Saturday, May 13, 2017

Gritting Stitched Mops

Gritting Stitched Mops

The Von Becke Armoury archaic method... 

This method was taught to me as it was developed by Corny. I was with him when he got parts of it as we went around various metalwork supply places in Brisbane in the middle 1990's. As ever, technology marches on, and the belts we use are now second stringers, and the 'greaseless compounds' are superior, however I outfitted my armoury in 2016 before I knew about the improved belts (and they are a MASSIVE improvement), and I still have not got around to testing the heat gun activated 'greaseless compound. I am not adverse to change, I just need to get time and funds to test the new methods.

Whilst old tech, it is still easy to grab at my local Hardware shop Bunnings...

The method we used to use, and I still do for the moment, is to sand with ever finer regular belts on a linishing attachment on an Abbot and Ashby motor. Then we used ever finer grits on a stitched mop, then grey compound on a dark stitched mop, then white compound on a white stitched mop, and then a finishing polish on an unstitched mop. 

Most of this is very easy to understand and look up online, however a had not seen a guide to gritting a stitched mop, so I thought I would provide one.

Get the stitched mop that is new, or with the last grit worn off

Apply PVA glue to small sectors, and rub it in gently
Keep going till the wheel is covered
Gently pour the grit to the glued surface, and gently 'pat' it down
A catcher is used. This is a failed armour experiment that was the right size
Keep going until the wheel is covered all round with grit, let it dry at least 12 hours.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Interactive Blacksmithing Supplies Quest

Interactive Blacksmithing Supplies Quest

Aims: Enough correct equipment to make gear at increasing levels of complexity.


Level One - a simple portable hole system
Level Two - simple prick spurs like the Roman one in FAT prize (blunted as they will be a dress item)
Level Three - tempered tools to help armouring

Currently I have:

A LPG (propane) forge
An anvil
Multipe hammers
Two pairs of tongs
Tiny wire brushes

First To do: Get the forge onto the steel frame I purchased from the green shed and make a firebrick door arrangement.

To complete Level One:

Really big wire brush to get scale off, that is easily usable in protective gloves.
(DONE - Big yellow wire brush $5 Jamison Markets)

To complete Level Two: 

Information on the suggested metal to use.

A cold chisel/ cold chisel and punch set?
(DONE - Cold chisel and punch set found at Jamison Markets $25)

To complete Level Three:

Information on the suggested metal to use.
A quench tank/ arrangement
A large quantity of canola oil
A supplier of the fluxes
A supplier of the stuff that the hot work is 'bedded' in to stop oxidization
A container for the bedding material


I will be looking around online, and getting people's opinions on best sources and info.
As I grab them, I will post them up here to help anyone else! Please feel free to use the comments below! If you know me, please feel free to use my Ysambart Armoury Facebook page, or Facebook Messenger.

Tech Specs:

My anvil has a 25mm (1 inch) square hole and a 15mm diameter round hole.


Gameco Wolf jaw Tongs :

Gameco Cutting Fluid:

Gameco Quench Tank: which leads into the question of whether I want to get a little arc welder and learn to arc weld to do these speed welding projects or will I rely on contractors? Is it worth it on the time/ cost/ skill acquisition matrix? Welder - do I want a oxy-acetelene bottle hire cost? Certainly not at the moment with not enough workshop time.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Getting a handle

Handling and testing the fluting hammer 

Today I had a couple of hours in the workshop, so I decided to put a handle on the fluting starter hammer I made last week at Tharwa forge, and then tested it by putting in a flute. The rest of my time was spent remembering how to get fluting right, and cleaning up my hammer work.

Steps to handling/ rehandling.

Parts: hammer head, wedge, handle
Other tools: Sharpies, sandpaper, draw knife, vice, soft hammer (wood/ rubber/ plastic)

Draw the inner circle of the handle head on the top of the wood
Draw the length of the head  on the shaft of the handle
Put the handle in a vice very firmly
Use your drawknife to cut the extra wood away so the handle will not quite fit in the head
Rotate several times to get the cuts even
Set the handle upright and make a straight cut across the top of the handle for the wedge
Check the size now the cut is made
Carefully cut and sand as necessary to make the handle just fit
Set the handle upright and place the head onto the handle
Tap the wedge into the cut on the top of the handle very gently with the soft hammer.

Draw knife in my hands, "handle to be" tight in the vice

I handled up my fluting hammer and my plannishing hammer in this manner. In the picture you can tell I used commercial handles by the stickers - this is expensive, and next time I want to buy hardwood dowel and carve my own handle. Cheap and more customised. You will also seem that I have cross hatched markings on my hammers - this is made by simply pressing my vice into the handle hard - the vice has a steel cross hatch gripp pattern that presses into the wood and works quite nicely as a very simple grip.


My fluting starter is done by using a triangular trench cut into some railway track with an angle grinder. The work is place above the trench, and the back of the work is hit with my custom fluting starter hammer. This is a very coarse way to start fluting, however it is fast and can be done with one person rapidly. Essentially it is something like the use of a cold chisel, with the idea being to start the flute rather than cut the metal, this the end is rounded rather than chisel sharp. Also I know I will be missing by a few mm each time, so all edges are rounded. 

