Working overtime…

So Maria and I have been working like crazy lately. Hmm that always seems to be the beginning of our posts.

School is starting up again so Maria has been getting that rolling. She’s got her booth at Blue Moon Gift Shops all set up and running. We put the final touch in today, some lighting. I didn’t get a photo of that, but I did take one of the bracket I made for her to use.

Its sitting sideways, but maybe you can picture it.

We’ve been very short handed at my day job so the overtime is building. It doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

And yet I still find some time to do some forge work. We’ve been saving up to get a proper belt grinder, and after 6 weeks of a 2-3 week turnaround (yeah, not impressed with that) we finally received the Bader grinder that we ordered.

It took awhile to get it, but its worth it. That thing is a dream to use after a few years of using my home made, harbor freight, wood lathe conversion.

I have been able to finish out a few knives that I’m pretty proud of.

This beauty is already displayed in the Eclipse Artisan Boutique.

This next one is a birthday gift for Maria’s brother.

And finally, I just finished this one up tonight. As soon as I make a wooden sheath for it I will list it on our Etsy shop.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the maker’s mark. We had this made to Marie the blades. I really like it, whatcha think?

We hope to have some time to relax soon, haha…right.

I know it seems like all we do is work, well, it kind of is. But, when you love what you do then you never work a day in your life.

We hope you all have a wonderful week.

Chad

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Always keep an eye out for a different road..

Lately I’ve really been stressing out about sheath making. That might seem to be the easiest part of knife making, but for me it’s the hardest.

I’m good with metal and wood, but my leather working skills….well, they just plain suck. That’s the only way I can describe it.

Today while working in the shop, I was stressing about making sheaths for the knives I have made already. When it hit me…Why not make them out of wood?

I started laying out a few and starting working 3 of them. I like the look and the durability. I made the belt loops from wood as well. To strengthen the loops I drilled and pinned them as I would to attach scales to a knife handle.

Let me know what you think. I’m really looking for some feedback. I like them, but what I like might not be what others like. Feel free to critique…I promise that you won’t hurt my feelings.

I hope you all have aa great week.

Chad

Trying to catch up and finding a moment to breath..

I normally try to post once every couple of weeks or so, but I noticed that its been almost a month since I have posted anything.

For that, I apologize. However, it’s been a pretty crazy month.

We got the water transport wagon and shower set up completed, but haven’t had a chance to get it moved up to the farm.

Maria happened to go into a local business after her dentist’s appointment. What she found there was an opportunity. That business was Blue Moon Gift shop. It’s a large group of individual vendors with permanent booths that are overseen by Blue Moon employees. What she also found was a booth that was available. She came home and we talked about it, went back down there and looked at it. Before you know it, she was juried in and we were remodeling the space.

Here is how it looked when we first saw it:

And here is what it looked like when we got done with the remodel.

It took us 2 full days to do all of that. The problem was, we didn’t get much sleep. I work 12 hour night shifts at my regular job. I worked Sunday night and then started work on the booth first thing Monday morning with no sleep. I had Monday and Tuesday off, kind of. We worked until about 5pm Monday night. I then took a 3 hour nap while Maria ran all over town getting hooks, hangers, and such, all while sewing and tie dying in between. After my nap I had to go out to the forge and work until about 130 am. I then slept until 7 am, got up, and went to the dentist myself. After getting 2 cavities and a crown taken care of, we went back to work the rest of the day Tuesday to finish the booth. Of course we were both exhausted by then, but I needed to stay awake so I could sleep Wednesday during the day and return to work that night. Whew!! That made me tired just typing it!

So Maria worked like crazy and built her inventory to the level she wanted and got the booth stocked.

I think it looks pretty dang good!

During this process, we were informed that the Eclipse Artisan Boutique right next door was actually owned by the same person. It is a little bit different venue than Blue Moon Gift Shop. It’s a venue to display more one of a kind items and have them available for sale. The management suggested that I bring in a few of my knives to present them for the jury process. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait for a decision. The owner was onsite and seemed to be really excited about my knives and Maria’s tie dye. The meeting took about 10 minutes and my knives were priced and displayed.

