Buzzkill

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  1. joe, there are at least 3 things about your burner which are at odds with my understanding of the burner type and size you are kind of trying to build. A general rule of thumb for this type of burner is that the length of the tube is 8 to 9 times the diameter, so you're about 1.5 inches longer than the optimal length. Next, you are using a cross with the same size openings all the way around. For a Frosty T burner you'd use a reducing T with 3/4 inch openings for the air and the 1/2 drop for the burner tube. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but the components were chosen to match air intake with fuel within normal operating parameters. Your setup may not allow enough air to be pulled in with the fuel stream. Finally, the .035 mig tip is far too big (percentage wise) for a 1/2 inch diameter burner. The closest match in mig tips is .023. So, if you add all that up you have more fuel than you should have going in, not enough air drawn in with the fuel, and a tube whose length is past the optimal point for mixing vs. friction. Since your burner has some rather fundamental flaws it's not surprising that you are unable to tune it well.
  2. If you've already got it in your forge you may as well try it and see how it holds up. It may turn out ok, but if it starts to crack badly or deteriorate quickly you'll want to use something more suitable next time. It's usually best to do a several step process before trying to bring it up to forge heat to avoid major cracking and/or spalling. I'd recommend air dry for several days, then put a light bulb or something else relatively warm inside for a day or so, then a couple minutes of low flame. If you get a lot of steam, cracking or spalling stop and let it cool. Gradually use more heat for longer times until you can safely get to forging temperatures. Once you get all the moisture driven out of the lining it's as good as it will get. No matter what you use it will deteriorate over time, but some materials hold up a lot better than others. I had a less than satisfactory experience with a different brand of refractory mortar, but I still used it for several months rather than go through the hassle of tearing it all out. Now I use Kastolite 30 for that purpose.
  3. My gut feeling is the same as yours. It should be better to have less volume of propane at higher pressure to bring in more air at higher elevations. However, I have discovered over the years that what seems intuitive to me is not always correct. I'm interested in the results of your experimentation though, so please keep us informed with your results.
  4. What was your starting stock for these blades? To me some of it looks to be from scale hammered into the work, but if you are starting with old rusty steel you may have some pitting that is deeper than you realize to begin with. It may just be the lighting or camera angle, but that second pic makes me a little wary. Maybe it's just material in the grinds, but if those are cracks it could be a problem. Most likely you'd find out for sure either during the quench or when you clean it up afterwards.
  5. Are you wire brushing the scale off regularly? If not you may be driving pieces of scale down into the steel that will leave pits/pockmarks when you clean up the blade for grinding. And there's always the old adage of "forge thick and grind thin."
  6. I agree with both of them, but with a qualifier. For me it seems there is a point where leaf springs do move better under the hammer. To my eye it's high orange/almost yellow. However, if you are using solid fuel it's very easy to burn the steel if you go much hotter than that. If you go too hot you'll probably get some combination of the sparkler effect, or more likely you'll strike it and it breaks off unexpectedly. The thinner the piece the easier it is to have this happen. Some of the coil spring I've used is particularly susceptible to this, which is one of the reasons I've gone mainly to propane.
  7. It's your time, effort, and money, but 28 inches is easily double (more than double my forge) what you need. You'll spend more time and money in up front construction cost and a significant amount more in gas cost over time. Unless you know your ribbon burners were used in a forge or something else that gets over 2000 degrees F you may be asking for a lot of headaches trying to make your original idea work for you. We typically recommend 2 inches of ceramic fiber blanket plus a thin hard coating over that. Suddenly your 8x8 pipe is less than 4x4 inches with the insulation and hot face coating in place. Even if you only go with 1 inch of kaowool you've got a very long and narrow forge. Figuring out how to protect the burners from overheating and/or erosion is another challenge. I know you want to use those pieces. Been there, done that. I've even forced a few things to work - kind of. In the end I would have been better off finding people like those on this site who have experience in what they are doing and know of at least one way that will work well. If you haven't done so already, it would be worth your time to read through some of the many forge construction topics here and/or head to Wayne Coe's website for a good way to construct a small forge.
