Last Weekend at the Forge.

“Grimm, missed you at Battle on the Bay. Whats up?”

I was stuck working once again. But I was able to make it into the forge for a few hours after work and before it got to late to be pounding. I was also able to steal a few hours on both Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The sad news is that this was not SCA Forging but mundane forging for the house. Having remodeled the Archers bathroom, i felt I should make all the fixtures for it. I had made a TP holder earlier, but messed up the proportions. Now it was time to make the complete set.

My goal was:

  1. Towel Bar

  2. Towel Ring

  3. TP holder

  4. Paper Towel holder

Sketching out my plans, such as they are:

Saturdays Blacksmithing:

The first thing to work on was to be the towel bar. This would not need a hook the way the paper towel and TP racks would, but instead be 2 closed loops. Because of the size of this piece, the 1/4 in round bar that I was using for the rest of the projects looked a little skimpy. Therefore I moved up to 3/8 in round stock. The 2 angle pieces were made first to make them as uniform as possible. After that the eyes were forged on the ends of the towel rod and fitted to the wall mounts. Once the piece was forged, I was faced with a question of suitability of purpose. Iron is not necessarily the best for putting wet towels on. This was not a problem for Tp and paper towel holders, but could

be a problem for a towel rack. There were several solutions to this problem, enamel or Spray paint, clear lacquer, rubber or plastic tubing, or something else. In keeping with the hand made look, i decided on something else. I was going to do a cord wrap and then varnish the cord. This was done on old ships to protect the ship from metal parts. That evening after closing down the forge, I began wrapping the rod with a french hitch. Thus ended my Saturday.

Sunday saw me taking care of chores in the morning, but having the afternoon free to get back in the shop. This would be the day for the towel ring. I was excited to get to this because i would have to forge weld the ring. Something I had never tried before. Making the rest was pretty straightforward, but the ring was a new experience for me. After several attempts, i managed to get the ring welded. Not well, but welded. I attempted a scarf weld and in retrospect, should have built up more material before welding. The ring came out a little thin at the joint. In the end, about 80% of the total length of the weld was solid. I left a bit at each end that would not weld. Having messed with it for quite a while, i decided that this was close enough and I would settle for what I had.

Monday saw me racing around to finish chores and leave myself some forging time before archery. In this I was successful. The forge was fired up once again. Three times in three days! The Gods were smiling on me. This time I was going to work on the paper towel holder and the TP holder. This would be a exercise in controlled forging as I wanted all 4 wall mounts to be as identical as possible. I was very pleased with the consistency I was able to achieve in this. They all matched quite well. Now to do the bars. Here, I am afraid, I became to cocky and forgot to thing about function over design. I made the 2 hooks and they were beautiful, long, perfectly tapered, and with a curl on the tip to show off my skills. What could be better!

Here’s where the problems came in:


A 2 1/2 inch perfectly tapered hook for a 1 1/2 inch paper towel roll. Damn it!!! Right after i figured this out, the archers started showing up for practice. Time to bank the fires and move on to something else.

Tuesday saw me back at work, but pissed off at the stupidity of the hook situation. But, could I get out in time to fire up the forge and quickly address the problem? Yes, yes I could. And so: hooks 2.0. Not as happy with the looks, but they are done.

So, on Tuesday evening, it was time to finish the wrapping of the towel bar and wrap the towel ring and be done with this project. As I sat sown in my easy chair to finish the wrapping, I looked at both the wrapping I had already done and my choice of materials and was not happy with either. I was thinking at first a synthetic cord was the way to go for waterproofing, but the aesthetics of it were just all wrong. So, time to pull out the cotton cordage and start wrapping with that. The spiral knots were also not to my liking. I decided to switch to a single cord cockscombing wrap for both items. First to do the towel ring, then undo the towel bar and redo that. So at the end of Tuesday I had the ring wrapped and the towel bar ready to go for it’s 2nd wrap.

And thus do my adventures in blacksmithing come to an end. Not to figure out what to get into next.

A Day in the Shop.

What Happened today:

  1. Hardy tool rack

  2. Blacksmithing odds & ends

  3. Beginning the tool box build

  4. Bonus sketchbook dump

Hardy Tool Rack

So, Today (actually, yesterday now) I was able to spend a few hours in the shop. I was hoping to make great stride in the work on the cooking table (2,.0). But I realized that there was a problem with my shop. In order to work on some of the projects I had been working on recently. I had acquired several more hardy tools. A hardy tool, for those not familiar with the term, is a tool that fits in the hardy hole of the anvil.

Anvil with Hardy hole and pritchpl hole.

