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ha ha !- that is pretty obscure jake... but i will certainly do my best of you find a picture! john b is such a wealth of historic info, the man is fab - im sure he will be much more qualified than me to describe the item you want - i have been to a couple of the events at his forge and he knows SO much !
as for the cooking situation - yes i cook on the wood i really love it despite its time consuming nature, and all that goes with wood processing (you know about this i can tell!) we used to be myself and my husband tree surgeons ( what they call people who cut down trees here) and so we had tons of free wood obviously wood fuel was the only sensible option for us - and although we now hire out machines and stuff still relate4d to the trees we stayed with the wood becasue it becomes such a part of how you think! i have an oldish rayburn oven(40 or 50 years) in the kitchen,(they still make them new in uk to same design) its cast front and top, and cast top hot plate, with back boiler for the water, i cant speak highly enough of the tried and tested design they are very popular here ( more so actually the more top end fancy aga ovens, although i can never understand this choice becuase they have no back boiler??? madness - but they do have bigger oven and look lovely) (also the only suitable solid fuel for them is coal) i sadly dont have many cool or exotic utensils! ps jake i very much enjoy your posts too they are always amusing whetehr you mean them to be or not... :) i do have some nice cast pans which although heavy retain their heat so beautifully that i love them dearly.i would like to attempt some large spoons at some point because that must be very pleasing !! i like the shape of a spoon, 'form follows function' perfectly. like a spade. but as to wood over here yes it is very popular - the green environment thing sits quite well with solid fuel particularly wood, and also like all these things it is very fashionable, although i dont know anyone else who runs the house on wood, more that they have a fireplace in the living room that they light to bump up their central heating? processing the wood was always a trauma really because we have to store our wood quite a distance from the house, so its fetching and carrying endlessly - although we did sell wood at one point and in=vested in a hydraulic log splitter, and there is a kind of screw thread splitter on the tractor sawbench that i take a shine to :) the woodpile is where my workshop is, and also where we store our machines, so its not too bad - we are there all the time.
jake - as for the swords - i can tell you from the botom of my heart, im a non violent ( in principal..) person, but learning how to fight with a sword is just the most exciting thing - its more compelling than i would ever have thought. there are techniques obviously which are so clever and so direct with no wastage of movement ever, but also the character of a weapon or a style is a big deal in chinese martial arts, and particularly the animal styles i learned, and so you get right into the character of the weapon. its magic! so with the broadsword, you are the calmness and strength in the eye of the storm so to speak, the sword is a whirling fast dervish, while you are almost still within that. it was a very very vivid experience to learn with a sword, where the sharp edge was going and the effect each move would have, lots of visualisation which often made me a bit light headed! we did other weapons too, a long wooden pole ( amazing the power you can acheive with that..) was another favourite. like anything - you need a good teacher - and i had a great one, which is why i stayed as long as i did. eventually the commitment becasme too huge and i stopped, but not without thinking long and hard and youll be staggered to know many tears. i did love it. i now think for me , martial arts made me too hard. all the softness disappeared. so its for the best!! who would have thought the converstaations you can have on here!

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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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Make sure you tell the Dr you are more interested in functionality than looks!

Last time I crushed a finger the Dr gave me two choices: Looking great but stiff and "unusable" or they would splint it one day and then I'd come back in and they would break open the joint and I would then have to keep it moving to keep the joint working as it healed. (Luckily it was a pinky finger!) It was most amusing having them flex the joint that first time with no pain meds... It's slightly crooked and looks a bit off but still grabs a hammer handle---save for very cold days...

Weapons weight Gränsfors Bruks http://www.gransfors.com/htm_eng/index.html has a pamphlet on ancient axes that mentions that the battle ones generally weighed about 1/2 the weight of the fell trees ones. I sure would love it if I had to battle a number of folks with archaic weapons if they had to use the WAY TOO HEAVY modern "reproductions" and I could use the light FAST originals!

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Thank you,Beth,most sincerely,for all that is EXACTLY what blacksmithing consists of-weapons,kitchen implements,life,family...Now we're finally getting down to the very essence of the craft!

Seems to me that FORGED iron had limits as far as it's uses in the household:

It can't take the many repeated intense heat-cycles(because of the high strengh of it's molecular bonds,vs the large,coarse grain of cast iron),thus the stove-top,frying pans,and all that is doing similar duties is cast.