With two people I would use it much more like a cold chisel, but do not have sufficient hands to hold the work, the fluting hammer, and the striking hammer.
Four fluted knees at top,
The fluting starter hammer on top of the trenched railway track in the middle
The plannishing hammer also with fresh handle at the bottom

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Tharwa Forge Day

Tharwa Valley Forge One Day Introduction to Blacksmithing

Making Stuff

I spent today on the hammers. It started early, getting up at 6.30 to start by 8am. I met Kalim, and my instructor Dean, and we got straight into it. First up was a fire/ coals scraper, as this covers the basic techniques: Rounding; flattening; drawing to a point, curving and twisting. The first three were done on the hammers, curving was done with a hardie hole tool, and twisting was done with a vise and tongs.

Fire / coal scraper
  After this we moved to the tongs. The techniques remain much the same, the stock was somewhat heavier. As ever with this sort of thing, the basic shape was fast, but marrying, grinding and matching the scissor motion halves took a fair bit of time. We did the holes with punches, as I knew how to drive a drill press, and wanted to do this technique old school.
The rough tongs, before the rivet hole was punched
One of the lovely things about the forge is that it is in a little artist precinct away from a town of population of approximately 80, so it was quiet, and their were roaming chooks. They didn't come into the forge, but they would wander close and have a little look-see.
Forge Chicken Foraging
After lunch the tongs were put together. Next standard part of the day was to make a hammer. We went for an armouring hammer. I went for a design that would help me do some preparatory work when making flutes (fold in metal). At the same time, my custom project was to learn how to make collars/ sockets for wooden shafted tools or weapons. I understood the principle for spear heads, but socketing had escaped me. Dean had not done one, but understood the principle. We made the mockup head, and went for the tricky bit. After some time on the 25kg power hammer, the stock was spread, and it came time to bring it around. The thinning had made it too long for the available cone mandril, so we chopped it, and chopped it again, but it did not seem to be working, We started making a tool for the job to sit sideways on the vice, but it would not stay stable. We worked on a quick fix, but it was very resistant. I was given the tool, and the unfinished work to play another day.
Flute hammer, Basic Tongs, Fire scraper, unfinished collar, unfinished collaring tool

Techniques and Tools

The main forge was about a size 12 mens shoebox internally, and was LPG (propane). Tharwa firge build them for about $650 ready to connect to the gas bottle. I was thinking maybe a size smaller, which adds 1/3 more life to the gas, and save $100. I don't forsee one I owned being used by four students at once like their could be at times.

The hammer rack was filled with about 70 hammers, I think the minimum additional buy for me to start would be about eight. There were about forty sets of tongs, you would need about eight of those as well.

I got to use an electric induction forge - that is real "techno magic" stuff - put metal inside the copper loops, press the foot pedal, forge ready hot quicker than I could type this sentence. Simply amazing. Extra care has to be taken not to touch the delicate copper loops, it was incredible to use.

They had a properly set up belt grinder, they said the name, I forgot, but it was similar to the gameco noob grinder. Very good for what needed doing there. They also had motorised grindstones.

Interesting technique difference: Dean insisted that you take your gloves off to grind with the rotary tool, on the theory that if it bit with gloves on, the catch would tear the glove around and rip your finger off as well. I followed shop rules, it was quite surreal grinding with no gloves on - Twenty plus year of doing it the Jordarn/Corny/My way I had no accidents, and the gloves help me work longer with warmer objects, and I still have all my fingers. Interesting safety theory difference.

I used power hammers - very impressive bits of kit. They would save massive amounts of time on any job. I drove the 10kg device acceptably, and I soon got to use Cookie Monster - the bright blue 25kg hammer to which they added googly eyes. It was a powerful beast to control, however with a few moments learning good touch, you could go from gentle love taps to incredibly powerful blows way more than any human could deliver. Dean said I had the touch with the power hammers, and my spreading with the spear end stock was extremely good and much better than he had ever achieved. 

It is not all bragging, as my tong work is terrible. I have mainly worked cold as an armourer, my gloved hand holding the work. This is impossible for a molten piece of metal, so tongs are a must go. I think I got up to 'merely bad', and it is somewhere I would hope to improve when I do more.

The swage block got a good work out. They have a "John Deere Tractor Swage Block" which is the sort you received when you got a Tractor or Dozer, which was to allow a decent smith to re-manufacture ground down or broken parts. It was about seventy kilos, and had about half the options of my loaned 130kg swage block. They also had the 'fire sweep options' swage block, the 40kg one with the distinctive fire shovel shape, and the two sizes of camp cooking spoon shapes. Good resource to remember, as one day I want to get a more complete set of camp cooking gear.

I was a moderately good hammerman, and was a steady punch holder. 

Overall I had a great day, I think it would be my most memorable Christmas present, and I would heartily recommend spending the $450 and heading out for an amazing day of learning and hard yakka with Dean out at Tharwa Valley Forge.