Cut off Hardy

Bending Fork


Scrolling Jig

Guillotine Tool


There are quite a few tools that are designed to work with a hardy hole. Pictured above are just a few. The trouble with hardy tools is that they have a square bar 3 to 4 inches long protruding out the bottom. This make them hard to store. They had been being kept on a shelf with holes drilled in it for the hardy shaft to fit in. Alas, this quickly became full and the rest were just left to clutter up my workspace. Something had to be done! So, instead of working on the table I decided to make a rack for these tools. First came the design:

This would consist of 2 angled brackets mounted on the shop wall and 3 slats of oak between them. This would create 2 grooves to drop the hardy shanks in. Because simple is not quite in my vocabulary, I decided to forge a hook on the ends of the brackets.

Finished Hardy Rack

The brackets

The tools are (Somewhat) organized!

The shop.

Small Forgings.

In order to have accomplished something at the forge today ( the rack doesn’t count, it was purely for function) I went ahead and used the final heat from the forge to create the final piece of the toolbox hardware and try and forge a few nails that will hold the box together:

Start of the tool box

Started finalizing the final size of the toolbox.

After all of this, time to cut some wood:

Sketchbook Dump

I have decided to try and rebuild my sketching skills, so here are some of my noteds and sketches for the shop:

Cooking Table 2.0: Water Dipper

The backstory:

While at Pennsic last year, My wife was using the cooking tabe (1.0) and accidentally allowed the fire to get a little to close to the wooden table supports. This caused a slight charring of the support. When my wife noticed that the fire table was actually on fire, she needed some water to put said blaze out. I had placed a large pot of water next to the cook table, but this proved very cumbersome for her to manage. Eventually she was able to put the table out and also create a fine meal as well. “Husband! we need to talk” she loudly proclaimed. Actually, she did not use the term husband, but a she did advise me to think about the way the table rests on its supports. She also put in a request for a water dipper to be used at the table. This made a lot of sense and would be easy to create. I have a water dipper at the forge that i use constantly. It is one of the first things I made in my blacksmithing class.

The work on the dipper actually began before the chest mentioned in the last update, but i have not gotten around to writing it up. My delay in writing it up came from 2 factors. First, i had not started writing these things up yet and was not sure how it would go. Secondly, because this device was in no way period. Do not get me wrong, I am sure there are several example of water dippers in period illustrations, however, The method of producing mine has a distinct modern approach to construction.


This is a tin can dipper. The forge work was to take a 3/8 in square stock and create a hanging handle on one end and a flat ring on the other. The twists were added purely for decoration. This serves as a source of water for fire control and if the can rusts out (which it will), it can be replaced and we are back in business.

One of the big advantages of having this done early in the Table 2.0 process is that it is one of the longest tools to be made for the cooking table. This means that i can use this as a measurement for the viking chest which i hope to get back to soon.

Cooking Table 2.0: The Journey begins with a Viking Chest

What Journey?

So, at Pennsic this year, I created a cooking table for the cooks of Grimmsfield and beyond to try period cooking on. The table was a success, although I was not happy with the way it came out. Sevweral cooks used it with great success. From them I received quite a bit of feedback on what worked and what did not as far as both the table and the associated fire pit. This made me decide that I needed to rebuild the whole thing and create more and better tools for using on it. In order to create all that I want for the table, I am going to start now on the creation of the tools and new table. I hope to have a kitchen I can be proud of by next Pennsic.

Where to begin?

On looking over the notes from the various cooks and the notes I made, there are several tools and pieces of equipment needed for the kitchen. In order to keep track of all of this, a storage device of some kind was needed. In fitting with the period of the table, i decided to make a chest based on the Mastermyr Find and other chests found in Scandinavia. This would be the place to store all of the tools and hardware when not at Pennsic, plus I wanted to add a rack attachment to hang the tools during use.


Start of the Chest, The Hardware

The first steps in making the chest would be to forge the hardware. This would include the hinges and the lock plate. This started with a 48 inch piece of 1 x 1/8 inch piece of cold rolled steel. This was cut into 6 8 inch pieces.

Each hinge would be made of 2 pieces of this stock and the clasp would also take 2 pieces. These were then marked for all the work that would be done to them. 3 would be made with an open loop on the end that would receive the other half. Two would have a hole drifted in the end a would complete the hinge and 1 would have a hole drifted on one side and a hole for the clasp on the other.


And now to forge!


The only thing left is to drill the holes and then on to the woodworking.

Where we stand.

O.K. so i kinda suck at this. I am not the greatest blogger. I tend to get to wrapped up in what I am doing and forget to write down what has been going on. My last post was from before Highland River Melees. Its now after Pennsic and its time to settle down and get back to organized work. Some notes of what has been going on:

  1. I set up an A&S Display at Pennsic

2. Our Pennsic encampment used my fire Table:

several other tools that I created were also used.

