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  1. dickb

    Sharpening steel

    Thanks. In my post I used the term "sharpening steel". My mistake, I should have written "honing steel" This will clean off the scale, but will the resultant surface have the right properties for a honing steel
  2. dickb

    Sharpening steel

    I am making a couple of carving knife and fork sets for gifts. The knifes are 1084 and or 1095 steel . I have a few pieces of stock of each type and use them pretty much interchangeably . Have never had any problems. The knives are oil quenched and tempered to 400 degrees F. I want to add a sharpening steel to complete the set. I have plenty of coil springs from automobile shock and/or struts. They are pretty easy to get around here and I don't use anything that looks the least bit rusty or crusty. About 5/8 inches cross section. It's easy enough to straighten them out and forge a nice long taper with a tang . So far, so good , but should temper them a little cooler than the blades ? And how can I leave some long ridges from one end to the other as per commercially available ones ? I can score them prior to heat treating but I think they will burn off. And the second question is, how do I deal with the forge scale on the surface ?
  3. I am a blacksmith working at a local museum. I came across an old pair of tongs in their collection. The surface shows a little rust and lots of grain , typical of old wrought iron. It's clearly hand forged and massive. It's about 24 inches long overall. The bits are (each) one and a quarter inches square and about five inches long. It's clearly designed for holding flat stock . Can anyone suggest what these tongs were used for? I heated the jaws to a dull red heat and clamped them on to the spine of a scrap knife blade and in a short time I could see the tempering colors flow from the spine to to the cutting edge. It was easy to arrest the action without over heating the cutting edge. Has anyone seen similar tongs and/or confirm their usage?
  4. Rebar is perfect if you bury it in concrete, not recommended for blacksmiths. Might be okay for a poker or a rake, nothing else. Great source of low price, uniform good quality steel is the local welding shop or fence and railing shop. Used automobile coil springs are great for hardenable steel (center punch, cold chisel , etc). but they are dangerous to disassemble. Ask the garage guy to take them apart, he has the tools to do it safely. Depending on your hand-eye coordination and accuracy skills with a hammer, I would start with forging tapers . For example forge a 1 or two inch long square taper on a 1/2 inch square bar. Next forge the same tapers on half inch round bar. Then continue by forging a 1 or two inch round taper on 1/2 inch square bar and on 1/2 inch round bar. If you are having trouble with these then find a stump and a pound of tenpenny nails (about 3 inches long) and practice hammering them into the stump. Now that you are comfortable with the above, start with making a center punch, cold chisel, scribe. Up to this point you may have been using vice grips to handle hot metal so it's a good time to make some tongs. And don't forget, hold the black end and hammer on the red end.
  5. dickb

    Forge welding problems

    Try a much deeper fire and 1/2 inch square bar is probably a little easier to forge weld. It has more mass than 1/2 inch round and sourced at the right origin it's the cheapest . The larger mass will make it cool a little slower. Try local companies that make railings. It's hot rolled and will come with some mill scale that you can take off with a grinder/file/sandpaper. You want to heat the work just up to the point that the (20 mule team) borax will melt, doesn't need to be any hotter. You have to work quickly when you go to tack weld it because it cools pretty fast. You can check if it's up to welding temperature by touching a piece of coat hanger to the work. If it sticks, then you are probably up to welding heat. Forge welding takes a lot of trial and error if you are working alone. Try to find a blacksmith in your area and ask hit ti show you how.
  6. I don't think sodium filled valves are used in such low level engines as lawn mowers. Unless you know exactly what you are doing, sodium is much too dangerous/explosive to fool around with. Of course with the proper investment, about $29,000, you can increase your chances of survival , see https://carefordescientific.com/united-shield-olympiaexcel-eod-large-45dk24-excel-bomb-suit-l-black-each/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIirvjyZ-I3gIVj4izCh2wBwWXEAQYAiABEgLsnPD_BwE
  7. dickb

    First day of blacksmithing!