  8. Nor can you reason someone out of something he or she was not reasoned into.
  9. There are many different grades of bolts. Some could make decent blades, but others will not. Grade 8 is the highest I've seen in normal use. Some bolts have the grade designated by the number of radial lines on the hex head. Three lines is grade 5 and 6 lines is grade 8 if I remember correctly, but even grade 8 is still medium carbon content, which is barely suitable for decent knife blades. Bolts you may think are stainless could be galvanized. If there is any question throw them in a vinegar bath for a day and rinse them off before forging. That will get rid of the zinc coating, but wouldn't do much of anything to stainless steel.
  10. I would think that if anything it would be harder, but I've been wrong before. I haven't looked up the tempering for that steel, but I was guessing it would be easier to take a little hardness out of it than the rest of the heat treatment regimen you listed.
  11. My thoughts are that if it's from a metal cutting lathe it's probably already properly hardened. If the pieces are anywhere near the thickness and shape you'd want for a knife blade then I would try stock removal and just be careful not to let it get too hot when grinding - although with that steel you could probably get it fairly hot before it would be much of a problem.. If you want to send me a piece I'm willing to dedicate a few ceramic grinding belts to give it a shot.
  12. You live in the midwest. Surely you have access to somewhere you can dig up some dirt without getting in trouble. I'm still not sure if you're looking for a way to stick your bricks together or create a firepot. Either way, some clay and/or sand will do the trick if you stack your bricks well. I'm a little too lazy to go through all the hassle of making a temporary forge out of bricks. I'd much rather grab a hammer, some nails, and a few old boards to build an elevated box of dirt than to take the time and effort to make a brick forge which will most likely not be permanent or what you really want in the long run. Two or three old pallets will probably provide plenty of wood to do the trick. Either way you're still going to need a length of pipe and some way to blow air through that pipe. I build my first coal forge from an old 55 gallon drum, a small brake drum from a Toyota Corolla, and some 2 inch pipe/fittings. I bought the pipe I needed, so I think I had about 20 dollars in that forge. I already had a blower from a power vent water heater that I had to replace earlier that year. A hair dryer would have worked as well. You tell us you know how to research things and that you are taking the advice offered seriously, but so far there is little evidence of either of those things being true. At this rate the only thing you'll be making is excuses. If you are serious about trying this craft you could have already built a JABOD forge and been pounding on hot steel. Don't make this harder than it needs to be. No matter what you use for your first forge it will not be perfect, or even perfect for you. You won't know/understand what things you'd like to change until you've used it a while. A big-ish chunk of solid steel is all you need for an anvil. An old sledgehammer head (the bigger/heavier the better) set in a stump or other such object will do if you can't find anything else. Check out this video to see how these guys turn out knives with minimal equipment and power tools. I'm not suggesting that you should try to work exactly the way they do, but be open to other ways of doing the same things you want to do. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qol5Ey3sImQ When you first start, the quality of the tools will not have much of an impact in the quality of your work. Developing your skills should be your goal. The more proficient you become, the more the tools will make a difference in the speed and quality of the work you turn out. The sooner you get hammering on hot steel, the sooner you'll begin to develop those skills.
