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I Forge Iron

"Of Shoes,and Ships,and Sealing Wax ..."


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Michael,you're a wild man,for sure!I like that crazy torso,a human skull sounds fitting...You'll have to...umm...,harvest it yourself?(I'm so tired that had to sit a while to think of a politically-co

Wow(again ),Clay,i forget that you're a fellow dweller of essentially the same Pacific Northwest!All is the way you've said it,much of it news to me,in my isolation. Made me think of all those giant

Bug on Jake, First off ref WI supplier in UK I personally would not and do not go there, I have my reasons and will stand by them. I did start to post a response to JK last night as I was respondin

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I just got back from Fairbanks and the weather is absolutly horrible. I almost couldn't walk across the drive way to get into the truck. I am glad I got the crampons for my cane. It started snowing hard when we were on the way back. North Pole was missing the worst of it, by the time we got back things were just starting to pick up and get bad. We can see how bad it gets and make a determination from there. Sorry to hear the car went into the ditch. Hope it didn't get hurt to bad.

Its great to see you have the forge going. I can bring some things of course. Tongs, hammers, top tools and such. And coal. I have 150 lbs. of good blacksmiths coal. And, if you like I can see if I can still lift the anvil and get it into the truck. Its 242 lbs. I can pick it up. I don't know about walking with it though with my knee. But, I can slide it. As far as cutting the plate. I have a sawsall, Milwaukee 18 v cordless, and a Mikita 4" grinder with a cut off disk. If I need to bring an extention cord I can do that as well. So I think we can figure it out.

My Explorer is 4x4 but I wouldn't call it heavy duty. But it has a low 4x4 gear and we can always give it a try. Later in the week may be better.

Hope to be hammering with you soon.

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jake - i love to hear of your whereabouts ( as you know :) ) and im chuffed to bits with your improv workshop - your friends are very cool to help you facilitate this set up! (as for bowing to fate i think you already did that... :) ) im loveing also, the imagined mule-porta-forge - its almost GOT to be.... am very pleased, anyway, that you seem to have got yourself set up in record time !! your jesuit robes have not slipped :) (do jesuits have halos? i dont think so actualluy !!!) it sounds like you have good friends near by to be forging with, something i envy you whole heartedly for, but i will rein in my envy on the basis of the fact that i have a few bags of dry coke to play with whereas you have to make your own charcoal by hand :) oh no - you said bitumen - is that some kind of bstardised fuel your having to use ? its tar here so maybe i got that worng.. do enlighten me my russian friend :) when you have a connection.
bryan i do hope your going to get down to that man pronto in your 4x4 - we need to see pictures of our friends working and what they will produce.. take care, ALL on the roads though, and jake stay out of the ditches if at all possibel - its a hurdle you could probably do without id wager, an automotive vehicle being a fairly useful bit of kit ! can we have news of your dogs and their transition to The Big Smoke? am off now to make a little template for gatethat will fit (i hope) into a very uneven space, a wibbley wobbley cotswold stone wall. i pray for the gift of maths and measuring. .

