Saturday, September 17, 2005

Part 5, testing the blade

Ok, you've forged, ground, hardened and tempered the blade. Now, especially for a big one for heavy chopping, it needs testing. You do this to find out
Does it hold an edge as it should?
Is it too hard/soft?
Is it tough enough to take hard use without breaking or chipping?
And does it handle as it should?

For the start, I clean up the surface, either grinding or using a buffing wheel with a 80 or 120-grit compound to shine it up. Look it over for warp, for any cracks or anything else that shouldn't be there. For hardness, basic test is with a sharp file. Generally, it either should not bite, or should barely bite on the edge. This depends on use; for a heavy cutting blade, the edge would not be as hard, usually. That's another thing that comes with experience and what you prefer on your blades.

All this checks out. This next I primarily do with a bigger blade. For flexibility, I clamp about 1.5-2" in a vise(padded, of course), grab the tank and flex it. I don't test to destruction unless I'm trying something that requires it, so I don't try to take it to 90 degrees; I flex it a suitable amount(yeah, that's not an exact measurement, live with it), and see if it properly returns to straight. If it cracks or breaks, either it was flawed or too hard; if it doesn't come back to straight, it was too soft where it counts. And I'll flex it both ways. This means the vise needs to be solidly mounted on something that won't move; that 12" bowie I showed once before, if I clamp it in the vise on the anvil stump, will act as a spring and dump the whole thing over.

Next comes cutting. I do the bulk of sharpening on the belt sander with a fine belt. Work both sides evenly at the proper angle(more variables, I know) until you get a burr that shows up on the side opposite the belt; that means it's as fine as you can get at that grit. Go to a finer belt or a buffing wheel, stone, whatever, and finish it. Good test for a smooth edge is to hold a piece of magazine page or newspaper up and slice it. Any roughness will snag and tear instead of cutting. If that checks, it's cutting time. But first...

This step I found in a 'Knives Illustrated' magazine, I can't remember the makers name. Take a piece of 1/4" brass rod and stick it in a vise lengthwise, so a third to half of the piece is showing above the jaws. You need good light for this: take the blade and lay it on the brass, then tilt it up enough that the edge itself, not the bevel, is on the brass, and push down. Watch the edge closely; it will flex. Don't push it too far, you just need a visible flex in the edge, then release the pressure. A properly hardened/tempered piece will flex, and the edge will return to true when you release the pressure. If it chips, it's too hard, put it back in the oven at about 25 degrees hotter for an hour and try again after it cools. If it stays bent, it may well be too soft for your purpose. If so, you'll have to go back to the forge/furnace and harden it again, then temper it at lower heat. I would suggest finishing the other tests first though, as it may turn out to be just fine for your purposes. You'll find out.
My main test for edge-holding is 1/4" manilla or sisal rope. Set a piece of wood in the vise, and start cutting. Depending on tang size/shape I may wrap it up with tape to give a better grip, and will wear gloves, and I mark a section with a marker so I keep cutting with the same area. Set the edge down about 1/4" back from the end, and push it through with your off-hand on the back. Move back a quarter inch and do repeat. Over and over, until it will no longer cut cleanly through. If you're being properly methodical about this, you'll take a knife of known cutting ability and use it to check a new coil of rope to see if it gives more/fewer cuts than the original, so you can properly guage things.

Results here will depend on the steel and intended purpose; one you need to hold an edge really well vs. one that has to regularly chop into hard stuff, for instance. Using 52100 or O1 steel, as a general rule, I should get at least 75 cuts(depending on rope) and still be able to shave hair off the arm, and it's not unusual to get over 100. With 5160 in a bigger blade, I still aim for at least 75; big blades should hold their edge well, too. At this point I'll go to a piece of copy paper and try slicing it to check for edge roughness; having dulled some should not cause roughness. If all this is good, with large blades I move to the next step.

Usually I touch the edge back up here, so as to start at the beginning, and go to heavy cutting. I try to save branches 1-3" thick when I prune just for this. Set a branch up so you can properly cut, and start chopping. Not light, delicate stuff, actually chop like you were using an axe. Chips should fly, if you have the bevels right. I'll cut through two limbs this thickness and check for sharpness(yes, when working on several I have bare patches on my arms); it should get through two and still either shave or almost, and it should still slice copy paper cleanly. Please note that if your first efforts won't shave at this point but will still slice the paper, be happy; that edge is still very sharp and very useable.

Let me touch on something here, sharpness. You sharpen different blade types differently. An axe has a wide, gradual bevel for toughness, and you wouldn't take one down to a shaving edge. A small knife for delicate cutting may need to be very thin to make curves or other cuts, and would need a thin, fine edge. Most blades are somewhere in between, that balance between thin/sharp enough for easy cutting and thick/strong enough not to break or chip under stress. You learn to balance the cutting/strength tests according to the blade type and use.

And that's the testing. If a piece needs some special quality, I'll test for that, but these generally cover toughness and edge-holding ability, which is what I'm interested in here.

