Monday, March 03, 2014

What have I been up to?

A long time ago, I used to occasionally post stuff about my hobbies and interests outside of theology, philosophy, and apologetics. Then I got on facebook and stopped doing that. I deactivated my facebook account in November, so I thought I'd show the other sides of me here.

Back in 2011, I started doing triathlons, and I was loving life. I enjoyed it so much that when I wasn't racing, I was volunteering. Biking was my favourite part of it, followed by running. I never got very good at swimming, and that limited me on what I could do.

While training for a half marathon, my knees started giving me problems. I wasn't able to do the half marathon, and I ended up selling my bib and volunteering at a water station instead to cheer on my name's sake. The guy I sold it do averaged something like 9 minutes per mile for the whole run!

I did a little physical therapy for my knees and tried various things, and signed up to do another half marathon the following year (January 2013). Again, the knees said 'no.' Discouraged, I quit running, started drinking Dr. Pepper, and got fat. I may try again this year. The problem is that I work out of town a lot now. I have to stay in hotels most of the week, which makes it really hard to eat right.

A long time ago, I told you about how I make longbows, then about how I took up making arrows as well. I've picked up a few more hobbies since then, all of which entail making things. I guess I just like to make things.

I took up knitting in October of 2011. It wasn't until about a year later that I admitted it on facebook. I don't have a whole lot of knitting pictures on my photobucket account, so I can't show you much, but here's a sweater I knit for my cat, Aristotle, for Halloween. I patterned it after Freddy Kruger. I figured since he already has the claws, he could be Freddy Kruger for Halloween.

That white ring is a stitch marker I accidentally knit into the sweater. I decided to leave it there so I can use it to attach a tag if I want.

Here's a bow sock I knit to match a bow I made. I named the bow "Gryffindor," because of the colours, and I patterned the bow sock after the Harry Potter scarves in the movies.

I have taken up making knives. I tried blacksmithing because I wanted to make bodkin points for my medieval arrows, but blacksmithing turned out to be harder than I thought it would be. I still use my forge to heat treat my knives, though. Here's the first knife I made:

Notice that the handle matches the bow above. That's because it's cut from the same wood. That's Osage and padauk. The heat treating on my first couple of knives didn't go very well. I'm getting the hang of it, though. The most recently knife I made turned out really well. I'm giving this one to my brother. This is my fourth knife.

Before I make my knives, I make a prototype out of a piece of wood so I can see if I like the shape and everything. Maybe some day I'll make a sword. Here's a sword I made out of some scrap pieces of wood.

The blade is made out of maple and walnut. The bolster (or guard) is made out of Osage. The handle is made out of white oak. The pommel is made out of purple heart. It actually does a good job of balancing the sword. I wish I had a use for this thing.

I've been experimenting on dying the back of my bamboo backed bows. Most of my experiments have been failures, but here's a few I liked:

Speaking of bamboo, I've also taken up making arrows out of bamboo. Here's my first set of bamboo arrows:

I've started processing my own turkey feathers, too, which were donated to me by my brother (the same one who is getting the knife). Here's my second set of bamboo arrows with the turkey feathers:

Here's a crossbow I made for my brother-in-law:

Here's some cordage I made out of the leaves of a yucca plant.

Here's a replica of the One Ring I made out of Osage.

That was originally part of a wooden tankard I was making for a friend. That's another things I've taken up--making wooden drinking vessels. Here's some of my first ones:

Here's a turkey call I made out of some scrap pieces of cedar.

I've also taken up making nets, but I don't have any pictures of that.

And I've taken up paracording. Here's some dove loops I made out of paracord:

That's all I can think of right now. As you can tell, I'm still single.


At 3/04/2014 10:01 AM , Blogger DagoodS said...

Your creativity is astounding! I love woodworking of any sort (I used to make furniture in my little spare time) and find your craft at it marvelous. As you know, I was always impressed with your bow-making. Despite all our discussions, it is still my favorite blog entry of yours.

I get why you would avoid discussing knitting—because of societal labels—but it appears to be coming back in vogue. My family has a number of knitters.

As for running, I am sorry about the knees. Doesn’t getting older basically suck? I have a 25k trail run planned for August…it runs along the Tahquamenon Falls in Upper Michigan ending at the Upper falls. I am a little nervous about it. And in October I will run the Detroit ½ marathon with my niece and nephew. I have run it before, they have not. Somewhat interesting because it is International…we run across the bridge to Canada and back through the tunnel.

Your travels never take you to Michigan, I suppose…

At 3/04/2014 5:13 PM , Blogger Sam Harper said...

Thanks, Dagoods. I've always thought wood working was cool, but didn't have any skills. I just watched it on TV. It wasn't until I got desperate to make a bow that I waded in, and I've had to learn things as I go along. If it weren't for the internet, I don't know how I would've done that. At some point, I'd like to try my hand at turning with a lathe.

Yes, getting old sucks. Even biking hurts now. My elbows hurt, and my hands fall asleep. I didn't used to have that problem.

A 25K would be impressive on pavement, but to do that kind of trail run is really impressive! I hope it's not too hot in August in Michigan. In Texas, that's the worst time of year to be doing anything physical outside. But it sounds like fun, and I'm sure you know how it feels to cross the finish line.

No, I've never been to Michigan. I have a friend here who is from Grand Rapids, though.

At 3/07/2014 4:23 PM , Blogger Mike Westfall said...

Wow, Sam.

What kind of equipment does it take to make knives?

Obviously some kind of grinder for sharpening, but how do you cut the basic shape of the steel?

At 3/07/2014 11:10 PM , Blogger Sam Harper said...

Howdy, Mike! There are many different ways to make knives, so it's hard to say exactly what you need.

There are basically two different ways of getting the basic shape of your knife. You can either forge it or use the stock removal method. Forging it just consists of heating it up in a forge and beating it into shape with a hammer.

Stock removal involves cutting and/or grinding the knife to shape, and there are lots of different ways to do it. I make a template out of wood, then use the wood to trace the outline on the steel. Then I cut it out roughly with an angle grinder. Then I perfect the shape with some combination of a belt sander, bench grinder, file, and dremel tool. For the last knife I made, I didn't use a file bench grinder, or dremel tool. I just used a belt sander.

There are belt sanders designed specifically for knife making that have different attachments, but they're really expensive. Some people get those cheap $40 belt sanders from Harbor Freight with a 1" x 30" sanding belt. That's what I used for my first two knives, and it works pretty well. The only downside is that you can't control the speed, which makes it hard to put the final edge on it after heat treating without accidentally overheating it and destroying the temper.

There are lots of tutorials for making knives on the internet, discussion forums, and youtube. I just googled around and read some books and started doing it. I've been learning as I go. Some things don't click for me until I do it.

At 3/10/2014 11:01 AM , Blogger Mike Westfall said...

Thanks, Sam.
Always wondered how one would make a knife blade at home.

I try to do interesting things occasionally, but don't usually have the patience to do it right.

At 3/15/2014 1:49 PM , Blogger Steve Martin said...

Really nice work!

Thanks for sharing it.

At 6/12/2014 3:45 PM , Blogger Bill Williams said...

Wow... you are amazing. Remind me of myself... making bows, swords, bonsai, rc planes etc. How old are you? Marriage and kids really sucks up time but when the kids get older the time returns. I run about 4km 3x a week to fight the big tummy.Bill, Durban South Africa

At 6/12/2014 3:54 PM , Blogger Bill Williams said...

Philochristos could also mean Friend of Christ... Philios ... friendship love in Greek. You not read Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster... meaty stuff!


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