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I Forge Iron

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For an article I'm working on for the next OABA newsletter. A tour of my portable blacksmithing set, and where I want it to go:

1: Heavy flat bristle brush
I find these work better and last longer than the softer wire bristle brush. The flat steel bristles are far more aggressive, and remove scale much easier.

2: Iron Mountain flux
An anhydrous borax flux with powdered iron for filler. Makes for some pretty easy welds, but if you're not carefuly it can also lead to bad habits.

3: Leather glove
Usually just for my left (non-hammer holding) hand. I don't normally wear gloves, but sometimes its handy.

4: Safety goggles
Never forge without them.

5-6: Hammers
I use these two for most everything I do. The ball pein is about 2.5lbs, and the cross pein is about 3lbs. The first was a crappy hammer from the surplus store that I reforged and gave a new handle, and the other was one my dad found on a runway in the 70s.

7: Needlenose plyers
Handy for little tweaks. I might replace these with heavier scrolling plyers.

8: Twisting wrench
I made this by welding a piece of scrap onto the end of an adjustable wrench. The two handles make it easier to twist whatever you're working on and keep it straight.

9 - 11: Files
I find that a heavy farriers rasp, a rough square file, and a rough round file do pretty for most jobs I might do at the forge. I might include a half round file sometime later.

12 - 13: Hardies
Cold cut and hot cut. These are both really handy, and if they don't fit the anvil of the shop I'm at, they can also work well just clamped in a post vice.

14: Ruler
Useful when trying to measure distances using standard and common divisions of length, such as inches, or perhaps centimeters. Larger units of measurement may require math (not pictured).

15: Vice grips
Useful, but I may replace them with a smaller pair. I mostly use this to hold the short punches (25-27), so it's not one I'm positive I need in this box. We'll just see.

16: Earplugs
For not hearing with.

17: Touchmark
I made a touchmark a while back by simply knotching a standard letter punch. Those interested in learning which letter I chose could consult my name for a clue.

18: Golfball
This is the handle for the files (9-11), and it works very well. I drilled a few holes in it of different sizes, and it fits most file tangs.

19-20: Hot cut chisels
Nice thin hot cut chisels. I've made a lot of short punches recentally, but even if I make some short chisels I'll still keep one with a handle for cutting through thicker peices.

21: Chalk
There is usually a busted piece of chalk or two somewhere in the toolbox. Generally handy.

22: Drift
This used to be a punch, but these days I find it's better to have my punches and drifts as seperate tools.

23: Curved chisel
Mostly for making decorative curves. I don't use it much, so it might be one I eventually take out of this set.

24: Centre punch
Very handy, especially if I have to drill anything after forging. This is much more convenient as a thin long punch, so I doubt I'll replace it with a shorter one.

25-27: Short punches
When I started trying to bring the weight down in the toolbox, I took a look at the number and size of the chisels and punches I had. I've seen similar sets of punches and chisels, such as this one http://bit.ly/10oeb1m, and I've been really happy with them so far. These are all made out of 2" of 4140, and together weigh less than one of the punches I took out. I feel there will be many more to come.

28: Silver pencil
A little clearer than chalk, but not as easy to replace, unless I'm in Princess Auto on a day I remember to buy refills. So far this has not happened.

29: Cold cut chisel
Deffinatly handy, and deffinatly going to be replaced by several new short punches. It's nice, but it's too heavy for this set.

30: Farrier tongs
All around useful tongs, expecially for bar stock.

31-32: V-bit tongs
Two sets of v-bit tongs, useful for round or square stock from 1/4" to 5/8", and not too bad on stock upto an inch. I find these to be my favourite style of tongs because of their versitility and stability.

33: Slice
Great for most of my forge maintinance. Helps for pulling clinker, raising up the coals, or for digging through to find that one piece that was too short and got lost.

34: Collapsable Coal rake/poker
I like having a very long coal rake, because I find that when I lean over the forge to pull more coal towards the centre, I tend to light my head on fire. After a few times, you start to think of alternatives. It's also handy for poking the forge or saving yourself from a bit of extra back strain.

35: Spring fuller
Not sure about this one. It's handy for a lot of differnt tasks, but I'd like to figure out something else that's a little more multipurpose, and not just a bit of scrap that I banged out when I was in a pinch at a demonstration.

36: Rivets
Various rivets in an unfortunatly round container. Looking to do better.

37: Borax
There are some welds that the Iron Mountain isn't great for, especially bundle welds, so I like to keep some ordinary borax around as well. I like old pipe tobacco tins for this, as they're pretty good at keeping moisture out. However, again, it's not the best shape for saving space, so I'm looking for something better.

That's it!

Sean St.

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Photo Information

  • Taken with Canon Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS
  • Focal Length 6.2 mm
  • Exposure Time 1/20
  • f Aperture f/2.8
  • ISO Speed 800

Recommended Comments

Looks great to me.


For #36 (rivets) Perhaps an Altoids tin? They're rectangular and so would fit better. (And an Altoids Minis tin would do well to hold the chalk bits #21)

The Altoids tins would not do well for the Borax though, they have small gaps at the hinges the powder would sift out through.

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