By the way, I did the first part of this earlier; the rest was done just before bed with a glass of Cask & Cream on ice beside me, so if my spelling is a bit off, I really don't care right now.


Friday, September 16, 2005

On the subject of bikes...

I picked up a poster at a bike show years ago. I can't find the damn thing right now, this is some of what I remember about it:


The farther it is to the next stop, the bigger the bug that hits your face shield

If you run out of gas, no matter which way you decide to push, the closest gas station will always be uphill and in the other direction. Corollary: The likelihood of running out increases when all of the nearby gas stations are closed.

The chance of your helmet dropping hard on concrete is proportional to it’s newness and expense.

You only realize the bike’s keys are in your pants pocket after you’ve put on all of your riding gear.

The more riders around, the more likely you will: a) Forget the kill switch is in the off position while trying to start your bike; b) Ride off with the sidestand down; c) Ride off with the petcock closed; d) ride along for miles with the turn signal on; e) get stung by a bee and do a roadside crazy dance shedding your riding gear.

Your first successful multi-gear wheelie will be past a heretofore unobserved police officer who dislikes motorcycles.

How long it takes to receive any back ordered part is proportional to how badly it is needed.

When your throttle cable snaps, you will always coast to a halt in front of a crack-house bust in progress.

The patch-wearing guy named ‘Tiny’ really DOES want to know what you are looking at.

The likelihood of falling over is directly proportional to a: how many people are watching and b: the ego of the rider

If I can find it, I'll put the others up

He did it!

Steve had a piece on motorcycles and the riding thereof on his original site, and he just posted it here!

Read, and learn.

And I do not 'whine'. I 'plead'(in a high-pitched voice)

Update: Right after I posted this, my daughter sent me this:
"I was driving home one day and this guy on a motorcycle stopped at a stop sign, and as I drove past, sort of tipped over. I turned around to see if he was ok, but he'd gotten up and hauled the bike up, and seemed more embarassed than hurt."

God, talk about timing!

Idiocy, Official and Un

One of the places I like to go to find information is Babalu Blog. Lots of stuff, with an emphasis on happenings in and to Cuba. One of the things to come up lately is this article on Official Idiocy in regards to rescue efforts in NO. Basically, bunch of swamp tour guides offer their airboats and other craft to do rescue operations, and are turned down: "What they lacked were the required number of life preservers (!!) - one per potential rescuee presumably, as required by the Coast Guard." Further into the Official Idiocy was having tons of food donations turned down. Just read it for all the details. If you're not ready to hang bureaucrats, you will be.

On the Unofficial Idiocy side, we go to Captain's Quarters for this about the Toxic Floodwater crap. And other nonsense that was thrown out about the hurricane and aftermath.

While you're there, check out both sites in general if you haven't already, lots of good stuff. And Val at Babalu will give you some eyes if you donate to Katrina relief. Go check it out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Enough hot air to float a blimp

That's what's coming out of the Senate hearings on Roberts. My God, it's hard to believe that any human being with enough working brain cells to attain the position of Senator can work so hard to show idiocy and childishness in public.

I haven't been watching all the hearings; no cable, and not enough patience anyway. I have been hearing bits and pieces, and it's confirmed two things: first, that the Senate has just about the biggest collection of arrogant jackasses in the world, and second, Kennedy and Biden really and truly suck.

Think about it; spend most of your time for questions talking, finally ask a question- we'll pass on whether the question makes sense or is at all fair- and then keep interrupting and wheezing and bitching so as to prevent the answer from coming out. If I were chairman of a committee like this, I'd have a switch for each Senators' microphone so I could turn the damn thing off, and after the second time telling someone to let the witness answer I'd turn theirs off until the answer was complete.

Of course, they see the place as the 'most exclusive club in the world', and no member would do such a thing to another member, now would they? They damn sure should; clubs generally demand at least a modicum of manners from members, and these clowns seem have all the manners of a spoiled 5-year-old.

How we've made it this long with clowns like this making it to such high office, I don't know. Divine intervention, maybe. Every time Leahy starts flapping his lips, especially demanding to be given classified or confidential information, I remember how his own pursuit of camera time and attention("I'm important! I'll prove it by telling you the classified information I just found out!") got him kicked off the Intelligence Committee. Which is why a certain radio personality started calling him Senator Depends. And yet he keeps being reelected. Just like Kennedy and Biden and a number of others.

"We have met the enemy, and they is us", indeed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

NO gun theft roundup

Over at Geek with a .45, posted here is the situation as it currently seems to be.

In short, apparently enough people remembered their oath to the Constitution, and generally called bullshit on this idea, and enough people saw what a pile of crap was landing on the heads of anyone who was part of this, that it went away.

As the Geek put it, that's not good enough. Homes were invaded, property was stolen(no, I don't call it 'confiscated', I call this theft; heard of anyone getting their property back yet?), people were held at gunpoint and- as the video of that lady shows- physically abused. Those who did this crap need to pay the price for it. Violation of peoples' homes and rights MUST carry a price, and a high one.

