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  1. I have done quite a bit of research but cannot find a good solution to my issue. I had smelted some iron ore for the first time and am now left with a good amount of small pieces of bloom which I have been trying to figure out how to refine into wrought iron because the pieces are so small I am worried that I will lose a large amount of the iron during the process. I Have amateur experience in forging but I have never forge welded.
  2. I'm long winded. I'd rather say too much than too little.. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the more important things I'll emphasize in bold Nothing can replace learning how to manage a coal fire in person from someone of experience. That said some folks may not have that opportunity. When I started using coal in my forge I wasted a lot of time, energy and fuel. I've learned things from trial and error, but even more from places like this. Proper fire management is one of the most basic skills anyone wanting to learn blacksmithing should know. I’ve had to teach myself most of these skills but I’ve by no means done it without the advice of others. It's not terribly complicated, and it may be common sense to many people. I've always been a visual learner and a little dense so I'm doing this the way I'd have liked to have seen it presented to me. I haven't seen a good step-by-step pictorial on such a simple subject so hopefully it'll be helpful. Perhaps it'll serves as a jumping off point for those just beginning and a nudge in the right direction to those struggling. As a point of reference, not a suggestion: my fire pot is about 14"x10" and just over 3" deep. Some ideas for lighting the fire are newspaper, drier lent, dried sticks, chopped kindling, natural charcoal, wood shavings, pine cones, birch bark and dried leaves. (anything flammable and lightweight can be sent aloft while on fire, always be aware) I don't see a need to buy commercial fire-starters, but if you're somewhere urban or in the midst of a winter-wonderland they're an option.. I’ve tried several ways to start a fire. My favorite method is simply a sheet of news paper and charcoal. They produce a clean fire quickly. Building a separate wood fire to steal live coals from before the work day starts isn't a bad idea and the chard wood can be used to start your next fire easily. I don't recommend using accelerants because they're misleading. It's a waste of time to start a fire only to realize that the only thing burning was lighter fluid and it's gone out before anything else was lit. Here you can see a close up of coal, coke, and charcoal (made of bamboo) respectively. Not all coal is the same and I will not go into the different types, but this is a bituminous coal that was bought locally from an unknown vein. It had both large chunks and lots of fines. Large chunks can be placed on or near a fire and they'll break up easily as they heat. Fines can be lightly moistened to form a slurry mixed with slightly coked coal it'll heat up and bond together to form a brittle coke less suited for use at a later time. I prefer to do this at the beginning of a day not the end. When using an electric blower controlling the air flow is helpful. I use a shop vac directed to a T fitting. On the side of the fitting, opposite from the opening directed toward the forge, I’ve fitted a ball valve to allow excess air to be channelled to a side draft style hood/chimney. Additional air can be vented from the ash dump by sliding it open a bit. An open ash dump may also provide enough draft alone to allow a coal fire to coke up. Before a new day’s hearth can be lit: One must sift the ashes, removing occasional bits of clinker. I toss the coke into an empty bucket and more questionable sifted shovels go into a bucket of water. (<-This tip was actualy given by ThomasPowers) The coke floats, and leftover ash, clinker or coal sinks. Use a dust mask if you value your lungs. I first make a ring of coke at the bottom of the firepot. Some charcoal is present. A little more charcoal is added. Charcoal or dried wood tender will ignite much easier than coke/coal. If wood is used do so sparingly. I don’t know that you can’t weld in a fire with burning wood, but I do know it takes up hearth space and doesn’t burn as hot as the coked coal will. A single sheet of newspaper is lit and placed in the center of the hearth. Many people will use several of paper or they ball up coke/coal fines into many sheets of paper. If you've had trouble try it; this is what works for me. Some charcoal is quickly added while the air supply is on very low. Just enough to catch fire before the paper burns out. The kindling or charcoal only needs to burn long enough for the coke to catch. Coal is more difficult to ignite than coke. If building your first fire use more kindling and expect to wait a little while before forging so the coal can coke. The key from here is not suffocating the fire. The blower is still on but you may find too much air causes smouldering kindling that won’t catch. Once again charcoal or even charred wood is much more forgiving. This bamboo charcoal burns hot but quickly. I use it to supplement my coal more than primary forging, so I added more than necessary. I wouldn't use as much wood kindling. Some coked coal is added. When you are sure the coke has caught pile more on. The blower is blowing lightly. If you used kindling you can even carefully pull out any burning wood and seal it in