    I work with a masonry forge almost identical with the one pictured, the only difference is that the rectangular opening on the front face is replaced by a nice masonry arch. Very picturesque, but a real pain in the neck. This design dates back to the time when stone/brick masonry was much, much cheaper than steel and/or cast iron. Before you waste time and money consider the following: 1 the masonry near the heat will have to be constantly patched . 2 if not carefully laid out, it will be very hard to replace the firepot, clinker breaker, and the connection where the air blast enters the firepot. 3 the masonry forge pictured requires you to work from the front, where you will be treated to great blasts of heat. You are much better off using a forge that can be worked from the side. 4 the masonry forge takes up a lot of floor space The forge pictured looks great in a museum but you can do much better with a more modern all steel structure supporting a cast iron firepot. Check out Iforgeiron for designs.
  8. dickb

    What did I do wrong.

    Sparking usually means it was much too hot for forging. Best I can think of is to throw it away and start with some known quality steel. Try getting your steel from a shop that makes gates, fences, metal fabricators, welders. It's really cheap ( or free ). If they paid good money or it then it should be plenty good enough for your work. Don't use rebar, it's too unpredictable.
  9. dickb

    My First Forged Piece

    You can get an almost unlimited amount of good quality mild steel from local welding shops and steel fabricators like shops that make gates and railings. Bring along something that you have made and explain that you are a beginning blacksmith. Ask them for some drops ( leftover pieces too short for their regular jobs). Local machine shops usually have lots of medium carbon steel leftovers. Great for making tools and knives. If it was good enough for someone to pay a shop to machine something out of it then it ought to be good enough for you. Both of the above will yield good quality new steel and the price is right, usually free. Finally shops that work on automobile suspensions and/or general repairs usually have automobile shocks and struts. These typically yield about six feet of good quality steel for tools and knives. Ask them to remove the spring from whatever it's mounted on because disassembling the shocks and/or struts is pretty dangerous. It's not necessary to straighten the whole coil spring before you use it. Just use an angle grinder with a cutoff disk or even a plain hacksaw and cut off what you need for the project. Good luck
  10. dickb

    My First Forged Piece

    Nicely done. Here are a couple of ideas that you might find useful. Instead of buying stock from home depot, you can get all stock you will ever need from local welding shops and/or iron fabricators (shops that make gates, fences and general iron works) . It will probably be better material and the price will be right. Just bring along a couple of items you made to show them and explain you are a beginning blacksmith and ask if you can have some of the scrap that they would normally throw away. Most shops just throw away two or three foot lengths rather than clog up the shop with unusable lengths. At some time when you get to the point where you want to use hardenable steels, you can visit local machine shops and ask for their scrap. Just tell them what you are going to use it for. 1040/1045 steel is very commonly used in machine shops. Maybe not some of the higher carbon steels. You can also try repair shops that work on automobile suspensions (springs from shock absorbers/struts/etc.) Once again the price is right. A WORD OF CAUTION, don't try to disassemble these yourself. The springs are under enormous pressure and you can easily blow yourself into the middle of next week . The shops where you get these springs usually have the equipment to safely disassemble them . Good luck and hammer on.
  11. dickb

    antique knives

    Does anyone have an Idea what king of iron or steel was used to make knives before hardenable carbon steels came into common use. For example 100, 200, 500 years ago. I made one out of some one hundred year old wrought iron, but of course could not get a decent edge on it and the edge I did edge didn't last long
  12. One of the things that causes twisting, at least in hand forging, I repeatedly turning the work in one direction while drawing it out. You might check carefully and see if this is what you are doing.
  13. The odds are that iron that survived for 100 years without falling apart near the watefront is wrought iron. If there are any areas where the paint is peeling you can take a look at the rust . Rusted wrought iron looks different than rusted mild steel. Of course the best test would be to obtain a sample and notch and bend to see how it breaks . Or a very quick and dirty test is to use a center punch and punch small divot into mild steel and also into the fencing. Wrought iron is a lot softer.
  14. dickb


    Here's another way of doing a very similar job, but technically it is not an inlay. First cut the design into the work, then heat the work to a dull red and apply some flux (borax, borax acid combination, or any forge welding flux) and then place some small scraps of copper or brass over the carved design, reheat and reflux and bring the whole thing up to heat. You will see the brass or copper liquefy and flow filling the carving. When it cools you can file or grind it flat until the brass or copper that was proud of (above) the carved image is removed. Whatever flowed into the carved image will be brazed to the underlying steel. Brass melts at around 1700 degrees and copper melts at around 1900 degrees F. Both well within the temperature for forging steel . I have used brass from rifle cartridges and it works and looks very nice. It's pretty easy and should work every time, but It would be a good idea to practice on a few pieces of scrap