Saturday, April 08, 2006

Carnival of Cordite #54

Up at Gullyborg. Including, this time, relation of some truly, stupendously, incredibly idiotic statements from some of the 'peace at any price' people.

Friday, April 07, 2006

It's been bouncing around the last couple of days,

but if you've missed reference to it before, go read The Time Traveler. Now.

Lots of people, me included, have dreaded that the islamists will do something that will cause us to act at WWII level; that these idiots either have no real idea what we're capable of, or don't care. The other side of that is, our restraint in dealing with these idiots may actually encourage them; they see our working to prevent innocent deaths to the greatest extent possible to be weakness to use against us. When you're dealing with someone who only recognizes power and submission, trying to be nice is a mistake.

I just hope we haven't gone past that line already.

Further thoughts on buckshot

Something made me remember a story I thought I'd add to my previous post of buckshot tests.

This is from my Dad. One day he and the county sheriff were working a roadblock looking for a bank robber. Who chose to head in their direction. He spotted the roadblock and cut off the highway onto a farm road, and the chase was on. A couple of miles along he either blew a tire or blew the engine(I can't remember which) and got out of the car as Dad and the sheriff slid to a stop about fifty yards away.

The bad guy jumped out and popped a couple of rounds at them with a .38 snubbie as the sheriff laid the shotgun(Remington 870 with 18" barrel) over the roof of his car and Dad took a rest with his .357 on his. The sheriff fired one round of 12-pellet 00 buck and the guy threw down his gun and surrendered. Which probably saved his life, as from a rest at that range Dad would have put a 180-grain soft-point through his brisket.

Turned out he the guy was untouched. As Dad recounted, he saw a puff of dust between the guy's feet, there was one dent in the car body to left and one to right of him, and robber swore he heard one pass by his head; between those and realizing he was about to get perforated by one or the other of them he decided to give up. That's four out of 12 pellets passing within 12-18" of the guy, all the others going off somewhere. That's pretty bad, especially considering each of those round pellets, at that range, had also lost a lot of velocity.

None of the buckshot available at the time would have grouped any better. There are a LOT of different brands/loads available now, and if one won't group well out of your scattergun, chances are another will. Which means, get a box each of several brands/types and try them out on paper where you can actually see and measure the results. I found that in mine the Hornady TAP grouped a lot tighter at home-defense ranges than the other brands I tried, which means that it would have a lot longer effective range for me than the others. Depending on your circumstances/preference, you might prefer having one that spreads out a lot faster for a better chance of getting a piece of a moving bad guy at close ranges.

One thing I would not keep loaded for home defense, as a general rule, would be slugs. Just too much penetration in an urban neighborhood. I read a few months ago where some city SWAT team decided to check that out and fired several slug loads from the street into an abandoned house; they found that every round, unless it hit something like the hot water tank, completely penetrated the house and exited the back wall with enough velocity to be lethal. I tried out some of the Aguila mini-shell slugs in my Benelli right after I got it, and they had noticeably lower velocity; for some circumstances they might be a good choice for a shotgun where you want more precision without the overpenetration hazard. But that's just a guess, and there's the fact that some pumps will not reliably feed them without modification(they will not cycle autoloaders).

From the Box o' Truth and my tests, it looks like- generally speaking- the low-recoil buckshot loads may well group tighter out of most guns than standard or magnum loads. Personally, I'd rather have the lesser recoil and tighter groups than the little more power, but that's my choice. You'll have to decide what would be best for your circumstances and choose accordingly.

Among others, John McCain is an idiot

And corrupt. And a vile opportunist.

I don't mean 'corrupt' as in 'money under the table'; I've never heard of that. I mean as in "I'll do anything that will get me good press and maybe votes so I can run for President. Or at least stay in power over people" corrupt. He's shown himself willing to trash the 1st Amendment, and the 2nd, and I've lost track of some of the other crap he's pulled or tried to.

