Sunday, January 30, 2011

Silver-shibuichi mokume gane.

Here is another mokume gane post; yes this is still a sword smithing blog, but mokume gane seems to be the thing that will be paying the bills in the future, so I have to develop it. 
Here is a really good example of a silver, shibuichi, shakudo seamless ring (I did not make it), that shows the nice patination colors one can achieve with these alloys. For anyone interested, you can buy this ring at 

I cast some 25% shibuichi the other day, and had it drawn out to 0.5 mm sheet, and went ahead and bought some 0.5 mm silver sheet as well, so I should be able to try my hand at some silver-shibuichi mokume.
Also ordered some Balwin's patina from

Shibuichi crucible in the forge.

Shibuichi casting setup.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New mokume billet.

Once again the day job has taken over for a few days, so I could not get a single day's work at the forge. 
Still here is a pendant that a jeweler friend of mine fashioned from a brass, copper, nickel silver mokume billet I forged. Looking better every time.

I also forged a 19 layer nickel silver, iron billet, and have been testing its strength, and trying to make a seamless mokume ring from it.
Looks like I might have to do some mokume billets and sell them wholesale to jewelers around here; it could at least earn me the rent for the shop, which would be nice...

Also I figured out I'll have to build my own rolling mill to flatten out the billets. I keep paying 5-20 Euros for every billet at a local shop, and also asked the price for a commercial rolling mill; 800 Euros for a Durston manual and 3800 for a power mill. I figure I should be able to build a decent powered one for less than 500, so I'll go for it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Japanese style anvil.

Once again a tool building post. I asked around for an anvil, and found a Ridgid-Peddinghaus 35Kg anvil going for about 550 Euros. I also checked various scrap yards for old anvils, but found none; I have seen some in the workshops of metal welders (I guess it is their grandfathers' anvils which they don't use or know how to use, but keep anyway) but they wouldn't part with them.

So I surfed around the web and figured out that the Japanese smiths use just a big block of steel. I also read that AISI 4140 steel will work, heat treated or not, so I managed to find the closest Uddeholm steel equivalent from a local Uddeholm dealer, namely Uddeholm Impax, a low Chromium-Molybdenum-Nickel steel. Had it professionally heat treated to about 52 HRc and voila!

Dimensions are 11cm x 26cm x 16cm, and weight about 35 Kg. Cost, 200 for the steel and 85 Euros for the heat treatment. Still pretty steep, but half the cost of a commercial anvil. 

And the hammer rebound is AMAZING!!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Just inspiring!

Feeling immense gratitude to Ford Hallam for sharing his knowledge and passion, and for being an inspiration to metalworkers at large...

A short documentary film that follows classical Japanese metal artist Ford Hallam as he recreates a lost masterpiece tsuba by a 19th century master.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Finally, belt grinder is nearing completion!

At Last!
Today I managed to assemble my belt grinder. It still needs a few hours tweaking and adjusting things, but on the first test run it worked like a charm. After a forge, hammer and anvil, a belt sander is THE most useful tool in the shop.
For people who do not know, it does not look like much, a couple of pulleys with a belt... 
Let me tell you, this has been the MOST time consuming machine to build, and I still have before me the tricky part of micro-adjusting it.

Details: 2hp 900 rpm 3 phase motor, 1 phase to 3 phase inverter with adjustable speed, 155cm belt, 20cm rubber contact wheel, machined aluminum crowned pulley with a scrap Subaru ball bearing.

Cost, approximately 700 Euros: 150 for the motor, 150 for the inverter, 70 for the contact wheel, 200 machining, 50 for the electric installation, and another 80 for odds and ends.

The design I went with after looking at tons of different designs on the net (
was a simplified version on one I found on an excellent set of youtube videos:


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year, and a real treat from another blog

Pierre Nadeau is an incredible Canadian who is probably the only westerner swordsmith apprentice in Japan at the time. You can read more about him at the following address.

For this year, Pierre Nadeau is intending to keep a blog on how he will be constructing a short sword, with weekly posts of every stage of the process.

Should be fascinating!

Also, here is an excellent video posted by Pierre Nadeau about a week ago 
on how to build a simple Japanese style charcoal forge. 
For all you purist buffs out there...