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I Forge Iron


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About DigitalMechanic

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    Souderton, PA

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  1. Ok... I understand completely. I'm a Marine and have 4 little tiny pieces of inoperable shrapnel in me... So I should probably steer clear of the big magnets too :) -DM
  2. I am a very astute technologist. I've forgotten more about technology than I ever hope to learn about smithing, even if I pounded hot stuff 16 hours a day the rest of life. You might say I'm a "master technology smith". That's not to brag, but to point out - whether I like it or not - technology is my first home (note I didn't say "love"). The first thing I think when I observe any process done by novice or master, is " how can I break that down to its constituent elements and analyze the individual parts". I even carry an engineering notebook with me at all times, or close by, so I can jot down my observations.... It's a sickness ;) In my heart, I'm a Maker. I'm driven to design, build and fabricate like no other passion I've ever experienced. I've made things out of many different materials, functional things, artful things, and some just plain ridiculous crap! NOTHING has ever affected me like metal... I want to understand everything I can about it, and the people and processes that shape it. For me, that means starting where I have the most skill - technical analysis. Digging into the metallurgy, math, and spatial understanding.... How someone who shapes metal sees what's there and where they want to go - and how they get there. For example scarfing for a weld: making two joining pieces formed to avoid sheer forces perpendicular to the weld so cracks don't form once the weld is done. That fascinates me - I'm WAYtoo green to forge weld, but that didn't stop me from trying tonight! I made some passable scarfs, fluxed the heck out of them and missed the weld. Sure was fun... and I learned a lot. I guess my point is, that bringing technology to smithing for me is as natural as a machinist or welder bringing their knowledge to the forge... The difference is I have to keep most of my gear away from the heat and come up with ways of applying what I know to help me understand what's going on. Using an accelerometer to measure forces at the anvil to me is really cool! What good is the data? What can I use it for or learn from it? I don't know. Maybe nothing. Maybe something no one has ever seen or considered before... Who knows. Back in the early 90s I was on a team doing dynamic analysis of human performance on people with Parkinson's. We learned amazing things like how a learned action (a golf swing, free-throwing a basketball, etc) were carried out tremor free. While ballistic tests (testing the same patient at rest) revealed the most pronounced tremors... The team later discovered a "parent" spike in the brain milliseconds prior to the triggering of a muscle tremor.. That was an invaluable find for the research and no one expected it. I just think that everything that can be learned, should. Personally I'd like to take a master blacksmith and do an EEG while he's working... Then put him in an fMRI and ask him to think through some metalworking while I watch what centers in the brain start lighting up. For now I'd just like some ideas of how I might use the force data I'm collecting... Off my soapbox for now. I'm told I MUST take a shower. -DM
  3. Wow... I'm glad - I just bought that book online and haven't seen it yet. I actually sent him a question asking if he had, or knew of any good articles on hammer control... I shoulda known. I saw a video the other day - can't find it again, but the guy was hammering a curl on the hard edge of an anvil - all you saw was the handle side of the hammer and it was rotating in his hand as he lightly coaxed the curl he wanted out of the material. It was AWESOME! Might even have been Aspery... That's the kind of understanding of how to work metal I aspire to.
  4. Gore: good points all - I've been focusing on the hammer because I dont know an better... :) a good friend and master woodworker spent about an hour with me last night and gave me some tips for hammer control - I banged away for 2 hours and woke up without any soreness - did another 2 hours of practice tonight and I feel like I'm beginning to make progress - tomorrow I'll try focusing on shaping - or practice more to get the muscle memory.... Thanks for your insight -DM
  5. Very good points... I'm not attempting to build a simulator - I'm recording real time forces at the anvil - mostly for my own study at this point - combining the forces recorded with video could capture those nuances (other than head-on strikes). That's very cool... I also really like that quote: "The cognitive realm of blacksmithing is of particular interest because it relies on visual imagery and physical virtuosity rather than verbal logic, the conventional yardstick of cognition." Nothing can ever replace the apprenticeship process - and Blacksmithing can't only be a scientific pursuit... Some of us just don't have any link to a master blacksmith except through books, videos and of course IFI. So, for me I have to fend for myself a lot... which is ok... I do like the idea of figuring out the details... Maybe I should change me handle from DigitalMechanic to ForgingNerd :) -DM