Used my hanging spit and chicken spinner as well:

Finished my Hood for Dougal:

Wool we sheered from his sheep hand spun and woven into a hood for the king and queen of Atlantia.

Plus a bunch of other stuff that I cannot think of right now.

Now its time to get back to working correctly:

The fire table worked o.k., but I was not pleased with it. It was wobbley and missing a bunch of key features. Both because I ran out of time and because I was frustrated with the way it was coming out. It is now time to stare fire table 2.0. For this will be a lot more gear and equipment as well. The outline of what I hope to get done for next pennsic can be found here: . As I delve further down each rabbit hole on this page I will be creating a separate page that will go into detail of that part. Some of my blog posts might just be the link to that new page.

Better late than never post:

My latest work has included working on prizes for Highland River Melees. I volunteered to make prizes for both archery and equestrian. For Archery, I made a set of period Arrows and for equestrian I made 3 hoof picks with various ends. Here are the pictures:

I also found some new images for further research:

Work from the last few days…..

Well, I was hoping to write down each step as I worked on it, but that apparently is not going to happen. Then I thought , maybe once a week. Not even close. So here is what I have been working on sense the last post:

Working on the new cooking grate for the cooking table

Forging my first knife

Processing the White wool for the hood

More Work done on the Dark wool for the hood

Working the wool.

So on Sunday I proceeded to the next step in making the hood. This involved taking the now dry dark wool and making it spin-able. most of my projects in recent times have been done with viking combs to get the best of the wool and leave behind the inferior wool. Because of the limited amount of wool available, I elected to go back to standard combs. This would not create as nice of a yarn, but it allowed me to keep more of the roving. This will be the main activity of making the hood until most of the roving has been processed. The yarn will be stored on spools till a better estimation can be made of the amount. I hope to be able to ply the yarn into 2 ply for strength and uniformity, but that will depend on how much is produced.

Processing the wool from the Elchenburg Castle sheep

The plan for the wool from the 3 new sheep at Elchenburg castle is to clean spin and weave them into a hood. The hood will be woven in hopefully a plan or gigham pattern depending on the amount of wool i can get from these 3 sheep.

The first sheep to be started on processing is Mareep.

Although the sheep (Jacob) seem to have 4 possible distant colors, Black, Brown, Tan & White, I will concentrate this weaving on making a 2 color hood, Dark and light. the wool is being devided before washing and will be wash and picked by color. Here is Mareep decided bt color:

The other sheep to be processed is Fluffy.

This wool was also decided into dark and light

These were then combined together and washed by color

The dark wool was processed first and was done it 2 batches. Each batch was done using the following steps:

  1. Initial hot water rinse. The wool is soaked in hot water for approximately 30 minuteds to help soak off most of the grossest impurities in the wool. This removes a lot of the dust, dander foreign matter, poo and pee.

  2. The 2nd bath is done with hot water and dishwashing detergent. This is used to remove a lot, but not all of the lanolin. With each bath great care is taken not to stir the wool which would cause it to begin felting.

  3. The 3rd and 4th baths are hot water baths to remove the soap and the rest of the dirt.

The next step is to dry the wool:

  1. the wool is wrung dry and spread out on a towel.

  2. This is then rolled as tight as possible to squeeze out as much water as possible. This method is used to avoid felting.

  3. the wool is then removed from the towel and spread on drying racks.

  4. The wool is allowed to air dry with will take between 1 and 3 days. With the racks full, I am at a stopping point until i can clear the racks and wash some more wool. This is the dark wool from 2 of the 3 sheep used for this project.

A bit of the white wool was washed in the batch and here it is next to some unwashed wool:

Shearing the sheep

Last weekend I received a wonderful gift from a man I am happy to call friend. I was invited to shear the sheep. There is a long standing joke about this, but i will not go into it yet. Either way,, I was able to sheer 2 sheep for myself and help shear 3 others for a special project. The next couple of blog entries should be documenting the story of the fleeces of the 3 new sheep at Elchenburg castle.

Lady of the Rose, Pelican, & Laurel Medallion

So, in honor of our previous Queens reign I wanted to make her a thank you gift. This was given to her after her reign. Silver, 14 kt gold and bone.

Back to Blacksmithing

A hoof pick and a wall hook that I forged last night. Nothing to special about them, EXCEPT: I used my new touchmark from JeraMetalArts. I AM SO HAPPY with how it came out. I wish I was a better blacksmith to show of their work better.

The making of a Vigil Book

This will be my first attempt at writing my documentation as I work on my project. I have been asked to make a vigil book for Baron Colum Maxwell. At first I was just going to make a leather slipcover for a blank book, but then I decided to go whole hog and actually try and make him a medieval book. Because of time restraints, this experiment of working and writing was a failure. This also did not make for a very good blog entry because of the secrecy involved in the project. The documentation for the book can be found here