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I Forge Iron


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  • Location
    Kinnear, WY
  • Interests
    Hunting, Fishing, Shooting, Outdoor Cooking, Metal and Wood Working, Camping

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  1. What a funny thought this post triggered when I thought about my honest answer to the question…”what do you listen to in the forge?” Except in a very few circumstances, I do not block out ambient noise with music or the like. I feel vulnerable then. I want to know what is happening around me, especially imminent trouble, and sound is a huge clue. I don’t keep a phone in my forge either. I make those troubles wait. It’s the troubles close at hand that concern me. Sometimes I have a radio (aka walky-talky…at the risk of sounding like an old person) so the wife can reach me and doesn’t become overly annoyed by yelling out of the house window. When the radio battery is dead or I forgot to bring it, I am always mindful of that certain high pitched screechy sound amid the cacophony of forge jangle. Now what’s funny is my wife keeps a bunch of chickens. There has been several times that I dashed out of shop with tongs and hot steel in hand because of a certain similar pitch emitted from a chicken instead of my wife. One exception to not listening to music while working is when I am raking hay. I love raking hay. I can feel the tractor through my xxxx and know by that if there is trouble, and hay rakes are relatively trouble free, and nobody expects to be heard while I am on a tractor. Then I listen to music.
  2. Thanks all for the excellent information!
  3. Made a hook that I think follows Frosty's description. I used a 15" long piece of 1/2" round mild, 1/4"x1"x10" of flat bar, and 1-1/8"x4" oak dowel. The chisel divot is a good idea. Hadn't heard that one before. I used a tapered square punch instead, driven in just far enough to leave four good notches. The hot peened end of the tenon got a bit wonky. Next time I will probably use a 3/8" rod to hold the handle, peened at both ends, or maybe something with a little more old-style look than hex nuts. So some improvements are in order, but otherwise, I think this meets all my goals. Thanks Frosty and the others who chimed in with ideas. Well at least this time I asked for input.
  4. Its functional (I just got thru my first cutting of hay). I just don't like the comfort with my design. Might try a bit thinner shaft below the handle. Yes, that is plenty simple and I am sure it works ok. I want a fatter handle though. Would like to use wood.
  5. Looking for input on design and forging of a bale or hay hook. Its a pretty simple tool that has many uses for handling heavy bulky items such as logs or hay bales, of materials you can sink a hook into. There are a few geometric nuances that affect its effectiveness, such as pitch of the hook, shaft length, weight/diameter of shaft, point taper etc. What I am mainly interested in though, is how to forge the thing with a design that both works well yet is not overdone and time-consuming to forge. . I made one that works ok, but I don’t like the feel of the shaft between my fingers, even though I flattened it to about 4 or 5 sixteenths. I need to improve the wood handle shape and fit some, so this is just a trial. Here it is. Longshoremen used this kind of tool for years and have no doubt found a design that is effective. It has a different style of handle. Here is an example I found on the internet: I am going to try it, or with a handle something like it, but I am still awkward with my forge welding. I want to sell these tools, and therefore need to have an efficient process to fabricate them. I want to present them as traditional forged work, and so don’t want to arc weld the two pieces together. I suppose I could split the shaft bar and splay it, but I’d have to start with a fairly thick, heavy shaft I think, which adds weight. Maybe that is ok, but I don't think weight is needed or desirable My goals are: 1. Traditional construction 2. Comfort 3. Efficient use of material 4. Efficient fabrication Anyway, before I spend hours and hours trying to get to a viable way of making these with my goals in mind, I’d like some input from experienced smiths as to how they would tackle it. If I need to up my forge welding skills then so be it, if that is the best way. Maybe there is a better design than what I showed, and any input on that would be helpful as well.
  6. Frosty, your replies on drilling was hugely informative and clearly comes from a lot of experience. Thanks for taking the time to write that all out.
  7. I make my own wood finish for things that will see weather by using various combinations of boiled linseed oil, turpentine, soil-based stain and spar varnish. Generally equal parts of each is a reasonable starting point. Often for the first coat I omit the spar varnish and up the turpentine a bit so the oil penetrates better, and then add spar varnish in on the second coat. An interesting finish is to paint on iron acetate made from a solution of dissolved steel wool in vinegar. High tannin woods like oak turn black, deeply. Then you can oil or wax as you see fit. I am intrigued by the possibilities of blending pine tar into some of the formulas that I use. No recommendations yet on that. One other suggestion is to leave the wood, especially hardwood, somewhat rougher...say 120 grit. Then put the first coat on to allow the oil and solvent to penetrate more deeply. You can then sand it to the desired final smoothness when it is semi-dry. This helps fill some of the pores for an even more durable surface. Final coat with formula using spar varnish.
