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I Forge Iron

Bob Menard

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    Portland, Maine

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  1. You should charge big money for this, you know big shears big money.
  2. I have two the tie for just plain weird. The first was a branding iron for a silly white kid who wanted it for branding his own skin. Apparently this is some sort of family tradition started by his grandfather. The design he submitted was kind of intricate. I responded that this would be a tough design to create and had he thought it through. To get the design effect on his skin the temp of the brand would have to be just right. too much heat and the resultant burn would obliterate the delicate design. Too little heat and it would not be deep enough to be permanent and he would have to try again and get the indexing just right, again so as to not obliterate the detail. The second one was a mother who wanted a type of grappling hook for her 9 year old son. This was by her description to be used for scaling trees and building faces. Apparently this was some type of superhero training. I tried to have a conversation regarding climbing safety and life safety loading for such a device. She indicated she wasn't really interested is such information. Both commissions were declined but the letters were saved.
  3. The style of apron is really dictated by what you are trying to protect. My forging apron is primarily protecting my waist, goodies, and ends mid/lower thigh. This was arrived at by looking at a wear pattern on my clothing. If I need to protect my upper torso, say for welding, I have a leather welders jacket. Living in northern New England this doubles as protection and warmth. I like just a waist apron that ties in the back for freedom of movement. I have seen Smiths that seem to like the full frontal leather armor but for me at the end of the day it looks heavy and adds to the fatigue factor. Again what are you guarding against?
  4. The eye brow I have is removable and is mostly useful up to the point where the stack heats up. Once it is hot the eye brow is no longer necessary and the hood is drawing the smoke laterally back away from the firepot and keeping the local environment clear. I have a plan for the hood. If you would like it send me an email, ballandchainforge@yahoo.com and I will send it to you.
  5. Bob Menard

    Vise ID

    So many post vises were hand made, identifying yours in the absence of a makers mark is likely impossible. Some of the characteristics the help date a post vise is the extra detail added during it's construction, like chamfered edges and the extra detail added to the screw box. This is not always an indicator as the person/firm that made it could have been feeling expansive for that tool and added extra detail. It is not easy to forge a post vise and once you are into it adding embellishments might seem like a good idea at the time. Lets see some photos, it might help.
  6. Bob Menard

    Striking Vise

    Many vises are set to high for hammer work, good for filing and finishing just not hammering. Both of these are good hammer solutions. Of course the big heavy tools are necessary for serious hammer work. Good job guys!
  7. Good score for a hundred bucks. The pipe jaws look like an add on.
  8. This is a coal forge I made as a portable demo rig. It breaks down so the largest part is the hood. It can practically fit in a compact car. The table is 1/8" diamond plate bordered by 2"x 1/8" angle iron. The legs are 2" square tubing. The hood is 16G aluminum. It is set up for either an electric blower or a hand crank blower.
  9. Nice looking forge, it should serve you well. Once years ago I had a coal forge that had a grate at the bottom of the firepot instead of a triangular clinker breaker. It would degrade over time and I would have to replace it. I would suggest keeping a grate in place to protect difficult to replace fabricated parts and have an extra on the shelf to throw in when you are in the middle of a project and the primary burns out.
  10. I have found that the forge table is just that, a table. It holds coal/coke and tools. The fire is contained in whatever your are using for a fire pot. If you are not planning on moving the forge you can make the table from whatever weight material you desire, even masonry. The heart of any forge is the pot and tuyere.
  11. The original post seems to have been a little bit hijacked. As it has been I'll add a few comments of my own. Another method of making a hard point on a digging bar is to case harden the end. It is amazing how effective this technique is for improving mild steel. The downsides are if you have to dress the point you can grind the hard shell right off. Another problem, case hardening only effects the surface so if you are banging your digging bar on a rock you can drive to point back into itself because the softer mild steel core is not strong enough to support the hard point. I will use case hardening for tools like top and bottom swages and fullers that don't get dressed. Francis Whitaker had a few comments regarding tool making. He said you should use known tool steels, preferably new. Then you always know what it is you are working with. He also suggested you should get comfortable with a few grades of tool steel and become proficient with them. Your tool making will be more consistent and you will have a better result in the long run. Much of my tool making has been influenced by Mark Aspery as evidenced by the tools shown here. I use 4140 regularly and I am comfortable with the techniques of hardening and tempering it. I have to buy it new. Apparently in places in the US where there is oil drilling 4140 lays about in piles and is known as sucker rod. No oil in New England so no sucker rod. Anyhow... The technique to making hand tools with this material is to forge it to form, bring it above the critical temp, generally orange, and bury in vermiculite to cool very slowly. I find it takes all day to cool with this method so I just leave it in overnight. The next morning it is dead soft, like mild steel dead soft. This is where I do any filing or grinding to final shape. Then the tool is heated back above the critical temp. Not the whole tool but more like 4"-5" of the performance end. The struck end is on its own at this point. I then quench the end 1" or so in water dipping it up and down until water stays on the working end. For me this is a major selling point for 4140, water quench. I then abrade the end of the tool looking for the colors (purple to straw) which are generally an 1 1/2" away from the end. I watch for them to run toward the end, aiming for straw at the working end, and repeat the quench technique again. I re-abrade the end and let the colors run again. The tempering heat is supplied by the residual heat stored in the body of the tool. I will run the colors as often as the tool has heat for which for a chisel or punch is usually 3 times. I did make a hardy hot cut recently that ran the colors 7 times but the body of the tool was stocky. I don't ever quench the entire tool. It is made harder by quenching the tip and air cooling the rest but it is not made too hard, which would risk the tool cracking during use or making it harder than my hammer, which would be bad for the hammer. I have had good success with this method and my hot cut chisels work just as well as a cold chisel. I have yet to have a working end fail or a struck end crack.
  12. This is a small press I put together. It is not my own design. A very clever blade smith in Vermont made one and demonstrated it's effectiveness at a New England Blacksmiths Meet. I liked it so much I made one for myself. The frame is 2" square tubing with a 1/4" wall thickness. I added gussets at stress points. I am not sure it needed that but I had the welder and there I was..... It is powered by a 20 ton air over hyd. jack from harbor freight. It is a little slow but once you get the technique down it works surprisingly well. The first photo shows the build phase and the second shows it complete on a fabbed stand with casters. I will likely build a larger one in the future but for now the little one is working.
  13. It looks pretty stocky, maybe to heavy to carry around to picket a horse or even a small herd. Is there a chance it is some ones idea of art? I have seen stranger.
  14. Unquestionably interesting. The part I liked was the 3 different levels of tech represented in the video. The last being most recognizable to western eyes, hand crank blower, London pattern anvil, hammers with handles, forging standing up. All three were making the same agricultural implements. Some of those smiths could have been working with some of this higher technology but chose to do it a harder way. Hmmm, I wonder why. In the video side bar there was a French film showcasing a modern high tech steel plant featuring smelting from raw and scrap and forging with a 100 tonish hyd. press. I see a lot of people commenting on the internet lately about blacksmiths using power tools like it is a sin. I still think there are only few ways to forge an 80,000 lb. billet. A guy with a rock is not one of them.
  15. Last year I bought a 272 lb Peter Wright with similar edge damage for $300. The seller wanted $450 For what the time was to fix it I thought that was a fair price. Peter Wrights Are a good anvil and the one in the ad seemed to have completely fixable damage. I did think the price was high for the size and damage shown.
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