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I Forge Iron

How to get a really smooth texture on tapers

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Hi all,
I've been meaning to write this for a while, and finally got my round tuit.

I was at a demo where John Rais was the demonstrator-it was the Berkshire Blacksmiths meet at Greg Phillips place in Montgomery NY. He was talking about his progression on technique has been moving to really smooth tapers on his work-give a much nicer look. Well, how he does it is on the last heat or so he uses a wooden mallet instead of his hammer for planishing the work. I have been using this a lot, and it works very well-especially on the viney, organic stuff. I have looked at old work by guys like Cyril Colnik and others, and have envied those beautiful smooth tapers. Well-now I can do it. Give it a try-it works very well-and I figure if it's good enough for a guy like John Rais- it's good enough for me.

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Beth, to answer your question ( but you asked Mark I know ), the mallet is simply a top tool. If you have a nice smooth place on the bottom (like the horn or radiused edge) you get some of the predicted result. I still like using a nice smooth faced steel hammer for finishing but use a mallet for some things (dry and yes it may smoke if the stock is too hot ).

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Actually, you get very little smoke-you're hitting it just like with a forging hammer so the wood is in very little contact with the hot iron for a very short period of time. If you leave the mallet on the metal you'll get plenty of smoke :) And I don't bother to soak the mallet-which sounds like a good idea by the way.

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