Jim Hrisoulas, Forging Damascus How to Create Pattern Welded Blades
Video, 2 Tapes (3-1/2 hrs)
Published by Palladin Press and currently available for $19.95 US + S&H from Norm Larson Books and Centaur Forge
In this video Jim Hrisoulas takes you through a tour of the tools of bladesmithing, safety issues and then the making of a "Damascus" dagger from beginning to finished product.
Jim displays and discusses hand tools including tongs, hammers, chisels.
Discusses some safety protective devices (apron, eye protection, gloves) and his shop layout and organization.
He then demonstrates the building of a laminated steel billet, how to forge weld it, developed the pattern and weld the tang.
The blade is hardened and tempered then Jim grinds the blade. This part of the demonstration is amazing.
Jim carves steel like butter with his heavy duty belt grinders.
Pattern welded blades cannot be forged to final shape or the pattern would be lost or muddled so the blade is ground to shape a LOT more than it is forged.
Part I ends with fitting the handle "core".
The blade is etched using a 1/2% Ferric chloride solution in a PVC tube to create the long bath necessary for a blade. First Jim does a short 15 second test etch to be sure the blade is absolutely clean and is etching evenly.
Then the blade is etched for about an hour.
While the blade is etching the guard is forged, the pommel is carved on a belt grinder and drilling and fitting of these parts is demonstrated.
The demonstration continues through cleaning the etched blade with 600 grit Wet-or-Dry sandpaper and WD-40 and
making a twisted wire grip, ferrules and final assembly.
I learned a lot from this this video, mostly details of making a wire wrapped grip since I am not a knife maker.
I also enjoyed the video tour of Jim's shop.
I prefer Jim's books but the video is very good for beginning knifemakers and those that do not learn well from books.
The forge welding demo is worth the cost of the video.
The Video Production:
This is the first blacksmithing video I've reviewed so the production values may be typical, but I hope not.
Jim does a great job in this video, however the production is amaturish.
The three and a half hours could have easily been reduced to 90 minutes with some simple edits and voice overs.
Someone needed to tell Jim to talk to the camera, not the person standing beside it AND not talk while wearing a respirator (dust mask)!
There is constant background chatter and someone is taking flash pictures throughout much of the video.
All the problems with this video were easily within control of the production crew.
A good editor could have fixed a majority of the problems but not all.
If you think making a film or video is easy, IT IS NOT. It is hard work and takes huge attention to detail.
I've had friends ask me to help make blacksmithing videos and I've told them they couldn't afford the editing.
Putting "film in the can" is only a small part of the job (less than 10%).
This video is a good example of underestimating the real cost in producing a finished film.