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About JME1149

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    Pittsburgh-ish, PA

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  1. Looking at the leaf attempt, I might have a couple suggestions that could help. Only rotate the bar to set-down the leaf part 0° and 90° (not all four sides), and it looks like you may have had your tong hand too high. When doing the set-down, hold the bar at a lower angle to the anvil face (looks like you may have been lifted up at 45°). This will give you a more defined shoulder. Only work the mild steel in the orange-yellow range, when it drops down into the reds it fights you more. You can straighten that twist out pretty easy when the bar is hot. Get yourself a block of modeling clay to practice on, moves a lot like hot metal without wasting the fuel and heating time.
  2. I would also recommend Brian Brazeal's youtube video for tong making. Very good instruction regardless of the type of bar you use. Practice making the working end a couple times to get that process down before you go all out drawing the reins down. From my own experience, you probably want 5/8" or larger size to make decent tongs for general use. As has been said many times already, rebar is not the best material to work with, but use what you have until you can get something better. Just don't expect to make a sword from a piece of rebar. Another option once you get a little cash flow is to buy tong kits, essentially tong shape burnouts that you finish and assemble. You can get these for around $12-15 a set from multiple sources.
  3. I really like the leaf shape, the fullering is very well done and it's a different take on the common leaf shape. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the handle looks a little big for the hammer head size. A smaller slot would probably improve the proportions, but good for you for making a hammer. That's on my list of things yet to do.
  4. What a stunning pattern. Beautiful job.
  5. Looks like a perfect size for a door pull. I like the polished surface, the size and proportions are great too.
  6. Looks like the tail fell off to me also. Still plenty of usable surface, assuming they didn't overheat the top when cutting off the broken hardy hole. I'm not sure of the brand, but it looks like a cast anvil, probably not one of the higher quality brands.
  7. As I was looking at the photos, I was saying to myself that I really like the guard and pommel but not a real big fan of the blade shape, then I read the commentary. As long as the customer is happy and you're satisfied with your efforts, what more could you ask for? I think you did a great job completing someone else's vision.
  8. Very nicely done, I bet that's one heavy bench. My favorite features are the reverse twists and the leg wraps.
  9. Let's see, you've made a relatively inexpensive charcoal forge, you are using wood charcoal (not briquettes), you've successfully heated the steel and formed it into a passable rake, and you listed your location with your first post. Congratulations, you're off to a great start. Now it's time to start refining the process. As Charles said above, a deeper firepot will serve you better and reducing the pressure of the airflow will also help. Think volume more than pressure. Maybe a bathroom exhaust fan or hair dryer set on low. Looking forward to seeing your progress.
  10. Now that you have completed your practice piece, I have several questions that may help prevent other issues for the next attempt (questions listed for your benefit as well as for anyone else who may follow this thread). You said you used an "old" file. A files presumed age provides little assurance that you have a hardenable piece of steel. Did you first cut off a small piece, heat it and water quench then put it in the vise and whack it with a hammer? (If hardenable, it should break off, if just a case hardened file it should bend rather than break). Did you grind off the file teeth before hammering, in order to remove any weak spots / cold shuts that could develop while you're shaping the draw knife? Were you careful to not overheat the steel while you were working it? Did you normalize the piece after all the forging was done, before the quench? (My first thought was that it had cracked during the third quench, but looking again, it appears it may have burnt apart during that 10 seconds you took your eyes off it.) I've lost more steel to distractions than I care to admit. If your focus isn't on the steel/fire, pull the piece out of the heat, especially if not using a gas forge. The failure is frustrating. It looks like you had a nice tool well under way. Use the opportunity to make slight changes to your process to make an even better part the next time. I look forward to seeing the pictures of the success.
  11. Our local club has an open forge night once a week where the public is welcome to come in and try their hand at blacksmithing. We've recently changed the curriculum for the newbies and it seems to be working out very well. The first project is an S-hook with different ends, rat tail and beaver tail. The second project is a letter opener, made to specific sizes and design. It builds on the skills learned from the hook plus adds drawing out for the blade width. The third project is a keychain hanger; three small J-hooks, all different ends, riveted to a flat stock backer plate with multiple textures and end treatments. We've found this to be very helpful in getting the new students exposed to many different techniques while building up their confidence and giving them usable completed projects. It usually takes them 3 to 4 evenings to complete all three projects, some a little less and some much longer.
  12. I like it just the way it is. You really have the head shape worked out well.
  13. Very impressive.
  14. Just goes to prove that you can never have enough ratchet straps.