Marcus Gave Me Wood, Here Is What I Did With It

Marcus sent me a piece of stabilized maple burl last year. It wasn’t very big, not enough for my usual chunky knife handles, but it was big enough for two badger knives, so I used it for the last two blades in the current batch.

I did not do the brass bolsters and pommels very well, I am afraid. The pins refused to blend in – they do so so seamlessly in aluminum and stainless steel, but so far I did not have any luck with brass. And since this blade is stainless steel, some artificial extreme patina would not look proper. I tried to make the heads rounded this time, but I did not like the look of it at all, especially because I did not position them correctly for that kind of look. Nevertheless, the extremely beautiful wood from Marcus, when polished with beeswax, does redeem the knives a little. And when I saw how pretty the wood is, I have decided to make better and nicer sheaths for these knives too.

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

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

This is the better of the pair. Making the silver maple leaves was real fun, and I have managed to get the colors very close to what I have originaly designed in Photoshop.

It looks pretty, but silver maple is not native here so for the second one I have used a different design and color palette – yellow small-leaved linden leafs.

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

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

The small-leaved linden tree is pretty common here and it is also Czech national tree, so I have been intentionally a bit patriotic with this one. Unfortunately, I run out of the medium thickness leather so I had to use the thicker one and it was just a tad too thick for this small knife design. It is not a functional problem, only the leather could not be formed so snugly around the knife, because the knife would not get out.

I think my leatherwork is improving and I like these leafs-designs. I shall definitively use them more, even though they are a bit labor-intensive, especially since I do not intend to use the same design twice. I might use the outline, but I will always at least mix up the colors differently.

I Can’t Vote for Biden, but I Feel Like I Should Be Able To

Well, it is obvious why I can’t vote for Biden. I am not a USA citizen, so I do not have any say in the matter at all. However, I do care about who the POTUS is and I really do feel that I, and with me, billions of people around the globe, should actually have a say in the matter.

The problem is, the USA likes to position itself as the world’s policeman. It is constantly sticking its nose into other countries’ businesses, pretending to care about democracy and freedom and whatnot, whilst not caring about any of those things, not ever the whatnot.

Not to mention the almighty gall of US presidents being proclaimed the “Leader of the free world”. What exactly is the free world they are considered to be leaders of? And on what authority do they assume that title for themselves?

I am on record saying that the USA was a proto-fascist state since before 9/11  and it has been shedding the “proto” a bit by bit ever since Reagan. It slowed slightly under Obama but compensated for that by accelerating even more under Trump. And now, the self-aggrandizing title “Leader of the free world” is carried by an open fascist who does his best to deny the vote even to the citizens on whose behalf he is supposed to govern.

And all I, and with me the rest of the world, can do, is to watch from the sidelines and hope for the best. I think US presidents should either be voted on globally, or they should stop poking their noses outside the US borders. Neither of those two things will happen, which makes me despair.

I know the idea needs some refinement, but whatever. Please vote for Biden, if you can. More than just who gets to sit in the White House for 4 years is at stake.

Upcycling Old Jeans

During my first experiments with resin stabilized wood, I had a lot of dark brown leftover resin at the end of it. So I have decided to do a little experiment.

I took some old black jeans, cut them into squares of approximately the sizee of a hand palm, soaked the pieces in the resin, stacked them in a receptacle and I poured all the remaining resin all over them. I have tried my best to chase and push manually all the bubles out and let it harden.

The resulting material has an official name – micarta – and the results look quite well, I think.

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

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

The pieces were not too big, but big enough for four small scales for two of the badger knives that I had in production, so I have used them straightaway. The material works well, it is sufficiently hard to take decent polish, but not so hard as to be difficult to work with. It does heat up a bit and clogs up sanding belts, but reducing the belt speed and using only fresh belts did away with that problem.

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

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

That the layers are not perfectly perpendicular and flat adds a bit more character to the material, which I like. I think it is a good way to use excess resin and these knives should now be extremely resistant to elements – the blades and fittings are all stainless steel, the handle scales are micarta and the sheaths are leather infused with beeswax. They would probably survive for a non-trivial duration in fog and rain outdoors. Not that I would do that to them.

I am also pleased that now that these knives are significantly less work than the bowie-type small hunting knivest that I was presenting previously. The goal is to have a mix of cheap(ish) and expensive items on offer in the future, I do not wish to only make luxury items that take weeks to months finish each, neither do I wish to destroy my enjoyment of the craft by bogging myself down in repetitive tasks o making the same thing over and over again.

A Kestrel on Fire

I am glad for the photo-op late in the evening, but I hope this was just a brief pause between murderings of voles who are a scourge of my garden. I haven’t seen kestrels or signs of them near my garden last year at all, but this year I have seen at least two individuals, and that is a good sign. The voles infestation used to be less severe when they were around regularly – when I often found their feathers and pellets of undigested food.

I never thought I will miss the times when I had fresh bird vomit in my garden all the time, but those really were the good times.

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

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

Woman Artists on Youtube – Movie Reviewer – Jill Bearup

I am not shure whether movie reviewer is the correct title – she is specializing in talking about stage combat, but not only that. I found her because I have recently caught up with my MCU deficit (last movie I saw before this year was Guardians of the Galaxy 2) and YouTube algorithm caught up pretty quickly on that.

Well, at Least Nobody Got Hurt.

One of the reasons why I spend less time making knives than I wanted to that I did not tell you about is my parents’ health. It started to get a lot worse in the last year and if I still did have a daily job, I do not know how we would manage – I spend two days on average every week driving them to and from various doctor appointments. I do not want to complain about it, because I love my parents, and the more than deserve all the help I can give them. But it is slowly getting too much for one person to bear alone.