And this 'Amnesty By Any Other Name' bill on illegal aliens he's been trying to bull through. He's one of the big clowns saying "They do jobs Americans won't". Get this piece I found at Tammy Bruce's place:
"But he took more questions, including a pointed one on his immigration plan.

McCain responded by saying immigrants were taking jobs nobody else wanted. He offered anybody in the crowd $50 an hour to pick lettuce in Arizona.

Shouts of protest rose from the crowd, with some accepting McCain’s job offer.

“I’ll take it!” one man shouted.

McCain insisted none of them would do such menial labor for a complete season. “You can’t do it, my friends.”

Some in the crowd said they didn’t appreciate McCain questioning their work ethic." Gee, you think maybe?

I think it boils down to a combination of arrogance and having been in D.C. far too long. You may remember that AZ had a recall petition going on him, and it looked like it would pass with a fair margin. Then came 9/11, and the state decided to drop it under the circumstances. Right now, I wish they'd have either kept it going, or better yet, restarted it a year or two ago.

I repeat what I said before: for his service as a Marine, I give him the respect he earned; for his actions as a politician, he too often has earned by anger and contempt.

More sharp shiny things

Three more shots tonight. First is a more modern-style dirk:

Same steel as the other(5160) and nickel-silver fittings, this one has a walnut grip. Blade's about an inch shorter and a little less wide. This is the one my daughter keeps eyeing covetously.

I love making damascus- more properly 'pattern welded'- blades, but I generally can't make big billets of it. So I make up for size with steel mixes to give bolder patterns. This is another sgian dhu, this blade is a mix of O1, 10-20 mild steel and W2, total of about 100 layers:

Here's a little closer look at the blade

Getting that filework done along the back can be a real pain.

And(again), since Og asked, a razor

A few years ago at my favorite salvage yard(before it closed) I picked up a bunch of what appears to be W2 stock, this is forged from a piece of it. Flat-ground like the early razors.

Thus concludes our show for tonight.


Biscuits rescued from fate worse than baking!

Wanted to use Steve's recipe to make biscuits to go with some leftover roast and gravy for dinner. So measured the flour, measured out the bacon grease and cut it in, started to add the milk and- CRAP! I used regular flour, not the self-rising!

Ok, this is bad, this will produce hockey pucks instead of delicious biscuits. So in the spirit of "It Can't Hurt", I added two tablespoons of baking powder and a little baking soda and mixed them in. Then added enough milk to make the dough stickier than usual so I could knead it a few times to make sure the stuff was mixed in, kneaded it, then rolled it out and cut & baked as usual.

And shazam!

These are what's left. Came out great.

I shall now buy myself a chef's hat.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Stick that fork in Britain a little deeper,

'cause they're about done.

Kim had this post the other day on the new 'sentancing guidelines', with lots of violent offenders being let out of prison after very little time, and new guidelines to basically give tickets to offenders. You know, those not-too-bad types like burglars, and people who commit assaut?

Well, today I was over at Samizdata and found this:

"This morning sees the opening for business of the new Serious Organised Crime Agency - though it officially began existence on April 1st, it is no joke - whose spokesman was interviewed on the Today programme this morning.

He proudly stated that because its personnel will not take the Police Oath they would therefore be able to adopt 'new and exciting' methods. So what is to be sacrificed?

The same interview made clear that 'once you are on their books you will be watched for life'.

Agents of SOCA will be empowered to operate without marking or uniform anywhere in the world. They are to be regarded as an intelligence service, permitted and encouraged to do anything within the law to (in the Home Office's favourite phrase) 'bear down on' their targets. But the intelligence services don't have powers of arrest or to compel cooperation. They cannot direct other law enforcement agencies or commandeer their facilities. The SOCA-man can.