an airtight container, or extinguish it some other way. This will make for an easier fire next time. Remember that floating coke, now is a perfect time to layer it on. This will buy the coal a little time to cook. You may increase the air some, but you don’t need a lot of air yet, but you can increase it enough to keep things going. Pile your wet coal around the center of the hearth/firepot. I snapped this picture right after the wet coke lit, just before cutting the blower off. A handful of mostly uncoked wet coal from the bottom of the water bucket was then placed on top. Then a small scoop of wet coal was added. (This picture didn’t turn out well and I failed to notice at the time.) The coal has heated up around the hearth and begun to melt and stick together as it’s coking. You can make a small entrance with your rake. Within this cave you’ll be able to keep an eye on your steel and see the color of it while still surrounding it with heat from almost every direction. The fire pot is about 3 inches deep and the mound is at least 5-6 inches above the forge table. Note – the fire is about at welding temperature. This is the fire after welding. You can see it’s beginning to burn hollow– there isn’t enough burning coke inside the cave. While enough fuel is present inside this cave to work, use less air and water to allow coking to catch up. A hollow fire is a result of not enough coal coking because you’re keeping it too wet, or too much air being introduced. This will cool your steel and create scale. I use a ladle that’s easily held with my tongs to avoid steam. I can’t tell you when exactly you need to sprinkle the fire and surrounding coal with water, but the idea is to keep the fire from migrating out of the firepot. Or whenever you see large sooty flames from green coal. If the perimeter of the firepot becomes well coked it may need to be watered until it’s time to be slid inwards. Occasionally, after the blower is stopped, the coking coal atop the fire will ignite. Then go out as soon as the blower is cut on again. For this type of fire that is a good sign to add more coal to coke. I assume this happens because the burning coke just below the top of the mound is consuming excess atmosphere from around the fire and the coal on the top of the mound is coked well enough to require lots of oxigen to stay ignited. Heat cokes coal. Coal will burn, and it’ll stay aflame simply from atmospheric air. Coke needs more air introduced or blown towards it to stay lit. I know of no reason to burn coal other than to create a supply of coke and help maintain the shape of certain types of fire. This sort of fire when well maintained can provide an excess of coked coal, which is a good thing as you explore other types of fires. It’s time to sprinkle some water on the fire. After a little water it's time to add more fuel. If heat becomes a problem, then clinker build up could be the source. Clinker can be prevented from blocking the air orifice by firepot design, installed clinker breakers or simply by pulling it all out in one large sticky clump with your fire rake. To the left you can see clinker mixed with flux from lots of welding. The middle and right are two different types of clinker from separate coal sources. This is just one style of fire; I’ve found a cave style fire like this useful to heat several inches of steel. To give you an idea: In this particular fire I forged and welded a small heart shaped hook out of about 6" of half-inch square bar and a 12" knife with a seven-inch blade. If you're just getting into blacksmithing I highly recommend "The Backyard Blacksmith" by Lorelei Sims, that is were I was introduced to this type of fire. I am by no means an expert. I'm presenting this as an educational post. But it's also a chance for me to find out from the rest of you how I may improve, or any misconceptions I may have. Working odd bends and unusual shapes or sizes without destroying a coal fire is still a challenge for me. It’s easier in a well coked open fire. Coke has to be held in place with a rake when steel is inserted or removed. Often it'll still have to be raked back or more added. Then time must be spent waiting for the fire to get back up to temperature if glowing coke is displaced. It's just something you have to get a feel for with experience. These days one may never even use a coal forge. To me it's an intrinsic part of the blacksmith experience worth at least being familiar with and at times even more practical than some modern heat sources.
  3. Hello all, I am new to the community and anxious to dive right into some basic metalwork. However, I need a forge first. I've played around with plenty of firepits and hair dryers before, but i'm looking to really get going with a proper forge setup. I live in the country so space and fuel type are quite flexible. My only real constraint is that I want it to be capable of forge welding low carbon steels and maybe even pure iron for when my skills hopefully reach that point. To my knowledge that requires a temperature of around 2700° F. Do you fine folks think I should build one, or buy one? And with what type of fuel source and/or blower? Thank you in advance from this humble beginner.
  4. This was filmed way back in May just after I made the tomahawk mandrel video.. I haven't been feeling inspired to produce videos so this video has minimal edits. 1 to be exact. Been to busy with other things. I left in all the mistakes. which I usually do. It's part of the fun.
