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How do you forge items with smooth surface

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After visiting a medieval kids show, with sword fighting, I wanted to impress kids and forged a little toy sword from a 1/2" cold rolled round.

http://igor.chudov.com/projects/Blacksmithing/01-Kids-Toy-Sword/

Anyway, I am very new to blacksmithing. So the result, while having a general appearance of a bladed weapon, has a surface that is far from smooth. If I search for "handmade sword" on various websites, I see perfect smooth surfaces.

Accidentally, I suspect that these "handmade swords" are not really handmade, but are instead made by modern production methods.

Anyhow, even if that is so, I am sure that experienced blacksmiths have secrets for smoothing out their forgings.

What would those secrets be?

post-5484-12661985106057_thumb.jpgThanks!

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well there are a lot of things that will help a wire brush between heats good smooth face on anvil and hammer .. and a File! most swords and knives are finished with some form of abrasion to a fine finish ... whether its a file or a stone or sandpaper all will finish to a polish if You use fine enuf grit .. the modern method is belt sanders and buffing wheels the older method was files and sharpening stones ... and maybee a strop..the people that sell handmade swords can claim legetimately that they are hand made even if they use belt sanders and buffing wheels ... (try it it isnt as easy as it sounds) anyway good luck!

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I can't believe you posted THAT pic! What were you thinking showing something like that?

I am talking about the empty beer bottle, the sword looks good for a first try.

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I have no personal issue with the empty in the pic. We are all adults here.

TO the OP I think that you and the bastard file need to become really fast friends. Also you could take a red heat and use light blows to even out the surface before you file it.

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I can't believe you posted THAT pic! What were you thinking showing something like that?

I am talking about the empty beer bottle, the sword looks good for a first try.

Ahh the demon empty beer bottle(should it have been full)Having met Igor at his house 6 mos ago. I know the item
was for scale. Like the pop cans seen here often. Its not like anyone was drinking it. Think ya need to lighten up
my friend.
Ken

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Ahh the demon empty beer bottle(should it have been full)Having met Igor at his house 6 mos ago. I know the item
was for scale. Like the pop cans seen here often. Its not like anyone was drinking it. Think ya need to lighten up
my friend.
Ken


Hi Ken, it was great to meet you, you should stop by my house again! I got some [full] beer bottles lying around. [Gasp]

Igor

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You will never get a perfect finish with a hammer but, as has been suggested, a smooth hammer and anvil and brushing off the scale will help. make sure that all of the blade is heated in the heart of the fire so that oxygen can't get at it from top or bottom.
To achieve a reasonably smooth surface you should keep peening the blade on the final heat until it's pretty much black to take out the dings and then vigorously brush it as you plunge it into the water; this helps to blow off the scale and leave an even coating. Before filing pickle the whole thing in the concoction of your choice (I use brick cleaner)to clean off the scale, which is harder than the file. Draw file to get the finest finish.
The swords that I have made for re-enactors have been specified as EN5 which is a spring steel; insurance companies don't like the idea of flying chips of metal and the serrated edges that result. They also consider an edge thinner than 1/8'' to be too sharp.

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Hammer control is a good start to add to a flat dressed hammer. If that doesn't do it well enough a flatter leaves a nicer finish. Lastly you'll need to take the high spots off. A scraper or sen does a lovely job as will an assortment of files, paper or emery cloth or even a nice smooth rock. Once it's roughed and shaped you can polish it with either power tools (my personal choice) or hand polishing.

Mostly a nice finish is about skill more than secret tricks.

Frosty the Lucky.

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I can't believe you posted THAT pic! What were you thinking showing something like that?

I am talking about the empty beer bottle, the sword looks good for a first try.


