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I Forge Iron

Power hammer / tool collecting ''disease''


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This pursuit truly is about the tools and I have many. Like some have pointed out, a tool is only as good as you have the abililty to use it. I have learned from one of my best blacksmith buddies to be realistice about my use.

My tool lust began with hand tools, anvils, power hammers etc. However in each learning curve, I learned what I wanted and what I didnt want. I learned the way I wanted the tools to be that I manufacture, and what makes a good tool. I have also learned how to fix, machine, modify and learn about the machines I have possessed and also the ones I have chosen to sell. In fact a lot of my journey as a blacksmith is the tools and tooling itself. How do I work faster how? How do I imporve quality? What adds to the process? How do I find a new voice in my work?

I now look at my shop as an organism. If a tool goes unused for a year or more its not earning a spot in the shop. I no longer buy tools for what I would like to do but in what I do now and what I will do if I own it. Many of my tools make me a better smith, not because of the tool but becuase of the door it lets me open. However, in the end each tool must earn a home.

Edited by Stumptown Forge
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Allot of passion and commitment in many of your posts and I agree with many of your thoughts. I think as artisans, trades and craftsmen, tools are like air for us. We can't live or work without them. Sometimes they are like cranky old friends that only you can get to perform.

I have to laugh at myself sometimes. I have 4 bandsaws and I'm only one guy in my shop. I use them all and they all have a special place. Another one I stumbled across the other day as I've been setting up my shop. I've been bringing hand tools from all the places they have been stored over the years. I realise I have Crescent wrenches ranging in size from 4" to 24" and I couldn't begin to count how many and I don't even like to use them!

Hardest thing for me- tools people can afford to buy but don't know and will never know how to use and tools that sit on a shelf in someone's collection and collect dust without use. Granted there are some tools that are too historical or unique to where out.

As far as the "right" price? Depends on how bad one needs it and the upcoming job.

I NEED a press but can't afford a new or used one. New, because it will cost more than I have and Used because I can't afford to fix failures of any kind. I'm hoping I can muster the $2500 or so it will take to build the one I need.

Happy collecting all- and I hope santa brings the tools of your dreams!

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Was it Henry Ford who once said "If you need a machine BUY IT because pretty soon you will have paid for it and still do not have it"

Hopefully my first power hammer becomes operational today, 27 years after I bought my house and shop and when I really needed the hammer but couldn't afford it, now I can afford it but do not really need it but I still wanted it:D

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This pursuit truly is about the tools and I have many. Like some have pointed out, a tool is only as good as you have the abililty to use it. I have learned from one of my best blacksmith buddies to be realistice about my use.

My tool lust began with hand tools, anvils, power hammers etc. However in each learning curve, I learned what I wanted and what I didnt want. I learned the way I wanted the tools to be that I manufacture, and what makes a good tool. I have also learned how to fix, machine, modify and learn about the machines I have possessed and also the ones I have chosen to sell. In fact a lot of my journey as a blacksmith is the tools and tooling itself. How do I work faster how? How do I imporve quality? What adds to the process? How do I find a new voice in my work?

I now look at my shop as an organism. If a tool goes unused for a year or more its not earning a spot in the shop. I no longer buy tools for what I would like to do but in what I do now and what I will do if I own it. Many of my tools make me a better smith, not because of the tool but becuase of the door it lets me open. However, in the end each tool must earn a home.



Nicely said Ken.... I respect and understand your view... Now If I could only feel the same way.. I think part of my problem lies in my obsessive compulsive behavior... I am scattered but intense... When something has my interest its not uncommon for me to drop everything and spend days (sometimes 20 hours a day) with only that one thing on my mind... Reasearching, building, rebuilding, thinking, evaluating on and on... But often times something bright and shiny comes along and snaps me out of my madness and sends me off on another tangent.... The same is true with equipment.... I'll become engrossed in.... something.. Building an English wheel for instance... But after its done I got other things to do rather than actually use it... Now I will go back at some point when I have a job that will require its use and become obsessed about learning that process so its not like its wasted time.. And If I waited till I needed the tool I wouldn't have time to build one when the need arose... I am horrable about gathring things to build machines though... But the time I get around to something I have enough junk to build a dozen usually.. The Hydraulic press is a good example.... I have still yet to finish a press but I have 4 power units a dozen cylinders and piles of potential materiel all gathered for it
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Funny how things look different depending on where you start from---I was thinking that that english wheel looked a bit light duty as most of the armourers I know have much larger ones, (one I coveted was tied into the main support beam of a massive 100 year old house in Kansas city and used a hydraulic jack to apply the pressure)

It certainly looks a lot bigger than the thin sheetmetal car customization variety though!