  13. The good news is you took a piece of stock and coaxed into the shape you wanted using fire and hammer. Congrats! The bad news - several things. First and foremost, as already mentioned, if that steel doesn't have enough carbon content then it will not harden when quenched. For random straight round stock, that is a likely scenario. Even if that is the case, hang on to that knife shaped object so you can always look back and see how you've progressed over time. Next, there appears to be a cold shut/crack on the tang about a half inch or so from the transition from blade to tang. If that is a crack you will have failure there under heavy use even if it's steel that can't be hardened. Next, again as mentioned, it looks like you burned the end of your partial tang and that weakens the steel significantly. In the "as forged" picture you have a sharp angle at the tang. That creates a spot which has a high likelihood to suffer stress cracking in use. Inside corners always hold up better if they are rounded slightly. You can use a chainsaw file or other small round file to make that happen. Hammer control is obviously a bit of an issue, but none of us started out with superb control so that's not surprising. The height of your anvil may play a part in the marks remaining in your work. There are a number of threads on here regarding anvil height, but consensus appears to be that the face should be knuckle to wrist height, depending on a few factors. You can "cheat" a little bit with the use of a flatter, but that helps most with relatively shallow hammer marks. I personally liked the profile when you finished forging more than after you handled it, but that's just a preference thing. It's a good start, but you would benefit greatly from reading through the knife making classes section on the forum, reading some of the recommended books listed on this site, and trying to get some face time at the anvil with someone who already knows how to do what you are trying to learn. I'm looking forward to seeing some more of your work in the future.
  14. If you only have $55 to get started then you were already given the best advice you can get. Look at this thread: https://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/44842-just-a-box-of-dirt-or-a-simple-side-blast-forge/ In simplest terms a forge is a hole in the ground with an air source. We elevate that hole for convenience. You have a nice pile of bricks, but just because you have something doesn't mean you have to make a forge out of it - at least not yet. A brick forge is usually a rather permanent object. Even if you want to build that some day you'll be better off getting started now hammering on hot steel with something cheap and simple. When it comes time to build that brick forge you'll have a much better idea of what your wants and needs are. You can easily get started under for under $55 if you don't have tunnel vision. You need a hot fire, a hammer, and something solid to put the hot steel on when you hit it. If you insist on a brick forge, a London pattern anvil, and starting out by forging swords it's not very likely you can get started for $55 or less. Don't focus on what you see as the problem. Define what it is that you want to *do* not what you want to *have*. That way you can consider other possibilities that will take you to where you want to go, even though they may be significantly different than your original plan.
  15. Even to hobby smiths like me these posts are serious red flags. It's clear you haven't done nearly the research that you need to do before embarking on your journey. Hot steel will not cut you any slack just because you're young, nor will it move easier under your hammer, weld easier, burn up less if you get it too hot, etc. etc. It won't transform itself into a quality sword for you because you are young either. Your age is not a problem or a barrier here. It appears that you want to be spoon fed answers to your questions without putting in the time to find the answers yourself - and you want the answers *now*. We can't make materials cheaper for you, nor can we decide your priorities for you. If saving for a car is more important than proper smithing equipment and good steel that's your choice. Welcome to real life where we don't have enough time or money to do all the things we'd like to do. As was already mentioned, if you are planning on swordsmithing, you'll probably spend about $55 on *just* good steel to make one sword. If you've never even touched hammer to glowing steel before, then multiply that by at least 20 times because that's likely to be about how many failures or substandard blades you'll make before ending up with one even approaching a usable quality blade. None of this is said to discourage you. Your enthusiasm is clear and is definitely needed to pursue this craft, but a lot of us started more or less the way you are and learned the hard way that you simply can't turn out quality blades by watching some videos, reading a couple books, and a few hours at the forge. All 3 of those things are good to help you on your way, but the road to swordsmithing is more of a marathon than a sprint. At this point I don't think you have enough knowledge about the craft to tell which videos or books are worth your time and which are nothing more than wastes of time. We do have a section on the forum where people have provided links to good smithing videos, and we also have a book review section that would be worth checking out if you are serious about continuing down this road. Several people have rather gently tried to guide you to a reasonable approach to your stated goals, but at this point you don't even know what you don't know well enough to ask good questions or properly understand the responses. Many of the answers to questions are relative to exactly what you want to do and how you want to do it. Please take the time to read through the sections of the forum that are related to your interests. That will take hours to days, not minutes - but it is time well spent. If you continue to try to boldly go where you are unprepared to go you may find people here much less helpful. No one wants to see you hurt yourself or others in your enthusiasm to jump in too deep too quickly.