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tsterling

8th Plague Knife

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My latest major work, the 8th Plague Knife - a little carved grasshopper blade, and a small reliquary/display system to go with it. The knife is 2.5 inches long (63 mm), engraved and carved 1080 carbon steel, and the reliquary is American elk (wapiti) antler, black walnut, copper, silver and ziricote wood. The copper lid/drawer front is copper with an engraved and carved Egyptian-style cartouche of Ramses II. As a side note, the repairs are deliberately added - Much of my interest lately is trying to make my work look like a "modern antique" so to speak...

 

Thanks for looking!

post-11-1253558397.jpg

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Very unique Tom.

Have you ever wondered where some of your works may be in, say - 200 years? And in whose hands they may be in, and what they may think?

I know that may sound like weird questions, I suppose I could ask that of many here on this forum.

 

I do think they will ponder on the creators of the treasures they hold.

 

Very well done indeed.

 

Bill

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Excellent work Tom. Thanks for sharing. You know I like knives and you do such nice work. This one is very unusual, but I must say you did a good job, not only on the knife, but the presentation as well.

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Thank you, gentlemen, for your kind words. It's always good to see one of my babies so well received, not that I had any doubts, buuuuuut - you never know...... :o

 

Woodworm Bill, I've thought of that very thing often, wondering if my works might be like the antique netsuke we see collected today. With that in mind, I always try to use materials, fasteners, glues, etc with several hundred years of existence in mind and that have proven track records. No plastics, although I make an exception for epoxy glues, figuring that if the glue eventually fails (as ALL glues will), at least that part is easily repaired by some future craftsperson.

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Hi Tom,

 

What a delight it is to see your work again. Your imagination and ability to bring forth complex and well detailed pieces continues to evolve, with no challenge being to great to undertake. Working on this small scale with so many components must have been fun for you. Thank you for sharing this one with us.

 

Janel

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I just want to say what an absolutely stunning piece this is. My totally subjective view of whether or not any work of art is successful is the intensity of my desire to possess it. I want this piece.

 

Beautiful fit, concept, execution and choice of materials.

 

Please excuse my ignorance, but is the blade entirely carved? What kind of tools are you using to carve with? How are you tempering and drawing such a small blade with such heavier metal (grasshopper) so close?

 

Thanks for posting the pictures.

 

Debbie K

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Thank you, ladies and Phil! Glad you like her.

 

Please excuse my ignorance, but is the blade entirely carved? What kind of tools are you using to carve with? How are you tempering and drawing such a small blade with such heavier metal (grasshopper) so close?

Debbie K

 

Hi Debbie, The blade is formed, engraved and carved from a single piece of carbon steel. I hot forge the overall blade taper into the steel, and a rough shape of the blade using heat, hammers and anvil, in this case the steel was about one quarter of an inch at the greatest thickness (the grasshopper's head).

 

Before the steel is hardened, I use files to shape the outer "envelope" of the entire piece, then use various gravers, carbide burrs and scrapers to shape the details. Once all of that is done, I heat the blade to nonmagnetic with a plumbers torch (the critical temperature of the steel, roughly a dull cherry red) and quench the blade portion in vegetable oil. This hardens the steel in the blade, and since this piece is so tiny, also somewhat hardens the rest of it as well, but also makes it as brittle as glass.

 

I then temper in a small computer controlled kiln at 425 degrees F for one and a half hours, removing much of the hardness and brittleness. Using a thermometer, a little close supervision and a small toaster oven, you could do the same thing with any small knife.

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Thank you, ladies and Phil! Glad you like her.

 

 

 

Hi Debbie, The blade is formed, engraved and carved from a single piece of carbon steel. I hot forge the overall blade taper into the steel, and a rough shape of the blade using heat, hammers and anvil, in this case the steel was about one quarter of an inch at the greatest thickness (the grasshopper's head).

 

Before the steel is hardened, I use files to shape the outer "envelope" of the entire piece, then use various gravers, carbide burrs and scrapers to shape the details. Once all of that is done, I heat the blade to nonmagnetic with a plumbers torch (the critical temperature of the steel, roughly a dull cherry red) and quench the blade portion in vegetable oil. This hardens the steel in the blade, and since this piece is so tiny, also somewhat hardens the rest of it as well, but also makes it as brittle as glass.

 

I then temper in a small computer controlled kiln at 425 degrees F for one and a half hours, removing much of the hardness and brittleness. Using a thermometer, a little close supervision and a small toaster oven, you could do the same thing with any small knife.

 

Thanks for the information Tom! I use a torch to temper and draw tools and look for the color change at the tip of the tool to determine when it is at the right temperature. I knew that springs could be tempered in a kiln but will have to give it a try with next tool I make. I'm not a knifemaker, just make basic punches and chasing and repousse tools, so this is new to me.

 

Thanks again, and again, a lovely piece.

 

Debbie K

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