As the man said, to those who remembered their oath, and what's right, applause. To the others, screw you.

A most useful tool

Oddly enough, this thing has been one of the more useful tools I've ever gotten hold of. It's a 2oz. ball-peen hammer:

You can find them new, only places I know are Brownell's gunsmithing supply and some watchmakers supply houses. I found this one at a flea market.

No, it's no good for pounding things into shape. However... in knife work, I use it for setting pins into place, for tapping a guard into place, I've used the peen end for giving a guard and/or pommel a hammered finish. In gun work, tapping pins into place, tapping a sight to one side or the other for windage adjustment(usually with a brass punch). With a wood block for padding you can move a tight part into place, like the gas tube assembly on an M1. Small rivits can be set, and so on.

Nice thing is that with the size of this, you'd have to work at it to hit a piece too hard, and it's light enough that making a lot of small, controlled strokes is easy.

As I said, a most useful tool.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Four years later

I thought about this yesterday. A lot.

That was a day off, I was making tea and listening to a local rock station when they came on and said there were reports of an airplane crashing into the World Trade Center. First thought, some idiot in a Cessna got caught in air currents while flying where he shouldn't and crashed. They didn't say 'airliner' at that time, so I didn't think much of it. Then (as I recall) the report came of a plane hitting the Pentagon. One plane, accident possibly; two planes, planned attack, and I turned on the tv, just a minute or two before the second plane hit the other tower.

I stood there watching this and getting more pissed by the minute. And the too-often inane chatter of the news weenies didn't help. And then, one of the idiots, a female I believe- I don't remember which channel I was on- repeated for about the fourth or fifth time something like "terror striking into the hearts of America" and I yelled "What about the PISSED OFF striking in the hearts of America?"

Damn near screamed it, really. I didn't need this idiot speaking as if everyone was huddling in front of the screen shaking, and it really annoyed me. And it still does. How can anyone NOT be pissed off about it?

How can anyone NOT be pissed at the bastards who did this? Listening over the next few days to people counseling that we wait, that we show 'restraint'- which to them meant saying "We're sorry!" over and over and crawling on our bellies-, then seeing protests that we should not use military action... I didn't understand it then, and I don't understand it now. I was sitting there thinking, I want them dead. The ones who helped them plan this, the ones who gave them safe places to train, the ones who gave them intelligence and aid, all of them. And I still do.

Bitch all you want to at Bush, I do. There's a lot he has and hasn't done that ticks me off. But bitch at him about real things. I hear some idiot spouting the 'War for Halliburton' shit, and I think seriously about running over them at this point. Mark Steyn said today that the loonies look on Bush as the nutcase moslems look on the Jews; responsible for anything and in league with the devil, and I'm sick of it.

I'm sick of politicians who voted to go to war giving speeches about how it's a mistake, and don't you dare bring up what I said in the vote. I'm sick of people who say "we support the troops but not the war" who off-screen speak of the troops as troglodytes who don't have the brains to think, and flatly say they want our troops to die. I'm sick of people who claim that being on the other side is 'patriotic protest', and scream "Don't you question my patriotism!" when this bullshit is pointed out. I damn well DO question your patriotism, and I do it based on your own damn words. I question the patriotism of politicians who think any military problem, anything that happens is nothing more than a way to push their party, regardless of consequences.

I'm sick to death of idiots who blame this country for all wrongs in the world. Yeah, we use a lot of energy; we also produce a huge amount of stuff, from food to machinery and tools and medicine and books and on and on with it, so shut the hell up. This country, despite the actions of some of these people- and I include a lot of politicians- is still the the place where you can speak your mind, where you can defend yourself, where you can read what you want and say what you think.

In a way you've got the war against the terrorists, fought with troops and equipment, and we've got the war against the terrorists of the mind. These are the clowns who think you shouldn't be allowed to say or think or believe anything that might 'upset' anyone, including the islamist nuts who want us all converted, dhimmi or dead. They think your right to think ends as soon as you have a thought that someone might be bothered by.

To both groups, a big Fuck You. To the first, you're dying by the bunch now, and you'll continue to do so. Despite what his the evening 'news' on the major channels, most of the people in this country support our troops and want us to WIN. Not 'come to accomodation' with you, to stomp you until you stop trying to kill us. For good. To the second, something you don't seem to understand: Freedom of Speech has to include people you don't like and ideas you don't agree with, or it doesn't actually exist. If someone is kept from speaking because their words might give you the vapors, there is no freedom of speech, that's become only a buzz phrase that makes you feel good to say you support. So screw you both.

I've got a flag flying out front, because I love this country. Not whoever is in the White House or Congress, the United States of America. Not a political party, but the Declaration of Independance and the Constitution. That gives you a problem, stick it up your ass.

I'm done for now.