Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Monday, what on earth am I doing at the Forge on a Monday? Well let me say we were trying to finish up the knife project because I plan to go camping on the weekend, provided it doesn't snow. Also this should give a review of what happens from start to finish, when you take on a project, such as a knife.

To start with I made a drawing of what I wanted to make, as a somewhat of a beginner Blacksmith and that would allow me to gain the  required skills  and development, in learning how to hammer, strike correctly, and how the steel reacts to the hammer blows, as well as learning about Quenching and Heat Treating the steel to obtain the best results.

Brother Dave with his excellent skill with the zip-cutter, cut out a mild steel 1/8 inch template which we could follow while forging the blade. 

Then choose the steel which was 1/2 inch thick by 3 inches wide and about 10 inches long, which was the rear Leaf Spring from a big old dump truck.

We cleaned most of the rust off it, welded a chunk of round bar on one end to use as a handle and put it in the forge. Using mostly the power hammer we drew (drawing something out means you do not loose any steel you just make it longer or wider and more dense by hammering it) it out to about 19 inches long and about 2 1/4 inches wide, tapering it down on one side which would become the blade edge. Also somewhat of the shape of the template, Dave went at it with the Disk-Grinder and it started to take the shape we wanted.

The next step in this process was to see what it would really look like when completed. So I got some Brass and again Dave with the zip-cut made it the shape I wanted, while I cut out a couple of Oak Scales to mount for the  temporarily handle.

Now comes the scary part, the Quench and the heat treating of the blade. If we quench too cool it will not take, if we overheat it it becomes too hard, it must be just the right temperature which is between 1450 & 1500 degrees Fahrenheit (also known as critical temperature). This nonmagnetic, and must be quenched in warm oil at about 130 to 140 degrees. We are so lucky because we got it right, on the first try. Next comes the tempering, which makes the blade neither too hard or too soft, but is durable and will take an edge. This is done by placing the blade in a 500 to 550 degree oven for an hour, then shut the oven off and allow everything to cool. When it comes out of the oven it will look like this. 
The colouring now has to be cleaned off and the blade returned to normal colour. Again luck was on our side, and the blade turned out perfect, with the help of a little elbow grease and some emery paper. At this point all we have to do is install the Cocobolo Wood handle scales and Brass pins, sand everything smooth and make sure it feels good in the hand and we are done.

Well, almost done, every knife needs a leather sheath to carry it in, and no you can't buy one at any store to fit this knife, so the only thing to do is make one. Something new to learn. 
Which is exactly what I did, and there you have it. One completed project. Hand made right from scratch. This story is my way of of saying to anyone, that if you want to do something, anything, then figure out what you want to do, then just go do it and don't stop till you have it completed. 
Should you ever wonder what this old Square Dance Caller would do when I retire from calling, I'll tell you I don't know off the top of my head, but I'm sure there is  something out there somewhere I might want to turn my hands or mind to.
That's all I have for today, hopefully you will enjoy reading this and have a wonderful summer. Take care of yourself and each other and I'll see you when I see you.

Saturday, May 11, 2019


Well now, what a very interesting and almost scary day of heat treating steel. After watching some You Tube videos and one in particular from The National Research Council on tempering and heat treating steel, I felt ready to take the adventure, knowing all that could go wrong, and writing out a step by step procedure, and rehearsing the procedure, then making sure I was following every step, we began. 

Step 1. The Quench: Clean the steel so that it is free of slag, dirt & oil. Prepare the forge, and the quenching container to be in close proximity of each other and heat the Quenching Oil to 130/140 Degrees Fahrenheit, because hot oil has less viscosity and therefore cools quicker than cold oil.

Step 2. Heat the steel to be quenched to between 1450 & 1500 Degrees Fahrenheit (Critical Temperature or the state of nonmagnetic) evenly, so that the entire piece reaches Critical Temperature at the same time. Then quench it in the hot oil being very careful not to cause a flash flare up of the oil, move the steel slowly up and down in the oil to reduce air bubbles until it reaches between 400 /600 Degrees Fahrenheit. 

Step 3. At this point we removed the steel from the quench and placed it between two pieces of angle iron positioned in the vise, and clamped the steel between the angle iron and tighten the vise, this procedure eliminates warping and twisting of the steel and allows it to cool to the touch.

Step 4. When the steel was cooled we removed it from the vise and closely checked it for straightness, hardness, cracks, & cold shuts, etc. Then clean off all the slag created by from the forge, from it and shine it, install the brass guards, and it is ready to temper. 

Step 5. Tempering, this took place when we placed the steel in a preheated oven at 500 Degrees Fahrenheit for a period of one hour and the cooled while remaining in the oven. This results in a beautiful purple colour  with a narrow strip of blue on the edge. This is exactly what we want and where this part of the story ends.  

From here we must clean it, shine it, sharpen it and install the handle, which will take place next week.

Saturday, May 4, 2019


Wow! Yesterday was Friday all ready. First things first Judy is safely in Italy with her best friend Lois and having a grand time, in good temperatures, and fantastic food. I on the other hand stayed at home, to hold down the fort and continue my self imposed forced labour, of working at the forge.