Today I had to drive 150 km on short notice. At the destination, I got severely stressed out trying to offload my mother as close to the hospital pavillion she was supposed to visit as possible because she has limited mobility and has to use crutches – one of the reasons why using public transport is not an option for her.

And when leaving the hospital, I went to pay for my parking ticket and I completely fortgot to secure the handbrake. The car rolled forward a few meters and bent the front door of another vehicle, and only noticed it after I paid for the parking and turned around to return to the car. In hindsight, the unsecured car followed probably right behind me, and had I been just a bit slower, it would probably either go over me or press me against the other car.

Nobody got hurt, police did not need to be involved (I asked them), my car has no damage and the other car has probably only some minor sheet metal bending. The insurance should pay for the damages and the damaged party took it better than I deserved. So probably the worst damage is to fill out some paperwork, which I hate.

But it was a reminder that I am severely stressed out and it is starting to impact my ability to function properly. And there is not much that I can do about it.

The…. WOODPECKER

Boy was I happy to see this fellow peek over the sunflower’s head and pecking at the seeds. I have planted the sunflowers to feed them to birds anyway, so I do not mind him eating some a bit prematurely. Next year I will plant even more.

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

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

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

Finally I got Something Done

The original plan was to make ordinary knives, no fancy stuff, no distractions, just to build up some stock for sale when the bureaucracy here finally gets its act together. But I did not stick to that plan too well. First I got distracted several times making new tools, then two knives came out so nice that I thought it a shame to not make sheaths for them that are just a little fancy. But after two months, I have finally finished four pieces.

Today I was trying to take pictures, with very varying success. For reasons that I do not understand, I get usually the best results with reddish/magenta cloth background.

Here are the four knives, details, and some talk about each piece are below the fold.

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

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Autumn in a Flower Patch

I have tried to plant some strawflowers this year and I am going to make an even bigger patch next year. They are beautiful and butterflies and bees simply love them to bits. I have several red admirals there during a sunny day.

There are ten pictures, so nine are below the fold. Do you recognize the bee mimicking hoverfly?

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

[Read more…]

Starling

I had an extremely bad year bird-watching wise so far. There are definitively a lot fewer birds around than there used to be.

For example, only a few starlings came by to harvest all the surplus aronias. And only one was visible enough to take a picture. Normally, at this time of year, the tree should be stripped bare by starlings and thrushes heading south.

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

I have not seen a single golden finch, greenfinch, or siskin the whole year. Neither have I seen any fieldfares, or thrushes, and just a few blackbirds, very sparsely. Chaffinch song is usually a constant presence the whole summer – and this year I cannot remember hearing it even once, despite chaffinch being supposedly the most common bird of central Europe.. And in the last month or two tits and sparrows  – the consants of my garden the whole year – have disappeared too. Redstarts are still here, but wagtails never showed up.

I fear this is a real environmental problem and a local sign of a global catastrophy.

My Little (Stitching) Pony

Since sewing leather sheaths whilst holding them between one’s knees is a huge pain in all kinds of regions, I have decided to bite the bullet and build myself a small stitching pony. It is very simple, but, as usual, it took me way more time to make than it should have. Here it is for you to admire.

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

It is made from reclaimed firewood, so I have spent a lot of time sanding of splinters.  The “H” formed base is for stability, but the two planks are only fixed with one screw each and tightened only with a winged nut. That way I can loosen them, and fold them so the pony can be put out of the way and leaned against a wall when not in use, together with other useless junk I posess, like painter’s easel.

You can also see that I have bought a suitcase for my leatherworking tools. It is already full to the brim and I have barely begun :(.

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

Jaws are covered with leather, here it is not fully trimmed yet. You can admire the high precisisn’t with which I am usually assembling these tools.

The right jaw is fixed, the left jaw swivels on a hinge. They are tightened via one long screw with a winged nut. The screw is deliberately very loose, so it cannot be overtightened.

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

A piece of wedge-shaped hardwood with slits slides on two screws and under the winged nut, allowing for a sort of easy quick-tighten and -release tool.

It works as it should. Like all tools, it gets some getting used to, but it does make the leather stitching several orders of magnitude easier. I have tested it today and I was definitively a lot quicker. And my back hurt less.

Expect some leatherwork in future too. Hopefully.

I Was Like a Fox in the Henhouse…

Today I took a day off of any duties and works and I went for a walk in the forest, with my camera. And right at the edge of the forest, I got distracted.

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I had planned a long picture-taking walk, about five-six kilometers. I had drink and snacks packed, an audiobook prepared, and just in case I find some mushrooms, I had two cloth shopping bags in my backpack. I thought maybe I find enough for a dinner.

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

Boletes are growing in huge numbers. I did not even get to the best places and I filled both shopping bags before venturing so much as twenty-thirty meters into the forest. They weighed about five kilos each, here you can see them after I took a hefty portion off the top to give to my neighbor, who likes them, but, like my parents, is too old to go collecting herself.

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

My tiny kitchen counter was covered in mushrooms. It took me about six hours to clean all these and cut them. Most were cut to slices to dry, but some were too soft and spongy (and there were some blushers in there too) and had to be cooked right away.  And even though there was a lot of waste, I still filled the whole vegetable dryer and a table with drying, and my biggest pot with cooking. There are good ten-twenty meals in the pot, so after it all cools down, they will be divided and packed into small portions and frozen.

I must apologize, I did not make any pretty pictures for you today. But I am really tired, despite my walk being only about one-fifth of the length I planned.