Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Mark Aspery Hammer Challenge


Gerald Boggs

Recommended Posts

Mark Aspery Hammer Challenge




OK, it's not Mark's challenge, it's mine.

Over the years, I've heard/read no end of opinions on hammers and the techniques to use them. This is your chance to show the truth.

This is a photo of a 1 1/4 inch piece of A36. The taper was done in one heat. Over the years, I've watched Mark do this many times. Can you?

This particular one, was done on a 100 lb anvil using a Brent Bailey 2.75 lb hammer.

No tricks, just good, solid hammering technique.

I freely confess, I've not yet made it. The best I can do, is two heats, but I'm getting close.

post-2494-0-17851500-1327503592_thumb.jp

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure, but it was probably 4 1/2 inches. While it's cool to be able to forge that skillfully, just doing the taper isn't the purpose. What Mark is doing, is prepping the piece for anvil tooling. After the taper, the bar is inserted into a swage block hole tip down. The top is upset and forged into a block. This gives you the platform to make any tooling you need for the anvil.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gerald,
I can do that and still have it orange under my 3B...all day..and my feet will hurt more than my arms....which hurt now even when I am sitting in my coffee chair.

I understand needing to hit the right spot with the right force, but it would never occur to me to do that taper on the anvil by hand.
There are competitions out there where a striker and smith forge out a bar and the first place team is usually only a few fractions of an inch longer than the next three teams....but they can not do that all day and why would you wish them to?

Ric

Link to comment
Share on other sites

interesting challenge ... i dont think i could do it in one heat .i rarely work anything that big and when i do its with a power hammer ...
ive seen some smiths where it wouldnt be a problem (Pieter Ross comes to mind) not sure it really has much to do with skill tho ..at least part of that is gota be force ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think some are missing the point

Over the years, I've heard/read no end of opinions on hammers and the techniques to use them. This is your chance to show the truth.


Beyond that and why do it? I've always loved the old skills. To me, developing eye, hand and hammer to a level to which I can do this, is a lure I can't resist.

As for power vs. skill. I've been lifting weights for most of my life. Physically, I'm stronger then either Mark or Peter. The difference is in their ability to swing the hammer and hit exactly where they want it. That's skill
For those of you who have watched Mark, you know he doesn't swing fast. Slow, steady accurate gets the job done.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure, but it was probably 4 1/2 inches. While it's cool to be able to forge that skillfully, just doing the taper isn't the purpose. What Mark is doing, is prepping the piece for anvil tooling. After the taper, the bar is inserted into a swage block hole tip down. The top is upset and forged into a block. This gives you the platform to make any tooling you need for the anvil.


Gerald - after reviewing the first picture I do see that it is a compound taper - yes this is the ground work for any tooling for the hardy hole - great starting point for beginners and experienced ones to make more tooling, no matter if it takes a few extra heats to get the taper. - good post Gerald!!!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was gifted Mark Aspery's first book over the holidays and just bought a 4' shaft of the same 1.25 stock.
Looking at it, the task of hand hammering on stock that size seemed daunting, but seeing this and knowing it was done by one person in one heat inspires me to light up the forge and have a go at it.
I bought the stock with specific projects in mind, so I probably won't use it up practicing tapers, but rather slitting and drifting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually I see this as a left brain right brain test. If you have trouble with this as you are working,like you pick it up and analyze it a few times while losing heat,,or if you think about just how to hold it intongs or precisely how and where to hit it your left brain is in the way. If you pull it from the fire and just work without analyzing your right brain is a huge asset. That can only happen if you have developed some muscle memory skill and have a good understanding of how metal moves between hammer and anvil. That is the result of spending time in the shop. Not just any time but quality time. With that in mind this is for sure a great exercise to see where you are in forging. Get several ;pieces of steel for this challenge and do one now..at wotever level your skill is now. Just do it and see how you do. Keep that piece and months or a year from now do it again and compare the pieces. Unless of course if the first one looks just like the one in the pic!. And it does not have to be the exact size he used. You could use one inch sq, or any size. And you could use rounds as well. Remember that small stock lose heat really fast. Pick something the you have good tongs that fit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I tried it today with a short handled 3-pound hammer. I NEVER EVER EVER forge anything that big. Just don't have the call for it.

I can hammer all day long without tiring out, working on 1/2-inch stock.

Half way through the heat my arm completely gave out. So much so, I dropped the hammer. I got te taper about half done in one heat. I may switch and use my 2.5 pound longer handled cross pien. I'll post second try results when I get to it.

If number two don't work, maybe I'll switch to my 60 pound! :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Best I could do was 3 heats, and that was the same in Marks class in Touchstone, if I worked 10 years doing nothing but blacksmithting, I figure I might get it down to one, but not likely as a hobbyist. Fun to do though, I remember working with Mark as my striker, what a blast, good memories.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I can hammer all day long without tiring out, working on 1/2-inch stock.

Half way through the heat my arm completely gave out. So much so, I dropped the hammer.


One of these statements is not true, if you can forge all day, working 1/2-inch, then you should be able to hammer for a single long heat. That is unless you over-did your hammering. This is not a contest of muscle and speed. You're not suppose to death grip the handle and swing as fast/hard as you can. That's just a path to injuring yourself. What it is, is way of seeing where you are with your hammer skill. Eye, hand and hammer working together. Let the hammer do it's work. Deep breaths, relaxed grip.


However your progress goes. Remember, blacksmiths are the tool makers. This is but a step in making your own anvil tools. If you don't learn to make them, where are you going to get them?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of these statements is not true, if you can forge all day, working 1/2-inch, then you should be able to hammer for a single long heat. That is unless you over-did your hammering. This is not a contest of muscle and speed. You're not suppose to death grip the handle and swing as fast/hard as you can. That's just a path to injuring yourself. What it is, is way of seeing where you are with your hammer skill. Eye, hand and hammer working together. Let the hammer do it's work. Deep breaths, relaxed grip.



You got it right there. I was too intent on "beat the tar out of it fast!" Not relaxed, very uptight, uncoordinated, and trying to go too fast.
I'll try it again in the morning, and try to relax more.

P.S. you don't have to worry about me trying to use muscle......don't have any! LOL I'm like a toothpick......5-foot 4 inches or so and hardly 130 pounds! :D
Link to comment
Share on other sites

well yesterday i decided to forge a bickern out of some 1 1/2 rnd shafting i had as a leftover ... i dont usually forge anything that big and it took some serious pounding ! I first squared it up and slightly upset it to fit hearty hole (1 1/4 hearty) then the fun part cutting it! with my hearty and a 12 lb sledge it took 3 heats to cut all the way thru (a lot of wasted time trying to control a too heavy piece one handed) then tapering (my power hammer does that job handily) next the bend.....that was a tough job even at yellow heat 1 1/2 shaft dosent like to bend ...finally got it bent ... i may try this challenge but ime not going to care how many heats it takes... the tool he made in the video i could use (even tho i have several swage blocks)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...