In a acidic,corrosive kitchen environment the raw oxidised iron was difficult to deal with.Therefore,many things that contact the food directly were hybridised with other metals,non-ferrous copper,tin,pewter,et c.
So probably an all-iron spoon would be not the thing.The handles,on the other hand,it works fine for.Riveted together,again,to take the expansion/contraction of heat cycles.

Further,many things that are used directly in the open fire itself(as they'll get oxidised anyway):Skewers,pot-hooks/chains,roasting forks,and the devices to hold all these in position,cranes and all the funky systems of X-Y axis based on the andiron protrusions.

So,to generalise,OPEN fire cooking more than stove-top.

Just loose thoughts here,got to roll out to the forge.Here's that forged element that i meant(was easier to sketch than search the internet with my connection speed).
It was used to gain a spread of iron over an area,grill-work in effect,and that's what(i gather)it was in fact used for-grilling.
Several,3-5 or so,bars were differentiated thusly,and then tenoned/welded into a rectangular frame,usually the center one protruding as a handle.


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no - never see it although it looks fascinating - good shapes... shall we await john b and his knowledge? i like jake how on your poker you made very strongly 'edged' shapes and corners look soft and comfortable... and user friendly. yes - i had not amazingly thought that a rivet would allow for different expansion rates in materisl on one object - was thinking as well of copper spoons - have you ever forged copper, i only did once (so far) and it was brilliant so soft qand chewy i must try again, but a copper spoon would be both beautiful and fully functioniong with food acid etc wouldnt it? yes outdoor cooking is far more suited to iron ware as we are talking about - all those lovely items you see round camp fires, i do infact cook like this when camping, and its a pure joy, lovely big breakfasTS on lasts nights fire, coffee pot very good indeed, i ahev a huge paella pan which i use for filling with breakfast produce eggs of various kinds and meat. :) so good! with the dew round your feet and last nights drinks trying to hide in the grass... have never made bread over an open fire but soda bread would certainly work, and indian style flat bread chapati type things.
your right about the essence of the craft - it has to (like all the best things) be part of everyday or every week life - and the items that are best fitting to be made are items for hands to touch and use. then they can get the patina of many hands etc and use which keeps them alive. isnt it funny how something factory made - say you dug it up in the earth and it had not been used for years, well it would rarely hold memories or messages, whereas a handmade object, no matter how long it has been left untouched, will always resonate of a human and a history. this is what i like, something that resonates - can almost see the energy field round it :)

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Hi Jake, and Beth, I have not come across the grill make up you are talking about, but looking at Jake's sketch I could envisage it being relatively small section materials, it then becomes a relatively simple cluster/bunch forge welding exercise. The ends brought round and forged into the base/centre for the next cluster weld, Repeated at each intersection, until the overall length is achieved.

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Of course hammered iron pots were in use for over 1000 years before cast iron pots were "invented". Also look at the viking era roasting implement that is basically some flat stock bent in a spiral and of one piece with the handle

One of the basic flaws of medieval re-enactment is that many people are using cast iron to cook with instead of hammered wrought iron (or cast bronze).

I think it's the flat top stove that causes the trouble as then the WI or steel pot will bow as the uneven heating is done. Systems that don't require a flat surface on a flat surface seem to work fine and of course no stove for *cooking* is used at temps that would be bad for WI or steel.

Steel/wrought iron spoons were quite common at times, the rich of course used other metals but in between wood and horn there were wi spoons used. Shoot my great grandmother had and used some steel ones up in the hills of AR!

I've been doing a lot of research on the intersection of smithing and cookery---been trading kitchen smithing for being fed at 5 day+ long camp outs from a lady *using* the stuff I forge to cook with---so open fire. (we had a lot of duck and even peacock last campout---as well as bread from scratch baked on site in a mud oven!)

Just last night I noticed that the spit holder in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie (#4) was quite close to that shown in The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570) that we used two weekends ago at a long campout.

Perhaps we should spawn a smithing for the kitchen historical through modern thread? I'd love to do a booklist with everyone contributing so I can find new sources!