Agents may operate in secret. And they may exercise any of the the powers of police, customs officers, revenue inspectors (though not bound by their rigorous code of impartiality and confidentiality either), or immigration officials. SOCA officials have the capacity to demand information from a vast variety of sources without judicial warrant, under statutes ranging from the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 to the Identity Cards Act 2006, and pass it on to whomsoever it chooses. It is a crime to fail to report to it a transaction you ought to have known was suspicious, even if you are a lawyer and asked to advise a client on a transaction. It can deputise - 'designate' - people freely to exercise its powers, and form ad hoc investigation teams it is an offence to obstruct. 'Anything within the law' is getting to be a very broad category indeed."

This is bloody awful. This is a 'law enforcement agency' with what amounts to carte blanche to do any damn thing they want, however they decide they need/want to do it. Including "...without marking or uniform anywhere in the world".

I have many times wished to visit Britain, in particular Ireland and Scotland. At this point I doubt I will. There's too many ways to get into trouble for owning/carrying/thinking/saying 'wrong' things, and this just reinforces that. Not to mention the sorrow of watching a land we owe a big chunk of our own past to go down the toilet.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Damn, look at this!

I just checked Site Meter and :


Average Per Day147

Average Visit Length1:43

Last Hour8


This Week1,028

Personally, I think this is amazing. I started this as a: a soapbox and b: a way to talk about blacksmithing, and now there's been more than 40k hits!

I thank you all, whether you liked what you read or not. If you liked it, look forward to more. If you think I suck, tough; more's coming anyway.

To the demented loons loyal readers out there, I have to ask, is this all you have to do?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Og asked,

so here's a few of the knives I've made. Not the best of pictures, I'm afraid

A while back I posted a shot of a new dirk in progress, here it is with my sgian dhu:

The dirk is 13" in the blade, 18" overall length. Blade is 5160 spring steel, curly maple grip, nickle silver fittings. The sgian dhu is 3.75" in the blade, about 8.5" overall; blade began life as a ball bearing, walnut grip and nickle silver fittings.

I mentioned before, for big cutting/chopping blades I like 5160 better than others. For the smaller ones, bearings- generally 52100 steel- is excellent, though heat-treating is a bit odd. I did once make a dirk for a friend out of a 2.5" bearing; forging it out was one of the hardest jobs I've ever done, but oh, how it holds an edge. If I had a power hammer to forge out the big ones, I'd use more of them.

This one began life as an old Nicholson file:

2.75" blade, just shy of 6" OAL, horn scales and brass pins. A good file can make wonderful cutting tools, but you can't use all of them. Some files were made with a relatively high-sulphur steel; it makes it easier to machine, but if you try to forge one, it tends to crumble under the hammer(another effect of the sulphur).

Just a general belt knife:

6" blade, 10.5" OAL, 5160 steel, antler grip & brass fittings.

And last, something that usually draws attention:

Railroad spike, God knows what alloy, with the shank twisted for the grip. These have surprised me; find the right ones and they're a lot better steel than I'd expected. Holds an edge at least as well as most good stainless steels(not as well as 5160 or a tool steel like 01 or 52100) and incredibly tough. If you had enough of it, it'd make a hell of a sword blade.

I've got some other stuff I'll post shots of later, knives and other ironwork. For now, it's late and Blogger is posting pics too slow to mess with.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Well, the Fair is over,

and I'm worn out. But it was a good one, the 30th anniversary, fine weather(not always available) and good crowds except for Friday. They added Friday a few years ago as a 'school day', which usually means piles of kids, most with minimal supervision, minimal sales for the merchants and shoplifting problems. Oddly, Friday had a bunch of kids early and then they disappeared.

I mentioned weather; I've seen everything from 80's and blowing tents down from the south, to 30's and tents blowing down from the north. The latter accompanied by sleet. We had a storm line blow through Saturday night, but Sunday dawned partly cloudy and warm and was a fine day.

Now to business. I posted a shot of the setup last year, and here it is again:

Part of the joy of this is hauling some of this stuff around. Anvil, 110; stump about 85, stuffed toolbox about 40; various steel bars and coal and buckets and ice chest and etc., damn heavy all together. Couple of years ago I bought a dolly, and it's payed for itself several times over.

