What was interesting is that NOBODY else bid on it so I got for a whopping $42 and change and that included shipping.
Here are the before and afters..
..And the elf was at it again
Last week I was able to get another bottoming stake head on eBay.
What was interesting is that NOBODY else bid on it so I got for a whopping $42 and change and that included shipping.
Here are the before and afters..
There is always maintenance work to be done.
..Put tools away
…Put the scrap metal in the collection can
…..Write a blog post
But the one that takes a bit of time is doing maintenance on hammers. I actually like to work on my hammers but with my busy schedule, this is a task that is put off until I have more than one to work on.
I now have 2 hammers that need work on the hammer faces and another 2 that need to have the handles that have to modified.
The planishing hammer below needs a deep scratch removed. This is a hammer I picked up off of eBay and it has been sitting, ignored for over a year.
Then hammer below that is one of my forging hammers. It has/had a big ding, which has been partly removed but I never finished the work.
Lastly, the chasing hammer I picked up at AllCraft, in NYC needs the handle modified and under that is a Japanese wood mallet. The handle is too long so it must be cut down. It is under the chasing hammer so you can see how much I have to cut off.
I can remove the dings from the hammer faces today, it is the time to re-polish that will be long. I can work on the polishing during the week, when I get home from the day job. The hammer handle mods I can also do today. All this work will be done in "machine" area of my shop since it generates the most schmutz (it is a great yiddish word isn't it?)
The Best Laid Plans
Yesterday I was planning on finishing my year end accounting, working on the tool canister, and of course the weekly putting away of tools from last weekends project.
But then… Karen H. ( a FB friend and fellow metal head) posted that Bill Fretz was at the Orange County Fairgrounds, at the Bead show , selling his tools plus there was a show discount of 30 PERCENT!!!
I dropped everything, got my self dressed and was out the door and into my car in less than 30 minutes. But before I left I grabbed two items that I wanted to talk to him about (more on what these were below so keep reading) .
Well, first off, lets all admit we really, really, REALLY like Bill's tools. Secondly, I had been in contact with Bill recently about getting several of his chasing hammers that my students would use in the workshops I would be giving (starting) next year. I had thought that I would get then next year while at Tuscon so finding out that he would be in So. Cal. this weekend was a shocker and yet an opportunity to go get them and talk to him. So, out the door I flew and no, I did not get a speeding ticket on the way to OC Fairgrounds though it was a 50 minute drive for me.
After I arrived and parked my car, I saw that the bead show as in 3 connected building and there was NO vender list - now to find him. I decided to go in the building on the left and walk my way through the rows of vendors until I found him. Once I entered the building, I went down the row that was furthest to the left - one must be systematic in the search! I had passed only about a half dozen vendors, scanning left and right when THERE WAS THE FRETZ BOOTH. Yes, all caps, because that was how excited I was.
Bill was there, as was his son who runs the manufacturing facility in Vietnam; I walked up, introduced myself (initially no recognition) and how I had emailed him about the hammers (yes, there was a glimmer of remembrance, whew!) . So we discussed hammers and I selected the one I wanted and we set 4 aside.
Then I wanted to talk to him about his larger stakes, not the small/miniature stakes he has for jewelry, I wanted to talk about the newer, larger forming stakes (you can look at them here: Otto Frei) that are for cuff bracelets and what I do - smaller hollow forms. I then took my two raised vessels out of the bag I was holding.
I might be presumptuous, but I really do think his eyes lit up! For several minutes we talked about raising and how not many metal smiths are raising these days. I explained that I brought my vessels because I wanted to make sure that these new larger stakes would allow me to finish these and his miniature stake set that I had bought, were not the correct size, plus that I don't have the many of the stakes in my studio to go where I was going with my work and would some of the the other Fretz stakes fit my need.
We then spent some time, matching the complex and simple curves to the two vessels and found those that would work. I also had to get the stake holder and extension arm…. AND just for good measure, a few more based upon vessels I had in my head.
After all of this, and over an hour had gone by, we talked more about other silversmiths, other stakes he is planning on having made plus much, much more as he told me a few pieces of information that would help me solve a few minor situations that I had come across.
My head was in the clouds.
My heart was actually racing I was so excited.
At that point I had to pay the piper and so, I pulled out my credit card and settled my bill, took my new tools and headed home.
All I have to say is that IF one day you get a chance to talk to Bill Fretz, DO IT. He is a wealth of knowledge, information and is very helpful and willing to share what he knows.
Here is what I bought - enjoy and don't drool too much. (images stolen from the Rio website)
Chasing Hammer Handles and My Hand
Last year, in November I took my first chasing class with Valentine Yotkov, gosh it does not seem like a year but it has.