To make matters even busier, my immediate supervisor at work got promoted and moved to another division. That leaves me to be the assistant supervisor (Corporal) and the supervisor (Sergeant) all wrapped into one. Not too bad, except for the huge amount of administrative tasks required. I’m really a blacksmith, remember? Lol

So, that’s this month in a nut shell. We hope that you all have had a wonderful month as well. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I’m still waiting on the beast of a new belt grinder to get here from Bader.

If any of you are in or around Wilmington NC, come see our displays at Blue Moon Gift Shop and Eclipse Artisan Boutique.

And, as always you can check us out on Etsy, or Noharminfarmin.com

All the best to you all,

Chad

Soon, a nice hot shower on the farm…

I’ve been kicking around an idea for a shower at the farm. It’s going to be quite some time before we can get a well drilled up there. Normally we carry our drinking water in, but washing is another issue.

Now, we could go down to the creek and wash up, but that’s not a great idea. For one, we really don’t want that gray water going straight into the creek to pollute and contaminate it. For another, in the spring and fall…and winter it will either be super chilly or just flat out frozen.

So, the solution is to be able to take some water (as needed) to the top of the hill. This will give us the opportunity to heat that water for washing and, with the proper drainage, to let the soil filter that gray water long before it gets back to the water shed.

A few years ago I built a small wagon/trailer/cart. I decided to attach a 55 gallon drum to that and add a pump so we can pump water out of the creek, haul it up the hill, heat it and run a shower.

First I had to get some parts and components.

This is a portable, propane fired tankless water heater. Super fuel efficient

There’s the trailer, the drum, a new pump, and a few of the plumbing fittings.

Finally ready for testing. If you notice, its after dark when I finally got this joker put together, I am definitely NOT a plumber. Lol

In the background to fhe right you can see the water heater hooked up. It worked well, except for one thing…I had a leak..a pretty big one. If you look where the green hose comes out of the pvc you can see a black rag wrapped around the fitting. It by no means stopped the leak, but it kept water from spraying everywhere. I’m going to have to change out that green hose to something a bit more rigid. When filling the barrel (simulated creek) the pump was powerful enough to collapse the hose. Even with the collapsed hose I can fill the barrel in just around 3 minutes.

The water heater had a bit of trouble because it has a low pressure safety switch that turns off the burner when the pressure drops. Well, the rag wrapped fitting caused the pressure to drop to the heater. Water still flowed out of the shower head at a decent rate, but not with enough pressure to ignite the burner.

A couple of adjustments and some tweaking is in order, but I think it will be a glorious addition to the farm. After working out the bugs it will be time to build a nice, cedar deck to stand on while showering.

Let me know if you have an outdoor shower and how often you use it. I’d actually prefer to shower outdoors regardless of the weather.

I’d love to hear what you’ve got!

We hope you all have a great week.

Chad

I think I’m gonna buy a Bader…..

I have been bladesmithing for a few years now, and I don’t have any big, crazy equipment. As time goes by and as my experience grows I have been gradually upgrading equipment. I started with a Harbor Freight cast iron anvil, home made brake drum forge, and an angle grinder. All functional, but not nearly effective enough to complete the amazing knives I can and want to make.

Eventually I got a propane forge from NC Tool Company, as well as a 112 pound steel anvil. These helped me to heat and move metal much more efficiently.

As far as a grinder for shaping and polishing….well…I converted a Harbor Freight wood lathe into a belt grinder. I made a two wheel arm with a small 4 inch flat platen. It only has a 3/4 horse power motor and I’m constantly overloading it. The biggest reach I could build was for 48 inch belts. Again, it works, but it is very limited in its capabilities.

That’s me with the lathe/ grinder in action.

