James Walker

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Posts posted by James Walker

  1. You could buy the #110 anvil from Harbor freight for ~$70, take a torch or other cutting tool and cut out the shape you want, then drill a huge hole in it with a drill press. Then get a solid 1inchish bar the length you want and weld it into the hole. You could probably get a decent looking #50 steel hammer out of that anvil.

    Personally I would get a block of wood and put some heavy steel plating on it and weld them on somehow, then use that solid bar and mount it in somehow. You could get the same size as the solid steel anvil, but it'd be like 10-20lbs.

  2. Thanks for the kind words.

    Those steer heads look very impressive to me. I'm having enough difficulty simply drawing out the steel bar, much less anything else ;) Someday I'll make some like them!

    Next time I mount an anvil I'll have to try some silicone sealant. The job I did for this one is just fine, hardly any ring at all.

    About the CO poisoning: I'm actually fairly concerned about it and have made a decent attempt to avoid it. I have a CO detector right by my forge and have set up an array of fans to try to get some air circulation going in my garage. I'm still undecided on where to put the fans but currently they're like this:

    Both doors have windows that I dismantled to put the fans in. The two windows are permanently shut, but I might take one out and move the inside-fan into it. I'd like to keep the intake fan on the other side of the output fan (with my forge inbetween), so I'm primarily breathing in the input fan air, but don't really want to mess up my window for it.

    And I still need to worry about where to mount my leg vise if I can ever find one for a good price.


  3. Thanks for the reply.

    As promised here's a few pictures of my shop so far. The blankets are covering the garage door to muffle the noise a little.

    I mounted the anvil on the stump with a cable, tightening it with two screw-hooks. The vibration was knocked down quite a bit to a decent level. Just for fun I got some heavy chain and wrapped it around the base of the anvil as tightly as I could, the noise went down even more so I just kept it there.

    jameswalkersmithingnl4.jpg forgeandanvilir8.jpg

  4. I found this tidbit and am willing to try it a little more. I tried getting the strike of my hammer on hot steal to 'rebound' the head such that it drives it to cause the hammer to be verticle, but I had no success. I suppose I'll try some more.

    Gripping a hammer handle tightly at the point of impact is a good way to develop tendonitis. I won't get into the specifics of the Hofi method of hammering, except to say that I have the video and I try to practice it.
    The mechanics of forging hammers are relatively simple, in that force equals mass times velocity. So you get the force from the mass of the hammer accelerated by gravity plus your shoulder, elbow, wrist, and fingers. If you maximum force, you need to use all the motive tools available to you. The shoulder to start the hammer moving, the elbow to begin the acceleraton, the wrist to speed it up and the fingers to finish the accelerationo and direct the blow. If any of these muscle groups are "locked up" they're robbing you of speed, and thereby power.
    For powerful forging blows, I let the rebound from the hammer hitting the work kick the hammer head up until the handle is about vertical and begin to elevate it, then I help it the rest of the way up to over my head. At the point it reaches apex, I use my shoulder to start it directly downward, then accelerate it with my elbow and use the wrist to begin to turn the hammer to the striking position. At the end of the swing, my fingers flick the hammer the rest of the way to where the handle is horizontal and the blow strikes, starting the process over again. My fingers never grip the handle tightly; in fact, I use only my thumb and middle finger most of the time, adding the final whip with my ring and little fingers.
    This delicate grip applies to all one-handed hammering, from light chasing hammers of one or two ounces up to my heavy Hofi forging hammer of about 3-1/2#. I choke up on the hammer handle when it feels right, and use the full handle when that seems appropriate. The only time I grip a hammer handle at all tightly is with my left hand when striking with a sledge. The right hand, which does the power and control, still has a relatively gentle grip. The left had grip is snug to be a solid pivot point and to gaurd against an errant flying sledge if I get sweaty-handed and/or tired.
    For power forging, you need time and distance to accelerate the hammer, so you swing from overhead. For lighter blows, you don't lift the hammer as high, and you use less shoulder. BUT...if you try to move metal using only part of a blow, you run the risk of damaging your joints and connective tissue. Decrease the velocity of the hammer and you decrease the force. Analyze what you are doing and look for places to make your movements more fluid and graceful. Watch an aikido or kendo master and notice how fluid all the movements are, even the short ones. Apply that to your hammer technique and you will use less effort to move more metal.
    I heartily recommend that you get the Hofi video on hammer technique. It is about much more than just the mechanics of swinging the hammer. It also gives you information on how to get the most out of each blow, conserving heat, and moving the metal most effectively. I would not presume to try to teach you the HOfi technique. Get the word directly from the master.
    n.b. - I would not recommend a 3.5# hammer to start out with. I would starting a pound or so lighter until you have really mastered the movements. Too heavy a hammer will have you trying to force the movements and that will prevent you from learning to be graceful and fluid.

  5. I read that article last night and tried it. I think it worked a little but I already knew from previous jobs not to grip the handle too tightly. My problem is at some point my wrist needs to support the rotational force of the hammer head as I lift. I'm hoping that it's just me wrist getting used to the weight.

    My anvil is right at my knuckles while I stand with my boots on and hang my fist loosely downwards.

    Like I said it's not painful, I'm just trying to be careful with my body while I start out blacksmithing so I don't erroneously damage it. I'm thinking about buying Hofi's DVD.

  6. Update:

    I moved to my new house. It's deep in the woods where I can blacksmith without being too noisy.

    I also built my forge and mounted my anvil on a stump.

    I found an 8" x 3/4" steel bar and have been making it into a pair of tongs using Larry's instructions:
    tong making - Blacksmith Picture Gallery
    and have been mostly successful so far.

    I had a few questions though, about hammer technique. I figure that now that I have an anvil, a forge and a set of hammers, I should learn as good of hammer technique as I can so as to preserve my mostly healthy arm. ;)

    I've read what I've found on hammer technique (including this thread: http://www.iforgeiron.com/forum/f7/hammering-technique-10/index4.html ) and seen a few videos but haven't found answers to these specific questions.

    Keep in mind that my experience is entirely limited to working a 3/4" steel bar with what I think is a #3 hammer.

    1. When I hammer I inevitably get tired in my wrist. It's not really pain, my wrist is just tired of picking up a hammer every second. I've trying choking up, and I'm going to try using a lighter hammer (I don't know how heavy my current one is but I think it's #3). Is there anything I can do for this? Or is this just because my body isn't used to lifting relatively heavy objects in that manner and my tendons get tired?

    2. I've been looking for videos of good hammer technique and haven't seen anything that really shows the 'best' way to use a hammer. I imagine that the 'best' way is variable based on 1. Body build, 2. Hammer, 3. Type of strike, 4. Material being hit. However I'm still learning basics like where the elbow should be located, how high to raise the hammer etc.

    3. When I don't have any metal on my anvil face and I hit it with my hammer, it rebounds. When I put some bright yellow steel on it, my hammer hits it and is dead. It seems like 100% of the work in lifting the head is done by my wrist. Is this normal?

    4. Has anyone every heard of putting the anvil at a bit of an angle (Such that the anvil face is leaned towards the user maybe about 20-30 degrees). This would detract from the power of gravity forcing the hammer down but would make it much easier to raise the hammer away from the anvil, distributing the load between the flexor muscles (which are doing almost all the work currently to raise the xxxx thing) and the extendors.

    5. How does me being tall with long forearms and relatively thin affect how I should hammer metal?