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good idea for smithing in the kitchen thread thomas!! your right about the fire - its easy to cook with anything on top of a flame, but anything too thin or the worng metal is totally useless on a flat cast stove top - and very frustrating for the keen cook:) i do have a steel spoon myself but it is painted, and it can be used for rough kinda stuff! i just like big spoons..
the mud oven camp out sounds good - i have long enjoyed outdoor cooking and if we had better climate would certainely build an outdoor permaanent cooking area, the thing is with cooking on wood of any sort ( but particularly outside) is that it takes longer really, even boiling your kettle is a thoughtful spacious process, and when i go to family or others house and am given a cup of tea from an electric kettle i always feel rushed! i LIKE to wait and stare and stir and fiddle about and rake the fire up and shake the ash out and smell the smoke and feel the soft radiated heat form the cast iron. its a much bigger experience. im feeling inspired to get my Exotic Utensils together!!!

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I was always under the impression that wrought iron cooking hardware was finished the same as a cast iron pan. That is, it had some vegetable oil baked on and that was the protective coating.

In regards to numbers of use, don't overlook the Chinese and thier ubiquitous woks. These were hand hammered out of iron sheet and traditionally had the hammer marks left in them to help hold the food up on the sides when cooking. They also used the fire as a trifecta tool, in some regions the furnace had a large hole in the top of it that the wok sat in and more then less sealed, the exhaust from the fire was then directed through a large horizontal clay(usually unfired brick that was "fired" by the use of the furnace) table or elevated platform that went all the way to the ground, the exhaust then went up and out a chimney. The large platform would absorb a tremendous amount of heat from the fire, such as the walls of the Roman and Azteca hot houses, and radiate it to the room. The family would then sleep on this warm(not HOT) platform and it would keep them warm during the night. For summer use, they usually had an outdoor fireplace for the wok, which had an open top with three or more cutouts in the rim of it, simular to the top of a castle wall, these were where the exhaust from the fire would exit. This type of furnace would make the bottom of the wok rather hot and further up the walls it would be cooler, so the one cooking instrument had different and usefull heat zones for cooking the various food stuff for the meal all at once! It makes me laugh to see the teflon or otherwise coated woks in grocery stores, those are next to useless, the food just slides down the sides to the bottom!

Also of interest is that in the Szechwan Province of now China natural gas was piped for street and domestic use from as early as 347 ad., they used hollowed out bamboo as the piping for it.

The Turks and others of that region have used a flat plate of steel(wrought iron) over a fire set on the ground to cook their unlevened bread. The bread is flat and around two feet in diameter(depending on the iron plate size) and when half cooked it is taken off of the fire, cheese(usually goat) is placed over one half of it and it is pinched together to make a half moon shaped flat of bread, then of course the cooking is finished. This product will keep for over half of a year without going bad and without being cooled!


Sorry to hear about the injury, but glad to hear that it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been! I always tell anyone new to working in a shop, "ALWAYS BOLT DOWN YOUR WORK!", no one in their right mind would place a piece of work in a lathe chuck without it being secure, but nearly everyone(myself included more times then I wish to admit) just hand hold a piece of work in the drill press. I hope that it heals up OK.

Ironically for the last few weeks I have been trying to figure something out. Here in the States we say, "they need to be taken to THE HOSPITAL" or "I was in THE HOSPITAL", always with the in front of hospital. I have been watching a few British documentories and movies as of late and noticed that they all say, "they need to be taken to HOSPITAL" or "I was in HOSPITAL".

I don't think that it has to do with gramer, if it did then we would say "a hospital", which I have heard a few times, but much more often, "the hospital".

Might it have something to do with our rather different hospital payment methods?

Beth, as a British person could you shed any light on this subject? This has been stuck on my brain for a while now and I can't figure it out.

Caleb Ramsby

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Friends,i'm sorry if i don't respond to many of the strands of our multifaceted discussion.So many things come up,and so many of them are very valid,and interesting,but i'm operating close to the limit of my brain capacity,the time seems so short in the morning,and in the evening any thinking is often shot.
I do read everything written very thoroughly,it's the response that's tough.

