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Making Steel from Dirt Video

Discussion in 'Blades' started by Bear, Oct 21, 2006.

  1. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

  2. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Cool I did enjoy thanks!
  3. Electric-Amish

    Electric-Amish Monkey+++

    Fascinating to think someone figured out how to do it originally.

    I like the video very much thanks.

  4. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    You building a tunnel mill now Bear? COOL!!!!
  5. Valkman

    Valkman Knifemaker Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    What I don't get is how "in the old days" they got the finished product. I was watching "Gunsmoke" the other day when I guy gave another guy a brand new shiny Bowie with Stag handles - a beauty!

    Ok, the 'smith forged it out. Then what? Today we then take it to the grinder and finish it but how they'd do it then - and got a mirror finish? Dang I can't do that now!
  6. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Bear uses files and water stones. Last stuff I saw was near mirror finish.
    Just takes a few more hours I suppose

    But some guys, like Bear, make it look so easy ;)
  7. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

    Waaay too cool!!! Thanks for sharing!

    My kids, watching it with me, said "who's singing that song?"
    "I don't know, it's a video about making steel from dirt."
    "They have to sing to make steel???":eek::lol:
    Gotta' love kids!
  8. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey


    The first recorded instance of sandpaper was in 13th century China when crushed shells, seeds, and sand were bonded to parchment using natural gum. Shark skin was used as a sandpaper. Sandpaper was originally known as glass paper, as it used particles of glass.
    Sandpaper has occasionally been used as a surface for painting, as by Joan Miro. Sandpaper was even used as a musical instrument, in Leroy Anderson's Sandpaper Ballet.
    Sandpaper was patented in the United States on June 14 1834 by Isaac Fischer, Jr., of Springfield, Vermont.
    In 1916 3M invented the waterproof sandpaper, know as Wetordry™, and its first application was for automotive paint refinishing."

    Stones have been used throughout history to grind items down to desired sizes, shapes and finishes....

    In way back times, Jade, one of the hardest stones used for jewelry and figures, was cut and polished in old china with stones, water and abrasive sand .... yup it took along time but it worked... You can actually tell an "old mine" or older Jade piece by carefully examining the polish, cuts and any holes.....

    Today some of the very best craftsmen and swordsmiths in Japan only polish and sharpen edged tools with natural stones.... no sandpaper or grinders... only draw knives to shave the tools to size (Sen), files and stones....:)

    Mine go up to 12000 grit... its a hastle and its messy using water or oil... :mad:

    but if you read some of the older metal working and heat treating books... they don't recommend finish grinding on tools... only fine files and water / oil stones..... supposedly it compromises the tool's strength....:eek:

    Stones... especially natural stones... have a "spirit" or a "soul" to them... its truly a pleasure using them....;)

    I do love sandpaper though....;) and don't forget strops... with a little bit of natural abrasive paste on them ... like diatomaceous clay... stuff on the bottom of the ocean... you know... toothpaste used to have it.... maybe it still does... :eek:
  9. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    The concern is heating the metal and messing up the heat treatment. In the "good old days" the apprentices did the finish work and could really botch up a good knife/sword/axe/scissors by too aggressive grinding. An edgemaker that uses a grinder will always have a pan of water alongside the wheel to both cool and whet the wheel. Or so I was told by my g-pa and father, both of whom didn't care for wheels, just stones when sharpening. When they did mess with wheels, they ran them slow with minimum pressure, and a finger on the back to feel any heating before it got warm enough to draw the temper. But hoo, boy, did that take patience.:D (Wonder how I know that --)
  10. Valkman

    Valkman Knifemaker Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I have trouble picturing a 1880's blacksmith using waterstones. Files, yes. :)

    Heat is the enemy after heat treat. If you grind to the point the metal changes color you just ruined the temper and must re-do the heat treat. I grind to about 80% of final before heat treat and so pay a huge amount of attention to heat while grinding to final finish. Usually I dip in water after every pass, especially on thinner knives.

    I use the grinder to take the edge down to where it can be sharpened but sharpen by hand on a Sharpmaker. My problem with sharpening on a powered belt is that the customer cannot match the angle and will probably ruin the knife if they buy a cheap 1"x30" grinder and try it.
  11. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Here's some pics of those old grinding wheels...
    Interesting... all the large wheels I've seen either water or pedal driven where white...

  12. Valkman

    Valkman Knifemaker Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Makes me think of the pics I've seen of the old Case factory where the "makers" would mount their wheels like a bicycle and pedal them. Fascinating stuff - the forges were all in the basement. Nowadays they somehow shear blocks of steel the thickness they need and I guess they just grind it to shape.
  13. TailorMadeHell

    TailorMadeHell Lurking Shadow Creature

    I don't know one lick about what that took though I am totally amazed. The way the video was setup with the cinema and the music was way cool. I couldn't turn away. Someone could have broken in without my notice I was spellbound. That was befitting a legacy of fire and steel. Good post.

    Maybe I need to learn how to do that. Haha.
  14. Wild Trapper

    Wild Trapper Pirate Biker

    Thanks, Bear
    I once helped a neighbor make iron from dirt. He was trying to replicate a method he believed was used by early settlers. Liked the method shown in the video better. He did actually get some small pieces of iron/steel from the process, but we sure piled on a lot of wood to do it. He used a brick lined pit to do it and the dirt came from a near by peat bog. Oh, and there seems to be a high concentration of iron in our dirt here in this area of the state.
  15. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    That's cool that you actually got to participate in something like that !!!!

    I have a Master Blacksmith friend in Florida who does it .... he sent me a small piece.... pretty cool... looks like lava from around here... I guess it should... lava is molten rock...

    Yeah... lots of iron dirt around here too... you can tell because the dirt is almost red... I hear black sand has a high concentration of iron as well....
  16. BigUglyOne

    BigUglyOne Monkey+++ Founding Member

    My uncle was a master smith. He could put a mirror finish on a railroad spike using an old foot peddled grinder, files and large polishing stones. He had scrapers that looked like spoke shaves but for metal

    I loved to watch him work
  17. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    It must have been awesome to watch....
    The master blacksmiths are amazing people....
    Pretty exciting ot hear about those "spoke shaves".... I'm working on making a draw knife like took to shave metal.... alot cleaner than using files on on larger pieces....

    Is your Uncle still around?
  18. BigUglyOne

    BigUglyOne Monkey+++ Founding Member

    No, he died nearly 20 years ago. I miss him still.

    Every time we saw him he would make us a knife out of something. I had a braided pair of horseshoes for forever that I can no longer find that he made into a knife. It was really cool. A couple railroad spike knives ... all kinds of great stuff for a kid. All lost with time
  19. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    He sounds like a great guy....

    Like my grandfather... he could do anything and make anything.... gave me my first knife... an Old Timer Stockman.... used the heck out it... broke the blade and lost it over time....

    I've bought a couple of those Schrade Stockman's just to remember him....
  20. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Forgot to ask... was it one those twisted railroad spike knives????

    Also... a braided horse shoe?.... sounds interesting....:)
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