Radharc's blog

A little ergo Ulu


Did some horse tradin' with a buddy down in GA, and got several semicircular pieces of Damascus in the process. I looked at this one, and it just hollered ULU at me. Was able to ID the material via another guy, it's 5160 and 1018, rolled in a mill. Here's a pic of the piece as I received it, after sanding and a quick etch:

Raw ULU Damascus stockRaw ULU Damascus stock   

WIP: Conestoga Bowie

Knife-makers | | | |

Well, this is an interesting one.Some of the guys at Primal Fires are into wagon wheel rims, because they're usually wrought iron, for making guards and pommels for knives. A guy sent me some wagon axle, telling me that it was a simple, high carbon steel. This started giving me an idea. I have a couple old wagon wheels in my yard that are falling apart, and it made me curious. What if I made a Bowie knife entirely out of old wagon parts? Call it a Conestoga Bowie, after the Conestoga wagons. The gears in my head started turning. So, first thing was to cut into one of the rims I have. Tried bending and tearing it. It's pretty tough, and finer grained than I'd imagined:

Hear ye, hear ye, a knife raffle for a good cause!


I recently found out that a buddy of mine, Brent, has to have a couple surgeries, along with the accompanying meds, etc. He has no insurance, paid time off, or what have you, it's all coming out of his pocket.

Santee Push Dagger and beaded sheath (most recent piece completed)


Howdy gang,

Finally finished the sheath for this bugger. I decided to do something a little different, and made a NA plains style beaded sheath with a rawhide fringe. Here are some pics:Santee Push DaggerSantee Push Dagger

Getting the hang of the etching. This is the latest, the Frontier Steak Knife.

Knife-makers | | | |

1095, hardened to HRC 60. Curly Eastern Maple scales, Nickel silver pins. 4-3/8" blade, 8-1/2" OAL.

Some progress pics. Blade ground:

WIP: Frontier Bowie

Knife-makers | | |

Hi all. Been experimenting around with a new etching process I learned about, using Birchwood Casey Super Blue and regular old bleach, to give the blade an artifically 'aged' look. Here are some pics of the process. Blade is ground out of 1095 barstock.

For Gimperfi. Some fun with steel, a hamon, and heat treating

Knife-makers | | | | |

Hey Gimperfi,

I mentioned some of the fun you can have with differential hardening, so thought I'd share some pics. This started out as a dull old Nicholson file. I annealed it, then ground it, packed the spine with Satanite refractory clay, and hardened it, creating a differential temper (soft at the spine, super hard at the edge), as well as a hamon, the traditional Japanese visible hardening line. Thought maybe the pics would inspire you to upgrade your rig and get into heat treating. The clay coating:

WIP: Tactical Sgian Dubh

Knife-makers | | | |

Ok, so I accepted a commission. Navy guy wants a high performance, rugged,
'tactical' Sgian Dubh, easily concealed, for close quarters defense. I think
he thinks he's a SEAL. Heck, maybe he is. Anyways, I ground, drilled,
hardened, and polished the blade, start to finish yesterday, 5 hours. 440C.
Going to have brass bolsters and antler scales. Couple pics...


Knife photography (experience, some tips, etc)

Knife-makers | | | |

Hey gang,

From time to time I have people ask me if I do my own photography. Yes, all of it. Then they ask "How do you get such nice pics?". This is a brief rundown with some tips and such that I posted on another forum, and thought there might be some interest here. So, here we go:

I do all of the photography of my knives myself. My current camera is a Canon Powershot A95. 5MP digital. Here are the basic guidelines for doing pics, in no particular order:

Lighting. Generally, if at all possible use natural lighting, the best you can obtain. That may mean taking your pics at a certain time of day, or on a certain day, etc. Cloudy is nice. I also hold up bright white sheets at different places around the subject (knife) to bounce light around and minimize shadows. Alternately, sometimes I place my hand, fingers spread, or cardboard over the subject, to scatter light. Or even something opaque and transparent, to diffuse it.

Background. Select a background as solid as you can, or uniform, at the least, something that does not distract from your subject.

Get as close as you can to your subject, fill the viewfinder with it. Digital cameras focus less well the more you zoom, even an optical zoom. Zoom as little as possible. Speaking of viewfinder, I don't use the optical at all, strictly the LCD.

Use a tripod AND the longest available timer on the camera. I have 3 tripods: one is a small tabletop, one a large pro model, and one that I made myself, years ago. Get it as perfectly framed in the viewfinder as you can, ready to go, then press the shutter release and get your hands away from it. That way, the camera will settle and be moving the least amount possible when the shutter snaps.

I try to avoid using the flash, generally even shut it off. I also use the Macro autofocus function. Speaking of which, I allow the camera to automatically select everything. It has manual controls for everything, but I pretty much go full auto.

That's basic tech stuff, the rest is judgment and experience. One thing, some of you may know, is that you have to take thousands of pics, to get good. I've been doing amateur photography since I was a child, using a little Instamatic. Been through a dozen cameras since. The beauty of digital is that you can snap pics, then upload them immediately, see if you nailed it, and if not, go right back and take more. No waiting for them to be developed, etc. Also, as many pics as I take (deleting probably 2/3 of them), I save thousands in film developing by using digital. Last thing is you need decent photo editor software and you need to be proficient with it.

So, that's it in a nutshell. Once you have the tech stuff down, then judgment plays a large role. I think about, when I'm photographing, what precisely it is that I'm trying to communicate. You know, a general overview, versus a specific detail, etc. When someone looks at my pics, what are they seeing? Is it what I'm trying to show? Etc.

Walnut Ulu, my latest creation

Knife-makers | | |

Hey all,

My latest, the Walnut Ulu:


Comments welcome.



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