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I Forge Iron

Help with making a hot punch


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Your material is a bit small for what you are trying to make/do. It could also be a bit better grade steel for that use. I like to use old cold chisels or pry bar steel. Old spud wrenches are real nice too! You CAN make a punch from 1/2" rebar but as you now know... It will have a short useful life and require frequent reshaping even if you use it carefully. More taper means more mass to help soak up the heat and more resistance to deformation which keeps the damage more confined to the tip of the punch, where you can rework it quickly. It also means just one or two more strikes before you have to pull the tool out and reheat or change punches (if doing many holes or in thick materials multiple punches are needed). To get the proper mass you want good heavy rod to begin with so that you'll have a thick punch at the striking/handle end. Most of my good punches are 3/4" to 1" diameter material.

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Old sharpening steels are really nice for hot punch material. Usually by just cutting off the handle and grinding a nice chamfer on the hammered end. They are usually a buck or two at the flea market and while not a handled punch, usually a foot long or so.

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