LOL...I was talking about the bottle being empty, not that it was a bottle. Never show an empty bottle, only full. If an empty MUST be used, stand up several side by side along to show scale ( also shows you did alot of hard work and toasting to your success ;) )

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LOL...I was talking about the bottle being empty, not that it was a bottle. Never show an empty bottle, only full. If an empty MUST be used, stand up several side by side along to show scale ( also shows you did alot of hard work and toasting to your success ;) )


Dennis, if you ook at the first picture of the webpage, you will see that I started with a full bottle. :)

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"I wanted to impress kids"... I once impressed my kid too and my wife asked me if I had s**t for brains. What was I doing making a leathal spear for my already crazy son for, so he could kill someone? No, I told her, he just wanted to see how one was made and I obliged. We men can get in trouble faster than lightening. No effort at all.
Nice looking shiv you got there.

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"I wanted to impress kids"... I once impressed my kid too and my wife asked me if I had s**t for brains. What was I doing making a leathal spear for my already crazy son for, so he could kill someone? No, I told her, he just wanted to see how one was made and I obliged. We men can get in trouble faster than lightening. No effort at all.
Nice looking shiv you got there.


Well, in my case, this "sword" is intentionally dull, with the edge being at least 1/16" thick. So, in effect, this is just a steel stick on a handle.

Secondly, I will keep possession of it until it can be safely given to my kid.

i

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being a good blacksmith is like a bacholers degree, Being a good blade smith is like a masters degree. Hand forging a real qulity sword is like a Doctoral degree. Practice-Practice-Practice.

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Igor,in the forging process(no matter how smooth),the Carbon is lost from the outside of the sword/tool/whatnot,necessitating removal of N-th thickness anyway.

(NOT that it doesn't help to forge as accurately as one can.On his website,Mr Don Fogg has a very good description of HIS technique(very interesting,and uncommon in the general forging)).

One can(and should strive to)forge as smooth as possible.The finished plane is a combination of all the dimples of each of the blows.Combined,they CAN make a smooth surface.
Differently shaped hammer-faces help in that,specialised hammers/handled tools such as a flatter and a planishing hammer,different heat ranges,smooth anvil face,and the rest.

However,finishing the work smooth by material removal is as old as forging.Scrapers are very effective,but so are the files,and any number of natural abrasives used in whatever form.
Weapons and other tools were finished smooth for a number of reasons,corrosion resistance among them.

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Swords were very "high end" weapons. Grunts usually got spears. As such it was expected that fit and finish would be at the upper range of such things. (learning to live by the sword was pretty much a full time job and so you had to be of the social class that other folks would be supporting you while you did so.) A crude sword would indicate someone who was not of the upper class and so not trained and so dead. (Hollywood would like us to forget such things and is full of examples of untrained people winning against highly trained folk---not a common thing at all!)

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I, for one, have no earthly idea how a blade would come from the forge smooth and finished. I might suggest a magical forge. All of my stuff comes out looking like a cross between an asphalt shingle and a cinder block. My files and my bench sander, they comfort me.
At demonstrations, I have made little squirrel tailed knives for kids, leaving the edge thick and the point reasonably dull. I'll only do this after they bring me a parent to OK it. They could still poke an eye out with it, and it's probably a very bad idea. One of those kids might grow up, find that blade among their childhood things, and decide to finish it, thereby getting started in this sickness we all share.

Or they could poke their eye out.

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"they could poke their eye out with that".... That phrase always seemed to be on my wife's lips whenever I was forging something at home and giving it to the boys. I think that two active boy could poke their eyes out with the blunt end of a 2x4 but a few judicial threats and they appear before me today with all their eyes and limbs intact, won't say much about their minds, that's a whole different story.
I forged some heavy, blunt, steel practice swords for them, fun for awhile till the young one beat the tar out of the older boy. I then made wood swords out of 1x2 material and they had a lots more fun with them running around saving the realm, made wood shields and aluminum helms too. I was glad when they quit beating on each other until they started play computers, the cursed things.

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As you forge remember that any hammer mark you put in iron is a hammer mark you will have to somehow remove. A lot of the smiths mention files. To that I will only add that, lacking a good belt sander, draw filing will give you a pretty smooth surface if done correctly. It's an old traditional method and not taught in most metalworking classes anymore.

