george m.

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About george m.

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    Senior Member

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Fort Morgan, CO
  • Interests
    semi-commercial blacksmithing, historic including ancient and medieval forged artifacts and techniques

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  1. Dear Arkie and Frosty, Well, excuse me for not reading every single thread on every topic and having missed the one of HR vs. CR. I was not joking but merely trying to give a newbie some information that I didn't have when I started out. George M.
  2. Dear Tom, "Backyard" or not google or otherwise look up "super quench." It was formulated at Sandia National Laboratory which, IMO, is a pretty respectable pedigree. I have seen a chisel forged from a bar of mild steel, hardened in supper quench, and then used to cut a piece off of the bar from which the chisel was forged. The edge of the chisel was still sharp. I have been able to make RR spike knives reasonably hard with super quench. Is high carbon steel better? Yes. Can you do fairly well with mild steel and super quench? Also, yes. Hardeningly, George M.
  3. I'm a bit surprised that no one has mentioned the difference between hot and cold rolled steel. Hot rolled is manufactured with the steel hot enough to be plastic. As a result the corners are a bit rounded. Normally 3/8" square is the smallest size I've been able to purchase but a couple of times I've encountered 1/4" square. Cold rolled is just that. The corners of the square stock are sharp and crisp. Sometimes you want that but often hot rolled is just fine. Cold rolled is more expensive than hot rolled. Cold rolled is often sold as "key stock" which is used as "keys" to fasten cog wheels to their axles. Cold rolled is available in smaller sizes than hot rolled. I've bought it down to 1/8" square. Hot rolled usually comes in 20' pieces to the supplier from the steel mill. Cold rolled comes in 12' lengths.
  4. Being in Colorado all kinds of herbaceous gardening won't bring me any problems.
  5. I saw an interesting RR spike implement somewhere on the web the other day. The head had the usual twisted handle but the rest was split in two and drawn out into two claws. It was a garden cultivator, something I wouldn't have thought of.
  6. Dear Bo, Lightning bolt awls are very easy to make but I have found that with the exception of re-enactors at rendezvous they do not sell very well. Non-fur trade re-enactors don't do enough leather work to need or want them. Sadly, George M.
  7. We have a bunch of cats and one in particular is my shop cat. As soon as I'm in the shop he is in the window wanting in. The only down side is that he often thinks that I'm only in the shop to pay attention to him. However, once he has had enough attention or I convince him that he isn't going to get any or any more he will settle down and just hang out with me. He is not bothered by the sound of loud power tools. On the whole I like the company. I sometimes talk to him and explain what I'm doing or comment on how things are going. I'm not sure how good an idea it would be if you are thinking of having cats which just live in the shop. It gets too cold in Kearney for that. Also, I have had cats who think the coal box is a big litter box with funny black litter. Felinely, George M.
  8. Dear Bo, I've found that garage door springs make good firesteels. GM
  9. Laramie is my emotional hometown. I attended the University of Wyoming there for both undergraduate and grad school. It also has the association of meeting my late wife there. It is my understanding that the Medicine Bow Mountains are so named because the Native Americans would make particularly strong bows from the mountain mahogany bushes which grow on the lower elevations. The Medicine Wheel in the Bighorn Mountains in N. Wyoming is a really cool place. I understand that there are other medicine wheels throughout the northern plains area. If you ever get out west again I could show you some interesting things in that part of Wyoming. "Powder River! Let 'er buck!" George M.
  10. Dear Smoothbore, Minor geographic quibble: You can't see the Medicine Bow mountain range from Fort Laramie. The Laramie Mountains and Laramie Peak are in the way. The Medicine Bows are visible to the west of the City of Laramie which is about 100 miles SW of Fort Laramie. The legacy of fur trapper Jacque La Ramie is somewhat confusing. The City of Laramie is in Albany County and located in the Laramie Basin and is beside the Laramie River. Laramie County is to the east of Albany County and contains the City of Cheyenne. Fort Laramie (originally called Ft. John) is about 100 miles NE of the City of Laramie and was so named because it is on the Laramie River near its confluence with the North Platte River. And Laramie Peak is the highest point in the Laramie Range and is located west of Ft. Laramie and was a major landmark on the Oregon Trail. It was the first mountain the immigrants would see. By that time they would have been on the trail a month or more. Geographically, George M.
