. I am glad they share. Classes in timber framing, tool making, coopering, tin smithing, commercial barrel making from white oak staves, oxen and draft horse driving basics and more. Check out their website for classes and events at http://www.tillersinternational.org  This non-profit organization can use your help, why not enrich your life while helping them out?  It worked good for me as I was able to “steel away for the weekend!”