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  1. That's true. Superposition is a very accurate way to get things to fit together perfectly. It's often faster and more accurate to find the middle of a uniform bar section by balancing it on a cutting edge. For the purposes of forging identical parts out of bar stock, equal mass correlates to equal length. An old carpenters trick for dividing lengths evenly is to take a ruler or tape measure and pull it at an angle across a table. You're looking to get the point where the rule crosses the edge of the table to a number that easily divides by whatever you need. For example, let's say you wanted to divide a 40-1/2" wide piece of plywood into three even sections. For the sake of argument, let's say that the width sides are parallel, but the ends aren't square. Dividing fractional inches involves more math, so we're going to do this an easier way. Putting the corner of the tape measure on one corner, you'd pull the tape diagonally until it crosses at the 45" mark. Since 45 divided by 3 is 15, we mark the plywood at the 15" and the 30" spots on the rule. Those marks will be precisely 13.5" apart albeit at an angle. You can repeat the exercise with the tape angled in the opposite direction to generate two more points which line up to divide the piece into three equal sections. It takes longer to explain than to execute. Another quick tip is to know that an equilateral triangle has angles of 60 degrees. Using a compass set to the length of one side, you sweep an arc. Switch the pivot to any point on that arc and sweep another arc that intersects the first arc. The two pivots, and the intersection define your equilateral triangle every time. If you need 30 degrees, you mark half the length of one side and connect it to the opposite angle to divide 60 degrees into 30. Again, it's faster to do it than it is to explain it.
  2. Tristan, Lots of good advice has already been posted. I think it's awfully hard to tell what you need to know/have/do to be successful in a line of work until you've actually seen a successful example first hand. If it's at all possible for you to find a successful blacksmith shop that does what you're interested in it would be incredibly helpful for you to intern with them. Once you know what's necessary to be successful in your line of work, you can go about finding places to learn those skills. If it only takes a handful of courses to get where you want to go, you might find Ivy League institutions have made them available online for free. I would encourage you to try very hard not to take on loans for education. It's not particularly popular to point this out, but Higher Education is a huge mistake for most people. Statistically speaking, most of the people enrolling will never get a degree, but they'll spend decades paying down the debt. Out of the few students that do graduate, most of them won't earn the degree they originally wanted. Virtually nobody graduates in 4 years, and in most institutions, administrators outnumber faculty by considerable margins. Outstanding student loan debt is higher than credit card debt. We have an entire generation that's unable to marry, buy homes, or start their lives as adults because of college loan debt. Higher education students today are getting more than they need, but less than they've paid for.
  3. Frosty, Thank you for keeping me on my toes! I do, however have a dog who wouldn't hesitate to eat a goodly portion of your "rock" collection! My dog believes that everything is "noms" if you try hard and believe in yourself.
  4. Craftsman: "You can't polish a turd." Marketing expert: "But you can shellac it!" Efficiency expert:"Shellac is cheaper than polishing anyway" Advertised product: "Our Artisinal organic products reflect the human touch which means no two are exactly the same" Product review: "Once the shine wore off, my dog wouldn't quit licking his breath is worse than ever..."
  5. Frosty's point about weight is very instructional. There are a lot of finished pieces that have curved or twisted tapers which are difficult to measure for starting stock. Building on his point, I think ratio's are very helpful to allow scale mock-ups, especially with easier-to-change mediums like clay. Calculating volume from weight is helpful when it fits on a scale. We can also use water displacement to calculate volumes and densities.
  6. I think the answer depends on the soil conditions. Chopping through roots in sandy soil would probably call for a "woodworking" bevel, whereas a trench through feldspar might call for "stone cutting" bevel. At this point, I just try to avoid any kind of manual excavation work.
  7. Big gun doc is right. Custom rifles and shotguns from the "big boy's" in Britain and Spain have their own in-house engravers. The whole "point" of gun making at that level is to deliver the best regardless of cost.
