Making a Rondel Dagger – Part 5 – Bounce

I lied to myself when I said that I will continue even though the blade might not be hardened properly. I just could not do it. Even though the knife will in the end be just ornamental thing, a wall hanger that will never be used, I could not bring myself to making a knife with improperly hardened blade. So I had another go at it. Fail again, the steel was still soft and it was not only surface – I tried to break of the tip and it bent and straightened as if it were copper. So I had another go at it, using water as quenchant – a big risk because in high carbon steel this can lead to the blade cracking or even exploding into bits. Fail again, it remained soft.

At this point I had to reconsider. I was convinced that I did everything correctly, testing with magnet for the austenite transformation etc. and I am already relatively good at assessing the temperature by the glow color, so I did not think the failed quench was due to wrong temperature. The quenchant also could not be the problem, since I hardened three blades in it without problems and one at the same time as this one failed.

So I surmised the problem lies in the steel. Perhaps it was surface hardened file and when I did the test with ferric chloride I had all the hardened steel ground off already, so it could not show in color. Or perhaps I burned off the carbon due to the not-so-well functioning protective coating. I consider the first option to be more likely. Anyway, I could throw this blade away and start anew, or I could do what I mentioned before – surface harden it.

Theoretically this makes for a very good dagger, because under the hard and brittle surface remains soft and tough steel, which means the dagger would not break easily when hitting something hard – like an armor. But it is a long process that burns through a lot of charcoal with results unsure. And the layer might be too thin and get ground off during polishing.

I succumbed, knowingly, to the sunk cost fallacy and decided to go for it in an attempt to save the blade. This is what I have done:

Cleaned dagger blade

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

First I have cleaned the whole blade thoroughly with angle grinder and a twisted knot wire brush wheel. After that I also scrubbed the whole blade with abrasive pad (similar to Scotch-Brite, only different manufacturer). Whilst doing this I noticed that the blade got slightly blotchy and pitted, so there was definitively more material burned off than I am happy with. Inevitable after three failed quenches. Theoretically quench could be attempted infinite amount of times – but practically the blade would burn away pretty soon.



Blade packed in charcoal

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Secondly I took my limited supply of stainless steel foil and wrapped it around the blade forming a little trough. Not wanting to perform more than one experiment in one project I did not experiment with the hardening material and I used powdered charcoal. Any organic material would do, really (sugar works extremely well I might add, and in the future I intend to experiment with bone dust and various mixtures from easy to get chemicals), but they give blotchy, coloured surfaces, and with charcoal I had a best shot to get evenly hardened and evenly coloured surface.


Package enclosed

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

After filling the trough about halfway with the powder I crimped very tightly the edges, folding them twice and pressing the folds together in a vice. It is important to get the package as air tight as possible. But the tang was not packed in, because that was supposed to remain soft. Thus prepared package was now ready for heating. For this I have used my improvised setup build from fireclay bricks, but without forced air supply (a fancy way of saying I left the vacuum cleaner in the workshop). I filled the fireplace with charcoal, buried the package in it, lit it and left it to its own devices over night. Under an impromptu cover because it was raining.


The next day the package was burned through near the tip, a bad sign. But the charcoal dust was still all in there and it did cling to the blade very nicely – I had to scrape it off. A good sign. But I decided to repeat the process once more just to be sure.

Today, after I returned from work, the weather was again good so I could have another shot at quenching this cursed thing.

And it is a success. The blade is hard as glass on the surface and there are no cracks that I see after cleaning it with wire brush. I hope no hair thin cracks shows later on.

Tomorrow the blade goes into the baking oven for heat treatment 150°C half an hour. Maybe two courses.

Jack’s Walk

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It might not be immediately obvious, but Jack is fishing in this photo. Sometimes he just wades in and then stands very still staring at the water for a very long time. The first few times it happened we wondered what the heck he was doing, but then one day several years ago Jack suddenly plunged his head underwater and came up with a fish in his mouth. We took one step toward him and Jack, not wanting to give up his catch, threw his head back and swallowed the fish whole. It was about 8 cm long and thankfully he swallowed it head first, but that fish was still alive and moving when it hit his stomach. His facial expressions told the story. Ever since then, Jack wants to repeat the trick. Like all good fishermen, he’s after the bigger one that got away.

Girls! Icky, Evil Girls!

Goodness me, the whole world is unraveling, everything is going to go to hell because girls. Not terribly surprising when it comes to christian thinking, females of any type are always the evil problem to blame.

The American Family Association released a video in which Tim Wildmon and Ed Vitaglino, the AFA’s president and executive vice president, respectively, railed against the news that thousands of girls have joined the Boy Scouts after the organization began admitting them earlier this year.

I went and read the small article about this, and yes, 3,000 girls have joined up. There was a mention of a brother and sister who excitedly joined up, they want to be the first siblings to achieve eagle scout. I don’t think much of boy scouts, but that’s kind of nice, for siblings to be able to be together in such a venture. I’m certainly not seeing the horrible evil which Tim & Ed have conjured up. Perhaps they’ll explain…

“This is, I think, a part of the ongoing war against the Judeo-Christian worldview, the way God has established mankind, male and female,” Vitaglino said, asserting that “the secular progressive … materialistic worldview based in evolution” is waging a “war against God and His divine order.”

