A Silver Lining

We can program ourselves to be so scared of something, that it’s a struggle to overcome the programming even when our mind knows that it’s OK. Sticking my hand into the forge and rummaging around is an example of that – I had to force myself to relax and reach inside.

It turns out that the silver found its way down to the lowest point, like the molten uranium fuel at Chernobyl – it nestled up against the weld-line in the bottom of the forge and cooled there. I was able to pick it right up with no effort. I replaced the broken old flux-soaked fire bricks with some fresh ones and leveled them as carefully as I could; that decreases the likelihood of flux running or crucibles falling over.

Then, I did some tricky welds in steel just to make sure everything still works. It did.

Since the oven was hot after the welds, I broke the silver up into a crucible and added some tin and flux and poured a mold that has been sitting on my “TO DO” shelf for a while. It wasn’t a perfect pour; one piece of the mold cracked off and floated up, so I pressed it back into place with my tongs and held it there till it cooled.


The surface looks rough but it’s really not. A few minutes with fine sandpaper made it begin to gleam. Then I flattened the faces with the belt sander and got busy with some steel wool and buffing compound.

I’m tempted to melt these down and try again, but they’re pretty cool as it is. In the back-strap inner piece there are some divots from when the buffer flung them across the room, and the finger-hole where the mold broke is a bit badly finished.

So, instead of melting them down, I went on Rio Grande and ordered some 5mm bezel cutters and synthetic blue zirconia. I’m going to see if I can add a gem in a ‘gypsy setting’ and a blue rabbit-fur fluffy pom, just to make these things look tactical as all get-out. I bet these would stop a werewolf with one punch. I wonder how they’d do on a nazi? “But officer the law says ‘brass knuckles’ and these are fine silver sterling!”


  1. johnson catman says

    Too bad you couldn’t have been in Detroit to try out that premise (Nazi-punching) when they tried to disrupt a Pride event. PZ has a post about it today.

  2. kestrel says

    Very nice, and glad you were able to get the silver back so easily. I think setting some gemstones in that would be awesome.

    Buffers flinging things across the room: been there, done that. I always wear eye protection etc. when using my polishing machine for that very reason. However years of practice on it means the flinging thing rarely happens to me anymore… At the very worst, I might occasionally have the wheel slam something down into the tray underneath. And even after all these years, it still makes me swear. :)

  3. says

    johnson catman@#1:
    Too bad you couldn’t have been in Detroit to try out that premise (Nazi-punching) when they tried to disrupt a Pride event.

    With the laws being the way they are, and knuckledusters being illegal in many places, I’d probably be the only one who wound up being prosecuted. So, if I’m in for a penny, in for a pound – some days someone’s going to bring a tactical rifle and just drop a couple dozen nazis. See how they like it. I’m not the one who’s going to do it, but those shitheads are starting to get threatening and don’t seem to understand that’s a two-way street.

    Now I am thinking “how do I get a rainbow color effect in metal?” because whacking a nazi with rainbowknucks would be pretty good.

    When I was a karate student (back in ancient days) we did a few sessions on street sparring, and sensei had one of the guys demonstrate the difference between a regular punch and a punch from a fist containing a roll of quarters wrapped in modeling clay. At that time, I had been studying knife technique with a vietnam vet, and doing a lot of freestyle scrapping including taking hits from boken, so I said “me!” and – holy shit that hurt! I had a really epic bruise. I cannot imagine getting hit in the face with such a thing. If you look at it and think about how they work, the design is a thing of evil beauty – all the force of the impact is channeled not to the hitter’s fingers, but to the base of their palm. A dropping chop would be worse, because then your fingers are just holding the metal in place while it’s hitting on that thin edge. Owwwwwww… I understand why they made these things illegal because they’d be just as bad as a club or a knife, although knives are utterly terrifying and bring in this whole psychological component of extreme damage (as do guns) – that’s a whole different level.

    Some of the SCA quarterstaff experts that I got my clock cleaned by in the early 1980s would be fun to watch at one of these events. Except some of them would be on the wrong side, I fear.

    I’m too old for punching people.

  4. says

    the flinging thing rarely happens to me anymore…

    One of the first things knife-makers learn is that buffers are the scariest thing you will encounter in your shop. I very very very seldom put a buffer wheel on my mandrel. In fact, after I finished these I went and got a few small wheels for my air-powered die grinder – both surface dressing (abrasive scotch-brite) and felt. Now, when you’re saying “a die grinder is more controllable” that’s saying something indeed! But with the die grinder the work piece stays in a vise and the worst thing that happens is you get hit by the grinder, not a flying blade.

    You jewelers don’t get the attention-getting experience of having a knife blade fly around your shop. It’s most disconcerting!

  5. says

    It’s probably a felony or something to sell them in Pennsylvania, or I’d bling up a set and auction it for FtB.

    (sigh) I need to finish the pink silicone nunchuks and the pimp hammer.

  6. Jazzlet says

    Pretty! I can’t see which finger hole is badly finished.

    Though looking at them it occurs to me that if one was actually going to use knuckle dusters they’d need to fit, I don’t think I could use that one as it would splay my fingers too much. I may well be talking rubbish there as I’ve never tried on a set.

  7. says

    I may well be talking rubbish there as I’ve never tried on a set.

    Splaying your fingers is actually what they are supposed to do. That way when you clench your fist it pulls the palm-piece back into the base of your hand.