  8. Took at stab at adapting this idea to a "pronghorn" finial, more or less following the suggestions made in this post. Some room for improvement, but it'll work!
  9. Its threaded onto the 5/16" tang. Next time I will drill and tap after it is completely formed...its a pain otherwise. I had the notion that the little scroll would butt up against the end of the tang and make some tension to help hold it in place. I suppose a dab of CA glue works...just not very traditional.
  10. After making several versions of a simple old hoof pick for promotional purposes, I think I finally have something pretty close. I wanted something that represents the aesthetics of furniture I make. So, it should have a rustic-western look, feature some wood (handle of course), have a little forged hardware (pommel), black metal finish, and can be made in about an hour or less. I think this is close. I need to work on improving efficiency of making the pommel a bit as this is the most time consuming part.
  11. I better correct something. Latent skills might not be the best term. Latent talents is probably more accurate. Dad was a skilled machinist and grandpa was a skilled carpenter in the old sense of the term...everything from carved ladles to mine structures. I am pretty sure they wouldnt have accomplished what they did without talent.
  12. Your responses are very enlightening, and have provided a lot to think about (like I need that), and has been humbling for me as well (I really do need that). Just to focus things a bit. My essential goal is to immerse myself in a craft (now that I can) while being personally accountable for my time. I want to develop what I think are latent skills. Skills that I see in my ancestry. I delight to see them come to light in the workshop. My scrap pile still grows, but I am starting to see some progress and increasingly feel better about what I am able to accomplish. Naturally I want to do more, but I think its important for the time spent to be productive. God knows where this endeavor will go. But unless He shows otherwise, I am not designing it to become anything more than one man doing the best he can, while he is still physically and mentally able, to leave something valued and beautiful behind for others to use and enjoy. So here is where I am at: I have chosen furniture as my platform…which sounds eerily like a mesa or butte. Thank you Rockstar for that useful metaphor. I have chosen western styled, rustic furniture as what I suppose would be a genre….not wanting to sound too artistic. Hand forged hardware, fittings, purposed-functional features would be a key element. The question is, how do I efficiently and effectively launch this endeavor? This is what I am thinking… First. give the business a western identity or branding, which for me is represented of course by a Pronghorn Antelope. Second, pick a target group of customers to start with. I am looking at “horse people”, or what could be called the equine industry. Not that this would encompass all potential customers...just a starting place. Make a line of somethings that this kind of customer would be interested in. Somethings like bridle racks, hay hooks, hoof picks, saddle racks. None of this is custom made, but it will be well made or I wont sell it. It gives them a chance to buy something special, an easy sale, and introduces my business. Then maybe an opportunity to introduce hand crafted furniture that would suit their idea (and mine) of personal style. I think furniture…coffee tables, special cabinets, kitchen tables, beds etc…elevate the potential value and beauty of things made to where I would it like it in pursuit of my goal. That is my dream and the path I hope to follow. The feedback and input y’all have provided is an encouragement and helps fill some gaps in my thinking.
  13. For all the writing I do, at times I still fail to see things the way my audience does, and it gets me in trouble. I should explain things more thoroughly before making potentially inflammatory statements, and for not doing that I do apologize. I did not mean to set Frosty off. I think of custom work as work done according to the specifications of an individual. Made to order if you will. I have known some that do custom work, and with a few exceptions, they are not friendly people. Some might even be miserable. Customer burn-out is the malady. Those few exceptions are extraordinary people. One is my best friend, but he has a lot of best friends. I think to be exceptional at custom work, it takes being a master at the craft first and foremost. Then it takes an extremely attentive listener. Diplomacy is another key trait. There are probably other virtues required as well. I know enough about myself to know it’s not me. So what will I make? Furniture. I have had enough interest in what I make that I think I can sell hand-crafted furniture, but not custom furniture. I’ll leave it at that. Thanks everybody for the lively and educational conversation.
  14. You are right on that, and it has not escaped my attention. Jackson is about 2.5 hours from my...ahem...forge, with a few pretty darn nice fishing holes in between. Pronghorn antelope are about the fastest land animal in North America. I hope potential customers don't infer that they will get forged products speedily. One thing I am trying to avoid is custom work. I don't deal well with sniveling.
  15. I assumed a zither is a bird. Why would anybody pluck a zither except to prepare it for supper? A mental image formed of a cleanly plucked zither in a roasting pan, nicely browned. I got hungry. I was disappointed to find that according to Wikipedia a zither is a musical instrument. However, I do have some pronghorn antelope in the frig for lunch. It doesn’t look anything like a pronghorn antelope.
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