What I primarily do is demonstrate. And talk(a lot). So I try to pick small stuff that I can complete while a group is standing there, and I do take requests. And merchants come by with "Can you make me (fill in)?" Couple of times I've spent most of the first morning making tent stakes out of the heaviest stock I had.

You can find damn near anything even vaguely related to the concept of 'medieval' or 'renaissance' here; jewelry and weapons and armor and clothing and food and toys and soaps and scents and so on. I like it.

Bad things about the(and other) fairs

Weather can be a bloody pain for either hot or cold or rainy. I was at a fair down in Texas a few years ago helping a friend out, and ran out of shirts. As in, three day weekend, two shirts, washed them and hung them to dry Sunday night and it was so bloody humid they were still almost dripping Monday, so I spent the day in a kilt and no shirt. Which did have its good points. A lady from the Scottish court walked up, snapped her fan and said "You look half-naked, and barbaric, and undressed... and I wish I could get away with that!" As she was wearing a boned corset, and layers, and petticoats, etc., I have no idea how she and the other ladies made it through the day. As it was I got shanghaied into the parade later that day, and somewhere there are pictures of the Scottish court, in all its finery, with the queen being followed by a shirtless, hairy-chested guy holding her tiny little parasol for her. And I wish I could find one of them.

Really, the only other thing that really bothers me is some people. People who are stupid. Not ignorant, stupid. People who don't even deserve a sign they're so far gone. I have actually had people look into the forge and ask "Is that real fire?". And point at the ironwork and ask "Is that real metal?" And so on. Usually they're far between, but Saturday morning they came in clumps; I think that sometimes the idiot cooties in their blood call out for companionship and they unknowingly come together in front of someone to torment. Which is why I have this sign:

"You bleed on it, you bought it". Friend made it up for me several years ago after we found blood on a blade. That's happened several times since, but every idiot has stuck their hand in their pocket and left. Quickly.

"Yes, it's real fire. Come closer and I'll show you"

Good things about the fair

Old friends drop by for a drink

This is Fenris; 90% timberwolf, 10% malemute.

And one of the worst beggers you'll ever see. His humans are friends, and bring him out every year, where he is worshipped by many- 'worshipped' meaning 'petted and stroked and told how pretty he is'.

And there are interesting sights

Wait a minute, I meant this one

Where else do you find Ents walking around? Female ones? Pretty female ones?
I'm not big on Tolkein, but look at her!

And friends of my kids drop by, like Heather

No, those are not her real ears. What do you mean, what ears?

What I like most about this is the demonstrating. I really like making things, and showing people how this works. Especially when the grandparents tell the grandkids "We used to do this on the farm/ranch when I was growing up", or "I used to do this", or the parents tell the kids "Grandpa used to do this, we even still have his tools in the barn". That tends to make the kids really light up(and kids get a lot more tolerance for questions; they're ignorant, not stupid). I like it when a merchant comes over and says "I need such & such, can you make me one?" and I pick out the stock and start hammering/chiseling/bending and send them away a few minutes later with the bracket or stake or tool or whatever they needed. I've been to some other fairs since I've been doing this, and when I'm not working, they don't mean as much to me; it's like I'm just a tourist(or traveller, or patron, players at different fairs use different names).

I like when someone starts asking about how to do this, and I can point them to sources for information and equipment. I like it when someone watching turns out to be a very fine smith himself and tells me about a way of doing something I'd not heard before.

Showing kids how a flint & steel works, or how you can take a piece of steel bar and make a dragons head on the end. I really enjoy these things, enough to make up for the blisters and aching muscles at the end.

I would be remiss if I did not point out a couple of the other things to like. Meet Natalie

and Christi

I've got some other pictures I'll try to post later.

And for your information, the next fair in Oklahoma is at the Castle at Muskogee in May.