Jon Kerr

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About Jon Kerr

  • Rank
    Advanced Member

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    - Benfleet, Essex, UK
  • Interests
    Learning more about Blacksmithing!

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  1. Jon Kerr

    Making an Engagement Ring

    My advice, for what its worth. I just got married in August. I went through a similar thought process with wanting to make my own engagement ring. I knew "my girl" would love the sentimentality of it. The fact is, though, its not worth the risk and whatever you do will never look as good as one done by a "proper jeweler". If you fork out for an expensive stone, set it badly and it falls out, good luck getting the insurance company to pay out! Additionally- engagement rings are often complex in design, delicate, etc- which requires lots of skill and experience to make. In the end, I found a perfect middle ground for myself. I found a local semi-professional jeweller. She doesnt work as a jeweller full time, but is fully trained with a portfolio of work as evidence. She even had contacts in Hatton Garden in London to get a top-quality, decent price stone. I'm sure you could find someone similar locally if you dig around facebook/google, and ask people you know locally if they know any jewellers. She made an engagement ring exactly to my design. I drew up all the sketches and took her advice on settings etc. The ring turned out great, and when I asked my (now-wife) to marry me she was thrilled, and loved telling all her friends I had designed the ring. Later, we forged our own wedding rings together from stainless steel (though, a word of warning; this has then resulted in a headache with the threat of the steel band wearing on the white gold engagement ring. We're having a sacrifical ring made to sit between.) By contrast, wedding rings are EASY to forge with almost zero skill. You just punch a hole, drift to your ring size, and the rest is grinding and polishing till you're happy. Like I said, for me this was the best of both worlds- a beautiful engagement ring I DESIGNED, and a couple of simple wedding bands we MADE.
  2. Jon Kerr

    Complete Beginner

    I do thoroughly enjoy our "car boot sales" here in the UK, which I think are pretty much the same as your flea markets? Unfortunately they're coming to the end of the season as winter draws in as they're generally held in fields which will be wet and muddy for a few months. My current list of things to look out for: -Hammers (no more than 50p each, especially if handle is old and broken) as it seems like there are loads of good projects to make things from old hammer heads. -Large masonry chisels and steel pegs to turn into punches and drifts. -Long handled pliers and horse hoof nippers to turn into tongs. -Files and farriers rasps for making knives. If anyone has any other good tips of things to salvage I'd love to hear them!
  3. Awesome, thanks very much.
  4. Hi John, How did this go in the end? Any final photos? Any tips for safely cutting open the bottle? I might copy this but don't want any explosive decompression.....
  5. Jon Kerr

    Complete Beginner

    Some, but I guessed not enough to quench a 2lb axe head. On that subject- is there a general guide on litres of oil to mass of steel for quenchant? I did some googling and read some calcs, and it seemed like the answer was 20litres was a safe amount for quenching steel up to 2-3lbs (hammers and large knives/swords). Also- any tips on a cheap/free sealable quench tank? I've read about ammo boxes but we don't have those in the UK. I'm struggling to think of what kind of cheap metal container I might be able to find/use. I'd like something with suitable dimensions for both axes and knives, really, to "future proof" it.
  6. Jon Kerr

    Complete Beginner

    ... it is a good point, and I agree wholeheartedly. If anyone were to ask me for a #1 tip for a new blacksmith, it would be that! Unfortunately they're just so expensive in the UK... I need to learn to make my own ASAP.
  7. Jon Kerr

    Complete Beginner

    Thanks Thomas, I knew the cold shut was happening but struggled to do anything about it and made the decision to carry on regardless and grind it out later. What I underestimated is how deep it would go. I started off badly and should have hammered the edges down first to prevent the cold shut occuring. My big problem was struggling to hold the piece initally with my crappy tongs (I became better at this later on) which caused my hammer control to be terrible early on. My next plan, eventually, will be to grind off the edge completely, ensure the cold shut is gone, split the face into a "V" and forge weld in a high-carbon tip..... but this requires some forge welding experience and practice and I'm nowhere near there yet. As far as the heat treat... I'm almost scared to post as I'm sure I did this wrong: - I thermo cycled it 3 times- up to glowing orange and left to cool naturally in air to non-visible heat. - Then I heated again to orange and quenched (in water). I didnt check the magnetism at any stage. I didn't have oil available. - I then tempered in the kitchen oven at 250C for 1.5hrs. I could see straw colour in the body of the axe, and perhaps blue in the edge. I believe this may be wrong also? - I then ground my edge. I wonder I did too much grinding at this stage and the heat from grinding would mess up any heat treat. How far do you grind before heat treat?
  8. Jon Kerr

    My first year of blacksmithing

    Hi Patrick! Where abouts in Essex are you based? I'm from Benfleet, SS7, so if you every fancy meeting up to swing a hammer and have a beer please let me know! Keen to meet more local blacksmiths as I'm very new to all of this. The advice in your post make for interesting reading so thanks for that!
  9. Jon Kerr

    What did you do in the shop today?

