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Here are some tools made from spring that I did because of the many questions I've seen about making some of your first tools. This spring ended up being 12' 6" long. I cut circles off it on the horn then straightened them in 3 heats being careful not to put any nicks or dings in the material. I then cut them on my hardy into 7" pieces. I forged the striking end first then then the working end. These are mostly one-heat square tapers, stop, or go to round in a second heat, or two sided tapers to form the chisel and fullers. I forge, grind, heat treat, test, and then it's ready to go.
This would be a nice starter set to think about making.

15673.attach

15674.attach

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15677.attach

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I'll start if I may then. :) Oops, too slow! lol

In the case of chisel-type tools for hot forming, such as veining tools, decorative punches, etc. do you harden & temper like a cold chisel, or just harden? If I recall correctly, the chap who I learned basic tool making from reckoned it wasn't worth tempering such tools as they'd soon lose it in working the hot metal. However, someone else suggested that if you keep dipping the tool in water to keep it reasonably cool, then it was worth tempering.
Who's right please?

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Yes, I do harden and temper them. These tools are what I'd call small hand tools. They are for smaller stock and are not or should not be used in a manner where you would lose there hardness [this implies quenching in between the time it takes to get the work done]
I am calling 1" and under smaller stock. I don't usually strike more than three times before it is time to cool the tool. I may cool it in the air or in water depending on what I'm doing, but if you try cooling this material in water after it has been left in deep hot material where it shows color, you will break it. I do not always harden and temper all my tools. It depends on what I am asking of the tool.
They are both right!

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Brian,
Next question. are any of the wonderful tools you show a "slitter"? I went to a local chapter meeting with Peter Ross (colonial williamsburg master smith), and he described me to a T. He said that there are many "hobby smiths" out there with talent and ability to do some pretty detailed or difficult work, but never learned the "basics" like punching, slitting, drifting, upsetting, etc. properly or at all. Not that I can do much of the difficult stuff:rolleyes: either.
thanks
pt

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There are two slitters, one is a 5/16" slitting punch and the other is a 1/2" slitting punch. They are the ones with a V grind. The original hardy cut, cutting like Hofi does in his blueprints, sets you up for these slitters and the other round and square punches with a similar grind. Punches like these have alot less resistance going through metal than flat bottom punches do.

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Hi Brian,

Can you give a little more detail as to what each one is and what it's used for. I have a spring that looks much like the one you used, maybe I should be busy! :)

Thanks,
Russell

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Don't know if anyone asked or not, didn't see it, so I'll ask....

What is the size of the spring material? One-half inch? 5/8 inch?

So I (and everyone else trying to make these) will know.

Thanks.

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I was only going to make eye and nose punches to start with, but when I finished and photoed the first set I thought you all could get alot out of this spring. The first punch I made was the bob punch for making the eye punch. The eye and nose punches are just square tapers. The eye is taken a step farther by forging a depression in it with the bob punch. Then I grind or file the rest leaving two of the corners; this allows me to orient my punch using the corners as my reference. The small cresent is the nose punch. Next I made a square and round flat bottom punch, then a square and round punch like I usually use with the V grind. There are two slitting punches with the V grind, a chisel, and two fullers.

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Don't know if anyone asked or not, didn't see it, so I'll ask....

What is the size of the spring material? One-half inch? 5/8 inch?

So I (and everyone else trying to make these) will know.

Thanks.


Sorry, Keykeeper I'm a slow typer. That spring is about 9/16", but you can use other sizes.

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If you harden a moderate to high carbon steel YOU MUST DRAW TEMPER on it or it may shatter in use! If you quench a low carbon steel you may not need to as it doesn't get hard enough anyway... Many people do not harden high carbon tools that will be used for hot work but just normalize them---this is maybe what was being referred to.

As to size of spring, I'd assume you would just go with what was available; maybe make a different set later if you got larger/smaller dia spring stock... A lot of blacksmithing starts off like that old recipe for rabbit stew: "first you catch your rabbit"

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I figured the spring was in the 1/2 to 5/8 inch range, just wanted to get it in there as I'm sure some readers would need to know the cross section.