  6. I'd have to say "Steve"... He's always in the shop moving tools around - where you can never find them and has a penchant for using an air hose to "clean" the shop (just makes clouds of dust)... He leaves dirty plates of half-eaten food around that turn into science experiments. I swear I once found what used to be a cup of coffee and it was moving around by itself! The funny thing is, Steve must be on the night shift because I never see him... When I do!!!!! Steve is definitely the weirdest animal that's ever been in my shop. -DM
  7. The key principles for hammer control seem straight forward and have been explained by Frosty and others in ways that make sense. Don't grip too tight, involve your wrist and practice! However, like most of you, I'm a scientist at heart and have a need to understand the mechanical details - I don't want to over analyze, but I do want to know more about the physics and kinesiology of the hammer strike. Last night I built a rig with an accelerometer to sample forces at the anvil. It's very cool to see my hammer strikes recorded in G-force and in 3 dimensions... Just trying different hammer holds or applying different amounts of force reveals a wide variety of impact information. If I combine this information with video - and have input from experienced smiths, there's no telling how much we can all get (mostly us nube's) out of it. Tech without guidance is just information. I can (and have) read a lot about Blacksmithing - but that doesn't compare to expetiencing it myself. So I'd like your ideas on how the information I'm collecting might be used with your knowledge and experience. Thanks! -DM
  8. As a novice blacksmith, I've found the one fundamental skills that is not well explained - hammer technique and control. I've begun bringing my high-tech skills to bare on this problem and would like to merge what I know well and your experience to more fully understand the mechanics of the hammer strike.
  9. Good point.... This will start out for my use, and if I'm successful I'll share the brain dump -DM
  10. GOOD ONE! How's about: You might be a redneck blacksmith if you have to fabricate a new power transfer shaft for your wife's pull-start, Briggs & Stratton makeup sprayer. -DM
  11. If you have to crank up the forge to help get your wife's hair ready for church....
  12. I found this... It's not much but is good info: http://www.americanfarriers.com/file_open.php?id=284 Luckily, I have some major computer skills... I think I'm going to do some motion capture of hammer strikes, try to get a handle on the kinesiology and maybe post a video or two on the subject. High-speed camera would be nice, but it don't have an extra $20K laying around.... Going to see what I can get with what I've got. I'll need some of you folks (Frosty) to chime in on what I find. I also have some cool tech toys to record strike pressure and angle. I used them on a project for a hospital some years back to evaluate walking and running impacts. I'm no kinesiologist - but we're smart enough to gain something from collecting information on hammering... IMHO -DM
  13. Frosty, This is so much like trying to correct a golf swing it's scary! I never could play golf - although I think a good lesson from golf is the whole thing about letting the club do the work... I would always try to swing a club like a baseball bat because I wanted to "he-man" the ball downrange... found out that a proper swing gets you farther downrange than forcing an unnatural connection to the ball with brute force. I still can't play golf to save my hide - but that's ok, I only took up golf to get on my ex-wife's fathers' good side... turns out I don't care much about that anymore and he can go chase little balls all over a 500 acre lawn until he drops - should probably take that overweight daughter of his with him as a caddy! :blink: -DM
  14. Frosty... Great ideas! First off, my hammer is nothing fancy, just a Craftsman 2lb cross-pien. I've dressed it to take out the share corners on the pien and cleaned up the face with a smooth flat striking surface a little larger than a quarter with a very shallow chamfer out to the edge of the head. I can already drive just about any size nail into most wood with a single blow - never occurred to me to try it with the pien to improve accuracy... As for the height, I've already set that pretty accurately. The top of my anvil is right at the top of my first thumb knuckle and when the hammer is lying on the face with the handle straight out my arm is at rest and not under or over extended. As for fly fishing... I fly fish like the wind! Unfortunately, my ex-wife got my fly rig in the divorce 20 years ago - she now looks more like a Royal Coachman herself - and although I miss my rig, I'm happy about her aesthetic demise... I'll have to read your post again to try and associate the whip effect with a hammer strike. I'm filling up a bucket with sand and cutting a 4x4 as soon as I get done with this post.. I'm also kinda out of shape - could have aot to do with it - but I have yet to succumb to aesthetic demise. :) Thanks again for the advice! -DM
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