The project this week was to start making a Bowie Knife, Jim Bowie was born in Kentucky on April 10 1796 and died at the Battle of The Alamo in February 1836. Although Jim was not a Square Dancer, nor a caller, we did name the call Alamo Style after that great fight and I'm sure when Square Dancers hear the call "Allemande Left in the Alamo Style" they think of poor old Jim Bowie, and his big old knife. There are many versions of this legionary Bowie Knife and we picked one, in hopes of making something similar. I drew it out and cut it out, set it on a 1/8 piece of sheet stock and drew the image on it. Dave who is great with the zip cut, cut it our as the template. while I started forging a piece of 1/2 inch Spring Steel 2" wide and 10" long and hammering it into the desired shape. 
In the images above you can see my drawing, the templet on the right, and the very rough shape of what will become our Bowie Knife on the left in the lower picture. To get this far was a full day project for both of us, and we are very happy with both our progress and our results. We have learned a great deal about Blacksmithing since we started in October of 2018, with lots left to learn in the future.
That's all I have for today, Take care of yourself and each other and I'll see you when I'm older.

Saturday, April 27, 2019


Another great Friday at the forge with the three brothers all in attendance, we spent some time discussing how to manufacture a Compass Rose either out of steel or maybe out of brass and if we were to make a sand mold into which we could pour the molten brass, as to whether that could be done and would result in what we were looking for. All three agreed it was possible and will be kept in mind until it happens. Then it was time to light the forge and turn out another belt buckle and bolo tie with an anvil mounted on the face, turned out not too bad. By now it was time to go for lunch and get on with other issues going on in our life outside of Blacksmithing, and machining. So we closed up shop and got to the business at hand. 

Square Dancing again tomorrow, Sunday afternoon A2 Cookie Club will have the last session for this Square Dance season and wait until October to start back at it again. Where did the time go?
Monday evening will see the end of season for Adams Aces A1 Club and celebrate with Ice Cream Sundaes at the end of the evening. With Square Dance season coming to an end, it must be time to get the Golf Clubs out and start swinging.

Swing is the WORD in the Square Dance Hall we swing our partner, in the Blacksmith Shop we swing a hammer and on the Golf Course we swing the golf club, maybe I should get a cane and start swinging it as well.

That's about all I have for today so take care of yourself and each other, and I'll see you on the Dance Floor, Blacksmith Shop, or Golf Course.

Saturday, April 20, 2019


Yep, yesterday was Good Friday, and it was a good Friday to be at the forge although, there was a significant amount of rain, the forge was working fine. We managed to turn out a good sized Bolo Tie with an anvil plug welded in the centre, which will match the Belt Buckle I made last week. However, some people think it is much too large for me, so I might have to do some adjustments to the size, but that will remain to be seen. I found a drill bit which was all rusty in my neighbours driveway and figured it would be sure to create a flat tire on her car, so I picked it up put it in my pocket thinking I might be able to make something useful out of it. In the afternoon we turned it into a small knife with a steel handle, our first but not last attempt at knife making. 

All said and done we had a great day, except we missed Brother George, who was away today but will be back next Friday.
Square Dancers remember The Cookie Club is closed tomorrow Easter Sunday and Adams Aces is closed Easter Monday, so in my spare time I am working out some C1 choreography which we may try following The Cookie Club on the 28th of April. Maybe!
Happy Easter and take care of yourself and each other and I'll see you on the dance floor.

Sunday, April 14, 2019


Starting with Friday at the Forge which was only a half day this week because of other commitments, but we did get to refine the Belt Buckle I forged out last Friday as well as making a Troll Cross which is a Viking symbol to warn off bad spirits.

The next task was to sort through the Calling equipment and load it to go to Peterborough Saturday Morning. 

Saturday was a beautiful day and we had a great drive to Peterborough (thanks to Shawna) to participate in the Calling of the Lift Lock Square Dance Clubs "Spring Spree" starting at 2:00 PM and ending at 10:00 PM. an excellent event which took a huge amount of work and organization by the Members of the Club. Thank you to the the Lift Lock Squares. 

Also a huge Thank You to all the Ottawa Square Dancers who traveled to Peterborough to support Judy and I, words cannot express our gratitude for your attendance and support, this was greatly appreciated by us, and I'm sure by the Lift Lock Squares as well.

Tomorrow evening is Adams Aces and we hope to see you there. Take care of yourself and each other and I'll see you on the Dance Floor.

Saturday, April 6, 2019


 Another great day at the Forge, outside just a little cool but good for working in the shop. I goal for today was to try to forge out a belt buckle, which we did to some degree, although it isn't perfect and Dave's handiness with the ZipCut made things easier, the next one will be better hopefully as my Forge-welding continues to improve. Even though this buckle needs some refinement, I am pretty happy with it.

My First Belt Buckle
Anyway, that's how the day went by, like a fast train through a station as you watch it speed by.