Blacksmithing usually happens in a dark shop with very hot metal. A dark shop helps the blacksmith see the color of the steel better and thus know when it's ready to work or when it is too cold. Unfortunately, the dynamic range between dark and light makes it difficult to create videos that show both the shop as well as the hot metal. The dynamic range is too high to show up appropriately in videos. Fortunately, this has changed with Youtube's support for HDR. It still requires a new TV to support it though. This video is my first experiment at producing an HDR video. I filmed it on a Sony PXW‑FS7 in 4K raw and then color graded it in DaVinci Resolve on a Sony BVM-X300.
The Mysterybox folks have put together good information on how to produce HDR videos.
This Wootz Seax is the first knife we made from our crucible steel. The bolster is copper and bone decorated with a dot and ring motif. The hilt is ironwood left over from a flooring project. The overall length of the knife is about 14 inches with a blade Length of 7 1/4 inches and a blade with of 1 5/8 inches. The steel pattern is very subtle and not easily seen on the photo.
As usual, I also documented the crafting process in a video:
Here are some pictures of my recent forge rebuild. When I originally started to look into refractory concrete as an option, I noticed that there were not a lot of articles on the web describing the process of casting a forge shell from refractory concrete. While many of the steps are pretty straightforward and do not significantly differ from using regular concrete, some people might still find my experience with using Kast-O-Lite 30 LI useful. My need for a new forge arose after some extended forge welding and bloom consolidation caused the roof of my previous forge to cave in. After thinking of different ways to construct a new forge, I decided to go with refractory concrete as it can take more abuse than the kaowool based solution I had employed previously. Kast-O-Lite 30 LI seemed like it fit the bill with a maximum use temperature of 3000F which is not something I am likely to reach unless I am over boiling iron. For general forging, Kast-O-Lite 26 would have been better suited as it provides better heat insulation but I had the 30 LI concrete available. Here is an outline of the process:
The construction used five pieces of concrete: Two sides, one roof, and two pegs. Where the pieces met, I had to split the angle, so used 22.5 degrees on each side of the different pieces. The end result was going to be a shell that would support itself. The first step was creating the forms from 2x4 and some wooden boards. The forge itself is about 13in long, and about 9in high. To get the angles, I used a bandsaw with a swiveling table that I could dial to 22.5 degrees. The measurements that determines the spacing of the pieces were all done on the outside and piece of 2x4 was attached to the board with wood screws. Here is how they looked like.
While visiting Germany this year, I was on a quest to find Viking-age swords as a source of inspiration for future work. The first trip took me to Nürnberg where I visited the Germanisches Nationalmuseum which had an amazing weapons collection including two amazing carolingian swords - here is a picture of one of them:
Afterwards, I stopped at Rothenburg ob der Tauber and were completely amazed by the Reichsstadtmuseum which featured the Hermann Baumann collection of historic weapons and armor including this interesting pommel of a Viking-age sword from Danmark dated to the 9th/10th century:
The last part of the trip was to Haithabu where not only the museum was a great experience but also the concurrently happing Viking market with over twenty long boats from Northern Europe. One of the sword pommels I saw there was the following:
The Serpent in the Sword project is slowly progressing. I have posted a couple more videos documenting the process. In part 2, the bevels of the sword are forged, the geometry is established on a belt sander and the sword is finally heat treated. In part 3, the sword fittings are made, e.g. the lower and upper guard as well as the pommel and wooden hilt. If things go right, the sword will be finished just in time to my visit to Germany in July. The Viking museum in Haithabu has a special event in which 20 Viking ships will sail to its harbor. There is also the new Viking Puppet Theater which should be fun to watch. It's called "Wikinger Puppentheater Ygdrasil" and has it's premiere in April at the museum in Haithabu.
Inspired by "The Serpent in the Sword" from Lee A Jones, I embarked on the quest of forging a pattern-welded double-edged sword that has a visual serpent at its core. The video shows my progress over about 7 days of work. Pattern-welding in addition to structural benefits is also visually very attractive. The sword in this video is constructed from a total of seven bars. Two edge bars, two twisted bars and three bars for the serpent. The whole process while using modern tools is very similar to the one that anglo-saxon or viking-age blacksmiths might have employed. Each step in created a pattern-welded sword is explained and narrated in the video above.