Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Finished! Read this series from the bottom up SVP

click on the images to enlarge.
Finally finished this long and robust job! You can see how highly reflective the nickel plating nicely the sword knot is reflected in the front flat part of the bell.
Second picture from the top shows other items which go along with the sword repair...the backstrap, the bezel, back nut all needed to be polished and plated as well. I cut new leather bumpers from a piece of kid leather, and slide them on. The leather bumper keeps the sword from going "click" when it is slid into its scabbard. A "click" would mean a dent, and possibly a chip in the nickel.
Pictures number three and four show the sword all assembled together, and pic four is just to give you a glimpse of how ornate the etching is on the blade.
And the bottom picture is backstrap and handle...the operator's eye view so to speak.
So, just to repair the bell of the sword takes up to 40 hours to disassemble the sword, strip the old plating, deepen the decoration, sand out the dents and scratches, polish it up to a mirror finish with tripoli and rouge, clean, and electroclean the piece, nickel plate, and then re-assemble the sword. More if I have to cut new scabbard screws, or do any scabbard or blade work at all.
And the guys will use them and they will look just as bad in about 5 years.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Electrocleaning of the bells

This process is pretty easy...all things considered. All it is is a big stainless pot full of TSP and water. The bubbles are hydrogen. Dipping the highly polished brass bell into the mix is not very sexy, but it DOES get rid of all fingerprints, residual polishing compound, and anything else which will interfear with the plating job. This process involves several dips into the solution, scrubbing with toothbrushes and soft cloths between dips....and takes about an hour per bell. Sometimes, the cleaning reveals flaws which need to be buffed out....say a segment which was protected from final polishing by a line of tripoli, or just plain missed when it was on the buffer. The end result is ready to go into the plating bath.

A knifemaker of my aquaintance tells me the most dangerous job in knife making is putting the final polish on it. One wandering thought, and the piece gets caught, and is flung across the room. He showed me two scars on his hand where a knife was caught by the buffing wheel, flung onto the concrete floor, and it bounced back to go right through his hand! Another jeweler friend of mine tells me that she has never been able to finish a large piece without it flying against the far wall at least once!

As I mentioned, not much to see but suds and wires! But the result is nothing short of stunning! Even through the soap suds, you can see the glory that this will become.