  5. This latest video has a production glitch.. I am posting it because it's has good information other than the non sync issue which is in process with the software company.. I really don't want to edit it again in the other software as I'm burnt out.. I can do about 40hrs on the edit than I start going crazy and want to run away.. **** this video was in response to a comment from a fellow smith about how plain and not really graceful a 4 rod handle is vs a higher count handle.. While I for the most part agree there are ways to make a lower count handle as graceful and interesting.. This is an example I forged to show him.. This video is more about the handle itself and how it's done.. The end finial is not really covered as this technique was covered in the "How to Forge bolts"video..
  6. Hey all, This is my first post on this forum and I am looking for some advice. I know that my fiance and I want to forge my wedding ring together from Damascus steel using 1095 and 15N20. I have done no forge work before and would like to get connected to some resources in Minnesota. Does anyone know of any forging groups/ clubs/ random groups of cool forging people/ makers that meet up and just get after it in the great state of MN? I am looking into making a small forge to do some simple heat treating of high carbon steels but do not have the capacity to look into buying an anvil and larger forge. -SmeltDelt
  7. Well i got pnumonia so its gonna be a while before i should swing a hammer... Maybe another month so im doing planning in the meanwhile and i would apreciate your thoughts on this steel, avoiding beginner questions please im looking for input. So this is a roughly .7-1.4 carbon chunk with maybe 1-2% nickle supposedly made from manganese nails and deer bone. Dust to dust... Bones to steel. So i am thinking i will wrap it in a very low carbon steel wire(technically its iron because its under .02% but w.e its a really high manganese alloy so its steel) that will meld into steel with flux and an orange heat, just with a few hammer taps. The wire might help hold it together while i gently work it into a patty. Maybe like this but more extreme and covering the whole chunk? Pretty much over wrapping it heating the chunknand then pouring as much borax as will stick to it. Now pretend the paydough is my steel if you can tolerate the sillyness. Im thinking i would start at the edges and fold it very carefully a bit at a time into a rectangle of sorts. Only when i do the small folds i add some 1075 shim stock cut into strips into the creases. Its only maybe a grain and a half thick and it can be cut with tin snips. Metal gets reheated and soaked, shim just gets forged right into the mess which is going to have be consolidated anyways. Now the fun part of the theory im thinking i might hot cut and fold the patty one inch at a time. Adding shim stock into the creases as i go. basically turning it over cut cutting and folding it up like an acordian. Annnd then i might rewrap in wire and consolidate it down to a bar and begin the forge welding process of folding it 5-12 times. Figuring this chunk is going to get welded onto another two parts of different steel and refolded however many times till i have a million at least. Thoughts? I also have used all of these techniques before so they work its just a matter of how i want to play with it.
  8. Using my coal forge, I wanted to weld an eye from a spring steel clip used on railroads. I brought the material to a good orange heat, beat out one end, scarfed that end, and then bent it back to form a loop. I then fluxed it with straight borax, buried it in the coal fire, and brought it up to a yellow-white heat. When I took it to the anvil, one tap sent the entire unwelded eye to the floor. It literally fell apart from a tap. The steel showed some cracking, which was not there when I shaped it. I tried another piece of spring steel, this from an automobile leaf spring. I drew out the end, scarfed it, folded it around in a loop, and then fluxed with straight borax. I buried it in the fire and brought it up to a yellow white heat. It looked like a good temp to weld. I took it to the anvil as quickly as I could. Before I even tapped it with my hammer, it fell into two pieces. It just disintegrated. Does anyone have any idea what I did wrong? Too much heat? Borax eating steel? Bad ju-ju?
