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I Forge Iron

Complete Newb and several questions

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Greetings All,

Complete and utter newbie and not ashamed to wear that crown.

I am looking into building my first brake hub forge. I have several of the parts already but have not begun assembly.
I have little cash to start so anything I can "MacGuyver" I will. There is plenty of scrap near where I live considering there
is a railroad yard and scrapyard near by.

I am not looking to do big metal, maybe a few knives and some art pieces to see if this is a hobby for me to dive into.

A few questions, I noticed a lot of talk about fuel for the forge. Obviously if I am going with a brake drum setup, wood is out of the
question. Can I, however use the regular barbecue briquettes for fuel or will they burn up to quickly? Suggestions?

Also, a starter kit for tools. What is a decent hammer for pounding out railroad spikes? What size anvil is good to start on? Can I use
a railroad anvil to start? If not, will an anvil in the 25-50# range be suitable? What other types of tools will I need? What tools can I
make to keep the cost down?

Is there link on this site that discusses getting started and the do's and don'ts?

Thanks in advance, you guys really do some fantastic work.


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Most use coal or gas forges
I make my own charcoal from 2 X 4 ect wood in a barrel that I cal make air tight after the wood has burned to the right consistancy.
Briquets have dirt added in the process. Boughten charcoal would be cowboy or lump not briquets.
As for tools anything will work some type of tongs, vise grips or leave the stock long enough to use as a handle until finished forging and then cut the piece off the parent stock.
Anvils can be as primative as you have to be even a large rock
Good luck and try to find a group near you for hands on training

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I realize you want to jump into the heart of the matter to see if you would like to learn the craft of blacksmithing or knife making.

That being the condition; I suggest that you could cut through the chase by using your time and energy by finding a blacksmith near you and spend some time observing the process.

I could not find where you live. If you would have gave information about where you lived, I would have inserted information about where you may find a blacksmith near you.
Next best thing:
So click on this URL and see if you can find a blacksmith near you:

A lot of questions will be answered if you make the effort and use that approach. It may save you time and money if you are not interested in doing blacksmithing/blademaking.
Getting off to a bad cheep start (on your own) does not always tell an accurate story.

If you learn it incorrectly, you will have to take more time to un-learn and re-learn the proper way to forge along with safety measures.
If you find the right person to spend some time with, you will see how it is really done and then you could make a better informed decision at that time.

Trying to do it cheap is not always the answer, and in the long run it is not always cheaper.
There is a cost to learn any craft. Such as time, money, sweat, burns, noise, STUDY, and the sacrifice your priority use of time and money.

I also suggest that you take advantage of the thousands of posts found on this site. It takes personal effort, but personal effort has been spent by many to assist all of us to shorten the learning curve.

Take some study time and learn about what is here and have a learning opportunity!

I wish you the best!

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I went to the link you suggested (thank you, by the way). The link to Wisconsin blacksmiths is no longer in existence.

I did do a little research. I found five, that I will be contacting this week..

Thanks to both of you for the information. I will continue to search this website and the local library
and get a better handle on what it is I want to do and how to get started.


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The problem you are going to have is there are as many answers to the questions you have ask as there are blacksmith who are willing to reply. Mr Ted has the right approach for you. I burned coal in my backyard for a few years with really no results other than some bent and burnt metal to show for it. The man I was buying coal from tried to get me to come to one of his blacksmith meetings all that time. I finally went after I saw one of their demonstrations and one year later I was invited to demo at that same show. The truth is I learned more in twelve one day meetings than I did in four or five years trying by myself. I hope you get in contact with someone soon and help us keep this craft growing.

Best of luck to you, Chuck

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Fondy Iron
Blacksmiths Attitude is everything!!!!

You have exhibited a great attitude of someone who is ready and willing to learn.
And now I am sure that you will do well!

With your attitude, people on this site will bend over backwards to assist you as you learn. All they want is someone who is willing and respectful about the time and effort they give to help someone with.

I may have sounded kind of firm in my response to you, but I meant it for your own good.
I have observed many people over many years who have stuck with it, and some who did not. This is my 60th year at this. I have worked my way back to being a blacksmith wannabe myself. So we are even!
It seemed to me that most people, who got a good guided start with a blacksmith from the start, seemed to stay with the craft.

I would not be accurate to say that people who started out with minimal tools and no instruction always did not do well at blacksmithing.
I have seen many people who have, and they did very well. And some who even excelled!

I have been asked to teach a time or two. So I was made aware of the same basic common experience of what it had cost them to learn by themselves.
Lots of unproductive time, some wasted material, and they had to pay the price of learning about safety the hard way.
And they also burned up a lot of time, and learned some real good bad habits that had to be re-adjusted.

Now Get Busy!!
My best to you
Ted Throckmorton (Blacksmith Wannabe)

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