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About VaughnT

  • Rank
    Senior Member
  • Birthday 10/15/2010

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  • Location
    Northwest SC
  • Interests
    Shooting, reading, woodworking, more reading, metal working, photography, etc.

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  1. Just found this gent's page. The video quality isn't the best, but he does a good job of getting the point across. Very interesting stuff, to be sure.
  2. Pain, Pain, and did I mention Pain

    A repetitive stress injury usually requires a lot of the "repetitive" part before it manifests itself. Since you pick at a guitar, I would look at that as the culprit and the smithing as the part that added just enough extra stress to make things start popping on you. At your age, you shouldn't have anything wrong. However, if you've been picking and grinning for several years, you can expect that to put a huge strain on the growing body. Contorting your hand/wrist/arm to work up and down the neck isn't easy on the joints and tendons. In youth, it's especially troublesome over the longterm because you're still developing. I pinched a nerve in my shoulder/neck area a couple weeks back and it's been playing games in my left arm ever since. Right now, my whole arm is on pins and needles as I type this. When I sit in the easy-chair to watch some tv, the tingling goes away but there's still some ache in the arm. When I sleep, I can't sleep on my left side at all, and trying to sleep on the right does really wonky things to the injury. All that to say.... if it's hurting now, it's only going to get worse as the years stack up on you. I'd recommend you stop doing anything with that arm that isn't absolutely necessary. And if you get an MRI or the like, make sure they take "pictures" of the hand in various positions to see if there's impingement when you move. It doesn't take much to put pressure on a nerve, vein, ligament, etc!
  3. Time for a new apron!

    That's a nice apron, Frosty. I was thinking about a long pocket like that for a ruler, but wasn't sure how practical or useful I'd find it. Have you found that you use the ruler a lot since it's there?
  4. Time for a new apron!

    Post some pics, Frosty! I'm always looking for ideas, so post away, my friend.
  5. Respirator with beards

    Honestly, I wonder if those big hoods aren't a bit overkill for general grinding. I can see where you have some gases that might get you, but I've never been a proponent of full-face respirators because they always fog my glasses. That, and I can't imagine that my work area is any more dangerous than the general world in terms of particular size or PPM. That said, I've used a Wolfsnout All Sport Off-Road dust mask when I'm going to be grinding a lot. With my shop being rather open and a fan running to circulate the air and bring new air in, I think the Wolfsnout mask is about all I need. It's a fantastic bit of kit, and the only mask I've ever found that doesn't leave me blind in a few seconds. I can grind for hours with the thing on, and I never notice it, really. Even with my beard, I don't feel like I'm breathing in any particulate and the boogers ain't black. For as cheap as the things are, I wasn't expecting much. But I had to do some work under the house and didn't want all that dust dropping down on me when I was driving nails. Very happy I found the things.
  6. Blacksmithing apron?

    Aprons are wonderful things and I can't imagine forging without one. Yes, they're hot and it's always a fun experience forging in a South Carolina summer! The downside to the apron is the heat and sweat. Okay, that's a pretty good downside. The upside, however, is safety, cleanliness, confidence.... and you don't ruin a ton of shirts. I would easily go through $300 worth of shirts in a year simply because they got filthy working in the shop. Even if they didn't get ripped on a sharp piece of metal, they'd still get loaded down with dirt and grime and become useless for anything but working in the shop. If you do any welding, the splatter from that will burn through any cotton or nylon/polyester material, leaving your clothes looking like swiss cheese. The $50 apron I bought two years ago has saved me at least three times that in ruined clothing. Psychologically, I find that I move more confidently when I have an apron on. Simply put, that leather barrier adds a bit of armor and you aren't skittish about simply propping something up on your stomach, or pulling the tongs in tight to your side. The only caveat I would offer about an apron is to make sure you get the kind that has Cross-Back suspension, and don't go with one that simply wraps around your neck. Getting that strap off your neck will make a huge difference in how you feel because you don't have all that weight dragging you down.
  7. Time for a new apron!

    Never thought about corn starch, Tommie. Thanks for the tip! I'll run into town tomorrow to get some.... just in case.
  8. Time for a new apron!

    Well, I had some neatsfoot oil in the shop, so I dabbed a little on the leather where it was tearing or looked like it wanted to tear. Now I'll wait to see how it looks in the morning. It sure did soak up the oil quick! My worry, looking at it now, is that it will always have that oily feel. I don't know if the oil will leach out into my shirt after a day of sweating in the shop. The only damaged or dried out areas of the apron are by the arms and neck where the sweat gets heavy. On the bottom portion, the leather is in fantasy, almost-new condition. Maybe, if the oil dries a bit and doesn't feel too oily in the morning, I'll go ahead and oil the entire top half. I'm still looking at doing up a really nice apron that I won't be ashamed to be seen in public with.
  9. Time for a new apron!

    Always glad to talk brain-tan. It's good fun, if a bit smelly! I'm not sold on the notion of oiling leather v. just buying oil-tanned or latigo leather to begin with. If I was starting over with a brand new Tilman apron, I could see oiling it. The problem there is that I'm not really keen on buying one of their aprons when I know I'll have to immediately revamp the straps because they have a screwy design.
  10. Time for a new apron!