  8. CBrann, I did the same thing with a cheapo drilling hammer. At the time I thought it made more sense to draw out long stock using the peen. That didn't turn out to well for me. After trying a bunch of different options, I found that I got things done faster using a crowned face hammer on either the horn or with half-face blows on the off side corner. Frank's comment about a flat peen leaving less "cleanup" is spot on. It takes some experience to realize that "faster" blacksmithing comes from moving metal quickly AND precisely. Anything that puts deep dings or creases where you'll want it smooth later isn't saving time. I find myself using a ball peen more often than anything else. It's not "balanced" which is what makes it want to fall straight. I find that if the face is cocked too far for corner fullering, it torques in my hand. That feedback tells me that I've passed the "sweet spot" where I've maximized the pinching effect of the cocked blow. The limitations on "corner fullering" keeps me from putting in dings to planish out later on.
  9. Farmall, I think your explanation was very good. It's called "inductive" heating because the heat is a function of electromagnetically induced eddy currents. It's generating electricity within the iron-bearing metal. As these currents encounter the resistance of the metal, the electrical energy is converted into heat. One of the "aha" moments for me in physics/science was when I realized the first law of thermodynamics applies to a heck of a lot more than just "hot or cold". I sorta knew that if you shake the xxxxxxxx out of something and it will eventually make noise, magnetic fields, light, or heat. It was semi-amazing to realize that energy can move in any direction. The physical properties of the material might make the losses greater in one direction than another, but that doesn't change the energy involved.
  10. I believe that's incorrect. Radiation is the emission of electromagnetic waves or subatomic particles. For example, an inductive cooktop generates an alternating radio frequency waves (radiation) that induces eddy currents in iron bearing materials that generate heat as the currents flow through the resistance of the material.
  11. Taking a different approach to this question, it occurs to me that chemical reactions, friction, pressure, and resonance can agitate molecules to very high temperatures without resorting to combustion. Getting metal up to forging temperature with any of those approaches would potentially change the properties of the stock beyond physical dimensions. I don't recall which IFI member posted the video, but they took a bit of room temperature round stock to hot enough to light a cigarette using nothing more than their hand hammer and anvil. That was impressive to watch on many levels.
  12. I'm curious about the intended use for those Frank. I see how they grab a complete plowshare which leads me to think they're for servicing an existing plowshare as opposed to holding the two steel elements for welding a new one. I have an old blacksmithing book that covers "re-steeling" things like plowshares and axes. The general idea was to weld some additional steel onto the cutting end of a worn out tool. Actually making a plowshare, especially if made from welded sections looks like a two-person job to me. Now that I think about it, is sure seems like plows could get pretty large. I wonder if they ever used overhead chains to take the weight of the parts while getting the work between the forge and the anvil. Either way, those tongs are something special. I'd love to get a feel for how they grab. It reminds me of an MC Escher drawing!