Thanks,John:I'm surprised that it's not the design element you recognise,and thus am so much more impressed with your astute analysis.That's the impression that i got,too,that it was based on availability of very uniform,small-gauge stock.I seem to remember vaguely that this style of joinery is French,but cannot for the life of me recollect where was it that i came across it(have seen pictures of it more than once,in books,and possibly on the British Museum internet site).Again,thanks,and again,i greatly envy you the access to the pure iron,in all these different sizes(including the sort usable for this particular deal).

Beth,you're a terrible influence on me! Something that you've written this morning has made me want to experiment with copper.I had a chunk of Cu plumbing pipe laying around a while,and this was the catalyst to finally tackle it.
The result is so eclectic that I won't even disparage (the Dharma)in my usual way.It's surprised even me just what a hodge-podge of assorted historic/ethnic elements is jumbled inside my pea-brain.
I think that i'll be done with totally instinctive forging for a while,anyway,as it's results are somewhat unsettling,of late :blink:
It just may be a good time to carefully plan a project,sketch it,et c.,been flying on instruments a bit too long,methinks.
But,needless to say,any forge-time is absolutely worth it,all the way.

Today,as occasionally happens,i was called upon to demonstrate the essence,the
basics of forging.I think a good way to go about it is a good old leaf-hook,it covers the entire mystique of blacksmithing very effectively,i think.Add a thoughtless,psychodelic stream of verbiage,and you can actually observe the visitor's eyeballs cross,and off they go,happily leaving you to labor in peace.Given the level of alcohol in the visitors' bloodstream,and my extensive practice at the above sadistic amusement,it gives me almost an unfair advantage.For the drunks,mind you,are holy,and the godhead contained therein is not lost on me,but,darn it,i've a ton of forging to do...

As for cooking,the only kind that i've had the time for,lately,is accomplished at the forge,as well.I ought to just drag my bedroll there too,what the heck,in for a penny...





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Hey Jake,

That spoon is INTENSE! It is amazing how many transions and elements you fit into such a compact space. Absolutly none of which are there without purpose or reason.

The photo of your spoon has just replaced a photo of Walter Christies 1904 inline four racer which he ran at Ormand and in the Vanderbuilt Cup a year later, as my desktop background photo.

Of all of the pieces that you have posted on this thread I think that spoon has the best. . . flow, it is very difficult to stop looking back and forth along its lengt.

The faceted ball on the end of your poker looks very simular to the one shown in Googerty's book on page(reader page) 88, page 104 shows that it was made from a collar, as contrasted to page 107 which shows a round ball being swaged off and with the length of the handle drawn out instead of being of lesser stock with the collar thickening the end. Ever experimented with a collar? I never got around to that technique, but I have a feeling that it would greatly reduce the drawing out of larger stock for long handled tools with an engorged end on them.

Another trick for getting rid of "drunks" is to keep offering them a cup of tea. . . sounds like you are really getting the real village blacksmith experience. The rural shops were often the meeting house(most often from randon, enraged and unsoliceted guests) for the locals to "discuss" politics and consume a bit too much hard cider! Maybe it has something to do with the large open doors they used.

Caleb Ramsby

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very amused to think of jake trying to confuse his drunks enough that they leave!! i have similar at my workshop although alchohol thankfully does not play a too significant part. i do have one particular fellow who i refer to in my mind as Driftwood, not an unbearabley unpleasant man, he literally drifts through my day at my side and if im lucky i can get him to clear off onto the farm where he takes his flotsam and jetsam like characteristics to some other poor soul...for half an hour or so before he returns! the thing is when the fire is lit - it draws people from all walks of life - they dont want to get involved always, which would sometimes be more interesting, and often they want to offer their "wisdom" but its the light and the heat which they enjoy, and the general ambience of someone trying to Do Something with their day!!! driftwood as he shall be known, often talks to me over the noise of the compressor, the fan, the hammers the grinder , Nothing puts him off in his mission to waffle me to a standstill.... rudeness and bluntness does not help as he has the skin of a rhinosceros...
anyway enough of That!
jake im so pleased i had an influence on your day - and i love your post - its very funny, i realy hope your not quitting instinctive forging, from the purely selfish reason that i love reading about your missions!! pkease dont stop, dont let us down....:) also i agree with ramsberg - what a fantastic spoon, its totally beautiful,i am so pleased with how youve made that - youve way more skill than me. i particularly like the proportions and pattern of the handle, also did you trim the copper bowl or just get it exactly right? what size did you start with? i love the fork in the handle going into the dish i really like that spoon! ramsberg correctly referred to it as INtense - that it is!