  11. Dear Max, As others have said, we've all been at the same place you are. In 1978 I found a forge and anvil at an auction, cleaned the mouse nest and pine sap out of the blower, got some books from the library, found some nasty old slaked sub-bituminous coal, built a fire, and started pounding on hot iron. And here I am. The best bit of advice I can give you is to remember that blacksmithing is largely hand/eye coordination. It's like learning to play a video game, sawing wood, swinging an axe, or any other activity. The other part is knowing where to hit something and how hard to hit to perform the operation you are trying to do. Also, if you watch a video or read instructions on how to make something immediately go out and actually do it. I say this because, as Francis Whittaker said, muscle memory lasts longer than mental memory. Encouragingly, George M.
  12. Dear Mitch, Here are some photos. This tripod has one closed loop and two spiral topped legs. It would work the other way around. The point is being able to lock them together as a tripod and take them apart for a gallows frame. One disadvantage could be that when you are driving them into the ground for a gallows frame you are hammering on the top of the loops. If the ground is hard you could get distortion in the loops. Since this one is made of half inch square it is beefy enough that I don't think that would be much of a problem. If it was made of 3/8" square there could be an issue. Convertingly, George M.
  13. Hudson's Bay Company records record iron rods, etc. being shipped out via canoe brigades to blacksmiths at the various fur trading posts in western Canada. There are also records from the posts of the various trade items produced by the smiths, usually over the winter months. During the summer it seems that it was repair work mainly. Frontier smiths along the immigration trails in the US made a good living repairing the immigrants' wagons and gear at whatever rates the trade would bear. Also, I am sure that there was a great deal of trade for items that the immigrants didn't want to haul any further. By the time they got to Ft. Laramie or Ft. Bridger the idea of hauling that bed or rocking chair all the way on to Oregon or California didn't look all that great.
  14. Re campfire tripods: The way I make them is to have 2 legs with closed loops at the top and 1 leg with a turn and half spiral loop at the top. The first two thread onto the 3d very securely. If a gallows frame rig is wanted the 2 closed loop legs form the uprights and the spiral topped one the horizontal member.
  15. Dear Bo, Try the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, NE. I'm not sure what they have on their website but they have displays of quite a number of artifacts that were made by fur trade blacksmiths, many from the Hudson's Bay Company. They may have a number of books for sale which will have some good chapters. There is also the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale, WY. I haven't been there but I hear it is good. Try to get a copy of "Firearms, Traps, and Tools of the Mountain Men" by Carl P. Russell, reprinted by Skyhorse Publishing, 2011. There is quite a bit about fur trade blacksmiths. Also, "Southwestern Colonial Ironwork" by Marc Simmons and Frank Turley (who participates on this forum), Museum of New Mexico Press, 1980 would be a valuable resource and would illustrate the ironwork used in the fur trade which came north from Taos and Santa Fe. Remember, fur trade blacksmiths would have been located in permanent bases such as fur trade posts or forts, e.g. Bent's Fort, Fort Laramie, Fort Bridger, etc.. they would have served the local population and would have manufactured trade goods such as fire steels and awls. The free trappers or organized brigades wouldn't have had much iron work with them and would have utilized a blacksmith to repair beaver traps or fire arms and to obtain the afore mentioned trade items. There would probably have been more repair work for people at the fort or the trading post. Blacksmiths did accompany major expeditions such as Lewis and Clark and Jed Smith and were present at the various Redezvous. Good luck and if you like I can probably find some photos I have taken of displays at the Museum of the Fur Trade. Ferrously, George M. PS One experience I had with fur trade blacksmithing is that some years ago (but not as many as it sounds like) in Laramie, WY I made a reproduction buffalo skinning knife for a guy. When I was finished he didn't have the agreed to cash and I took a buffalo skull in trade. I subsequently traded the skull and a couple of tanned deer hides for a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary which is still in my library and is a regular reference book for me. Also, I have found that camping type ironwork such as campfire tripods, etc. are popular with fur trade re-enactors. GM