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Hey,it's great to be back in touch at least somewhat! It's funny how high-tech we are nowadays,and how weather-dependent still,all in the same time.Like Bryan says,it's really stormy here,Fairbanks is loosing power one neighborhood after another,and i imagine it must be a fight to keep the runway open at the airport,the wet snow flying at some velocity all day. Bryan,we're good here,certainly there's no reason for you to carry a large anvil around,if you were to just show up there's lots of equipment already here,we can stay busy EASILY! You're right,electric tools may be the way to go to cut 3/4" plate,i even have access to a decent jigsaw,a sawzall may do it.Cut-off hardy or any other hot-cutiing will work too,would only require some reshaping of stock afterwards,not all bad of a thing,of a character-building sort :) But,really,it's all pretty much here now,and if you can make it without endangering yourself that right there will be all that matters!Please stay warm,dry,safe,and your conveyance between the ditches! Beth,you know,there's a funky thing going on with fuel here:Alaska does have one GOOD coal seam,but it's far away,and not exploited commercially.Instead,the mineral coal comes from the States,imported,like much else here. It's really not that expensive,and it's of a particularly fine quality(though i'm not a scientific judge of coal,that all's very complex).The grade of it is carefully selected at the mine that it comes from,and the size,as well. Now,we all get used to whatever it is that happens to be available locally,and eventually adjust,and this stuff's no exception:Having to coke it up oneself is actually very handy:It cokes Very sticky,and you just fall into the habit of shaping the fire to your needs,also controlling it with the yet green coal surrounding it,it's a good,practical way to manage a forge-fire(not necessarily the cleanest one :) ). This coal is great,i'll have a tougher time adjusting to the new forge,but here also,one does adjust,and i need to practice working with a side-blast anyway,too many years spent unadventurously with bottom-blast,i'm falling into some bad,slothful habits :P That is really neat that you're fitting iron to stone-i bet that it'll look cool!All the very best with math and measuring! I wonder if you're familiar with a method that the boatbuilders call the Tick-stick,a form of a single-plane scribing? I hesitate to try to describe it in words though it's dead-simple,and afraid to loose the message by trying to attach a photo now(but can,very easily,make a sketch and photograph it).Scribing of any sort is a Zen,thoughtless way to obtain those irregular shapes.But,the VERY best wishes in everything and every stage of the project!

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Jake, good to hear from you and of your progress. I don't envy the weather you have to deal with, though. It's not my thing. Looking forward to seeing what comes from your new smithy and union.

Beth, it doesn't take any math, good thing for me, just some tracing to get a tracing of your stone wall edge. As Jake was saying just have a board and a fixed compass and trace the stone outline. Or just have a small board with a hole to put the pencil in and do the same thing. Works really well. Good luck on the new job!

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Jake, I will give the tick-stick a go if you don’t mind.

I learned about the technique from a friend of mine over 36 years ago and I have used it scores of times over the years. He was a boat builder working in the ship yards on City Island, NY before he became a cabinet maker. Sadly, he is not with us anymore and a ton of knowledge went with him.

The attached thumbnail is the tick-stick I made 36 years ago. It has served me well. I know that it doesn’t have to be that detailed but it made it easier to line up all the points than just a simple stick.

The way it is used (at least the way I was shown) is that you place a piece of paper along the line you want to scribe. You then place the stick point against the points of what you think are important and trace the stick on the paper. If you are scribing a fair curve you don’t need that many points but if it is like a stone wall you will need many points.

You then lay the paper out on the board or whatever you want to scribe. You place the stick on the paper template so the stick is in the traced lines and mark the point of the stick. Then connect the dots and you have the pattern.

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I have used a "joggle stick" before. They can be very handy. Having it unique so two features cannot be mistaken for each other is very helpful.

An alternative (there are always alternatives) is to take a compass, or a pointed stick with a pencil hole, and instead of tracing the whole edge (which has benefits) draw a straight line on your tracing medium so you can mark an arc for features you need to record across the line so the arc crosses the line twice. To recreate these locations, take the same stick (or radius of the original) and strike 2 arcs using the marks made by the single arc that was recorded. The intersection of the two arcs is the original point.

Another note is if you are recording an opening record each side separately, but connect them together. When you make a full size template you leave a gap in it so you have to join it together (or make it overlap so you can join it together) This way you can take the segments of the pattern, fit them in the opening and fasten them together to make a perfect sized template of the opening.

Don't forget that for curved and tapered surfaces you may need to record for stock thickness if necessary, so you may be making 2 templates if the stock has appreciable thickness. One for the front and one for the back, unless there is an easy way to figure it like a continuous angle. This is more important for woodwork than for metalwork as the metal is comparably thin.