ramsberg your cooking info post is very interesting - i had never thought of the hammer marks holding up food but of course they woudl - and the castle wall cooking system is brillaint, a range of heats at one time from solid fuel is The Ultimate Experience! the chinese know a thing or two tho dont they... also i have one of these flat iron pans that you refer to with the turkish bread well its just more of a skillet really but it serves the same purpose and is untreated wrought steel. its ex good for flat breads and aalso what we call scotch pancakes and any other pancakes, made from a sweet or otherwise batter of eggs and flour, lard on the pan and just a drop of batter they rise lovely and are obviously deliscious. also the HOSPITAL thing its strange isnt it, we woudl never say going to the hospital as you say, but going to hospital .. i have never thought about it but i am now, and i reckon its could subconsciously be to do with the fact that we get it for free here so it feels like your right? theres a bit of ownership, like you would treat it like your own home, so you wouldnt say im going to the home, because you would not feel the need to define it like that.. its sokething you feel is yours? that is totally off the top of my head, sat morning, so its probably rubbish! lets ask JOhn B the oracle :) he may well shed light!!!

ps just thought of some advice someone gave me recently about getting rid of unwanted guests ( driftwood was being discussed) and he said lend him some money...:) depends how much money you have and how much you want them Gone eh :)

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Caleb,i'm glad that you liked the funky spoon.You're right in that all those different elements are there for a reason,the said reasons are:Chronic pain,insomnia,malnutrition,and mental illness of a few different flavors...Seriously,i don't know what to make of it,other than to avoid it in my small,cramped space here.

Thanks again for that Googerty link,and you're right,i've noticed that also,about the collar.

Achieving a bolt-head by means of a collar was one of the requirements on the ABANA journeyman certification sort of a thing,about 10 years ago in Hammer Blow.I remember how intimidating it seemed then.It's quite a challenge,and i'm not at all sure if i can confidently enough pull that off-considering how much distortion the ball involves!
No,i'd approach that with great trepidation indeed(Googerty had that easy,unassuming kind of competence that i can only dream of...).

Actually,i'm in a big trouble with welding in general.Still a lot to learn with working with charcoal,and the quantity of fuel alone, used for the welds,is intimidating...
Also,i'm so used to the way that the coal supports the work,that it's scary to me how rapidly the iron is moving downwards in a charcoal fire,heading straight towards the oxidising zone(and reaching it before coming to welding heat,unless i'm really on top of it,it's really quite shocking).

Thank you also for the link to that Gardner book.I've started to look through it,very promising.It'd be great to hear your views on ins and outs of that.

Your advice about the tea won't work here as intended-actually,this is a big-time tea-drinking culture here(not many general stores in the US sell nice ceramic tea-pots,here-always!),and an offer of tea is duly expected(and always offered)and never refused :)

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Beth,i should never have meddled in copper(it is of the Devil-how else could a metal be annealed by quenching?!See,i knew that!).Actually,it's just that i'm a stick-in-a-mud,and really should stick to the black stuff.

The large dia.plumbing is a very nice gauge Cu.This was a chunk of 4" pipe that i cut and flattened.The stuff is heavy,10-11 gauge i'd say,close to an 1/8".So there was nothing wrong with the material.

I absolutely lack any infrastructure to raise or sink sheet.Happened to have a large concave bearing clamp off of a D6,but it was badly corroded.The Cu is very soft,to state the obvious,and i think that all that one uses on it must be polished.Bottom tools and hammer-faces.Otherwise one's doomed to texturing it in some forced,artificial manner,expediency sucks in metalwork-it's a failure of foresight.(And the worse thing that it shows ;) )

It really is some cool stuff,annealed-incredibly soft.But lacking the tools i've only had to anneal once,never really domed it much at all.Didn't do right by it,wasn't it's fault.Done right,it can be really rewarding,i'm sure.