Next week I will be in NYC/Brooklyn to take my FOURTH workshop with him but this blog post is not about that, it is about chasing hammer handles, yeah and about one of mine in particular.
During that first workshop (here, here and here) we ordered some new hammers from All Craft. I bought 2 - a 22 mm and a 30 mm. Val also showed us how to customize the handles (see picture below, the hammer handle at the top has not been customized and the one on the bottom is partly customized) - to narrow the neck to give it more spring and how to get the end of the handle to fit into our hand
I have since bought the 26 mm and 32mm and 33 mm. The 33 mm is actually a bit heavier than the 32 and since I am currently chasing one some pipe (about 14 gauge) that I have turned, into a canister, this heavier hammer is what I need.
I have modified the handles for the 26 and and the 32 but I had not done the 33 yet and I was using it all day, yesterday. After about 5 hours of work, I realized that
So I put the hammer down and that is when I noticed that the handle was canted sightly to the right when aligned to the center of the hammer head. This would not seem odd to the average chaser. Wait, don't take that the wrong way, I am not saying all chasers are average. I just mean that if you look at the majority of chasers, they would not find this odd.
Why? Well they are probably all RIGHT-HANDED so a hammer handle which leans to the right (position and not politically, sheesh) in a right hand would feel normal. Yet, for a lefty, it literally and figuratively rubs me the wrong way.
Now, I am pretty certain that the handles on the other chasing hammers were not canted in one direction or the other but I could not be certain cause they were all modified but if they had been leaning in that direction they had been, I think I would have some memory it with a note to correct it while I was doing the modifications.
Here is a picture of the 33 (on the left) and another handle end, you can see it is leaning.
The second picture below show the size of the 33 head in comparison to the 32, it is quite a bit bigger ,and for the handle you can see how much material I will be removing.
I am off to the garage to customize the handle and correct this handle problem.
Two weeks ago, I took a basic wood shop class and made a bird house. That class was the prelude to what I did today.
I took a private lesson in WOOD TURNING.
YES, wood turning.
Well, I want some larger wood "dapping" blocks for when I am sinking bowls.
I have the small wood and steel cube's with the dapping punches but the largest piece of metal they will take is about 1.5" diameter. I have 2 other wood sinking block and they take 3", 3.25", and 4.7" diameter pieces and most of the dishing areas are not even 50% of the diameter deep some are not even 25%. PLUS I have the Pepe Tools Cupola Punch and Die Sets,
The issue is I need some in between sizes and I want them deep - at least 50% of the diameter if not more so I can get a good wall on the bowl I am sinking
Thus, learning to "turn" a bowl allows me to make my own in the sizes I need.
At 11:00 am I met with Mike McElhiney a wood turner in San Diego and I had a 2+ hour lesson. Before we started, I showed him a few of my existing dapping blocks and what I can make with them so he could understand what I wanted to do with what we were going to be making.
Mike had brought the wood and tools and showed me how to set up the lathe, put the wood in the chuck, turn the outside, drill a center bore and then turn the bore into the "dishing" bowl.
The wood chips and dust were flying everywhere (even down my shirt and into my BRA!)
I (we actually) made 3 dapping bowls and a 4th blank (outside turned only) for one more.
The end result:
I sink some metal in them, in the next few weeks to test them. Then I will get back together with Mike for another lesson and then make some with specific dimension
Here are some pictures and at the end a very short video of Mike turning the big block of wood round.
Sanding and Design Day
It was a busy week at work with lots of unintentional overtime on my part. You know how it is when you are working on a project, time just gets a way from you and the next thing you realize is that it is 6:30 pm and everyone else has left. As a result I got home later than I expected and I had no evening time to do any sanding on the anvil or plan the next projects.
But that is what I hope to do today. I have placed the 100 grit on my sanding block and hope to get the top of the anvil started with that. One thing I have noticed about the anvil is that over the course of the week a bit of fine rust appeared on the top surface,
but not everywhere, and there are dark spots which are not rust. I am thinking that this anvil might be handmade and that the metal is more iron than steel. I removed the rust early this morning but maybe next week I will post a picture of it but now I know to put a very light coat of machine oil or WD-40 on the top.
The other thing I will be working on today is my design for next year's fair entry. That will take several weekend to sketch out and finalize so IF I start now I won't be rushing about at the last minute next year.
Save Time or Personal Satisfaction
A few weeks ago I did some ebay trolling and eventually snagged an 18 pound vintage round table top anvil and a cone mandrel with removable hardy hole tang. I am not certain but the anvil looks hand made.