Start with a good quality, file. I've found that the HF FSOs just won't cut it. Use a brand new file if you have one. I use a double cut to remove most of the uglies and then a mill bastard to finish.

Have a good handle on the file and/or wear gloves.

Keep a file card or bronze wire brush and a soapstone or chalk or a piece of "sheetrock" handy.

Rub the soapstone/chalk on the file to start. Try to fill all of the cuts in the file.

Clamp the blade down to a block of wood. I like to clamp it to the edge of a 2''x4" and then clamp the 2x4 in a vise at about chest height if possible. You might want to arrange it so you can sit down to do this. It takes a lot of time.

Stand at one end or the other of the blade and hold the file flat across the blade at a 90 deg angle. The blade and the file should form a cross at the opposite end of the blade from where you stand. Grasp both ends of the file and pull it toward you while applying pressure downward.

If the file teeth get clogged up with metal filings it will scratch the blade. Clean often with the file card, or bronze brush and re-apply the chalk.

Get more beer, you're gonna need it. This will take awhile.wink.gif

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A smith can achieve quite smooth surfaces with just the hammer. It require practice, some more practice, then some repetition.

I see beginning smiths try to chase the hot metal with the hammer, swinging through a different arc with each blow. Imagine your hand hammer as being the ram of a power hammer, striking the blow in the same place each time. Then move the hot metal beneath the hammer.

Work to do the basic shaping at the highest part of a heat, then as the heat drops, use lighter overlapping blows to smooth and straighten the piece with every heat. Note the term, "overlapping blows."

Try these things with a piece of scrap wood to see the effect of the hammer blows on the wood.

Most smiths will not make swords, but they will do tapers and scrolling. Smooth even tapers make scrolling easier. Even scrolls fit into a design better. Every project is built using basic skills, and building on them.

Best wishes, I hope these comments are useful.

DocJohnson

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On 2/15/2010 at 8:18 AM, Sam Thompson said:

You will never get a perfect finish with a hammer but, as has been suggested, a smooth hammer and anvil and brushing off the scale will help. make sure that all of the blade is heated in the heart of the fire so that oxygen can't get at it from top or bottom.
To achieve a reasonably smooth surface you should keep peening the blade on the final heat until it's pretty much black to take out the dings and then vigorously brush it as you plunge it into the water; this helps to blow off the scale and leave an even coating. Before filing pickle the whole thing in the concoction of your choice (I use brick cleaner)to clean off the scale, which is harder than the file. Draw file to get the finest finish.
The swords that I have made for re-enactors have been specified as EN5 which is a spring steel; insurance companies don't like the idea of flying chips of metal and the serrated edges that result. They also consider an edge thinner than 1/8'' to be too sharp.

The scale that spoke of, I had heated some files with hope of making a knife,. Ihad read that files were being made in Mexico, Brazil etc. And were case hardened. Like you said the scale is very hard. Which further led me to believe it was the carbon outer layer of case hardening. Which after your mention of the scale, I see that my assumption is incorrect. What is the scale? does it come from the knife? Like rust? Would it change weight of the knife even tiny amount? Thanks for your time. The files were what started my interest in knife making. And they made sharp cutting implement be stretching it a bit to call them knives. 

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Scale is one form of iron oxide; rust is another form but still iron oxide.  When steel is glowing hot and exposed to oxygen the reaction between the iron and oxygen is quite rapid and forms on the outer surfaces of the steel. The amount of weight lost due to scale per heat is minimal.  However, over the course of many heats and brushing off of the scale layer, the weight lost can be significant.  The more proficient you become the fewer heats will be needed to shape the steel and the lower the material loss due to scale.  It's hard to be more specific than that as total surface area and forging temperature also play a part, as does the content of the alloy being worked and a few other factors. 

For planning purposes it would not be wrong to start with one and a third to one and a half times the weight of your desired finished product when you are beginning to learn the craft.  After you become proficient you may only need an additional 10% or even less.

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