Woodworking in America here we come.

Today Janet and I made the commitment to attend Woodworking in America this year.  This will be in Kansas City MO. September 25th – 27th.  This will provide an opportunity to introduce our products to lots of woodworkers.

Check it out at

https://www.facebook.com/woodworkinginamerica?fref=ts

http://www.woodworkinginamerica.com/ehome/index.php?eventid=108695&

Hope to see you there

The time to retire has come

I started working for a private ambulance company back in 1980.  Then was hired by the Aurora Fire Department in 1987.  I have progressed through the ranks from probationary firefighter to paramedic and for the last 14 years have served as a suppression lieutenant on an engine company.  Most my time as an officer has been at station 10.  I have had the honor of working with a great crew at 10s.  However after 34 years in emergency service, It is time to retire. from firefighting and emergency medicine.  It is with great excitement that I pick up my hammer to begin a new career as a full-time blacksmith.  I have been running the shop part-time for 20 years or more and the time feels right to make it a full-time job.  So thank you to all of those I have served with as a fire fighter and thank you to all of my customers past and present who have made this transition possible.  Wednesday October 8th will be the start of a new adventure.  Please come visit at http://www.blackbearforge.com

Axe forging at the Rocky Mountain Blacksmithing Conference

I have received a very nice bit of recognition recently.  I was asked to demonstrate axe forging at this years Rocky Mountain Blacksmithing Conference in Carbondale Colorado.

http://www.rockymountainsmiths.org/conference/conference.html

While this is a great honor and I am really looking forward to it.  I also am a bit nervous.  One of my blacksmithing idols, Peter Ross, will also be demonstrating this year.  I know Peter has made quite a few more axes over the years than I have.  In any case it promises to be a great conference.  We will also have Mindy Gardner and James Makely to fill out the demonstrators.  If you’re a blacksmith or simply interested please come and join us.

Planing Stop

Boy, have I been bad about writing this blog.  I don’t think any of the great bloggers have any competition from me.

Anyway,  Today I finished up a few planing stops or bench stops, I’ve also seen them called bench hooks.  These are a small fishtail shaped iron hook that had teeth filed into it.  Typically these are set into a wooden square 2″ – 3″ that is mortised through the bench top.  This allows the iron hook to move up or down to adjust to the board thickness.  These are a real improvement to most hand tool workbenches.

Three planing stops ready to be put to work.

Three planing stops ready to be put to work.

When you cut the hole in the wooden part of the stop, just make sure it is a good fit so you don’t cause a split like i did.

Here is the bench stop inserted into the wooden planing stop.

Here is the bench stop inserted into the wooden planing stop.

In use be sure to keep the iron stop well below the path of your plane iron.  This will dull your cutter badly if you’re not careful

The planing stop in use

The planing stop in use

New Heat Treating Kiln

New kiln

Last week I attended a knife making workshop at Scott Kretschmer’s shop in Loveland.  The workshop was taught by Steve Rollert from Dove Knives.  This was a full day of demonstration and discussion about hand forged knives.

One of the main topics was a the proper heat treatment of knives.  Blacksmiths have traditionaly judged heat by color and while this is pretty good it isn’t perfect.  Colors appear different in different ambient light.  It is also hard to tell the difference betwwen 1100 degrees and 1200 degrees accurately and that 100 degree difference can be important.  Hardening at the exact right temperature makes for repeatable results.  If you don’t like the results you can easily judge if it should be a bit hotter or a bit cooler.  But that is only possible if you can hit the exact hardening temperature you are aiming for every time.

Enter my “new” heat treating kiln.  This is an electric oven capable of very exact temperature control.  You can set the exact temprature you want, leave the knife or (any other tool for that matter) to preheat and soak – hold at temperature – if needed.  You can’t do that accurately with a torch or a forge.  This particular kiln is actually a small ceramics kiln that was being used by a silver smith for burning out wax for lost wax casting.  It is not ready to be a heat treating kiln yet.  I will need to add some higher tech precision controls to make it work the way it needs to.  But, since a new heat treating kiln costs close to $2,000 and this one was only $200 plus $100 or so for the controls, it will be a bargan.

Part of my long term goal is to make quality hand forged tools for woodworkers.  This new equipment will help me turn out consistent, predictable high quality tools.

It was too muddy to get the car, with the kiln in it, right up to the shop.  So it went up on the back of the ATV

It was too muddy to get the car, with the kiln in it, right up to the shop. So it went up on the back of the ATV.

The kiln was tranfered to the top of my welding cart, since there was no place else to put it, then rolled in under cover.

The kiln was tranfered to the top of my welding cart, since there was no place else to put it, then rolled in under cover.