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I Forge Iron


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  • Location
    Charlston SC
  • Interests
    i don't discriminate, i love all metals!
  • Occupation
    was a welder, now im skillfully unimployed and off at college

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  1. Iron was big business Thomas, your very right. Lots of mining and iron production was started in America. But that still does not mean it was common to burn buildings for nails. There simply would not be any type of reasonable collection after a full house burn. Iron just was not as rare as some claim in the colonies, it's not gold. The material was of much grater value compared to labor cost to work it as compared to today. But still just iron. People used iron things then tossed them out as trash when broken. I am not posting this information to argue with folks here, clearly I have angered some people. But I'm not angry or miffed at all. I simply care about smiths work and the history of such in America. All this is for the benefit of other people reading that are interested in such things. Just trying to put out some good info for a site I enjoy and have learned from myself many times Cheers Mackenzie
  2. With a band saw you will not be able to efficiently cut 1/4" round then cut 3" with the same blade. You need a very high number tooth per inch blade to properly cut small stock and need a blade with few teeth per inch to cut large stock. You can use a middle range blade but not the best option. I do not cut single pieces of 1/4 bar on my horizontal saw. It's much to easy to strip off blade teeth. I generally just such things with a hand hack saw or abrasive saw. I draw the line at 3/8 round, anything bigger gets cut on a horizontal saw, smaller does not. I most often cut stock 1/2 sq or larger. Maybe get a good abrasive saw for little stock and hardened metals, then a horizontal bandsaw for the larger stuff. Good luck
  3. If you want to see how common iron was in Colonial America you need only look at there trash. Archeologist have excavated all around James town, Williamsburg, York town and most other colonial towns up and down the coast. The trash from all these places it very easy to find becouse a huge amount was tossed in ditches close to homes, used up wells, and body's of water close by. The time of the trash can be dated very well becouse of the items and styles. Things like clothes that would only have a short life span then tossed away. And what do archeologist find in most every trash pit? Iron, lots and lots of iron. Broken iron items of all kinds, pad locks, door locks, window casements, saws, knives, full suits of armor ( yes armor, lots of it tossed down wells that became brackish, there was a great amount of the stuff from first colonization that was no longer used just 50 years later ), weapons, hinges with barrels snapped off, and lots more things. I am sure some people would take old items to be repaired, or sold as scrap iron. But a large number of people simply tossed broken iron items in the trash. If iron was so highly valuable people would not be tossing so many iron objects in the trash. And who do you think all these people were torching buildings all the time? You think a man pays a carpenter to build him a home lives there a year then burns down the home so he can build another home on the same spot? Makes a lot of sence. Any building that was still in usable shape could be sold along with the land if the person was moving away for a much higher price than a few burned up nails found in the ashes. Most building were maintained much better than American do today. If one fell in to terrible disrepair all the cut lumber that was still usable would be salvaged first. And the rest cleared away. Talk with a fire fighter about how hot building fires get. The majority of things in them are burned up. Tiny nails would oxidize and flake apart. The little iron that could be collected would need to be bundled up and re welded into a billet then drawn down into bar and forged in to nails again. But the amount of iron collected would be hugely less than was first in a building.
  4. Uggg the first link has some blatant errors. And as for a law against it, sure why not, there are laws against a huge amount of things that are not commonly done. It's only takes a few people trying out a bad idea to have a law passed against such a thing. Has anyone seen a house fire? Pretty much nothing survives when a building burns fully to the ground. The fire is much to hot and lasts much to long for little nails to survive. Nails were hand made but they were not gold. If they were scarce and super valuable people would not be using iron by the hand full to add decoration to normal things. Many common house hardware had extra decoration added with iron that was not needed. Things like bean cusps on hinges and handles, wether veins, all kinds do decorated cooking implements. Lots of material was used simply to look pretty. In colonial times iron was common in any town or city for sale. By the time cut nails were bring made in the Victorian area iron was much cheaper. Labor prices were rising and paying nail makers to hand make nails was to expensive. That's why some smart fellow invented a way to stamp them out on a big machine.
  5. Yes it was a problem that some people would burn down old rotting building. This was mostly done for the reasons of clearing the land for a new building or simple to remove the old one. It was a problem because it could easily set other building on fire in close proximity. And simply dangerous in a town setting. It was common to strip old building for usable materials before destruction, this would include good wood beams, dressed stone, and iron hard ware. But nails were not that expensive and would no be salvageable after a building fire. Colonial Williamsburg has come a long way in the past 50 years! I heard there was a time they would forge tiny horse shoes and stamp guests names into them then spray paint them black, hahaha many many years ago. CW is now at the for front of historical accuracy in its time period. Some things have been modernized to meet federal laws and state codes, but over all they strive for high accuracy. And yes entertainment films probably show the worst myths and misinformation about iron of everything out there.