  8. lochaber says

    Marcus Ranum @ 3
    I thought that part of brass knuckles that sits in the palm was important, so that the fingers wouldn’t take the stress of impact. (kinda like I’ve always heard/been taught to hit with the first two knuckles). I see a fair number of those “personal defense” items that are just double circles with a spike or something, and I can’t imagine that focusing all that stress on the finger bones would feel good…

  9. says

    Now I am thinking “how do I get a rainbow color effect in metal?”

    With paint, maybe? I have no clue about in metal, but maybe on metal could do instead. At least acrylic paint sticks pretty well on metal.

  10. says

    That’s why push daggers are so nasty and penetrate so well: they’re basically an extension of your lower arm, not something you hold in your hand. Alec Steele did a push dagger challenge and was surprised to discover that they penetrate like the dickens.

  11. lochaber says

    Marcus Ranum @ 10
    I hadn’t thought of that, I think I’ve heard something about them being harder to disarm, and then there’s the bit where they not as useful tool-wise as a typical knife. I believe you’ve posted some you tube links to Alec Steele before? I’ll take a quick look and see what I come across

    I got distracted, but Andreas Avester @ 9 reminded me… for some reason I’m under the impression that titanium takes to rainbow coloring fairly easily. Can’t remember if it’s anodization or heat treatment, or something else. But I don’t imagine it’s terribly easy to cast? Beryllium maybe? I just remember seeing those weird little rectangular crystalline things of it at rock shows and such.

  12. Holms says

    I’m amazed something so nice came from something so shitty looking (photo 1). Why did that surface look so scummy initially?

    I wonder how they’d do on a nazi?

    Him in hospital or morgue, you in jail.

  13. says

    Ah Titanium my favorite metal :-)
    Titanium can be anodized to a nice rainbow effect without the use of dyes (which are necessary when anodizing aluminium), see:

    I think you are thinking of Bismuth rather than Beryllium.
    Bismuth crystals are beautiful rainbow colors. When cast though it looks more like Tin. But pure Bismuth is very soft, it’s only barely harder than pure lead.
    Don’t even think of using Beryllium, its dust is lethal.

  14. lochaber says

    Patrick Slattery @ 13

    thank you, I don’t know why I typed Beryllium instead of Bismuth, aside from just thinking of the letter “B”

  15. says

    I’m amazed something so nice came from something so shitty looking (photo 1). Why did that surface look so scummy initially?

    It was cast into something that’s basically plaster. It’s not a perfect surface like silicone, so the metal picks up some of the texture. Also I suppose there is some oxides. It’s a very thin layer. 15 minutes with fine 1000 grit sandpaper and it looks like metal. 5 minutes with steel wool and it looks like silver mirror.

    It’s so so so so much easier to polish than steel!

  16. says

    They look kinda cool.

    I find the thing that brass knuckles, and balisongs and several other things are illegal in USA and some other countries utterly absurd.

    In CZ, none of so-called “cold” weapons are regulated. You visibly can have nunchucks in your backpack (I did, it was silly) a fixed-blade bowie knife on your belt (I did) or a balisong your pocket (I did) and if you wish, you can carry a sword (I did not, that would be extremely silly) and unless you injure someone, you are not committing any arrestable offence.

    On the other hand, the law defines as a weapon any object that multiplies the force of the attacker. So should you, for example, hit someone with a rock picked at the roadside, the rock becomes a weapon in purpose and thus it is an attack with a weapon and it will be prosecuted as such.

    So weapons are defined by how an object is used in a crime, not how it looks. And similarly, legality is defined by use, not by design. It is illegal to pick a rock and bash someone with it, but not to pick a rock.

    Firearms are heavily regulated in CZ, no open-carry licence exist except for on-duty police officers, concealed carry is very restricted and getting a licence is not easy, usually, you still need a justification as in, you need the gun for your job. Shooting is allowed only at shooting ranges. NO automatic or semi-automatic weapons for private use.

    Ad rainbow knuckles – titanium would do nicely, it can be coloured to all kinds of colours. But it cannot be cast and it is a bugger to machine. It can be forged though.

    Aluminium can be anodized with dye in the solution.

    Steel can be coloured with heat if you have precise enough heat treatment oven (starting with the highest temp, then scrub the part that has to have different color, heat at lower temp, rinse, repeat) or torch with tiny enough flame. Caine posted in the past something about an artist who paints with tiny torch on steel plates. There is no green color though.

  17. lochaber says

    I’m with Charly on this one, I think it’s absolutely absurd that a nation that allows assault rifles, will also ban things like nunchaku, shuriken, automatic knives (“switchblades”), various knife styles, brass knuckles, mace, pepper spray, tazers, sword canes, etc.

    I mean, I can see reasons to restrict some of those items, in that their construction/whatever makes them very useful as a weapon, while also reducing their effectiveness when used as a tool… But I think that’s absurd when you can already own an assault rifle.

    And then there are bump stocks, which are really not good for anything aside from wasting ammo and shooting indiscriminately into crowds.

  18. derferick says

    About the recoverability of the silver. I seem to remember that during WWII the UK government melted down their silver reserve to use for electrical contacts (Bletchley??). After it was all over they recovered over 95% of the silver for their reserves.

  19. says

    American laws regarding weapons are absurd and cannot be understood unless you consider social class and apartheid. Even then they are hard to understand!

  20. voyager says

    Lovely result. If the right people see them they could become the must-have fashion accessory for the season.

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