Uh, nope. That’s not helping to clarify at all. All girls aren’t going to stop being girls because they joined a scouting organization. All boys aren’t going to stop being boys because they’re now in a co-ed scouting organization. I don’t get at all how this could possibly go against old Jehovah. I have no idea what evolution has to do with anything. It’s not like the scouts were a creationist thing. Let’s see, shall we?

It is a common belief that the BSA does prohibit members who are atheist and agnostic based on its “duty to God” principle and that members (adult and youth) agree with the Declaration of Religious Principle in the bylaws. However, the BSA has had Buddhist troops since 1920 and many Buddhists are atheists or agnostics. The BSA also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Unitarian Universalist Association in 2016 which specifically gives ultimate authority over a participant’s spiritual welfare to the individual Unitarian Universalist congregation. The MOU also specifically includes within Unitarian Universalist chartered troops Humanism as an acceptable form of spirituality as well as Earth-centered religions. [Wikipedia.]

Doesn’t look to me like it’s any sort of made-up war against your pathetic god, gentlemen. Of course, if there’s willful ignorance to be had, you’ll always find it in christians.

“So, you think this is basically satanic?” Wildmon asked.

“This is Romans 1,” Vitaglino responded. “When any individual or community or nation, any culture, ignores God or refuses to honor Him and give Him the glory He deserves, then the Bible makes clear in Romans 1 that they are then given over to a deepening darkness and depravity and, unfortunately, that’s what we’re seeing happen in America.”

Oh FFS, give the satanic panic a fucking rest already. How in the fuckety fuck is an organization going co-ed ignoring a god or refusing honour and glory? I imagine all the christian kids in the boy scouts do all that idiotic shit, and it’s really beyond the pale to consider this as depraved in any way. If anything, this might really help boys and young men to truly understand that girls and young women are people, not objects, and people with ideas and abilities of their own. If this helps in even the smallest of ways to reduce sexism, it will be a very good thing indeed. And christians really need to stop being so bloody hysterical over every little thing.

RWW has the story and the video.

The Smithsonian Presents Interactive Androids.

Pepper saying hello to staff at the Smithsonian Castle. (all photos courtesy Smithsonian).

Pepper saying hello to staff at the Smithsonian Castle. (all photos courtesy Smithsonian).

The next time you visit a Smithsonian museum, the first greeting you get may come from a gleaming, four-foot-tall android extending their hand. This would be Pepper, one of 25 humanoid robots that were introduced two days ago to six Smithsonian spaces, from the Hirshhorn Museum to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Donated by their engineers at Softbank Robotics, the platoon of Peppers is intended to enhance the visitor experience and ensure that daily operations run smoothly.

Pepper, which was designed to interact with humans, is the first bot capable of recognizing our emotions. These models already work in an array of industries around the world, serving as receptionists in Belgian hospitals and even as priests in Japan that lead funerary rituals. While the robot has been on display in museums, the Smithsonian now represents the first museum complex to actually use these wide-eyed automata for their services.

“We see them as a new tool for the docents to use, especially since they are always paired with a person,” a spokesperson for Smithsonian told Hyperallergic, noting that the Peppers are “absolutely not replacing docents.”

Softbank Robotics donated the Peppers for an experimental, pilot program intended to help the Smithsonian solve problems, from boosting visitorship to “under-attended galleries” and encouraging greater engagement with artworks. While the robots can provide helpful information by answering commonly asked questions, they can also indulge in more lighthearted activities for which human docents do not always have the time (or patience); visitors can ask Pepper to dance, play games, and even pose for a selfie. While the robots currently do not have captioned speech, the Smithsonian said that it is working to caption images that appear on their screens and “will continue with our software partners to make Pepper as accessible as possible.”

Very cool! I’d like to meet Pepper. You can read and see much more at Hyperallergic.

Youtube Videos: Capwell & Easton: A medieval knightly effigy in Dennington, Suffolk

This is a very interesting and informative series of three videos about a knightly effigies, what they are, why they were made and how they can help us understand the history of medieval armor from times where very few real exemplars are left. The series takes overall about an hour. Info on Tobias Capwell can be found here -click-


A is for Ambush and Aranha.

We have a new Alphabet Challenge from Nightjar: For every photo there will be two words, one in English and one in Portuguese, meaning the same or different things (with a few exceptions for genus names and K, W and Y which are not part of the Portuguese alphabet).

Ambush. Aranha, Portuguese for spider.

Flower crab spiders belonging to the family Thomisidae do not build webs, they are instead ambush predators. Some can change colour to match the flower they are on to blend in, then they wait for insects to visit the flower and catch them. In this case, a fly visiting a Paris Daisy (Argyranthemum frutescens) was not so lucky.

Click for full size!

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