The Sword Geek

It's all about the swords. Except when it isn't.

A Seax-y return to work…

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So, the new shop is up and running, and the first pieces out were (unsurprisingly) Seaxes. I love making these things; the simple purity of form of the blades, the decoration of the scabbards, researching the patterns for the engraving and leatherwork…  Plus the huge variety of sizes and shapes. Big fun for a sword-maker getting back into the swing of things!

On the last piece pictured I got to employ my new diamond engraving tip, and produced the most detailed engraving I have done to date. New toys are always fun, but it is time to get back to swords and I have some very interesting things in mind…

In general things are working differently in the shop. Since we’re starting over I am working hard to develop good habits. I am cleaning at least once a day or immediately after any heavy-duty grinding. I have a place for the tools and to return them to that place when finished with them. Mostly. Wonder of wonders when I do this I don’t have to waste time hunting them down. Who knew?

We’re also reordering supplies before I need them instead of a month or two after it was painfully obvious that I needed them.

 

Another thing is No Custom Orders. I make what I want to, and if people like it they can buy it. Yes, I will be completing the few remaining outstanding orders, and replacing the customer-owned pieces destroyed in the fire. But between whimsical migraines, PTSD and depression I just cannot guarantee timely delivery. In truth I’ve always had a problem with this (in part since I had all those problems even before they were diagnosed…) and it’s stressful for me and unfair to my customers. No more. As much as I realize this is a bit of a pain for some of you it’s less painful than waiting for me to eventually get around to making what I owe you.

The tools are all new, which has it’s good and bad points. The main good thing is that I no longer have to fight worn out tools, which makes everything easier and more efficient. The bad news…

Developing a real love-hate relationship with Grizzly Imports. Little things, like the light on the drill-press not working right out of the box. It’s not strictly necessary,  but it should work right when the damn machine is brand-new. I am sure they would repair it under warranty… if I want to ship the 100-lb. machine across the country and do without it for six weeks. No thanks. At some point I’ll delve into the wiring and sort it all out; it’s not rocket science.

Then there is the set of cobalt drill bits in every size you could want from 1-/16 to 3/8 inch. Here’s the thing- 1/8 inch is .125 inch. I expect- actually count on- that drill making holds that are about .125 inches in diameter. What the brand-new, out of the box bit drilled was actually .140 inches. Unacceptable. I measured the bit’s diameter. It was exactly .125 inches. Careful examination of the tip showed that the drill had been sharpened badly off-center by the factory so it was corkscrewing into the steel. It took me about 30 seconds to fix it on my belt grinder purely by eye. It now drills .125 inch holes.

Then there was the 5/16 inch bit that, despite having a pilot hole, wanted to wander all over the workpiece. I checked and once again the grind of the point was badly off-center. WTF Grizzly? If I can fix this- by hand and eye- in 30 seconds what possible excuse is there for this not being right from the factory. Quality control- ever heard of it?

Let’s not forget the Dremel-style hand too, which brand-new out-of-the-box doesn’t work. Plug it in, turn it on… and get nothing. No help in the instructions either. It’s just busted. That one doesn’t weigh 100-lbs. so I will be returning it.

On the other hand the metal-cutting bandsaw and Knifemaker’s Belt Sander/Buffer combo work a treat, so it’s not all bad… or I just got lucky with those two.

The Turbocarver has been getting a workout as you can see, and as expected is fantastic. The compressor they supplied is quiet and very efficient; quite a change from the old Harbor Frieght unit, where it was loud as hell and I had to stop every few minutes to let it build pressure back up.

Norton Abrasives is also on my shit-list. Of five of their top-of-the-line Ceramic abrasive belts three broke far sooner than they ought to have done- one when it was brand-new, the first time I mounted it on the machine. True-Grit, who sold me those belts, earned a Gold Star today by crediting me the cost of those belts, no questions asked. I’ve always gotten great service from them. Nice that some things never change.

These are all petty irritations though; I am back to work and loving it in a way I haven’t for some time. There are still some odd bits that need replacement here and there; a couple of contact wheels for the Bader, a file or two, a strap-cutter… but those things I can pick up along the way; most of them aren’t terribly expensive.

Tomorrow God-willing-and-thecreek-don’t-rise I’ll be diving into the first sword made in the new shop. Looking forward to it.

September 14, 2015 Posted by | Podcast | Comments Off on A Seax-y return to work…

Getting it together…

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It’s coming together but it’s sooo slow… Maybe I’ll have things in shape to start working tomorrow. Still need to install lights, get wiring strung, hook up the torch etc. But the shop is together enough that I can use the shop to help me build the shop! It’s progress.

August 26, 2015 Posted by | Podcast | Comments Off on Getting it together…

Of swords and shops and sealing wax…

2015-010fl So, the temporary shop is under construction and almost finished. Tomorrow money from insurance will hit the bank and I’ll go on an ordering binge for the final major tools. Later this week I need to pick up buffing wheels and compound, leather and leather-working tools, miscellaneous files and hand-tools and build work benches. I also need to get blades into heat treat so that I can get to work as soon as possible; we’ve still got bills to pay.

Weds. we are talking to the contractors and finding out exactly where we stand with the house repairs. The shop needs to be rebuilt from the ground up- to code this time- with proper wiring, drywall and (knock-on-wood) and honest-to-god wall between the clean and dirty shop areas. We also want an interior access from the house to the shop.  The house also needs to be rewired to current code, the outer wall of the laundry room needs to be rebuilt, the bathroom basically replaced, the roof needs to be re-trussed and a new roof put on. Somewhere in all that the plumbing needs to be fixed in the laundry room, the septic system needs repair and we need an HVAC system to replace the dodgy wall-heaters that we deactivated after one of them caught fire. In August. When it was turned off.

The insurance is going to pay the lion’s share of this, but perhaps not quite all of it. Several of the improvements we were hoping to incorporate may not be possible- or at least they may be delayed indefinitely.

But it’s no big deal. We’re damn lucky. We and our pets are safe, we have a place to live and the insurance has been, as best we can tell, quite fair in their valuation of our damaged/destroyed property. They have also been very good about making sure that our needs were met. We haven’t gone hungry, we’ve a rental until our home is fixed and even if we miss out on the upgrades our house will still be nicer when we move back in than it was when we bought it.

I am seriously itching to get back into the shop. There was a time a couple of years ago when I wondered if I would ever recover my passion for sword-making. Late this last winter and spring I rediscovered that passion and was well on my way ‘back.’ People donated thousands of dollars to help me get the shop up and running again- then the shop burned down. Sort of a major hiccup in life.

Soon- not soon enough, but soon- the reboot begins. New shop, new tools, new ideas and renewed passion for the work. Likely the first blade or two will be knives of some description while I get geared up and get the shop put in working order, but swords will follow soon after.

Yes, I still have PTSD. I will still struggle with depressions and migraines. We all have our crosses to bear, and we can focus on those burdens so intently that we forget our blessings. If we let ourselves. No more- I’m taking back my life and moving forward. My best work, my best life, the best me I can be is yet to come.

August 17, 2015 Posted by | Podcast | Comments Off on Of swords and shops and sealing wax…