    I've tanned a few hides in my day, too, Tommie. Of course, I was doing brain-tan and don't want to think of what all that shop grease and whatnot would do to one of my beautiful skins. Oiling an apron? That's got to be a fire hazard somewhere! And with my luck, I'm sure to find out about it sooner rather than later! The split front design is something I thought about, and the Tilman is made from three pieces so they could easily adapt it to that. I've never tried one of those aprons simply because my anvil is too tall for the crotch-clamp style of forging. Better for my back that way! Still, something to keep in mind as I move forward with the build.
  11. There was once a time when I didn't wear an apron around the shop, but one day I tore a brand new shirt and that was that. A leather apron is hot, sure, but I bet I've saved over a thousand dollars in t-shirts since I started using one regularly. Even when you're not forging things, there are plenty of stuff that can destroy a shirt, so the apron really does help. Plus, I liken it to a uniform; when I put it on, I'm in work mode until I take it off. The other day, I left my hammer on the anvil overnight and the devil came in to play. I've never seen leather give way like this, but leave it up to me to find new and interesting ways to ruin something. All around the apron, the leather is getting hard and brittle wherever the sweat and grime was thickest. I guess I should have been more on the ball with washing the apron. Lesson learned..... To get me by until I can get a new apron, I used some roofing nails, gorilla glue and a bit of old leather to patch the strap. No telling how long the repair will last, but at least it's fixed for the time being. Looking around the internet, I'm seeing a few very nice aprons. None of them really catch my eye, though, because I was a bit spoiled by this Tilman apron. With a body that's 24"x48", she covers me all the way down to my instep. I had to rework the cross-back straps to make them actually functional. When I did, imagine my surprise when I found out that I didn't need the horizontal waistband! The way the straps tie into the sides of the apron is perfect for keeping the apron in place, so I cut free the waist strap and haven't missed it a bit. Even the cloth shoulder straps have proven better than leather straps of aprons past. They don't roll up, rot through, or get thick with gunk...... which makes me wonder why everyone else is using leather. Anyhow, all these little design points come up when I was shopping for a new apron and everyone seemed to be missing one thing. Maybe too short, or had too many pockets, or leather straps, or whatever. I like the Tilman, but don't want to spend the money on something that I'll have to immediately change (strap system) when it arrives in the mail. If it wasn't for that, I'd be okay with paying $50 for a new apron every few years. Since I can't get Tilman to change their design, I thought I'd go forward with making up my own apron design. There's a local fellow that does really nice leatherwork, but he's used to working on motorcycles, not blacksmith gear. He's open to helping, but we're stuck on what kind of leather to use. Obviously the Tilman apron isn't a good guide in this regard, so......? I'm thinking a good apron should be as thick as a nickel, or slightly under that thickness. And it should be oil-tanned so it's resistant to grease, grime and sweat. I sweat buckets, so all the help I can get is appreciated! Thoughts?
  12. Very sharp bit of work! I really like the clean transitions between the scrolls and parent bar. Did you drill through the 1/2" stock and plug weld the scroll ends? Definitely very nice.
  13. Very sweet ideas. Those split-jaw grips are great when you want to hold a hook in place while you plug weld from the back. Never thought about welding one to some angle iron, though....
  14. To clarify, I don't mean to imply that you should work the entire 20' of bar in one sitting. If you work for twenty minutes and get too frustrated with how the tapers are coming out, quit. If you can go an hour, that's fine, too. The key is repetition. When you do quit, place your last taper off to the side so you don't lose it. The next time you light up the forge, that last taper sets the standard. What you'll likely find, though, is that your first few tapers will look more like the first few tapers from when you started on this path. Why? Because you lost the mind/muscle connection in the lull between sessions. It'll come back to you pretty quickly, but it's something to watch out for and illustrates why you see new folks not moving forward in terms of quality when they're jumping from one thing to the next whenever they get some forge time. The reason you set your last taper aside when you quit your last session is so you can see how far you progressed and how much you forgot. You have to have good tools, too. You'll hear a lot of people advise you to forge your own tongs, but that's probably the worst advise you can get. Tongs are safety equipment, obviously, because good tongs keep the steel from flipping out and hitting you or flying off to parts unknown and causing a fire. On top of that, they are also the #1 cause of aggravation if they aren't comfortable or don't fit the stock properly. You'll progress far faster and have far more fun in the smithy if you invest in quality, brand-new tongs to get started with. It doesn't take much, so don't think you will have to spend a fortune on a giant collection of the things. You'll be working with 1/2" round and square, and they can both be held by the same pair of v-bit bolt tongs. Those same tongs will also hold flat stock of the right size by trapping it between the corners of the bits. That's one pair of tongs holding three commonly-used sizes of steel. Tongs that will hold 1/4" round will also hold 3/16" round quite securely. Box jaw tongs are great for keeping flat bars contained, and you only reasonably expect to work a few sizes of flat bar while you're in the learning stage of things. Maybe you can hold off on that for a few months while you tinker with round and square bars. The latter is pretty cheap to come by and there are a billion projects you can make without every touching some flat bar. So? Maybe $100 max for enough brand new tongs to get you by for the first six months of serious practice. And if you follow the taper project, you'll have a bunch of hooks you can sell to buy more tongs if you need them.
  15. Expectation Management

    Get a copy of Hasluck's book and don't worry so much about the forge and all that. Most of his projects can be done cold, or with a simple torch, and you get to learn some really important skills while you're building up the smithy.