Phil

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oh - you lovely lot :) ! ! advice pictures wise words explanations and even , Wonderful big foot - a poem :) i feel i should offer something in return but alas i actually dont have a thing!!! this may change who knows. thanks guys :) for your loverly attitude as usual. i did a cardboard cut out in the end, and the wall was not half so wib wob as i thought, BUT your very (yes, jake - how zen indeed) scribing method is both beautiful and easy, and it is saved on the files of my brain for when the wall really is wib wob :)
jake - had not realised you were new on side blast - there is interesting fodder for convo re your, surely, insightful comparisons. cool :) i await with pleasurable anticipation for news of your big city workin conditions and results..... made also today whilst waiting for access to gate ladies gate gap, the biggest bodge of a structure for an armature inside a little sculpture - its ok - i did not need neat considered welds - happily and freely just dropped pigeon s**t all over a random pile of scraps :) Relaxifying, nonstressifying, not at all a chore :) it looked horrible :)

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I absolutly love how this forum brings people together. The storm has blown over and I see patches of blue sky amongst the clouds. We had quite a bit of wind last night, but not alot of snow, here at least. The problems arise from pretty high tempratures we had yesterday. 45 F and for those of you who are used to the celsius scale, 7.2, this causes alot of snow and ice to melt. Then as tempratures dropped well below freezing last night. All that water re-froze. The roads are slick enough to ice skate on. It may be alittle while before traveling is possible. However, I will not let that deter me. Temps are good. Not mind numbingly cold. I think in a day or two I should be able to travel out to Jake. I'll give you a call tomorrow and we can assess the situation and make a decision together. I'm not as experienced as you are with the winter conditions here.

I am so much looking forward to getting together with Jake and making something. Anything. I don't care what it is. I'll bring a goodly supply of tools and some materials too. I have several different sizes of square, flat and round stock, and some bits of plate drops the guys and galls over at Alaska Steel were so generous to allow me to scavange from their trash. One thing I don't have that I need is a slitting chisel. I found a largish cold chisel that my get the job done. I know your not supposed to use it for hot cuts, but I don't think it will matter that much as long as we don't quench it after use. I dunno what do you think?

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Thanks John, I'm sure we'll have a good time. Roads seem good and I don't anticipate any issues.

I spoke to Jake today and am going to visit and work with him tomorrow. I'll bring the camera along of course. With tools and stock and what all else I can think to bring.

The first job we may tackle is the chiisel. I'm sure we will work on plenty of other things as well. I know we plan on some Scandinavian styled axes or hatchets. I have some spring steel we can use for bits and he has some mild 3/4" plate we can use for the bodies. I am so very much looking forward to working with a more experieanced smith so i can learn something. The anvil we are going to be using is only 25 pounds. However, like Jake told me today, thats five times heavier than most anvils that were used in the dark ages. This will be so much fun, I can't hardly wait. I feel like a kid in a candy store.

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bryan - can hardly wait too - for your report back!!! - so fun to have someone to work with and learn with - you make the most of it :) so so so cool to have opportunity to make axes and such - way way cool :) best of the best to jake, obviously, and to you both, and hope you are safe on roads

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Well I totally screwed up and forgot the camera. Oh, well, there will be another time, most likely Friday. We had a very good time. His little forge is warm and cosy even though it was only 12 degrees outside. The wood stove sure kept it nice and comfy and the forge worked to keep it warm in there to.

As shops go its minimal. Side buring forge in a metal drawer with a lid to an old cast BBQ grill as the main firepot and forge. An old range hood fan for the blast. A 25 pound anvil to pound on and some tongs and a few modern convienences like a sawsall and a 4" grinder. We used some A36 plate about 3/4" thick and 2" wide by 8 inches long. Not being used to a side blast forge we had a little learing curve on it. By the end of the day I think we had most of the issues resolved. We slit a nice 1 3/8" slot into the plate and that was about it for the day. It was fun spendingi time with Jake talking about what we were doing and why. I used a standard Stanley 1" cold chisel to make the slot. Didn't re-forge it or anything just used it as is and it worked out ok. I don't know what kind of steel it is but it held up perfectly. Next session we will cut the slit for the bit and see if we can get a forge weld to work with a piece of spring steel. We may get a piece of 10XX series steel from a friend of ours who has a cutlery shop and makes knives here. But we may just use the piece of spring and go for it too.

