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I Forge Iron


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    Southern Palouse WA state USA

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  1. Rigidity is the issue. Most smaller bandsaws are not nearly rigid enough, even for wood cutting. They can be a nightmare. If you happen to find something old school and rigid, yes it can work for you to cut metal--but it is far better on sheet goods than thick stock. Thick is quite slow and the high pressures you need to keep on the material make cutting it on a vertical a bit of a work-out. I have a 14" vertical from Boeing surplus and it does work to profile some things but it's not a job I look forward to. Sheet is not bad to work but 1/4" thick plate and a bit above is not fun. Top quality sharp blades are a MUST. My Delta 3-wheel 18" has a rigid cast iron frame. It came set up with 2 pulleys--one for wood and one for metal. Same as the 14" above basically in function but the 3 wheel deltas with the cast frame are not a fan favorite so often are available for low pricing. Costco sold them a couple of decades ago--after tweaking for belt tracking (that's why they weren't favorites--homeowners didn't know how to tweak), they are pretty good machines (Photo stolen from the internet). These are pretty heavyweight. I also have a disassembled (for restoration) Walker-Turner 2 wheel vertical from the 50's that is bench-top sized and has a full cast iron frame. It was also a "universal" unit and spent a lot of time metal cutting. Just pointing out that if you dig deep enough, there are some rigid units out there. For ever good one there are about 100 terrible "homeowner woodworking" units without proper rigidity though so don't settle for those. In a bandsaw, rigidity is EVERYTHING.
  2. Might be possible. Found a single reference from a USGS publication that mentioned whetstones being made in Woonsocket RI. "Other Rocks Only minor use for dimension stone has been made of such rocks as marble and Pennsylvanian sandstone. Very minor use has been made of soapstone in lenses of the Blackstone Series. The sandstone at Woonsocket was used for making "ten thousand dozen" whetstones in 1840 (Jackson, 1840, p. 71)." From "Bedrock Geology of Rhode Island" https://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/1295/report.pdf
  3. Here's a clue for you: Anything that says plaster of paris and sand mix is appropriate for forge or foundry use hasn't a clue what they are doing and should not only be dismissed...but you should run away so fast your shoes smoke. Same with concrete/cement admixes Same with "cinder blocks", standard bricks, and many hard brick solutions (even hard refractory brick unless used in certain specific ways). Same with "weed burner" type burners in a forge as your heat source Same with small propane blow (plumber's) torches--unless everything you forge is the size of a finish nail. The list goes on but I hope you get the drift regarding how much terrible advice is out there. Good information is out there if you take the time to find peer-reviewed stuff like is available on the IFI site. After one packs in a bit more knowledge, it's easier to spot the crackpots who are just parroting another crackpot who is parroting another... (especially common on youtube). Some do glitzy-looking videos so come off as though they are knowledgeable: Don't let the production quality fool you into believing that translates to information quality.
  4. I'm seeing galvanized parts--maybe it's just the lighting. That is dangerous. Look up "fume fever". If galvanized was used in any areas that will see high temperatures, correct that before this thing is used by your son. I'm not kidding---it can kill. Even with outdoor use, you never know when a light breeze will send a snootful of toxic fumes at you. I'm not wanting to throw water on your son's enthusiasm but please suggest that for the next try (and I'm betting there will be a second try) absolutely DO NOT get design advice off of youtube. Many of the designs there, including this general one which seems to be parroted over and over, are extremely poor for a long list of reasons I won't go into at this point. IForgeIron has extremely good peer reviewed information on forge design. Diligently reading through all of that will start to show where the shortcomings of this first design are. One is the efficiency of the current design is so poor that the money spent on wasted fuel will be enough to pay for all the stuff needed to build a more efficient forge. Hate to say that--don't want to curb any of his enthusiasm. Just be plenty careful and don't toss much more money into that existing design. I feel like a jerk for saying the above. I'm not trying to beat on your son here--just trying to help steer him toward better choices.
  5. It's new to me but with a bazillion posts on this site, may have been mentioned before: In the Greek myth, Procrustes was a son of Poseidon with a stronghold on Mount Korydallos at Erineus, on the sacred way between Athens and Eleusis. There he had a[n iron] bed, in which he invited every passer-by to spend the night, and where he set to work on them with his smith's hammer, to stretch them to fit. In later tellings, if the guest proved too tall, Procrustes would amputate the excess length; nobody ever fitted the bed exactly. Procrustes continued his reign of terror until he was captured by Theseus, traveling to Athens along the sacred way, who "fitted" Procrustes to his own bed [lifted from wiki] I'm kind of torn--I like the idea of a scoundrel blacksmith but I think this guy is a bit too Freddy Kruger for me. Anyway, with Halloween coming up I thought it was time Smiths got the limelight for once Plus it's a costume we ALL have available without trying.
  6. Wow--that grinder has a lot of potential expletives one could attached to it. Its chief benefit would be in the health category--because you should get plenty of exercise in your quest to run away. There is no great solution that is also "cheap". There are some passable solutions--for instance many get good results using a flat disk in an angle grinder if they work carefully. There are also chinese 1 x 30 machines that are in the $ 120 USD range which, though underpowered and a bit frustrating, can get the job done if you don't push them too hard. (put your money into only high-quality abrasive belts/discs--going with the best there is where things pay off well). One thing to keep in mind though: It's expensive to get into quality but the value remains--quality can be resold in a short period to recover the majority of the purchase cost. Junk will only be worth junk prices later if anything at all. You are basically putting money into the "bank of iron" for a while. That means if one can scrounge a bit more money for quality to begin with, it isn't really a loss to your wallet, it's just banked for a rainy day or later upgrade. Not everyone can weasel the cash up front for a larger purchase but it will pay back better over time so should at least be considered among the possibilities.