You also get to post cool grotty blacksmith photos!

Bart; Cookie Monster; Spear; Dean

When I say grotty, I mean grotty

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Simple Six Board Chest Guide

Simple Six Board Chest Guide

Pentathlon Entry - PINE - House of Hurts - 2013

 (Heh, it took 4 years to get to the internet)


Research – Pine, Chests & Carpentry tools
Theoretical Assembly Guide – Construction in abstract
Practice Guide – Construction costs and extra details 
Photoessay – The photographs of the construction

Research – Pine, Chests & Carpentry tools

This idea for project is based on extrapolation from two images. The carpentry skills used were taught in the classic way from my father, and Master Ulfgar the Unspeakable. 

Pine is a classification of trees. They are native to the Northern Hemisphere, they have been present and highly available soft wood in Europe for recorded history. In Australia, they are an introduced species. 

In this project I intend to experiment with pine by making a very low cost chest. I will use the six board method. The chest proportions I will use are much smaller than the extant example I will describe below. This is for reasons of cost and transportation.

IMAGE 1 - The Merode Altarpiece – Joseph as a Medieval Carpenter– Robert Campin – Completed 1425-1428 - Source: Downloaded 2013-02-01

Transforming pine into furniture can be broken into two stages – the felling and turning the timber into boards. In this project I have purchased premade board, and will be performing joinery. All of the tools that I will be using have an equivalent in the painting “The Merode Altarpiece” which depicts Saint Joseph as a carpenter in the 15 Century. The main variation from the tools in the picture is that I will use a rotary hand drill, which was invented about 100 years later, rather than the bit and brace type drill in the depiction.
IMAGE 2 Photograph of Extant Pine Chest from Isenhagen Abbey, District of Gifhorn, Lower Saxony, Germany. Downloaded 2013-02-01
The chest above is a surviving medieval pine six board chest. I will be using the same methods of construction as were used in this chest, cutting six boards, and cutting the ‘leg’ pieces to hold all the other boards, and attaching them using glue and nails. My modification and expansion of the picture shows the distinctive notches in the leg pieces to hold the side boards, and the nail heads. 
In this article I have shown that pine was used in medieval carpentry, the tools I used were similar to or simulcrums of medieval tools, and that medieval pine chests were made, and the location of surviving example. 

Theoretical Assembly Guide – Construction in abstract

Assembling an inexpensive pine six board chest

Needed: pine board; saw; drill with bit; nails; glue; two squares of leather, a rule and a pencil.

1) Take your board and rule, cut and measure six equal cuts, substantially rectangular in shape.

 2) Take your leg pieces, and cut two pieces equivalent to the thickness of the board by width of the board.

3) Lay your chest together excluding the base to check the proportions 

4) Drill your holes In the end of the sides. Use a drill bit slightly smaller than your nails. Do not drill at perfect right angles, drill slightly offset. This is so your nails are not all applying force in the same direction, making the board harder to remove, and secured in multiple planes of force. 

5) Put a line of glue along the drill holes on the leg pieces, hammer all the sides onto the legs 

6) Measure and cut the base board to be the distance between legs of the chest. It should be the length of all the other boards, less two thicknesses of the board. Temporarily secure the base in its final position. Drill nail holes along the base of the side at half a thickness from the base, and mark the equivalent line on the legs, and drill these as well. Test the accuracy of these holes by feeling for the boards with nails. Then glue and nail the base board in position

7) Secure the leather hinges to the chests by nailing them to the side boards and the top.

8) (Optional) Paint, oil or shellac the final product.   

Photo Essay: Actual pictures of assembly

The measuring of the board
A cut board
Testing the assembly of two ends and one side


Test the shape and each fitting
Measure a line at half thickness and place each nail in a drilled hole
Test the fit again


Place glue on the board you are about to attach
Hammer the nails 
Expect ‘shifting’. This is where the act of nailing the boards moves the previously clean fit away from square. Check the squareness of the assembly each time, and manual manipulation is usually needed to make the piece squared again

The nailed and glued sides and end
The ‘evidence joint’ which shows our finished joint looking very similar to the period piece depicted in the research pictures

Saturday, February 13, 2016

20160214 Roman Helmet Modification

Roman Helmet Modification

Last year I purchased a stainless steel and brass late Roman Cavalry helmet. I padded it out, and went to use it, and found that it was illegal. It needed modification around the ears, as one of our swords could still get a blow in. I didn't have a workshop, so the fix went on hold for almost a year. 

Over the last few days I have finally gotten all the bits together. It needed the throatless shears to cut the steel to the right dimensions. It needed the belt sander to smooth the steel. It needed a range of hammers and tools to place the rivets, and it needed the table space and the rivets.

All of these factors finally came together, and I was able to place the added safety bits to just under the ear. They may be hard to see, even in a photograph designed to point them out. That is excellent, as they were not there on the original helmets. 

The last step has not yet been done - I used mild steel, so to prevent rust I will paint the extras black, so they fade back even further.

The work is quite rough, as I have not done a project from scratch in almost ten years, but everything will work, and I believe it will be quite safe.