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ah but theres no harm in going off the beaten path occasionally jake! its good for stretching the perceptions :) i understnad about the polished surfaces thing i dont have much either but have just made a couple or different sized egg shaped loops to sit in the vice for trying to dish some shapes - i could try that but i dont know what i will try for the other way up... did i read just now your having troupble forge welding ? cos i terribly am, i keep trying but cant seem to get it hot enough even tried a really thick bit cos i heard that its easier due to it will keep heat longer wont be such of a panic.. it CANT be that hard i refuse to believe it - ts like wolf whistling - you just suddenly get it... iwould love to learn this consistently becasue i think visually it is screaming superior to mig welds, however beautifully ground down, i want to know intelectually that it has al been made and joined in the fire with no filler materials... whats your thoughts mr pogrebinsky? are you russian? if you dont mind me asking...

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Yes'm,born an'bred in the briar patch!(Moscow,USSR),but that was a long time ago,in a place far,far away,(that no longer even there!).

Beth,let's try to figure this out.There's only a FINITE number of variables.

What are you using for fuel?What is the depth of fuel(the important factor)between air blast and work?

What's the material?Is there ANY chance that it contains Cu,Ni,Cr,any of the micro-alloying stuff,(other than Mg)?

There really is only one reason for the weld to not stick-OXIDATION.O can be burned up(reducing atmosphere),or it can be guarded against with flux.Borax,boric acid,Si of any kind that'd melt(Googerty there is using powered marble!).

And here's a very simple test:Nice fire,5-6" under the work,very moderate blast.Flux the iron whenever,really,but say as soon as there any color to heat.Now watch the flux,it tells a lot:

As the iron will get past dark yellow,the flux will begin to look GLOSSY,reflective/shiny in the light of your fuel.It may even begin to bubble.But that glossiness is all important.
If starting about then you touch the iron with a sharp,preheated poker(1/4" rod drawn to a point),you should,then,or soon,feel it stick.

Meanwhile,the temperature should still be rising,or at least be ABLE to rise(the blast still moderate.Unto the sparking-white heat,if need be(it won't be)But If you cannot get to this point,something's amiss,coal,blast,or both.

If,however,you get plenty hot,obviously,BUT:The appearance of flux is dry,patchy,whitish(even bluish),but mostly DRY,non-Glossy,what you're witnessing then is OXIDISING ATMOSPHERE.Then we'll figure out where to go from here.

But this,the atmosphere test,is THE most important factor,bar none.

In general,at any given time in any forge you have all three:Oxidising(near the blast,O),Neutral(somewhere there),Reducing(where the C exceeds the O).That last part is where you want to be.It's usually furthest from the blast,on top of the mound of fire,and not necessarily even surrounded by burning fuel.

Is all this TOTALLY confusing?Please say if so,and i'll try to put it differently.

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thank you jake no its not confusing its great - just feel so silly because i have had this so many times explained to me - should just go down to johns and make him show me again!!! i get very confused aboutthe whole reducing oxidising terms not sure realy what they mean, i do get siny surface on the metal at nice yellow heat, but that tip thing doesnt seem to stick, i have made a good weld two or three times, but really inconsistent. i have trouble looking at the heat as well - i wear oxy welding goggles but its still harad for me to see hwat im looking at. if it sparks too much the surface is suined, if not its too cold. get very frustrated with this! thanks for your patience in advance... you may need it!

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went to a little circus last night with the chldren, theme was war and peace - its a local small trad fabulous circus that is very popular here, the atmosphere was so good, made me feel extremely russian! might need to go and put a colorful head scarf and shawl on and lace up some hand made cosack boots... the girl that does the show trains horses beautifully its only a tiny ring so very intimate close to the animals and performers, and the horses were so touching! their acting! nearly cried! ive got a thing about trained animals... so moving how they enjoy and willigly interact with us. always always always come away from that particular circus wanting to run away with them and learn the trapeze.. there is large amounts of handmade scenery and costumes , the whole thing engagaing all the senses. nice :) the russian thing just reminded me! they also have a brilliant band, so loads of russian sounding music last night.

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:) I was VERY young when there last,(13),but friends THERE laugh at me,claiming that all the "Moderne"(early art deco)styling of old Moscow has eaten into my brain...Mostly,it's just the usual urban European mix of styles,much of it with pretensions on any particular styling only...Then,25 of the following years spent in Alaska,much of it way off the grid :P .(Ruskinesque... :blink: )
The result:When the one grant application was approved by the the one Alaskan (hoity-toity)philantropic organisation(the grant to which i owe my power hammer),that they summarised by saying that my style "...fits in very well with the rural,cabin-dwelling Alaskan culture(read:KITSCH :P )..."(to my honor i was since blacklisted by them,for spending the money nominally granted for education on tools :) (Made a wrong turning,somewhere.Should've joined the circus as a freak,instead).