  7. Box blade on a tractor...Didn't our Italian friend say he had access to a tractor in the past? On a 3 point hitch, you can crank one side to make it skewed out of level with the tractor to take down slopes. Not fast but compared to hand methods, far far better. With the "teeth" in, they work pretty well in even rocky soils. But the image implies a small dozer with a 6 way blade would be more than worth the rental expense.
  8. Exactly. They have the ability to make remarkably good stuff but if you don't have someone over there constantly monitoring the supply chain for you, crap seems to slip through. I've even seen things that were obviously broken/flawed tossed in a crate because they know the return process is onerous so most on this side of the Pacific just skip it and eat the loss or fix it here. One other thing--no matter who you call, they will say "Yes, we make that". There doesn't seem to be a distinction between actually manufacturing something and being willing to go find someone who can make it for you. The consequence is you might think your source is knowledgeable about what you are needing and they may never have even seen one before. Choose your wording carefully when seeking suppliers.
  9. What the esteemed Mr. Powers said above...only louder. The typical simple overhead hood seems like a good idea but in practice, most find them to be rather a failure in terms of handling the smoke and fumes (some, a total failure). Super sucker on the other hand appears to be pretty remarkable when done to spec. I've seen images where you would swear that thing would be useless, but basically sucking every bit of smoke away and even sucking up the forge fire a bit. The only one I've personally seen kept an insulated pole building garage totally smoke free, even with the doors and windows shut in the winter (though it'd be wise to make sure there is plenty of make-up air available as well as a working CO monitor).
  10. Drill bits are one of those areas where quality is worth every penny. Skip the cheap chinese offerings. I had one set given to me that were so soft they unwound in use rather than breaking. If at all possible skip the home center bits as they are generally not much better, even if they have a good brand name. Buy some quality bits from a machinists supply source--or online from similar. USA made tend to be quite good--but there are some from offshore that are also great (Poland usually makes some good ones for example) Once you use a top quality bit, it's darned clear why they are worth the money. Down pressure is also key as already mentioned. I don't know the bit size but you want enough pressure that you are generally continually producing curls (mild steel). just for the sake of example, let's say you are running 600 rpm and want the chip load to be .0015 (small bit). That'd mean you are drilling through 1.8" thick stock in one minute..and that chip load is small for most bits. No hesitation. Hard to get the proper down pressure on small diameter bits with a portable drill because one little twitch and you've busted the bit--which is why it's great you are using a drill press. Cobalt bits are better but plain should do the job you mention--if you've truly fully annealed the stock and it isn't full of carbide precipitation spots. Fancy coatings rarely help on anything but commercial applications where the bits are pushed to the limits--the home center versions are mostly like fishing gear at the sporting goods store: Designed to attract fishermen, not fish. Anything over half inch should have a pilot hole first. Make sure the chuck runs true. Some drill presses have chinese chucks which are waaay out. Replace with a good brand like jacobs if using that style of chuck. Sometimes the chuck taper in the spindle is bad and that's a hard fix--too complex to cover here. Forgot to mention--never let the bit "rub" in the bottom of the hole, even for a second. That quickly dulls any bit and even a great bit will magically become a crappy one on you.
  11. My first thought when seeing the paint was that this might have been a gravestone anvil. That black looks like field applied "japanning" which is usually a linseed oil based goop with carbon black and some other things to thicken and cure the oil. There was a time when anvils were almost worthless so the Smith's own anvil would be used---or an old used anvil acquired. If that sat in one place in the rain for decades, one would expect the underside to collect moisture between the coating and anvil and result in heavy corrosion. Graves rarely get dry weather because the sprinklers keep the lawns watered also. Are there any clues on the bottom? Peg holes drilled in? Some line that might imply grout mounting?
  12. Long soak in citric is the most common these days due to easy disposal requirements and fewer employees at the doctor. But the pickling paste style from the welding store--really nasty stuff--tends to do a quick job of things. Assuming you got the scale off there is electro-polishing also but that's a bit overkill. I prefer mechanical cleaning then removing any surface iron (which will eventually rust) with citric acid. Check out this home brew weld passivation using a 12V batter charger. Cleans up the welds pretty slick. Explanation starts at 1:30 Might work if your project is the right shape. Electrolyte doesn't have to be the nasty stuff.
  13. My Brother did have a house fire which destroyed virtually all the contents. He now swears by full replacement value insurance...as well as keeping as much of your old crap as possible (that's a joke on his part). In his case, things like an old quilt he used for the dogs was considered a custom craft project at high replacement value--similar for an old piano he was given for free. In reality most items really DO need to be replaced with new equivalents so you aren't actually coming out ahead: But dang, he did come out like a bandit on some of his old "junky" stuff. "New replacement value" is well worth it.
  14. I would add to Rockstar's post the notion of selling anything out of the home smithy. Magically it becomes a business rather than personal equipment and claims can be denied should they choose to. There are LOTS of games insurance companies play when they want to get out of paying. In the past, they sometimes also played the self-insured game for those who under-insured. Say your stuff is worth $ 100K. You insure it for $ 50K because you underestimated it's replacement value. If it's all lost, insurance companies (*some* used to) only pay out $ 25K: They claimed that you were 50% "self-insured" therefore they are only responsible for 50% of the loss. Cross all the T's and dot all the I's.
  15. I have a master machinist friend who absolutely cannot stand woodworking: It just drives him crazy. He's so fixated on the fact that he can machine things down to .0001" that the fact that wood does what it wants and you need to work with the material's foibles just files in the face of his daily grind. He just can't wrap his head around it. It's kind of weird to see because he's brilliant and very highly skilled--making anything less than perfection a frustrating course in his head.
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