All in all it was a perfect opportunity to see just how little you need to forge and blacksmith with. With minimal tools and alittle effort we were able to, in my opinion, accomplish alot.

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Here are some pics of what we've gotten done today. Jake and I had a good day and I feel we got alot done. We got the bit for the axe split and then we made a wedge out of leaf spring and got it welded in. The weld took very well and for my second forge weld ever I think it went ok. We then made a drift for the eye and started working the eye to shape. All in all a great day and the time we spent talking about the project was very enlightening to me. I think we did very good.

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Hello out there. Any one home? How's Jake and Bryan doing up in AK? Beth and the other UK ladies and smiths, do you know Bex Simon in London? Wow! She's done some great stuff and seems very successful at it. www.bexsimon.com I must be out of the loop as I never heard of her until today. The latest edition of the book Ironwork Today 3 just came out and I was surprised at the number of women smiths this time and good to see so many new names, at least to me, that are doing wonderful work. I was also surprised they used 4 pages for 4 of my pieces. Be interesting to see if anything comes of that. Well, hope you all are doing well. Talk with you later...

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Hi Randy, Bex came down to the recent Plymouth College of Arts Forge in weekend, and impressed everyone with her work and discourse.

There are loads of lady 'smiths doing excellent work over here in the UK, mostly in the artistic side of the craft, that is where the public seem to be putting their money into nowadays.

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Very cool Bryan! What with the smallish anvil and the makeshift forge it is an impressive achievement to make a good sized hatchet and with a Cleft welded bit too! I am proud of you both!


Thank you for the pat on the back. It was my second weld ever. I'm sorta proud of it. There is an issue with the corners of the bit. They didn't stick so well as the piece of spring didn't quite make contact with the bottom of the slot on the edges. I'm sure we will figure our a way to close those up. Either grind them out or close them at welding heat and weld them shut. I'm not sure the correct way to go on that. We've been busy, Jake's friends have gone on hiatus, they are adjunct professors for the University of Alaska Fairbanks. So, he's had extra responsiblibties and I've been busy keeping the property here clear of snow and chopping wood for the stove.

I have a question though. I am in real need of a set hammer. I find with the operations Jake and I are planning one would be very helpful. I have a good flatter, and a couple that are very mushroomed and worn. Could I grind out the mushrooms on one of the worn flatters and grind/cut/chop, ect. the parts that extend past the diameter of the main body of the flatter and change it into a set hammer? Or, would it be better to get a drop of 4140 from my local steel supplier and make one from scratch? Keeping in mind I've only seen one made and never done it myself.
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Hi Bryan, You should be able to grind a flatter to use as a side set as basically it is a flatter but with square edges, and probably a bit smaller, but that depends what you are using it on

There is a picture of one I use in the Blacksmiths Tools Explained pinned in the tool section that will give you an idea of proportions.

Have fun, looking forward to what you two get up to.

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Thanks for that John. I see what your talking about and I think I can grind one of them to a pretty close match to that shape. I'll see what I can do. We were supposed to get together today and work more on the axe but obligations kept us from doing what we wanted to. So, maybe on Friday we can finalize the shape and get most of the work on the axe finished. I don't see why not.

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sounds like such good fun bryan ! lucky chaps... good luck with friday - send us the photos of what gets made!! randy - yes ive heard of bex, her work is beautiful and distinctive - lots of sheet metal too- though ive never met her. i will browse her full website :) thanks for that :) here is the little gate ive nearly finished, just need to rivet the latch on and finish and paint it for her - the lady is into paint finishes etc and she is going to paint the gate white, which actually i approve of, becasue the gate is sat in front of some old stone steps, so much of the design is lost from a distance...


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can we start saying happy christmas to each other? is it too early ? :)

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