Straight Sided, Flat Bottom Wooden Bowls

For reasons I can’t figure out, the sacrificial wood method of mounting the bowl blanks that served me so well in the past just isn’t working for me any more. So I’ve begun to experiment with using chuck turning techniques instead.

Here are my first two attempts. Both were started using the sacrificial wood method where you glue newspaper (or something comparable) between the good and sacrificial wood. Both times they separated just as I started to hallow the inside. So I turned the blanks around and mounted them on the faceplate, then proceeded to turn a groove in the bottom.

The one on the left was my first attempt. The groove wasn’t deep enough so the chuck dropped it a couple of times and tore out a chunk from the bottom. The second attempt, right, was turned from beech and didn’t have any problems.

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I started the hollowing process using a round carbide chisel, then switched to a square radius to get the straight sides and bottom. In technical terms I’m happy with the results, but artistically I think I prefer having curved sides.

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For the outside, I like the half-circle on the bottom of the first bowl. The decorative groove near the top could stand to be a bit deeper, but I don’t have a chisel that can do that at the moment. The Multi-Tip Hallowing Tool with a 1/4” cove cutter looks promising.

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Neither bowl has been finished yet. I’ll probably use Salad Bowl Oil, but that takes forever  to apply because of the long delay between coats.

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Letter Opener

The acrylic handle was turned on a wood lathe at MakerPlace. Brass fittings are from a kit sold by Rockler.

Originally I made it using traditional chisels, but that led to the handle chipping. I cut off the damaged portion, and remade the rest of the handle using my new carbide chisels. The difference was night and day. I can’t see going back to traditional chisels when there is carbide option available.

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Sword Hilt with a Green Hot Patina

The hilt and pommel cleaned and prepared using a sand blaster. Then heated with a propane torch attached to a MAP-Pro tank.

To check the temperature, dip a chip brush into some water then dab onto the metal. It should steam and immediately be dry. If it visibly boils, it isn’t hot enough yet. If it is instantly dry without steaming first, it is too hot.

I used  Sculpt Nouveau Universal Green Patina. The cheap spray bottle that comes with it is horrible. The field of spray is too wide, the droplet size too large, and I’m overall very unhappy with it. It is no wonder that the training video produced by IMS shows them using a brush, high quality spray bottle, or professional paint gun instead.

Alternate between the torch and spray so that the metal doesn’t cool below the operating temperature. Universal Green doesn’t need to be washed off, but other patinas do so check the instructions on every bottle.

WARNING: Once you start applying the patina, don’t recheck the temperature using the wet chip brush. Water droplets interact badly with the patina, leaving crusty scars.

The patina itself worked great. It looks chalky at first, but some rubbing with ultra-fine steel wool fixes that and leaves a surprisingly deep luster for a base coat.

To protect the piece, I used Premalac. This already started to form a hard coating coating in less than an hour. I applied a total 3-4 coats, allowing it to dry completely between each one. The label says that it takes 24 hours to fully cure, which means I can test its durability tomorrow.

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If I can find some, my next step is to try Sculpt Nouveau Green Wax. This should further improve the appearance, offer more protection, and be easier to touch-up after heavy use.

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Meyer’s Longsword – Part 1, Divisions

Chapter 1: Divisions of the Combatant

Previous interpretation: Meyer’s Longsword – Divisions of the Combatant

Something I missed before was where Meyer mentions that it is now the fashion to primarily aim for the head. I think he is saying that since thrusting isn’t used, winding attacks from the bind to the head have become predominate.

This leads me to believe that earlier forms of German fencing concentrated more on attacks to the body. This would make sense given that a thrust to the body is more likely to strike true. That said, we are still talking about roughly the chest region, not the belly or legs.

Chapter 2: Divisions of the Sword

Previous interpretation: Meyer’s Longsword – Divisions of the Sword

I did a disservice to my readers and myself by not focusing on what the divisions of the sword are used for.

  • The first division of the sword is the hilt, pommel, and grip. This is used for: running in, grappling, wrestling, and casting.
  • The second division of the sword is the forte. It is used for slicing, winding, pressing, and similar things.
  • The third division or middle of the blade is used for… well anything that happens to come up.
  • The fourth division or foible is used for changing through, flicking, and slinging.

Though  easily overlooked, these divisions of the blade are vital for interpreting techniques from later chapters. Generally speaking, Meyer isn’t going to tell you which part of the blade to use for a given action.

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Meyer’s Longsword – Part 1, Divisions of the Fight

Previous interpretation: Meyer’s Longsword – Divisions of the Fight

Zufechten – Onset

The onset is the first intention, the first action taken from a posture to begin an  engagement. Unless you fall into the bad habit of “one-attack, one-counter, break”, very little actual fencing occurs during the onset. Yet it is vital to perform skillfully during the onset if you wish to be in an advantageous position for the rest of the exchange.

In the past I wrote,

Immediately it becomes apparent that Meyer’s system is more aggressive than that of the Italians. Whereas Fabris or Capo Ferro would start at wide measure with a series of small closing actions to gain control of the opponent’s blade, Meyer’s Onset starts boldly with a cut from one of the postures. While he doesn’t necessarily expect the cut to land, it does immediately move one into range for handwork.

I now think that I over-estimated the aggressiveness of the system relative to the Italians. While it s true that Meyer doesn’t try to “gain the blade” when using the longsword, many of his opening actions have the same effect. The goal here isn’t to rush in and hope for the best, but rather to simply keep moving to ever increasingly advantageous positions using whatever techniques are appropriate for the weapon and the situation.

Handtarbeit – Handwork

This is where the bulk of the fighting occurs, and thus is the most important part of the art. While opening actions shouldn’t be ignored, the bulk of ones training should be focused on this aspect.

The handwork is a bit difficult to classify in terms of other systems. Fiore and the Bolognese tend to divide the fight into wide and narrow (stretta) plays. Meyer doesn’t  make this distinction. His definition of handwork spans both wide and narrow actions.

Abzug – Withdrawal

I have nothing new to say on this topic.

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Meyer’s Longsword – Part One or This is Not Stage Fighting

Meyer’s intention is to divide his text into three parts. First is the vocabulary, then the explanation and interpretation of the vocabulary, and finally the art of fencing itself. The purpose of this is three-fold.

The first is to avoid frustrating the reader. He is concerned that some readers will scorn his work because the terms are unfamiliar. This tells us that even in his day not everyone knew or agreed upon fencing terminology.

Secondly, if he included definitions while in the middle of explaining a technique then the reader would find it tiresome to read.

Finally, it is to demonstrate to the experienced practitioner that his art isn’t just “mummery” or stage fighting and actually has a rational foundation. This tells us that even in his day there was a distinction between real fighting and what actors do, the latter being “taken for the most worthless and useless folk in the world”.

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Escalation Fight

In the 16th century, the use of a thrust to settle local disputes was considered a grave offense that could lead to execution or banishment. So fights between two citizens of the same town were often conducted with only cuts or, for less serious arguments, only the flats of the sword.

To simulate how a such a fight can escalate, this we have devised this tournament format:

Each match is played to 9 blows received. There are no holds called when a point is scored and participants must track their his received. At the beginning of the round, both fencers can only use the flat of the sword.

If you receive 3 blows, you may start using the edge. After 6 blows, the point is also allowed. Note that you are not required to escalate, you merely have the option to.

Highest honors goes to the fencer who wins only using the flat. The fencer who wins using the thrust is considered to have barely won.


This ruleset was designed for the longsword, but you could modify it for other forms. For example, an escalation fight with rapiers may limit target zones to just the arm, then the arm and leg, and finally add the body.

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