  9. Hey All! So still learning lots everyday about Smithing. I have been learning on a Coal forge and have one all set to go into a building once it is built when the ground hardens here in Oregon! But in the mean time I have a Forgemaster Blacksmith model... ya I caved and just bought one instead of building one though i may still build one down the road... I wanted to get to where I could practice things at home that I am learning at the shop (40miles away) hence the gasser as i can open up the garage door while its raining out side and bang away...... My problem is with the bottle regulator running at 12 pounds and the needle valve set to highest setting... I left a pieace of 1/4 inch in the forge for 10-15 minutes and it only got to bright yellow.... what the heck??!!! My mentor is a coal only guy and has never really used them in the means I am trying to... if any of you can kick me in the right direction i would appreciate it! Pete
  10. Firstly, I was not sure where to put this, so I apologize if it's in the wrong section. Now, a brief story... I have never been very good at forge welding, most definitely due to lack of experience, but I made an ax the other day by welding a few sections of leaf spring together after wrapping it around a pipe for the eye. I thought I was starting to get it down.... But i digress, a friend of mine asked me to make him a Hardie cut off tool, and I only have some mild steel thick enough to fit into a Hardie hole, just needs to be made square. So I figured I would forge weld a section of tool steel onto the top for the actual cutting section. I cleaned both pieces and tack welded them. I got three heats in on the piece, brushing and fluxing in between each, and before the first. It felt good under the hammer. All seemed well. So I began shaping the tool, and they split apart. Not immediately, but about two or three heats into shaping it. So, I rushed back to the grinder and cleaned both pieces up again, and re-tack welded them. Three more heats, just as described above, and they split on me yet again. I am fairly confident each heat was at the correct temperature. Both pieces were relatively close in size, so they heated pretty evenly as well. Unfortunately, the tool steel is not large enough to use by itself though. Only on the third heat of the first attempt did I burn the steel slightly, very few sparks flying though. I made very sure to turn my blower slowly to reduce excess oxygen that could get to the steel, but just fast enough to get to welding temp. I am scratching my head wondering exactly what I did wrong. I have read about people welding mild steel and tool steel before, but are the dissimilar steels that hard to stick together? Did that one burn affect it in a way I am unaware of? Is there some detail I am overlooking? I do not know what I did wrong, and my confidence is a bit shaken, so any help would be appreciated. Apologies for the long post, and thanks in advance for your time. Will W
  11. So I'm making a tomahawk with a high carbon bit in between low carbon steel. As you can see in the picture the steel hasn't completely welded together. Should I just put it back in The forge and try a few more times? Is there anything I should do before that?
  12. Hello everyone. I am pretty new to smithing, and this is my first time posting anything on this site, so go easy on me. Ive made tools and knives and such, but I just attempted my first forge weld yesterday. Nothing special, just some mild steel bar stock. It went way better than expected, they actually stuck very well, so I want to keep going. I have a LOT of old reciprocating saw blades (sawzall blades) and I want to try to weld a few, and if all goes well, I may try to make a knife out of it. My question is, what kind of steel are these saw blades likely made of? Will they make a useful knife, or are they low carbon? I don't know many specifics about them, as they've been floating around the shop for many years. I have blades for cutting wood, metal, and concrete. Im not sure if that makes a difference. Any help would be very appreciated. Will
  13. This weekend my local blacksmithing group held a forge welding workshop for 2 days. The projects consisted of flux spoons, fire pokers, chain links, heart hooks and cable damascus. I have attached the images of my heart hook, "flux spoons" and cable attempts. The heart hook isnt perfect but im really happy with how the weld came out. The cable was interesting because we did not do the method i usually see. Most of the time i see people weld up the ends of the cable to prevent splitting then they heat the cable and twist it together tighter before welding it flat using the anvil. The way we were taught was to use the u shapped depressions in a swage block and hammer into the swage depression while rotating the bar. It seemed to work pretty well and i am excited to work the piece out now to see what i really have.
  14. So I've never forge welded before but want to start soon, would a fold weld be good or should I find something easier? (Also most of my welds would be for Damascus blades) (By fold forge welding I mean when you fold the steel on top of each other creating layers for those who didn't know.)
  15. I have the privilege of apprenticing under Rashelle a local blacksmith/instructor with Trackers Earth. During our forge day on May 12 she wanted to teach us how to forge weld a traditional belt axe head by forge welding a section of 1080 into the folded flat stock of mild steel. I'm excited about the options that the knowledge of forge welding is going to open up for me and hopefully this first project turns out. By the end of the day we had our axe heads shaped and annealing. This coming Thursday we'll start the grinding and clean up process and hopefully get them pretty close to finished. I'll keep the post updated with shots of the work in progress. Thanks a ton to Rashelle for all the knowledge she has been willing to share with me!
  16. So I am relatively new to blacksmithing, I haven't really been able to do much since I live in a third story apartment and it's winter, but I had this idea I can't get out of my head. What if you could fold copper into a mild steel billet? it would probably require a power hammer since copper melts a such a lower temperature than steel, but I think the result would be quite striking. I guess what I am wondering is if you more skilled blacksmiths think that it would be possible, or worth it to try. And how you would go about it.
  17. Zyphiza

    First try at Damascus

    From the album: first try at damascus

    Made this today was a good learning experience
  18. Does anyone have any tips for welding the back end of the axe head without melting the tip?
  19. I haven't been able to pin down a real definite answer as to the proper temperature of forge welding. I am assuming that the temperature range is slightly below the melting point by a few hundred degrees, but other than semi molten I don't know anything else. What is the general rule of thumb on temperature for forge welding; mild steel and high carbon, respectively? I don't want semi molten as an answer, because that doesn't tell me anything more than I already know.
