Making a Rondel Dagger – Part 3

All of my garden has woken up, but none of the figs or pomegranates have shown even a budding leaf. I got so disheartened at this that I had to go and do something fun. So I went to work on the dagger to lift my spirits at least slightly.

I have decided to grind the bevel higher up to the spine, but not the same way along the whole blade – I ground less towards the tip so it remains strong. This has meant that the blade has a bit complex geometry which meant I could use hard belt most of the way, but I had to switch to slack belt for the tip. Luckily I have kept the option of half hard/half slack belt setup on my improved grinder.

I also ground the spine at approximately 45° angle to take off some weight. But again not all the way to the tip, so the tip is reinforced.

After I ground this basic shape It took me about an hour to get through four ceramics belts (60, 80, 100, 120) and the final was a zircon 120 grit where I stopped. This is actually a fairly difficult and delicate process and it is still possible (nay – easy) to mess up the lines and irreparably ruin the blade geometry, so easy does it. Because I am not too experienced with the belt grinder yet I had a few heart-stopping moments, but I managed to correct all the blunders in the end. From my previous works I know I have to be extremely careful up to approx 600 grit. After that messing up the lines in hand is not possible. But on my previous dagger I found out that on belt grinder that level moves up to 1000 grit, possibly 1200.

A lot of eyeballing was involved. After certain point I could no longer use the masking blue color and scribing tool, so to check whether my grind is symmetrical I used a folded piece of paper that I cut with shears to two aligning points. When I folded it around the blade  I could see whether the lines are in the same position by putting the point on one side of the blade  on the line and checking the point at the other side. After the final grind I scrubbed the blade lengthwise a bit with coarse abrasive pad to remove the quickly building rust and to scratch through the grind marks.

Ground blade shape.

©Charly, all rights reserved.

The future cutting edge is now approx 1 mm thick. Next step will be hardening the steel. For this I had to check whether this file was carbon steel throughout or case hardened. That I have done before polishing the whole shape by dabbing the spine and one side of the blade approx 5 cm from the tip with  ferric chloride because in this area is preserved steel that was near the surface of the original  file as well as steel that was deep inside. If the file was case hardened, the steel that was originally near surface should turn grey, while the steel that was deeper should be shinier. If the file is carbon steel throughout, it should all turn grey.

It has all turned monotone grey, so it is carbon steel throughout. That is good since it makes the hardening process easier. It is possible to make a cutting blade from case hardened file, but it requires to perform again case hardening, which takes more time and resources.

Feathering Nests

The blue tits seem not to mind that I fell the cherry tree and hung the nesting box on the plum. I see them daily there and they sing in the tree, so I think they are nesting there even though I have not seen them entering the box. What was my surprise then when I looked at this picture and I saw one blue tit and one field sparrow with a bunch of feathers in his beak. A few moments later I heard some squabbling and the fluff floated down from the tree. Maybe the sparrow was stealing bedding from the tits?  These tiny birds are pretty mean to each other so that would not be surprising.

Birds on a tree

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

And a first daisies came out.


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

Making a Rondel Dagger – Part 2

Today I planted new cherry tree but there was not much that I could otherwise meaningfully do, so I have spent about 40 minutes testing my belt grinder. It has worked reasonably well, but the supporting table needs improvement.

I chose this particular file for this project because it is thick at the base – almost 6 mm – and it already had a distal taper. That means I do not need to grind of as much material, but it is actually more challenging to work with, and therefore better exercise.

Centerline for he edge.

Centerline for the edge.

First problem was scribing the center line for where the edge shall be. Due to the taper I could not use my scribing tool because it scribes line at a constant distance from an edge. Luckily the curvature is very mild, so I could do with a steel ruler for most of the way and steady(ish) hand for the rest. I am not fond of measuring, I prefer to eyball the work, but for blade symmetry is important. The more asymmetrical the roughed out blade, the more it warps in quench. Very slight warp can be ground off, but big warp not. And of course grinding off a warp on hardened blade is tougher on the abrasive belts, and those do not grow on trees.



Scribed bevel lines.

Scribed bevel lines.

After scribing the center line, I also scribed two lines for where the bevels shall go. This dagger will have only one cutting edge, and in order to make it more useful as an ordinary knife, the bevel should go almost all the way to the spine at first grind, and wander de-facto all the way to it during polishing. On the other hand shallower bevel is easier to make and makes for stiffer blade. At this point I have not decided on the way I will do it. I scribed two bevel lines and decided to grind to the first one and reconsider.

With these preparations done, which took only about five minutes, I have spanned a 60 grit belt on my grinder and started. First time I was grinding with the use of supporting table and it was a great help at first and slight hindrance later on. For me it might be good to use the table for first facing and then go back to free-hand. I am slowly finding my personal way of doing these things. After slightly over half an hour I ground both sides to the first bevel line and had to call it quits for the day. Now I am considering my next step. Grind or not to grind, that is the question.

Ground bevels

©Charly, all rights reserved.