    Love the jewellery stand Das, and the jewellery itself! Inspiring as always. I'll have to have a go at making some leaf jewellery for my family. Thanks!
  10. Jon Kerr

    Complete Beginner

    I'm sorry for all the stupid questions. The learning curve is incredibly steep without anyone experienced to forge with early on..... I need to find the cash for a class ASAP. I've been wondering about oxidation and fire regions. Obviously I have little to zero experience of these things and nobody to look over my shoulder and say "you're burning your steel". Does the axe look over-oxidized to anyone? I don't know how I would tell. I'm still concerned about my fire management, really. It's possible my JABOD set-up isn't exactly perfect in terms of size and depth of the firebowl. I was previously struggling to get things hot, especially if I stick to the "keep the stock horizontal" rule. Im finding it difficult to maintain the fire to stay hot enough at "ground level" (by which I mean, my JABOD dirt surface level, ie/ the top of the fire bowl) to get steel for forging temperature. With the axe, I allowed the axe to be buried a little lower than the ground level and had much fewer problems getting it hot. That also allowed me to use far less charcoal and forge for longer without adding more charcoal. I'm now concerned I might have been letting the fire die down too far (not enough charcoal to raise a mound), and shoving the axe right into the oxidising region of the fire. Is there any way to tell what by eye where each of the fire regions are? Another thing I noticed is a green hue to the flames at some point. This could be from staring at the fire too long, or it could be because it was getting dark and I've never forged in the dark before. Whats this? Steel burning? Firebrick burning? Normal?
  11. Jon Kerr

    What did you do in the shop today?

    I finished my axe tonight. Not good by any real blacksmith’s standards but I’m really happy with it as one of my first handful of projects. Details in my project thread so I wont repeat here.
  12. Jon Kerr

    Complete Beginner

    I finished my axe! Rubbish by most standards but I’m really proud of it. I decided to have a go at charring the handle. I also carved out some recesses for some decorative wrappped copper in a couple of places, just for aesthetics. (For anyone interested in the copper wire process. I drilled a small hole to poke the wire into to start, wound really tight, and drilled another small hole and cut the end just right to poke in to the end hole. Dab of superglue to secure. Held the wire really tight and worked great. No idea if this is a common method but it worked for me, and meant zero wire overlap.) This was my first try at heat treating. Its still not very hard in the end (tested with a file) so perhaps the steel is just shoddy. Unfortunately, during the final grind I discovered a hairline crack. I’m not sure what the cause is- I did introduce a cold shut during forging but I was sure I had ground it all out before finishing forging. Perhaps not. Or perhaps caused by quenching in water rather than oil.... Any comments and criticisms welcome.
  13. Jon Kerr

    What did you do in the shop today?

    I had a go at turning a small ball pein hammer into an axe. Really pleased with the outcome (my first axe!). Also wired up my blower with a foot pedal, which was super handy and conserved a lot of charcoal.
  14. Jon Kerr

    Complete Beginner

    I finally got back around to doing some blacksmithing..! In fairness, I’ve had a busy couple months since we just got married. In the mean time, I’ve been watching lots of forging YouTube videos and reading old threads on this site to try and soak up as much information as possible. Firstly, I wired up my forge blower properly. It needed a startup capacitor and I wanted to add a foot switch. It works great. I can actually control the air flow by turning the fan on and off rather than using the valve. I’ve been desperate to try my hand at turning a ball pein hammer into an axe/tomahawk, so thats what I tried to do today. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. No idea what the steel is so it may not hold an edge- in future I’d like to repeat the project and forge weld in a high carbon tip. For now though, I just wanted a simple axe for splitting kindling! Lessons learnt: I’ve started breaking my charcoal into much smaller lumps, approx 1” square. Much better. My forge is working much better with the blower and foot switch. Much quicker and easier to heat metal. My main problem now is my tongs are pretty rubbish, and I need to make a couple of new pairs for specific stock sizes. I’m having trouble hanging on to the workpiece, and its causing the stock to bounce. I can’t possibly turn the work piece between blows as I barely have hold of it as it is! Any tips/comments/criticism about the axe would be appreciated! Ive also attached some pics of my current set up for any other beginners who might be interested...
  15. Jon Kerr

    What did you do in the shop today?

    Daswulf- the Oobala is incredible. I absolutely love it. Bending the fingers like that into various gestures give so much life and character! I wish I lived closer, I'd totally commission you to make me one!!