  20. Hello All, New to this site and still moderately green in general. I have done a !SMALL! amount of forge welding and I have a question, or a try it and let me know/ill post pics eventually. So I am planning on making a Serpent sword viking style and I was wondering if I took a curved re-bar in between a few layers of varying steel plates Would I get the snake patter? Just curious, I know the issues of re-bar, everything from shattering to en even quality. but I think I got some good stuff for free which is allllllways nice. Thanks!
  21. Compiled by Adam Ford COMPARISON BORAX followed by BORIC ACID FORMULA Na2B4O7·10H2O H3BO3 MOLAR MASS 381.37 g/mol 61.83 g/mol MELTING POINT 1,369°F (743°C) 339.6°F (170.9°C) BOILING POINT 2,867°F (1,575°C) 572°F (300°C) DENSITY 1.73 g/cm³ 1.44 g/cm³ SOLUBILITY Water Water IUPAC ID Sodium tetraborate decahydrate (so-dee-um tet-ra-bo-rate dec-a-hi-drate) Trihydroxidoboron, Boric acid (tri-hy-drox-ide-o-bo-ron) DIFFERENCES BORAX followed by BORIC ACID Differences FORMULA Na2B4O7·10H2O H3BO3 BORAX much more complex MOLAR MASS 381.37 g/mol 61.83 g/mol Difference 319.54 g/mol MELTING POINT 1,369°F (743°C) 339.6°F (170.9°C) Difference 1029.4°F (554.111°C) BOILING POINT 2,867°F (1,575°C) 572°F (300°C) Difference 2295°F (1257.222°C) DENSITY 1.73 g/cm³ 1.44 g/cm³ Difference 0.29 g/cm³ In the end, You will have to heat the metal a lot less to be able to get the metal fluxed with Boric acid. This is JUST A REFERANCE SHEET I am NOT ADVOCATING FOR ONE OR THE OTHER, THAT IS YOUR CHOICE This sheet may be used as you want. Redistribution is fine by me
  22. I've tried to forge weld before, and the last time felt I was close but resorted to finishing it with my stick welder as I began having trouble getting the forge hot enough. This seems to be an issue if it's been burning for more than 3 hrs and I haven't cleaned out the coke dust. No problem getting hot in the first few hours though, it's an 11" brake drum forge using blacksmith coke and a squirrel cage blower, flanked w/ fire bricks. This time instead of upsetting the end, splitting it and driving the bit into the end, I wanted to do faster that would ensure no lack of forging heat, so shaped a piece of Nicholson file into a U to fit around the end of an upset, squarred HC RR spike, I did do a small cheat by tacking it with my stick welder. Maybe not necessary but I didn't want to complicate things by having it move on me, maybe next time I'll try wrapping it with wire, the stick welder was the easiest method for me. Anyway after brushing, fluxing and saying my prayers to the forge welding gods, I piled on the coke since I'm not using coal to form a beehive with, kept checking the end of the spike and rotating it. Seems like burning up metal before helped judge the correct temp because this time I pulled it out just before it turned into a sparkler, brushed and using one of my smaller hammers set the weld, flux'd again and returned it to heat. The next time out I brushed again and used my usual forging hammer. This time it appeared to be taking so then I was able to continue forming and upsetting the end. I had to wrap things up as my wife had errands to run, but very pleased with what seems to be success. I did notice a seam on the top that needs to be addressed. I assume just repeat the above steps until no seams are visible, I did leave the piece buried in the forge to slowly cool to relieve stress. From the top showing the seam. Seen from the side which initially was squarred with the U shaped cap. I've sell most of what I make, but this spike hawk's going to be the exception as this was a milestone and a goal I've had since beginning blacksmithing a little over a year ago.
  23. Hey Guys. I recently got a new forge and its a gas forge using LP gas and i really would like to do some forge welding or pattern welding. but whenever i heat my steal up and try and weld it all it does is compress it but not like it should be. it continues to have seems and wont just go into a single billet after several hours of doing this i still could never get it to go into a single billet. so i was thinking maybe I'm not heating it hot enough. I typically run at 16 PSI and let it warm up for 15-20 minutes until i put my steel in, what am i doing wrong that wont allow a forge weld? what should I be doing to obtain forge welding temperatures?
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