I wouldn't want to make tools with too small of shank, as they would bend for sure when I used them.

Thomas, your point is well-advised also. Go with what you have on hand until you find something else is kind of my motto. I have a whole bunch of used star drills in varying sizes just begging to be made into punches, slitting chisels, etc.

Now to find the time and perfect my heat treating skills!

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I often accept old chisels as "change" at the fleamarket and throw them in my High C bucket.

Sometimes they surprise you, I've run into some that air harden when in knife sized crossections, and a few that were hard to harden at all!

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Not wishing to muddy the water, but Mr. Ross uses a slitting chisel like the Germans. Very thin and very sharp. Get it in and get it out quickly! I don't recall his being quite like this one, but an example of the German style of slitting chisel can be seen in lesson eight of the Controlled Hand Forging Lessons by ABANA


I'm not sure what you mean by, "Not wishing to muddy the water," but the slitters I made are punches not chisels. I have made and used slitting chisels like the ones in that article. Alfred Habermann used slitting chisel like that also. I have not seen anyone else using a slitting punch like the ones I make unless they have been exposed to me. I've seen slitting chisels that are similar being used by Hofi, Tsur Sedan, and Tom Clark and the people who have been exposed to them. I prefer to punch clean slots. The chisels leave at least a rim or ridge inside the hole from slitting the rest of the slot from the other side of the material, and when chiseling larger stock, there are usually some pretty large cold shuts that are caused by the material stretching because there is no backing for the chisel when you chisel the other half on the other side.
I posted pictures of different slitting punches in Slitter Geometry that cover this better.

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I really did enjoy doing it; I sang all day, but I really did not do this for me. I did it for you. I have more pictures from the day. I'd like to hear some questions.


Brian,
What kind of steel is a spring like that?
Is that steel good for chisels and drifts?

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Aeneas, It is spring steal. Spring is usually 5160. Someone gave me that spring and I cannot be positive exactly what it is, but it does harden enough for making chisels. You can use for drifts also, but I'll use mild steal for some drifts.

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Hi Brian. Thanks for the nice illustration. Do you use water or oil to quench the tools when you harden them? There is another thread that complained about cracks when quenching in water.

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I used oil for these.
I could have used water on those tools.
My choice of water or oil depends on the tool and the material I'm using. here I am going to be talking about 4140 and 5160. I'll use oil for a larger bodied tool like a hammer, top tool, or hardy tool, and usually water for smaller profiles like chisels or punches, but when using water I take care with the length of heat I get and the length that I quench. I'll only bring about 3/4" up to heat then quench about half of that moving it slightly up and down. If you quench the whole heat it will break. I'll draw a temper with the remaining heat maybe up to 3 times quenching like above in between draws. I'll let the tool cool down where I can hold it then test it by hitting it over my horn 3 times. If I did anything wrong or if the used spring was already stressed it will break. The main thing when forging small punches an chisels is not to over heat, don't over beat, and be mindful of the heat treat. Most of the punches and chisels I make are done in one heat for the working end unless I am going to round. A one heat taper is so much stronger than a taper that requires reheating the previously forged start of a taper. I know this from experience, but Bill Bastas could explain this from the molecular changes that occur during forging. He is the only one I've ran across that will point this out. I observed this years ago mostly from making pritchels for horseshoers. The pritchel is a long narrow rectangular punch for punching out nail holes and is the most challenging tool I've ever made in one heat.

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okay i have a few questions. When you say you sometimes use mild steel for a drift, is this only for a small drift that you will quickly drive through your metal, or are you talking about those awesome large drifts you use? Wouldn't mild steel be prone to deforming under the high heat?
Furthermore, i hear talk of high carbon steel being a bit tricky due to tempering requirements, in that it will become brittle. What about other alloys such as h13 (i know i'm beating a dead horse Brian, but i had to ask) h13 is supposed to be excellent in resistance to heat checking and thermal shock, even red hardness. These seem to be great qualities in a tool steel, especially for hot work. Plus it is an air hardening steel, so a few hot punches of h13 would be very durable if using on after the other. How difficult is it to forge and why? Whew thats alot of questions.