When I went in Forged In Fire I had the opportunity to use a Travis Wuertz TW 90 2×72 belt grinder. And it was a BEAST! Maybe I got a little spoiled, or I was able to test drive that joker and was able to imagine the possibilities. Either way, I knew it was time to upgrade. Unfortunately, the TW 90 base model is REALLY expensive. None of the decent belt grinders are cheap, but dang.

I’ve been doing a lot of research and after spending time with the guys I competed against and found that the Bader BIII is about the best, all around grinder that will work for me. They’ve got an excellent track record and a ton of accessories.

So, for almost $1500 less than the TW 90 I am going to get a Based. This should be exciting, it only took me 2 years to decide. I’m going to give it one more day to sleep on it, and then I’m going to order one.

Let me know if you’ve used one, or both of these grinders and what your thoughts are.

Hope you have a great week.

Chad

Fun and Joyous reunions…

Today was a good day. A day of fun and reunions on two fronts.

First off, my lovely Maria returned home after nearly a week of being gone to Maine. She and her sister travel upta camp so to speak to visit with their ages grandmother. I think it was a great trip for them, but I sure did miss Maria. I was very happy to see her home.

Before that could happen though, I took a day off of work to go out to the home of Tim, one of the guys I competed against on Forged In Fire. The champion of our episode, Andrew, had come down from Pennsylvania for vacation in the outer banks. The fourth member, Tom, couldn’t make it.

We spent the day showing off knives we made, swapping techniques, and tool and equipment building. We had some fun and learned some cool things. Being the rookie of this crew, I’m not sure how much I contributed to the learning, but it was a good time. The short time we all spent together was a great bonding experience, especially since we all have a common interest.

Maria made some gifts for the guys and their wives for me to take. She tie dyed some No Harm In Farmin tee shirts and tote bags. They were a big hit.

And as true bladesmiths we also swapped the gifts of steel. I gave each of them a huge bar of 4140 stainless steel, and Tim gave Andrew and I each a couple of bars of 1090 modified steel. These might seem like strange gifts, but it was like Christmas to us. Lol

Here are some photos from today:

That’s Tim on the left (second place), Andrew in the middle (champ), and me….umm first eliminated?!? Lol. Another thing we traded were tee shirts. Andrew is wearing Maria’s tie dye, Tim and I are wearing shirts from Andrew’s shop.

Spending some time pilfering through Tim’s tools in the forge, admiring his forge set up and formulating plans. We made some tentative plans to make this a yearly get together, next year will probably be in my shop.

We even took some time to play with the donkey and the goats…ahh good times.

I’m not sure if anybody is ever going to plan a big get together of all the contestants from all episodes, but I think it would be a whopping good time.

They are some really great guys and are super talented bladesmiths. I enjoyed spending time with them, but I also looked forward to getting home to see my lovely Maria.

We hope you all have a great week.

Chad

The next step and big projects..

Maria and I are working (as always, lol) on building and trying to expand our business.

She got up super early this morning to work on the giant tie dye project. She’s got to hem the edges of this massive piece of material prior to dying it. Today was pinning and ironing day.

There will be more photos when she starts slinging dye.

I had a friend come over and help us with some video of me testing some knives, we’ve now branched out to YouTube so that people can see the tests I do on the knives I forge. It shows the quality. I think JD did a great job with the video.

Let me know what you think, and any suggestions are always welcome.

Have a great week!

Chad

Always busy, but always loving it…

As usual, the lovely Maria and I are steadily working. There always seems to be something to do.

We have figured out that in early summer each year Maria gets a big, crazy order for tie dye. Last year she made a tie dye banner for the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival. Very cool, and great exposure.

Well, this year she got an order for a tie dyed piece of material that measures 8 feet wide and 18 feet long! This one will be a canopy for a tram ( formerly of Disneyland) that will be used to haul people around at Burning Man. How crazy is that? We will definitely post some pictures of her wrestling with that behemoth when she ties it up.