No worries!We CAN puzzle it all out!
Can you describe your forge/blower set-up,and give an idea of what type of fuel it is that you're using?
And the steel,do you buy it new?If so,what is it?

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sory jake yes you did ask for that info... ordinary mild steel round or square section - the larger section was about an inch square ( thinking it may be easier withthe temp like i explained before) and the fuel i use is farriers coke. i have side blast air going into the forge. i never really know if it is deep enough, or too much air? or what, i always am aware that the fire be clean, and it always is. i have tried with and without flux ( flux not common use here as you know) but all seems the same... maybe the middle of the weld will join but can never seem to get the edges down after that or else the middle doesnt even join :( have watched o you tube many times and it all looks very very simple. ...

that sounds very strange about the alaskan grant - so do you remain black listed??:) how bizaar - i should think they love your sort, no?.. i need to get a good look at this ruskin fellow dont i to know what your on about - although ive heard of him i never read his work, there is a ruskin centre near me and i was put off becasue i went to visit and see what was waht and was met with stony cold shouolders, which i found quite surprising. maybe i should try again, .. they all seemed locked in another orbit actually. not ruskins fault however !
i certainly dont think you should join a freak show - although i must admit i always read on with interest whenever i see anything to do with them, it fascionates me in a bad/ un pc way - the edges of what is normal , and i love how someone can make an entire career out of a 'freakish' part of themselves... the children have books like ripleys weird wonderful world etc which are Totally compelling reads, i always look at them cover to cover, they have carved cheese sculptures and houses made out of matches and dogs feet jewellery and all kinds of stuff - including many 'freaks of nature' that in fairness are always celebrated, my favourite being a man named The Smurf who had turned himself blue by too much exposure to silver (ingesting it as a kind of home remedy i think)- he was unharmed but blue - and thus named the smurf :)

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Wow,Beth...1"sq...! :o .

You're quite right in that it would hold the heat well,BUT!(There are several but's.Do you habitually forge that size stock by hand?And,is it a requirement to be able to?)

Not being there,i'd interpret it thusly:The 1" sq takes so long to heat,that 1.Your fire may become depleted,somewhat,by then.2.The sharp edges(Necessary for complete blending in of weld),would by then be scaled very deeply/burned.

So,what we may have here is a unbalance of mass as relates to the fire size(as i assume that it's a reasonable sized firepot,for general work.BTW,"They" say that 5/8" is,kinda,the outside of what is common to work strictly by a hand-hammer).

Theoretically,a GOOD weld happens right away,i.e.,in one heat.Let's just take that as a postulate,something to dance from.

It follows that,for the pieces to come to the right heat evenly and correctly,a system of SCARFING is employed.Scarfing in general serves 3 purposes:
1.It uses an upset to give you extra mass to refine the weld afterwards by forging.
2.It(very importantly)creates a convexity of both parts to allow for the oxides(fluxed or not)to squeeze out of the weld,not to become entrapped.
3.Scarf employs skinny/poiny sections where the BLENDING IN will take place upon the completion of weld.

Scarfing is the variable that you adjust to your specific req.s and conditions.You're in control,it's just a matter of dialing the right shape for any given weld.You can see the general shapes of scarfs in many old and new pictures,now,try to interpret them logically relative that idea above.

Again,weld should be closed all over right away,in one heat(that alone would make 1"-ish stuff tough to do).
Here's a good way to cheat,i do it all the time(i often take ALL kinds of heats to make a weld :P ):
Bring everything to temp,with your pieces supported in the fire to free-up your hands,at least the one hand.Sneak a righ pair of tongs into the fire,and give the weld as strong of a squeeze as you can!See that sharp point that you scarfed on to blend the finished weld better?Squeeze that into the body of the weld too.Do a few bites on the weld without reducing the blast,even.Or,if that's too hot,turn the blast off:For a few moments the steel will actually rise in temp with the blast off as it's not being blown upon.Then resume the blast,or even bump it up!Soon you should be able to take the whole mess out,and work it over blending your weld well.
Pinch-weld,a great technology!!!