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Funny how things look different depending on where you start from---I was thinking that that english wheel looked a bit light duty as most of the armourers I know have much larger ones, (one I coveted was tied into the main support beam of a massive 100 year old house in Kansas city and used a hydraulic jack to apply the pressure)

It certainly looks a lot bigger than the thin sheetmetal car customization variety though!


While I'm sure there are plenty of bigger ones I don't think anyone would call this light duty. It's two chunks of 1 1/2 plate spaced 5" apart and boxed ith 1/4 plate inside and out. It weighs close to a ton. The 1 1/4 acme screw will generate maybe 20 ton of squeeze. I have worked 1/4 aluminum and 10 ga steel with no problem. ( the screw will bow That 3" of steel plate without even trying. Edited by monstermetal
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Tools...My second machine shop employer was a Czech emmigrant, raised to be a metal worker from the seventh grade. He is one of the smartest people I know. He had me making a 14 inch sawblade the hard way, on an ancient lathe with a wore out headbearing that wouldn't take a square facecut no matter what I tried. He came around the corner and was watching me leaning on the tool post, trying to take the sag out of the cut. I complained about my troubles to him, muttering under my breath what a pile of dung this lathe was. He grinned and told me, "Oh, Mikey, anyone could make that cut with the right tools, but it takes a genious to make it with the wrong tools."

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  • 4 weeks later...

I love that line... And I realized a long time ago that I am not a genius, I am very limited by the tools I have available. With good tools I can do pretty good work, as the quality and number of tools goes down so does the qaulity of my work;-(

But I really like Mike's old boss's thinking: If I set someone up on a foolproof machine, how do I know if they are a fool or someone worth having around in the shop? The problem with foolproof machines is we keep finding dumber and more dangerous fools;-)

It's alright to recognise the reasonable limits of your tools, but never blame them for your inability to complete your ideas, and don't let them keep you from pushing the limits of what you can do. Ancient viking smiths NEVER had as nice a set of tools as any moron with money can buy today, but could produce things of such beauty that we marvel at them today. Neccessity is the mother of invention. It is amazing what you can accomplish if you are just too determined, adn never quit. When you read about how medieval smiths did things, and understand just how much work was involved, it is mindboogling to a modern person, but when you realize that was simple what they HAD to do with the tools, materials, and technology that they had available to them to get what they want done it makes more sense. Skill is a consequence of working hard for a very long time... People who study this kind of thing say it takes around 10,000 hours of diligent study and practice to achieve a level of mastery that leads to distinction... Famous artists, musicians, and scientist almost without exception capitalize on a powerful gift with hard work. There is an interesting book called "The History of Human Accomplishment" he has a chapter or two that deal with these concepts...

Christian
Husband
Father
Blacksmith
Farrier
Farmer
the rest just keeps getting in the way... ;-)

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"The problem with foolproof machines is we keep finding dumber and more dangerous fools;-)"

"Oh, Mikey, anyone could make that cut with the right tools, but it takes a genious to make it with the wrong tools."


The two best lines ever spoken.

I used to train people how to run "foolproof" CNC machinery and I have never heard a more accurate way of describing some of the individuals I was given the opportunity to work with.

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When I was a platoon sgt. I used to tell my men"There`s always a million reasons why you CAN`T do something.You just need to find one reason you CAN and run with it".

I picked up that idea from an old driller I met in the Texas oilfield.I once told Clyde that a task he assigned me can`t be done.His reply;"Son there`s only two can`t around here.If you CAN`T handle it,you CAN`T stay".Needless to say the job got done after some creative engineering.

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