Anatomy Atlas Part 4 – Skull

This is no Jolly Roger, but it looks grim nevertheless. I do not think any other part of human skeleton is more evocative than skulls. And I wonder sometimes whether this is a purely a cultural thing, or whether there is something innate in us that associates skulls with death, danger and general unpleasantness. There might be, because our brains are clearly predisposed to recognizing facial features.

Content warning for description of a very unpleasant medical procedure.

Skull Drawing

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

The four dots at the jaw bones – bellow the eye sockets in each maxilla and two on the chin on mandibula –  and two dots above the eye sockets are points where the nervus trigeminus exits the protective shell of the skull to innervate facial muscles. That is why these points are more sensitive to pressure than other parts of the face. Professor Kos told us that an inflammation of this nerve is allegedly the most painful illness there is. The whole face hurts and a feather caressing the cheek may feel like being burned with hot poker. One way to reduce the pain in very severe inflammation cases (I do not remember whether this was an old procedure or one or still in use) was to inject a powerful neurotoxin directly into these points. Extremely painful procedure, but one that provided the needed long relief. He told us the patients would scream and sometimes pass out. And the neurotoxin used? Alcohol.

Nervus trigeminus is near surface once more just behind mandibula, right bellow the ear lobe. This knowledge has helped me twice in self-defence, once when I was held in chokehold but I managed to slide my hand to my attackers head and drill my forefinger into this point and second time when another person was having their arm twisted by a wannabe teenage ninja. The pain is so intense, that anyone will let go of anything they hold and try to get their head dout of the way. If you feel brave you can experiment on yourself. I did. I do not recommend it.

Making a Rondel Dagger – Part 1

When the weather is not suitable for work outside, I will make use of my belt grinder, now  Mark 2. So today I took another old file and I decided to make a dagger out of it. The inspiration is dagger used by Vesemir and Ciri in the game Witcher 3, but there will be some design changes even for the blade (less daggery, more knifey). I will post my progress, but beware that I am no expert, just a self-taught hobbyist goofing around. Risk of concussions from facepalming for any expert. You have been warned.

I started with an old file that I threw in the stove fire last year to soften the steel. I cleaned some of the rust on the belt grinder when I was testing the new design. But before proceeding I needed to make the tang slightly longer. So today I just made the tang more pointy and chamfered the edges. Then I took an old piece of round stock of structural steel, cut it lengthwise for a few cm and fitted it onto the file tang.


Old rusty file

Old rusty file

Chamfered file tang

Chamfered file tang

Fitted tang extension

Fitted tang extension

After that there came the trial by fire, or more precisely, electric arc. My first real welding. I admit I should have tried to simply weld scraps together a few more times before I try for something real. I should have. But learning skill on something that is subsequently thrown away simply is not me. I always try to learn on the real thing. Not smart, I know, but that is just me. I have already forced my self to try it once on scraps.

I must admit, I could not have done a better job. That is to say, the job is crap, but I lack the skill to do better. But it holds together even after grinding off the slag and rust from the whole thing. There are some visible slag inclusions in the weld, but it is definitively welded together and since it will all be hidden in the handle, I will not lose sleep over it. Hopefully no rampaging rhino will stamp on it and ruin it all.

Welded tang extension

Welded tang extension with slag.

File cleaned.

Cleaned and the tang ground to rough shape.

With that done I finally could do some work on the belt grinder. Since I do not have machinist’s blue, I used 1 cm thick blue marker to cover one side of the file. Then I have drawn the center line  and quarter marks using a steel ruler and a self-made steel marking needle. After that I ground the file into a symmetrical leaf shape. With that I was done for the evening and I will resume the work at some other random date.

ground basic blade outline

©Charly, all rights reserved.

Repotting Bonsai Trees

I have to pass on the Iron Curtain series this weekend, because my mind and my hands are now fully occupied by work that won’t wait – repotting my trees. I only have this weekend for the deciduous trees and next weekend for the conifers, because after that the trees would be too grown and I would not be able to touch them without risking they die as a result. Which I do not want.

Currently my trees are more about quantity than about quality, because creating high quality bonsai takes time and I am only doing it for twenty five years. The plan is to build up stock now and refine it when I retire. Growing bonsai trees is not something for the impatient. But I have some medium to good quality ones already and I will share pictures. (I also have trouble getting my hands on quality bonsai pots, because they are not sold anywhere near and I am reluctant to buy them over the internet).

Here is a glimpse into the work that I am currently doing:

SandIt starts with buying a load of coarse sand and spreading it out to dry in the sun. That does not need to be done, strictly speaking, but I find it easier to work with dry substrate so I try to dry it as much as possible. Another ingredience to the sand is high-quality soil or compost, sieved through a 5 mm mesh and also dried if possible. And last ingredience is peat or some suitable substitute, like shredded old leaves and moss  and twigs, or maybe even saw dust. The organic material is there mostly to hold moisture and stop the substrate from clumping.