So,find a type(s)of weld that you'll find useful(vs "practicing"hypothetically).Say,a T-weld,to make a 3-part symmetry for a stand.Or a scarf-weld,to join round-stock together for an organic,tree-like branch juncture.
Think through the scarfing req.s for a given choice of weld.Then,if it doesn't work,we'll know why,possibly!

I know you guys don't like flux.Use it just to make sure where you are ATMOSPHERE wise.Once you know that it's ok,it don't matter,dry welding will do.
You're lucky to have a side-blast,it's superior atm.-wise in particular.Coke is great,too,but green coal is actually a little easier-gives you longer,because as it's coking it's using up lots of Oxygen.

That's all that i can think of for the moment,but i'm SURE that you'll get it happening,with my help or without!!!!

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jake :) thankyou veery much for taking the time to write all those clear instructions out! firstly no i certainly dont hand hammer 1 inch by hand habitually :) its just what i had - i have a power hammer and i draw it down on that, but i had a small pile of it and the rest of what i had was much smaller round section that i would normally use with hand hammer. i just tried for the sake of it to see if it was easier.
i always try the same type of weld which is i make the scarf shape (might not be getting that quite right but i have read so many times that i know what it is Meant to be) and then bend over in a loop and try to weld back onto itself. this is what i tried with the inch square, but it was not doing anything - i nearly burned my face off looking and waiting too! actually at the last minute one of my dogs started fussing about by my anvil when i thouhght he was outside and he is a puppy and i had to stop imediatly. which didnt help my progress, and after such a long hot wait for correct heat i felt v p*****d off and went out in the yard to be cross for a bit!

i am ridiculously excited about your pinchweld method! you clever man - what a genius cheat - i cant wait to try, have never heard that before, but i can almost visualise that working!!! i most definaely will try that next time im in the workshop. summer holidays loom in about a week so i will be in there alot less as befits mother of three youngsters... till sept when they go back. must remain positive about that situation for everybodies sake:)

also am ex. comforted that you take ALL kinds of heat for a weld - you know when something is not working and you build up a big magical wizard of oz aura around the thing - and then its almost like your makig it go wrong with your fretting. well i can feel this happening with the forge welding - comments like that help me along :) i want to use the welding for leaves and branch like shapes, i just think also that it is the most coolest thing ever !

thanks very much jake!

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Excellent,Beth,we'll have you welding in no time at all.It's an ideal joint for organics,as the branches/antlers split-up in not quite a 2 to 1 ratio,so the splitting is insufficient.

Absolutely no thanks necessary,it'll be all that i could ever do to even try to repay the generosity of people that spoke/wrote about it to educate us all...

Here's a couple more funky(this time) thoughts:

Don't listen to knifemakers and others of an anal-retentive bent(i don't mean to offend :) ):The welds don't require grinding.It DOES help,BUT:If you cannot deal with constant scaling,preventing and anticipating it THROUGHOUT the continued process,then you're very likely not fluent enough with the forging,not intimate enough with the entirety of the process.The danger here is to become mechanistic,and for organic forging in particular it's quite detrimental.It sounds categorical and can be argued,but this is a thought expressed poetically,if you will :)

For round to round weld in some cases you can faggot the parts by wiring,try to avoid the dropped-tongs ninja crap,it's cool and all in a vanity dept.,but is best left for when you'll be more comfortable with the whole welding biz(sooner than you'd think :) )

When the scarfs are ready,use your cut-off hardy to cerrate their corresponding faces,chew the hell out of them:The sharp points of cerrations will grab quicker(another dirty move :) ),see,you Brits are just too honorable for your own good,you need to learn to cheat more! :P )

That 1" sq that you have is a treasure.One thing that can be made out of it is a pair of DOUBLE-BITTED tongs.They used similar devices to,for an example,hold a plowshare and the steel bit for welding.It's like a siameese-twins of a tong,they share one rein,and hold two different pieces.Now,that's cheating in style!

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jake your a class act - and you do make me laugh! i relate to everything you said there - and you really are very amusing :) i am very keen to try your low down cheatin ways - you speak an awful lot of sense:)

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