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okay i have a few questions. When you say you sometimes use mild steel for a drift, is this only for a small drift that you will quickly drive through your metal, or are you talking about those awesome large drifts you use? Wouldn't mild steel be prone to deforming under the high heat?
Furthermore, i hear talk of high carbon steel being a bit tricky due to tempering requirements, in that it will become brittle. What about other alloys such as h13 (i know i'm beating a dead horse Brian, but i had to ask) h13 is supposed to be excellent in resistance to heat checking and thermal shock, even red hardness. These seem to be great qualities in a tool steel, especially for hot work. Plus it is an air hardening steel, so a few hot punches of h13 would be very durable if using on after the other. How difficult is it to forge and why? Whew thats alot of questions.


Yes, that is alot of questions, but that is what I like to hear.
Yes, I use mild steel drifts for driving through metal quickly, big or small, but not for the hammer drift because the hammer drift is like an anvil used to forge the cheaks out when making a hammer. Yes mild steel will deform under high heat especially when pressure is applied by a hammer.
High carbon steels are brittle when hardened, and that is why we temper them so they don't break. If you drive a tool into hot metal too far too fast, it will heat up too much, and if you don't quench it, it will distort.
H13 is a superior steel for its ability to take the heat. But you can mess it up just as easily as you can mess up any other steel if you don't treat it right. For hand work, you are better off using a steel that is more easily forged and easier to maintain like straight carbon steels or 4140 or 5160 which are cheaper and commonally availiable. For power hammer work, H13 will out preform the other steels because it will take the heat.
How difficult is H13 to forge? Try a piece of that 3/4" and a piece of 3/4" spring then a piece of 3/4" 1050 and you tell me. You will notice a difference in all three, then try some others.

Mike came by this weekend and we made a 3# hammer in less time than it took me to answer those questions. I have got to get quicker at this computer thing!

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Ok, so what steel do you use for the big anvil drift? I know you said a high carbon steel, how high? Everyone gets down on rebar for forging, i am a union ironworker foreman, and have access to literally tons of material. i presently have some #14 rebar, and it would draw out and make a drift quite nicely. I have mill certs, so i know exactly what this steel is, and its weldable steel. Just for your information, the majority of rebar larger than a #8 (1 inch) is weldable alloy. Of course that means lower carbon, but not as low as you think. Those #14 bars i have are at .37 and a long list of other metals. Rebar is not the crap that it used to be, at least here in the los angeles area, due to earthquake reinforced concrete.
Anyway i just have read so much about rebar being crap to use for forging, and i just thought i would drop some info out there. (actually get to share about some thing i know something about!).
I would love to use some spring steel, but when i tried to get some at the pick your parts junkyard they wanted like $50 for a spring. I thing i only paid $36 bucks for five feet of 3/4 h13. I will take your advise ant test the waters with all three.

The h13 tool steel is great at air hardening, and does well in hot work. Whats the process with a high tech tool steel like this when punching, drifting etc? I know it differs for different tool steels, as an example suppose your tools are h13, not spring and you want to make them last.
Doesn't using springs kind of defeat the purpose of having a durable tool? I mean you are using a steel that has basically been put through the worst possible environment regarding stress, heat etc.

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Ironstein:

Don't go to the you pull it wrecking yard, they want a percentage of new price because it's an auto "PART".

Find a heavy truck shop, auto repair shop or better yet a spring shop and ask if you can buy from their scrap or drops. Be sure to tell them you're blacksmithing and making some tools. This generally fascinates folk, especially the guys at the spring shop as they deal with heat treat all day long.

Anyway, I've never had to pay for spring steel doing this. In fact, the last time I hit the spring shop I had to say enough, the foreman had one of the grunts tossing drops into my truck before I got done chatting and I didn't want it overloaded.

Being a blacksmith, even a beginner holds a mystique with most folks, especially those who work with metal. There's no shame in using other folk's romantic notions to our benefit so long as we aren't misrepresenting ourselves or taking unfair advantage.

And yes, I made the foreman and his secretary a couple bobbles. Heck, I'm still good on leaf spring from that haul.

Frosty

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