I decided yesterday to start the refinishing of the anvil top. The cone does not have pits like the anvil but will require just a small amount of surface sanding to clean it up. But as you can see from the first two pictures, the top of anvil is badly pitted.
I went out to the garage where my new belt/disk sander is and fired that puppy up with an 80 grit belt to take down the top surface fast.
The first problem was that the edge of the bevel does not blend into the main body, there is a thin step between where the be bevel ends and the main body. So I first round a thin piece of wood to support the body of the anvil thus allowing me to the face to touch the sanding belt evenly. Of course this was not wide enough to support the entire body and so you had to "hold up" the body to keep it against the belt which was vertical. I then tilted the belt back about 30 degrees from vertical so the weight of the anvil was directly slightly downward and away I (we) went. My husband then took a turn at it and if you click on the pictures below, you can see the progress as we removed the pits.
I used a level and laid it across the surface and there are no air gaps between the level and the surface even though the level tells me that the top surface is slightly higher on one edge and this could just be due to the bottom surface not completely square to the to body or parallel to the top. I did check my bench first and it was almost level so it is the anvil. Overall my working surface is flat just not 100% level to what ever surface it is sitting on.
I post these images below, on my Facebook page last night and received some very nice complements including one from Kevin Potter of Potter USA He said "I admire your determination laurie but I am more than happy to polish it for you" and then added "Spend your time making beautiful stuff let me do the dirty work."
Well I have thought long and hard about this. Ok, I only thought about it for 10 hours. And I am very tempted to ship the anvil and the cone mandrel off to him. Just last month he modified some vintage stakes (the tangs) for me so they would fit in his stake holder and did a perfect job.
Back in 2010 I scored a lot of 18 vintage hammer off of eBay but they needed work and I spent almost 2 months of weekends refinishing the faces. Working on the anvil will require at least 10+ hours over several months and using the belt sander for the initial phase of pit removal took 1 1/2 hours alone. The long arduous work is still ahead of me with hand sanding. If Kevin did it, in his shop on his wonderful machines, it would take probably less than 5 hours and it could be as few as 2 or 3 to machine it down just a bit further and then working his way up to put a nice 600+ grit polish on it.
But what would I get out of it besides saving quite a bit of my time?? And there people was the quandary.
Saving Personal Time vs. Personal Satisfaction. What you you do??
But the more I thought about it this morning over my Sunday cuppa; the more I realized I wanted the personal satisfaction of doing this vs. the time savings. I want to say "Look what I refinished" and then be able to show these, and more, pictures off and hear people say WOW.
Even if Kevin did do this job for me we all know people would say WOW. PLUS it would help drive more business to Kevin which is a good thing cause he stays in business and continues to make great tools and equipment and then would be able to refinish other things for you and me when we really, really, really need it.
So, sorry Kevin, I really do appreciate the offer but this time, this is one is mine to do. Next weekend I will take a few hours and work my way through 100 grit. Each weekend I will then progress further up from 120, 220, 300 and when I reach 600 grit THEN I will decide if I want to spend more time for the extra WOW factor.
What arrived yesterday.
A box arrived for me yesterday. I was from SC Studios LLC.
Inside was SEVEN bricks of pitch and chasing and repousse tools.
The pitch is a 50/50 blend of soft and hard, preferred by master metalsmith, and teacher Valentin Yotkov. This will go into a new 12" pitch pot.
Now, about those tools..
Not just any tools,
Not just one or two liners,
Not a two or three embossers,
Not three or four planishers...
but the entire freak'n MASTER SET.
How many tools are in the master set you are asking yourself
There are EIGHTY SIX Tools to be exact.
And when I start to use them, hopefully tomorrow, I will let you know how they work.
IF YOU WANT (and who does not) a few of these tools or the entire master set ...
I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Click to open in an larger view, read the caption and scroll to the next.
(More) New Stakes
Since my raising skills are getting better and I am much more comfortable adding curves and angles to my vessels, I am now into buying stakes that will assist me in these techniques.
Someone on eBay was selling their wife's stakes and hammers. Via email, since I had some questions about them, I found out that yes, she had been a metalsmith but was no longer working in metal.
There were probably a dozen different stakes up for auction but 4 really caught my eye. Three stakes were for angle raising and one was a spoon stake.
So I set my bids and watched the auctions for a week. I WON all four.
They arrived on Wednesday and my husband, who is my support crew in this endeavor, took them to the garage to polish up the surfaces. Here are a before and after picture of the 3 larger stakes (click on the images to get a bigger picture).
A friend has asked me how many stakes and hammers I have now, I to be honest I don't know the count of either. So later today I will take inventory and post pictures and numbers.