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I Forge Iron

Starting from the ground up....


Ross Dickens

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Hello everyone,

My Name is Ross. I have been collecting scrap metal for the past year. mostly aluminum , copper, and iron. I have been wanting to melt all of it down into ingots for later use. I need a forge of course to get this all done. I live on a small vegetable farm in a small town in Texas. I have a spring about half a mile in the woods behind my house. Along the edge of this spring there is a ton of clay. I plan to gather a lot of this clay to form bricks for my forges. To make a long story short I want to build everything from the ground up. including tools, forge, anvil.... the works. I plan to make my forge a coal burning forge (I like the idea of forging in the days of old). I want to be able to forge all different types of things, such as weapons of different types and armour. I try to make it to Ren Fest at least twice a year. Does anyone have any input for a newbie like myself, who wants to start from scratch? Any good resource site i should check into? Any info would be amazing, and input is fantastic as well. Thanks for reading my dreams, i could go way more into detail but my wife is ready to sleep so i must rush. =D Thanks for reading my dreams!

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I started with a store bought hammer, and an anvil from a farmer friend, to make an anvil I am sure you would probably have to cast it, such requiring a large furnace. I would not know how to do such a thing. however, what I do know, is that for me, as a beginner things I tried to make were hard, and you may get frustrated but you must remember that practice makes perfect, I kept on reminding myself that my stuff is not perfect...yet. And I still have musch to learn. so I have continued to practice and i have become a lot more proficient in basic skills then when I started. What I am saying is, starting will be a little rough, but it is worth it. Always follow your dreams.

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May I suggest you read IForgeIron.com as it is a great resource for blacksmithing and metalworking. Pay particular attention to the discussions on safety. You MUST know what to avoid, and what personal protection you will need to keep you and others from being injured as well as safe.

Select a fuel that is available and cheap in your location. Build a forge to use that fuel, build a fire, and get to heating and beating metal. An anvil can be any metal with a mass of about 100 pounds, and a ball peen hammer will work as your hammer.

Bladesmithing, armor making, and making weapons are advanced skill sets. Start with the basics, the foundation for your learning, and build from there. You will need to study, and then take it to the forge and apply what you have studied.You MUST put in hammer time, and practice, practice, and more practice to get good at whatever you do. The come back to the forum and ask questions about what you do not understand.

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Welcome! May I strongly recommend "The Complete Modern Blacksmith", Alexander Weygers, to you! He is very much a "from the ground up scrounging and making everything as you go along" person. You should be able to ILL it from your local Library; but you will probably want to buy a copy for yourself after you have checked it out.

Note that coal is actually a more recent fuel than real chunk charcoal is, (coal started to be used in the High to Late middle ages (Cathedral Forge and Water Wheel, Gies & Gies) It's use continued in parallel with that of coal until this day---Traditionally made japanese swords are still forged using real charcoal! If you look around you will find websites covering how to make your own charcoal from wood scraps---a lot easier than mining coal and without the sulfur in coal that is bad for weapon or armour smithing. (BTW most armour work is done cold these days, may I commend the armourarchive.org to your attention and yse they use the english spelling armour.)

To get started do a web search for lively washtub forge. You may have the materials already to hand and could be forging by the weekend! (When Anstee started his experiments on making pattern welded swords he used a cheese weight as the anvil---got any tractor weights???)

As often mentioned spending a Saturday with a smith that knows what they are doing can save months of time trying to learn it from a book or the web. The Artist Blacksmith Association of North America---ABANA has affiliate chapters all over the USA and if you can find one locally and attend their meetings you will be way ahead of the game!

Unfortunately turning scrap into ingot is usually a bad idea as the ingots often are much less pure metal than the scrap was Turning the scrap in for money and then buying metal that's right for your project is generally a faster and cheaper way to go; though casting your own blade fittings directly is very doable with low tech methods.

I've been doing medival/renaissance smithing for over 30 years now so please feel free to ask me stuff either by PM or in a forum.

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Wow. Amazing information. Thank you all for responding. First and foremost, I agree that safety is ones number one concern. Personally I would much rather hurt myself than anyone around me, but with safe planning and safety equipment I wont have to choose the lesser of two evils. Thomas, thanks for the website and book information! I read a little of "The complete bladesmith" By: Jim Hrisoulas. I will definitely look into that book you suggest. I do understand that weapon smithing and armour smithing are shooting pretty high, but I do plan to work my way to that point. I get butterflies just thinking about working my way there. Thank you all for all the info, its just what I needed to get started, save my passion. I will also look into ABANA, I didn't know that this organization existed. Tons of great info here guys, i'm so ready to begin my dreams....thank you all again.

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I highly recommend "The Complete Bladesmith" and it's sequels to people who want to forge blades; however I also tell them that it makes it a whole lot easier if they know the basics of blacksmithing before they go into bladesmithing.

tCB is not the best one to learn to forge form; it's far better to take you from regular smithing into bladesmithing.

With a back ground in regular smithing you will make far fewer and less frustrating mistakes when you go into bladesmithing---in particular fire control and hammer control and good hammer control can cut hours off your filing to get a good blade!

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First you say you want to melt metal into ingots check out http://www.backyardmetalcasting.com/ lots of good info on that subject next http://www.metalwebnews.com/ under blacksmithing there are free books. And the stand by check out your local chapter of ABANA great people lots of wisdom to draw from. On this site just search for topics the is enough here to fill several books

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