I don’t have the big news as she does, but I’ve got plenty to do. I have the cabin at the farm all dried in and its ready for metal roofing and siding. I think that can wait until the weather cools down a bit. However, things have been growing like wildfire up there and that means it will be bushhog-a-palooza this coming weekend.

In the meantime, the competition chopper I made and a hoplite short sword I made sold after only a week and a half of being on Etsy. With the growing popularity of blade sports I’m working on more choppers.

I have been working on two different models based off of the same design and specs. One is just like the first one I made from 5160 spring steel with a differential heat treat. I added gray and black g10 for the handle. Its thick, heavy, and SHARP!

The other one is still in the same style, but I made it thinner and a little lighter. I’m trying to see if speed can overcome power. This one is made from 1095 high carbon steel with orange and black g10. After the next couple of days of the necessary day job, come on retirement, I will do some testing to compare the two blades. That should make for some decent videos.

Here are some photos of both of those choppers in process.

Very rough forged, and of course my nemesis from Forged In Fire, those hammer marks. Not a big issue today though.

One half done, the second forged.

Cleaning em up on my home made Harbor Freight wood lathe/ belt grinder. Anybody want to invest in our business and hook us up with a Travis Wuertz belt grinder? It’s only $3700. Lol

Initial epoxying of the handle material.

Handle material now rough profiled and pin holes drilled. No helicoptering this time.

And finally all finished up. They could stand a little more time on a scotchbrite belt for polishing, but I will wait until after the testing frenzy.

So, that’s about what we’ve got going on. Oh yeah, did I mention that we both still work full time day jobs? Sleep? What is this you speak of?

We hope you all have a great week!

Chad

Testing, testing, 1 2 3

So, lately Maria has been suggesting that I start filming my knife tests.

I think it’s a good idea, but I’m just not sure how it would go. We are trying a test of a test..she filmed me while I tested the sharpness of the competition chopper I just finished.

Hmm.. here goes nothing:

Im not real sure how this will look here. But like I said, it’s just a test.

I was impressed with how the knife cut the water bottles, although I did have to slim down the handle a bit. It cut the first two bottles well, and then the handle twisted some in my hand.

My knives tend to sell slowly this time of year only to pick up in the fall. This gives me time to make them and get them listed.

Meanwhile, Maria’s tie dye is doing well.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If you are raising chickens and don’t have an egg collecting apron from No Harm In Farmin, then you are truly missing out. Whether it is tie dyed or otherwise.

Maria and I hope you have a great week. If this video thing starts to pan out I think I will upload them to YouTube as well as here on our blog.

All the best,

Chad

You just never know when you are going to get it right.

Hey everybody, hope your week is going well.

I spent a day today making a knife. I know, big shocker. Haha

When making a knife you’ve got to harden and heat treat the blade. For people like me this can be a hit or miss operation. If you have thousands of dollars for special equipment it can be quite easy. If you operate like I do (on a shoestring budget) then its always a gamble. The only way to really tell is to test it after you’ve put in hours of work.

I’m pretty confident with this process, especially when I’m familiar with the steel I’m using, but it can always go bad.

Today as I was finishing a competition chopper, I had a little mishap that tested the blade for me.

I was drilling the handle material for the pins and the drill bit got bound in the hole. This caused the blade to spin like a helicopter blade. I had already heat treated and sharpened the blade so this was super dangerous and I was not happy. Luckily, the blade was long enough that as it spun, the edge struck the steel upright on the drill press with a whole lot more force than I could have done by hand.

I was initially pissed, until I examined the edge. NOT 1 SINGLE MARK!!!!!

That let me know that my hardening and tempering was done correctly and that the blade I had made would stand up to huge amounts of abuse.

Here is that beauty:

So even if that human flaw of self doubt tries to creep in on you while you work, be confident. Have faith in what you do, do it well, and know at the end of the day that you are a pro.

All the best,

Chad