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I Forge Iron

Newbie set-up.

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Greetings everyone,

I know this is old hat to many of you, but I thought You might enjoy seeing my new set-up. An old RR track was my first "anvil", but I quickly decided I wanted something a little sturdier and with a larger working surface. After watching Tim Lively's knifemaking video I started looking for a piece of steel 4" x 4" x 12" that I could embed in something, creating something like a Japanese swordmakers anvil.

I found a great chunk of 4340 steel through Terry at Old World Anvils. Cost me $50 plus $14 flat rate shipping. Thank you, Terry

My forge was designed after Tim Livelys in the video. I embedded the steel bar into an old oak stump and added a little vise so it was close at hand. Pictured is my first RR Spike project which I left unfinished to have a primative look and a spearpoint knife I am working on from an old piece of spring steel found all rusted in the farmyard.

Thanks For Looking.....Happy Hammering!:D




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Nice set up!!!

You got everything you need to do some serious hammering.

I love the anvil. How come you put it on its end instead of its side like japanese sword smiths have it? The side would give you a bigger work surface, so I'm curious about your methods.

And thanks for the info about Old World Anvils. We've had alot of new smiths (and old smiths) complaining about the lack of anvils in their areas. If OWA is selling drops at $1.00/lb, that is sweet news to a lot of ears.

Could you post a cost breakdown for your setup? I think your pictures and a detailed cost breakdown could be really helpful to any new smiths out there looking to get started but don't really know what to expect in potential cost or where to get stuff.

Great work.


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Pretty nice set up.

Placing the drop on end provides better depth of rebound than laying on it's side which means more efficient return of energy to the work. you don't really need much more anvil face than the size of the hammer's face. The only exception is straightening a long piece but with a little practice that's no problem on a 4" face.


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Thanks Guys,

Thanks for the positive comments.

My set-up costs:

my "anvil", $50 plus $14 shipping,
The little vise cost $19 from Lowes
The tub, piping and cement (a mixture of sand and pure clay cat litter [unused] lol) cost me about $20 bucks.
high leather gloves $6-$8 and long handled pliers ($8),and two 3 lb hammers from Harbor Freight .
Cheap hair dryer to use as a blower...$15
And finally, I bought a hand forged set of tongs for about $15 shipped.
Cost of steel to work on.....absolutely freeeee!

Total cost was approximately....... $160

By the way... I live on a very limited income so I didn't buy everything at once. I started with the forge and a few tools when I had the cash. Added the gloves, etc. later, and finally purchased and mounted the anvil and vise this month. Took me about 3-4 months to get it all together. If you live on a budget like me don't wait until you have all the $ before you start......buy what you can as you can and look around for deals. You might be able to find some of the items for free (like the hair dryer and vise). It may take a few months but you'll be happy with the results. I know I am!:D

I'm still looking for a pair of bolt tongs (if anyone has a pair they are willing to sell for a fair price please let me know), but will make due with what I have for now.

And...... I think Frosty already answered this for me, but .... I mounted the steel end-up (forgive me I'm not a physicist) because the striking mass (my term) is like hammering on twelve inches of steel rather the four if it was mounted sideways. This gives the feel of a 300-500 lb anvil even though the piece only measures 4x4x12 and weighs about 50 lbs. It is inlet into the stump about 5" and any gaps were filled with sand making the set-up rock solid and relatively quiet although rebound is great.

I'm mostly interested in knifemaking so the size is great (easy to move around and plenty of surface space). I think anything much larger would actually get in my way. Hope this helps!

Happy Hammerin'!:cool:

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Looks great! Thanks for the cost breakdown. I am always hearing people say "man I would love to do what you do but I don't have the money." Your post shows how inexpensively you can have a great setup to start blacksmithing.

I also enjoy woodworking but the cost to get started in that compared to blacksmithing is much higher. Think about photography and what it costs for "beginner" slr digital camera. Golf, motorcycling, flying the list goes on and on of hobbies that are considerably more expensive and most of which you don't make things you can sell to offset what costs there are. (Those are all the things I tell the finance department when I want to buy a new tool).

Edited by DKForge
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nice setup .mine is similar and im still using my rail as an anvil iv only used the forge 3 times as ive got a 4 month and a 3 year old at home ready to play all the time. mine cost me bout 50 bucks 10$ for bout 18 inch rail; 20 pipes(incl i used only bout12$ because i changed my design and didnt use flange and 't'(went to liveley style too);20$ for refractory cement(used half) (i had, old vacuum, old bbq,hammers,vise grips, vise , files grinder, etc)i bought 10$ huge bag of lump charcoal (took me three forge uses of about 3 hrs each use , but i make my own charcoal i have bout 2 garbage bags fulllll)oh yeah and 20$ for 3 3foot leafspring from toyota minivan( from auto wreckers- so it was expensive) when i figure out how ill post pictures of setup and first 5 'started' knives

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If you search around for it you will find posted a bunch of times how I built a complete beginner's set up for about US$25 including Forge, blower, anvil and basic tool set. And that was really the higher end as I could have used a ground forge and trimmed some dollars off that.

I built it because a friend kept telling me it was too expensive to build his own set up and I wanted to see what he thought was "too expensive".

Worked well too, as I used that forge as my main billet welding forge for a couple of years.

And whn the ribbed radiator hose that connected the old vacuumcleaner exhaust to the tuyere would resonate and "sing" it was a hoot!

aprayinbear's set up is way prettier than my first one!

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Brother I hear ya on the budget thing. my setup is on the back porch, wife is making me build a shed to get it out of her way. I have only been doing this about three months. The only problem is it is so addicting. Where did you find those tongs for such a good price. i got a pair of wolf jaws and they cost about 3x that with shipping. It is amazing what a little bit of imagination and outside the box thinking can produce. i love the twist on the knife handle.

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I found the tongs on ebay. The seller uses the name oldamesblacksmithshop. Looks like he has slightly raised his prices. Now they are $20 shipped (about $5 more then I paid). I guess word gets around.

Thanks for the comments on the RR knife. This sure is addictive! I made another bunch of charcoal today so I can hammer a little more tomorrow. The great thing is that once you are set up, materials seem to come for free.

All The Best!:D

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That's a slick setup--sorta like the one I got, except it's on my back yard lawn without a covered area, so everything is "super" portable. I too, started out with a RR track (and soon figured out that mounting it upside down, in a 5 gal bucket of cement worked good for the first one or two hammer blows and then it was all over!). I've got a similar forge, however I "dismantled" one of my wife's "dead" hairdryers and made a variable speed controller for it (not going into electronic engineering here--go to radio shack and buy some books!) that works awesome. You got a screamin deal on that piece for your anvil--I got one half that size (2 1/2"X4 1/2"X10") for about $125--and that I had to save up for, for a long time). I'm going to weld the large piece I have to the top of my RR track, standing it on it's end (and as you said before, similar to increasing the mass under the hammer area), and then already have it welded to another 1" plate on the bottom for bolting to my home made anvil stand (used 2X12's--looks pretty slick, and when it's all done, yes I'll post pics). Don't worry, I'm familiar with the welding of this type of materials--preheating, cooling, etc. Currently I'm in the process of building another forge, just for the sole purpose of heat treating my new "anvil top" as the Lively design is a little too small for that big piece of steel I got. Gonna get crazy with some furnace cement and pearlite.

Anyhow, nice work man. The next project you need to work on is *making* your bolt tongs. You shouldn't ever have to buy those types of tools--I use the cheap stuff you get from one of the major home building supply stores, but have some 4140 that's just waiting to be transformed into some useful tools.

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