  13. Michael, I really appreciate your comment and I'm glad to be helping people. notownkid, There's a lot of truth in what you wrote. I've had a few good clients who are pretty tedious with pricing revisions. Over the years I've done a lot of work for them. It's tough to land enough work as it is, I can hardly afford to turn people away. That being said, there's a turning point in the opening stages of a client-contractor relationship that can really only be seen clearly in retrospect. That turning point is where the motivation behind the "tinkering" is revealed. I've encountered quite a few reasons for it. Here are three the contractor should worry about: Distrust Incompetence Dishonesty Here are three that the contractor should be patient with: Curiosity Testing the contractors Scope to budget alignment It's tricky to pick the right moment, but I've found that some well-placed questions can help clarify what's going on. In one case, I called a client who was on their fourth revision to ask what was going on. The client responded by asking why I was concerned. I replied "Whenever my bid requires several revisions, my client must need something I haven't provided. Rather than further test your patience, I thought I should call you to be certain my next revision solves your problem." That shifted the process away from "call and response" to collaboration. Once my client had explained themselves, I could offer suggestions on how to define their problem and what their tolerances were for solutions. In another situation, I had a client who wanted endless cost breakouts so I tried the same approach. That client dismissed my concerns by asserting their "right" to see how things stacked up. When I asked if the breakouts would be used to reduce the scope of work, the client said they'd be used only to assure competitive pricing in contract negotiations. In other words, it's not enough that you deliver the lowest total bid. If a competitor is cheaper for a portion of the work, that becomes the client's basis of comparison for negotiations. Since these breakouts were demanded AFTER the original bid, it's clear the client fully intended the bidders to believe that the lowest complete bidder would be awarded the job at bid time. That assures competitive pricing. Now they want to improve on their lowest bid by subjecting the winner to "negotiations" against breakout costs from the losing bidders. That's fundamentally dishonest. The original invitation to bid promised to fairly award the contract in exchange for good-faith bids. Consider the incompetence of a person who tells the bidder they just broke their word, but expects bidders to believe they have honest intentions! Imagine watching a 1600 meter race in the Olympics. The winner is the one with the lowest time. Should it matter if they were winning at the 400 meter mark? I should mention that the perennial favorite phrase of the scoundrel is; "It's too close to call". The only way that is possible is if they had two or more bids for the exact same amount. In the extremely unlikely instance where that happens, an honest client could send a message to the affected bidders listing the actual dollar value they had in common and asking for a run-off bid. Anything else is dishonesty. I've awarded half-million dollar contracts that were won by less than $50 of difference. If all the bids are complete, the winner is the lowest amount, period. It's actually beneficial to the client to have bidders be so close because it reduces the risk that the lowest bidder is missing something. Whenever a client tells me it's too close to call, I respond by telling them they have no risk in awarding to the lower of the two. Sometimes institutional inertia leads people to think every problem is solved by perpetual competition. Reminding them that they're wasting time over peanuts can sometimes lead to a moment of honesty. I had one client with a budgetary blowout who wanted the two low bidders to compete on value engineering ideas. That was why he was pretending not to know who had won the original bid. I told them that I can't afford to spend my bosses money providing check-numbers against a competitor who already won a job. However, if I won the original bid, I will certainly do whatever I can to get cost down to meet the budget. They responded by admitting that I'd won the job by less than 2%. Now that they were free to speak clearly about the figures, they could tell me the exact amount we exceeded the budget. Happily, we were able to make some changes to the suppliers and delivered a whopping 34% price cut without sacrificing quality, timeliness, or profitability. In general, I think run-off bids should only happen in three situations. The first is when the design has been modified following a budgetary blowout. The second, is when two or more bidders submit the exact same amount. The third is when a contract was terminated before the project was completed, but after the project was started. Everything else is feigning legitimate competition to facilitate chicanery.
  14. Thanks for all the responses. I think "porter bars" is the closest we've come to an established/ traditional tool that works along the lines of what I was imagining. Thomas astutely hit on the real challenge when he mentioned the weight of tongs. Daswulf's suggestion with the drill extension is a good one for square or round stock. Perhaps this idea will come full circle when advanced materials like carbon nanotubes become available to the home-gamer. I could definitely see the advantage of a light weight ,super strong "handle" material that still had excellent stock-holding ability. bigb, When I was first starting out (still a beginner), I wasted a lot of time fighting with my tongs and my forge. When I used longer stock to give a handle, I was able to see what anvil and hammer presentations were creating the reaction forces that knocked work out of my tongs. Once I learned what worked, it was amazing to work with tongs again because I didn't knock the stock out of my grip so much. If you watch farriers making horse shoes from bar stock they use flat jawed tongs on the narrow axis of stock they're bending (turning) on the thick axis. That's awfully difficult to do without controlling the reaction forces. I watched one gent making a horse shoe and it was amazing how little the shoe bounced around. He spun a shoe on the face of the anvil like a hula hoop using his hammer to shift his tong grip from one side to the other.
