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In the workshop

Week in review

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Week went by very quickly, but many good pieces are done, almost done, and getting good work completed.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks, as some of my most exciting work to date will be posted. A 7 day set, and several jewelry grade pieces, along with some classics will get into some photos.

With Christmas around the corner, I’m close to closing my books for Christmas delivery. So if you’d like a razor under the tree, not many weeks left to get your order in.

This picture you see is an odd one. You’d never guess it’s one of the more difficult set of razors I’ve worked on… and I’m quite proud that you can’t tell I worked on them.

Each and every one of those razors had red rust, and was depinned and repinned. One stray hammer blow and those scales would have shattered (the cracks were present upon entering my shop). I had to source  brass rod and mushroom it carefully so the razors were restored with historical accuracy. Not many of these razors left in the world, and I’m honored I got to restore them.

Age looks good on blades, and I hope whoever restores mine in 200 years will be careful – or I’ll haunt them.

Ironwood for Straight Razors

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Ironwood For Straight Razors

I’ve used woods from many different species of trees, and one that remains a favorite is desert ironwood.

I got this log from a tree farm in texas, and have used it on a dozen or so straight razors since. The grain of the wood is tight, and is among the most dense and toughest woods. Its janka hardness (the ability to dent the wood) requires about 3,260 lbs of force to dent it, while oak, by comparison, takes only about 1,350 lbs.

This particular log had dark stripes, red colors, flame orange, and sapwood that went completely cream color.

I do my best to select excellent specimens for my razors, not only from certain species of woods, but within the grains inside of the woods.

 
Here’s the exact log, and a few razors that came from it.

7/8 Wedge Grind, Iron Wood, Forge Finished – Custom Straight Razor
Custom Straight Razor with Decorative Spinework Filed

Barlow is Coming Apart

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A good friend visited and helped me take apart Barlow (my new power hammer). Some quick snapshots of some of the assembly.

I noted the left chain on the hammer head will need to be replaced. Luckily  I’ll be able to forge them to get it running again. Will be a good test of my general smiting abilities, and it will be odd forging tooling rather than a razor…

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It’s Friday. A good time to share what’s new.

For the last 4 years, I’ve been working out of my home workshop, and it has been a wonderful experience. As my designs developed and became more complex, I’ve found that I needed to grow with tools and processes. Space in my workshop did not grow with the addition of those tools.

I’m proud to share that over 2 weeks or so, I’ve been moving my workshop in addition to working on blades.

My new location is a much larger work space that allows me to bring all my crafting into the same space (forging, handles, adornment, honing, leather work, etc).

This has been one of the biggest boosts to my productivity, and many of the new projects on the horizon are becoming a reality, while existing work is getting done much, much faster (with noticeable improvements in quality and joy in the crafting).

Before long, I hope to add a very humble showroom, and for the first time ever, invite guests to get their blade in person. I have blades to make, but when I feel responsibly caught up, I’ll be making these improvements and announcing.

My new workshop is in an industrial area, and I do believe I’m the only blacksmith among all the automotive craftsmen…. makes for good neighborly coffee chat.

Looking forward to sending out more fine steel, and hope you have a great weekend.

-Christopher

Vintage Pressed Horn Straight Razor

A Blade With a Story – Wade and Butcher Restoration, Family History

By | In the workshop, Vintage Straight Razors | No Comments

Sometimes I get a bit of history with the heirlooms that come into the shop.

This razor was in need of  a new set of scales, and the edge required restoration. A bit of tarnish on the steel, but after holding it in my hands and taking a close look – it’s just age. One thing I cannot create.

I love blades like this. I want to keep the patina, and design alongside it. Not remove it. This tarnish is a sign that this razor has outlived us, and will continue to do so.

I restored this simply, and wanted to respect the steel as much as possible. The new handles I crafted are polished ox horn with a argentum silver wedge. Just a simple, traditional, elegant way to support a blade with a story.

Here’s the story of Thomas Melvin Smith, and this blade:

*account from the owner

Thomas Melvin Smith (1821-1908) was a soldier in the 2nd Co, 36th Rgt. of Confederate troops,  a heavy artillery regiment that manned the guns at Fort Fisher, outside Wilmington, NC during the Civil War.

Fort Fisher was the Confederacy’s lifeline to the outside world due to the Union blockade and blockade runners frequently ran the blockade under the protective guns of the fort bringing badly needed medicine, ordinance, and supplies to the South.

All blockade runners had to carry a certain percentage of military goods on the inbound voyages and carried cotton to England on the outbound, but they were also allowed to bring in personal
merchandise which would sell for exorbitant prices to the beleaguered population.

Needless to say, not all blockade runners made it, and many ran aground off the beach by Fort Fisher. Since blockade runners ran the blockade at night, ships that ran aground were often unloaded in the darkness as much as possible before the Federal Fleet sighted the stranded ships at sunrise and shelled them into oblivion.

According to family lore, my grandfather helped to unload a stranded runner one night off the beach and procured this razor from the cargo. He took it home on furlough in late 1864.

Thomas Melvin Smith was captured with the entire garrison of the fort in Jan 1865 and sent to Elmira Prison in NY, where he miraculously survived and returned to NC in July of 1865.

From there, the blade was passed to his son, then grand-daughter, then to her daughter who gave it to her husband. I inherited the blade from him after he died in 1990.

Antique Wade and Butcher Straight Razor in Ox Horn Scales (1 of 3)