and says “nice weld.” Or something.
Today, I spent a while (about 2 hr) cleaning up the suminigashi bar. I did a bit of subtle shaping to make it bigger at the end where it’s going to support the carbide, but I am not worried about it shattering, bending, or delaminating. As I ground, I had time to let my mind wander and realized that twisting the bar was probably invented as a way to prevent delamination. For one thing, it brings all the surfaces into tight pressured contact, and for another it’s not as though a steel bar is going to un-twist itself: it’s not pasta.
I’m sure it’s not going to shatter, because I gave it a few loving nudges with my hammer to straighten it in spots. I put it in the vise and pushed my whole weight against it and it didn’t even budge: no bounce, no bend. It did not dignify me by noticing me.
That’s where I left it off today. It’s about 1/2″ by 1/2″ more or less – I’ll use a 1/2″ endmill on the bridgeport to cut a channel in the cocobolo to hold the bar. I’m on the fence as to whether or not to hollow some of the back out to fill with lead shot (supposedly dampens vibration) I might just fill the cavity with chopped glass and resin and be done with it.
Before I do that, I need to cut the forward lip for the carbide disk, drill it, and thread it. I may make the forward lip round and pretty using the aforementioned 1/2″ end-mill.
Meanwhile, I’ve been working on another long-running tool build: the twist-o-matic from hell. Most damascus makers use a plumber’s wrench and some weld a bar across the top to serve as a second handle. What I hate about pipe wrenches is that you’ve got to adjust them till they catch, and I don’t like farting around with my fingers that close to a yellow-hot bar of steel. So, I went looking for a quick grab plumber’s wrench, and found just the thing on amazon for $35. It’s a spring-loaded wrench that you just slide on until it locks.
The bandsaw made short work of that. Then, I trued it up a bit with an angle grinder and sanded it clean, ground the circlip off the bolt and disassembled it, measured a piece of 4-foot 14ga tube steel and cut a hole with the diamond wheel.
Well, you get the idea: that piece of tube steel ought not to flex much when I put all my strength on the twist; and 4 feet will give me great mechanical advantage. I ought to be able to grab onto a bar and just walk it around. Best of all, my hands will be 2 feet from the hot thing in the vise.
There was a pause for some excitement:
The old Craftsman angle grinder I keep the diamond wheel mounted on, well, it “crashed and burned.” Literally. I heard a funny screaming noise (in addition to the normal screaming noise of the diamond wheel) and then it stopped suddenly. I assumed it had gotten stuck in the metal somehow, but then smoke and flames started coming out of the air vents of the grinder. How exciting! So I unplugged it and dropped it into the cooling bucket (water) then got another angle grinder out of the closet and finished the cut.
I used a little Chinese-made belt sander that’s powered from the air compressor to reach into the tube and remove all the razor sharp edges of mangling, then sanded, tapped, and rapped things into place.
After that it was off to the milling machine to make some holes. I was worried that I might have positioned the wrench-piece so the arm will jam against the bottom of the bar, but if it does that’s what angle grinders are for. When I had the tube locked into the vise on the bridgeport I realized that I could have just machined the slot in the tube with an end-mill. And it’d have been clean and pretty. If this works like I think it will, I’ll probably have a small line of blacksmiths begging me to make more; I’ll do those on the bridgeport.
Since I was on a roll doing the sloppy-ass machining, I also drilled the center of an old steel hand-wheel, and added a hole for a lock-nut. My bandsaw has a poly/glass handwheel that’s OK but since I use it a lot I may as well make it nice.
I’m still stinging over the bowl gouge, but today went a ways towards making me feel better. The best part was that I was able to shape and finish a couple of handles, and spent some time sanding a bunch of ebony and maple until it was glassy smooth. I have to get those blades to their respective owners before I can post pictures, but they’re work I’m quite proud of. I have an idea for a sort of storage scabbard thing for one of the knives, so I have to give that a try and see if it turns out alright. If it does, you can be sure I’ll be posting it here eventually.
Today is my birthday. Remember, remember, the 5th of November and all that. I’m going to spend the day at the shop doing stuff that needs doing and wednesday I’m going to drive up to Ithaca and smuggle home several dozen bagels (like: 5 doz) from the amazing Ithaca Bakery. They freeze up fine once you know how to reconstitute them, and it’s good to have a supply down in the freezer for the winter.