Mixing substrateNext step is mixing up the substrate. Because I have a lot of trees and other potted plants, this used to be the most time consuming and tiring part, taking up hours of hard work. Nowadays I am doing it in  a concrete mixer. A great saving of time and strength, I do not understand how I could manage without it. I was younger, healthier and I had less money but more time on my hands, so there’s that.


Various pots and bowls for bonsai trees.Whilst I am mixing suitable ammount of substrate, lets say 100 liters or so for starters, I also have to scrub and disinfect all the pots and bowls that are currently not in use. That is, I take them out, rinse them with boiling water and let them dry in the sun. That seems enough, I never had problem with fungal infections or rotting roots. I do not have enough pots to replant all trees at once, so I have to repeat this process multiple times as pots are emptied.


When the pots are ready and the substrate mixed, it is time to take out my most important tool case. Have fun trying to spot all the tools that are in it. All are used for tree care. And just in case someone can decipher the writing on that lid in top left corner – that is not actual mustard, just the cup in which once was mustard. Now it is full of charcoal to treat big cuts on roots.

Tool box for bonsai trees.

Water striders

I think it is time to get out the macro lenses. There were a lot of these on the pond at the end of my sewage disposal facility. I also saw a first butterfly at work and a first toad. The toad was in the plant, on the road where forklifts are driving so I took it carefully outside, over the road and into a grove.

Water strider

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

Water strider

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

There Is Such Thing as Too Much “Weapons” Regulation

Over the years I have expressed in multiple comments under various articles on FTB that whilst strict regulations of access to weapons are necessary, the strength of the regulations should be proportional to how effectively enforced they can be. Regulating automatic guns makes sense because they are difficult to manufacture and conceal. That makes it possible to effectively limit access to them and enforce the regulation in a meaningful way.

On the other hand I have always seen trying to regulate knives, swords and similar as absurd because such regulations just cannot work as intended. Making a functional knife or even a sword is trivial, all you need is a piece of cord, a flat bar of any type of steel whatsoever, and half an hour work with angle grinder. Sure, it will not be beautiful, and if the steel is crap it will not hold an edge, but that does not matter, it will be effective murder weapon of equal quality to what was used most of history in warfare. And concealing a knife on your body under clothing is trivial.

UK has nevertheless decided to pass such a meaningless regulation:

Luckily I am not living in UK and CZ has not jumped the shark yet and knives are completely unregulated here. But should such laws pass here, I could perhaps get into problems when trying to buy certain tools for my hobbies – for example I intend to work with leather at some future date and for that I will need to either buy or make a few specialized cutting instruments, aka knives. I live in rural area and I definitively have no corner shop around that could supply those things on demand.

I feel sorry for all the antique weapons dealers and all the knifemakers in UK – like the excellent Tod Todeschini, whose carefully build livelihoods can be destroyed in an instant with ham-fisted regulation.

I might add that to my knowledge this regulation has been proposed and written by conservative politicians. Similarly like the US knife regulations, which are stricter than firearms regulations in some states, were too written by conservatives. Laws that are either impossible to effectively enforce or are impossible not to break serve no other purpose than to give police a pretense to for example harass people of inconvenient shade of skin at will, nothing more.

And just for “fun” (which is not funny at all) I will list all the object that could be used as murder weapons and are in my line of sight right now, near my computer:

  1. Stabbing – screwdrivers, shears, pencils, ball-pens and admittedly a dagger that I use as letter opener.
  2. Cutting – a carpet cutter and again my dagger.
  3. Garotting – USB cable seems strong enough and definitively the camera strap.
  4. Blunt instruments – the camera (not the first choice of course), two heavy mugs, two ornamental stones, a few potted plants.

Not to mention the about 8 kitchen knives of various sizes on the kitchen counter behind my left shoulder.

If I were to go to my workshop or my garden shed I would have a wide choice of multiple potential cutting or stabbing weapons, blunt instruments and pole-arms. Should I decide to go and join a gang, I would not be unarmed. Indeed I could arm the whole gang. So could each of my neighbours.

Whilst firearm deaths can be linked to firearms availability, stabbing deaths cannot be linked to knives availability. Because stabbing instruments are everywhere and will be everywhere, always. As Sam Vimes’ maxim states “Everything is a weapon if you decide to think of it as such”. Addressing knife crime needs to address the root cause. And I do not think I am stabbing in the dark here when I say that has more to do with impoverishment and disempowerment than with sending knives per post.

Youtube Videos: European and Japanese Armor Mobility

Two short videos comparing two different types of medieval armor from practical point of view. One by an enthusiast owning a medieval armour replica in European style, and one by an enthusiast owning a medieval armour replica in Japanese style. Both armors were made specifically for these individuals, so they are fitted as well as they should be.

A lot of the things I learned in school about medieval armor and swords was evidently completely wrong. Like that armor restricted movement so much that it was impossible to move quickly, or that swords in Europe were blunt metal bars out of poor quality steel.