  15. I had an experience today which is worth sharing. Several months ago my company was asked to provide pricing to upgrade some light fixtures. The first go around we had plans to work from along with specifications for the fixtures they wanted. The client immediately changed their mind about what was and wasn't going to be replaced. I dutifully revised my proposal for the job. Now the client wants me to find a cheaper/better fixture. I go and find three options, each of which saves significant sums while actually delivering a better light fixture. Most of the savings comes from the volume discount my company gets for doing so much business with the rep. Inexplicably, the client decides to visit the rep's office to "get to the bottom" of why the fixtures are so cheap. Lighting rep offices are showrooms built to show clients what's possible when money is no object. This client saw the showroom and assumed the rep was overcharging everyone to pay for it. So the client decides to go find a rep with a dodgy-looking showroom staffed with incompetents and he picks out a similar fixture to those we've suggested. The specification is for something that would have been old-fashioned and inefficient in 1995. I revise the bid anyway. The "savings" come to less than 1% of their original bid. They're not happy with that, so they want me to find a new energy efficient light that looks like what you'd expect in a 1995-era cubicle farm. While they're at it, the client decides to have one of my foreman come out to the site so they can do a site survey of exactly what's needed. This presumably, is because the plans we've been working with aren't accurate. So I revise the bid for the new-but ugly fixtures, and reduce the counts to reflect what the client and my foreman came up with. To this point, I have priced this job nine different ways over the course of approximately 4 months. Today, I hear the client is outraged that we're "24 fixtures short" of what's needed. The client's firmly astride their high horse sending me emails showing the dates that various plans were transmitted. If only I'd taken 60% of this page from this set and 40% of that page from another set, it'd be plainly obvious what was really needed. I should mention that I listed the quantities of lights included in my proposals along with their specifications on every one of the above revisions. I strive to be extremely clear about what is (and isn't) included whenever my bid is different from what the plans call for. As we go about sorting all of this out and calming the client down, I can see quite clearly where things went wrong. Estimating is a detail-oriented task that requires a lot of focus. The work involved in arriving at a number for something can be considerable. When you go back to check your work, all of the numbers look familiar. Nobody can afford to spend the time to go through every measurement and calculation because that's literally a repeat of your estimate. Since some idiot made it industry standard for estimates to be "free", the cost to your company to bid a project must be paid out of the overhead on the project. Estimate revisions tack on additional overhead that wasn't included in your original bid. Clients figure it's no work at all for you to change "just one thing" so they balk if your price went up to pay for the estimators time. As a result, the estimator is expected to make bid revisions as quickly and cheaply as possible, especially since clients like to suggest they're just one revision away from signing on the bottom line. Its pretty appealing to just "do what you're told" rather than questioning the client's judgment. I've had projects where I was obliged to pore over the same information so many times over that I became "blind" to errors in my work. On the client side, they're trying to manipulate the situation to maximize their budget. In my above example, the client steered a course away from the best value and the complete scope of work. They did this because they never looked at the larger picture. Their focus on reducing waste created an iterative process where they assumed every prior step was progress in the right direction. Practically speaking, the contractor must recognize the pitfalls of quote fatigue. Clients tinkering with endless revisions are more likely to cause problems than solutions. The best course for all concerned is for the client to define not only their problem, but their threshold for acceptable solutions. Contractors must in turn deliver a solution within that threshold on their next revision. Clients may need help with bringing focus to their problem. "Scope creep" undermines the trust between the client and the contractor. Clients won't care that you did what you were told for the price you quoted when the job falls short of their needs. They may feel stupid for trusting you but they won't recall ignoring your advice. It's critical to understand that clients will remember the cheapest price they heard but they won't recall the context. If something is unlikely to make them happy, providing a price only enables their anger later on. That's doubly true with revisions where their "solutions" are making things worse.