  6. I will second Trinculo. I spent four years training with some great smiths, we would all routinely strike for each other. My common striker would normally use a 6 1/2 pound sledge or 9 pound sledge and she could hit much harder in one full swing than my 50 pound little giant can running full power. However my little giant only cost about 3000 then maybe a few hundred in electricity and oil for the year. The little giant will also hit maybe 250 - 300 beats per min. My striker can not hit that fast, and paying for a second full time employee in my shop is not feasible right now. I would love to hire my striker full time as she would be much more useful than the power hammer in my shop. A striker is just lovely for tooling and changing things quickly. A striker can work around a vise and swing at most any angles. Really having both options is best in a shop. Something like the KA75 is one of the best things I have seen that attempts to replace a human striker for smaller work. Still not a proper striker but great for punching and tooling work.
  7. I never knew the man, and I am not going to assume he intentionally lied. But if his book says it was common for Colonial Americans to burn down homes for nails he's wrong. Take a look at any common sized house nail of the time period, it just wold not hold up in a house fire. It's wrong. Speak with the smiths from Colonial Williamsburg, I am sure they have a greater collected knowledge of Colonial American iron and practices than any other place or person. They will all confirm that homes were Not commonly burned for nails. This myth started very much the same as "Sherman's army destroying every single anvil in America" just wrong. The idea sounded kinda good to a few people that did not have a strong knowledge of blacksmithing and anvils. And those people spread the idea very fast. But Sherman did not destroy all the anvils in America, horns and heels just snap off older wrought iron anvils under heavy use. Just a construction flaw
  8. Huzzah! Just the fact that the auther would mention not to do it that way clearly shows that it was common enough practice to forge weld then on. Just because the auther thought it was wrong does not mean it did not happen I am not arguing that tongs should or should not be made this way. Nor am I saying they were always made this way, certainly not. But I am quite sure that it was a common method used by some smiths for a large part of forging history. It is exstreamly common in English work when ever there is a large cross sectional change in bar mass for there to be a forge weld big bar to small bar.
  9. I am also very disapointed in Mr Brazeals responses. Normally he has offered great information on this site. But here he has blatantly ruled out hundreads of years of common practice in English forge work and gone as far as in insult others for giving perfectly fine answers. Making fun of other respected smiths and being rude is no way to teach ironwork to others Mackenzie
  10. Burning down homes for nails in early colonial America is a myth. Ask any of the smiths from Colonial Williamsburg. And just think for yourself how hot does a building get that's burning? More than hot enough and the burn time long enough for little nails to oxidize and flake away. The smiths there also teach forge welding reins on tongs as a common way of building them. Certainly all tongs in history's were not made this way. Smith all over the world make things many different ways. But I do know that at least in Britain for the past 300 something years it has been a common practice used. Yes this is short in the total history of iron, but hardly modern.
  11. There seems to be a difference in welding. I know it is tradisonal to forge weld reins on. But there seems to also be some people that electrically weld on reins. That method definetly is new. Using electricity seems slow if your already forging tongs in a hearth that will reash welding temperatures. Forge welding reins is quick and good practice for general. I have some friends that use coal forges every day and they weld on reins when new tongs are needed even though they are all proficient with a hand hammer and striking It's just fast if you do many forge welds every day
  12. Very unlikely that smiths were trying to save steel by welding reins. Very few tongs were made with steel until the 1900s and at this point steel was much cheaper than before. It was simply faster for people to take a bar that is already close to size for reins and forge weld it to a larger mass needed for the jaws. It may be faster for you to draw down a large bar, but it was generally faster for English smiths in the past working wrought iron to weld on a smaller bar. And many tongs that have welded on reins still taper from hinge to end. It's all about a tool that is strong enough for the job at hand and then speed in building the tool. The weld does nothing for the tongs along the lines of the tools function, so it has to be speed in building the tool. Many tongs that were made in large shops with power hammers will have drawn out reins becouse of the hammer
  13. After a year of good use you will find the face starting to work harden some. Should be fine for general hand forging
  14. Yikes, next time load it in a truck / trailer and bring it to a steel shop with a large bandsaw. But that is super cheep steel!
  15. Some people that have a trough forge table use sand or ash and it is wetted and shaped like clay. After and firing of the forge the water drys and the sand or ash will harden in place some. Certainly not like cement but still pretty hard. The shape made will last a while and can easily be broken up with a hammer, wetted and re shaped as desired
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