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Where can you get swage blocks from a foundry in the U.S.


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I am trying to find a foundry that will pour cast iron swage blocks. Preferably this foundry has some molds already that we can pick from. I am with the Blacksmiths Association of Missouri (BAM) and would like to source and inform our members as to the cost so that we can determine quantity and put an order in. I think the size of the blocks would be roughly 10" tall x 18" wide x 24" long and weigh 100 pounds plus.

Thanks for any feedback. JH

P.S. - Is this the right way to approach this or am I missing something.

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On this main forum page, a man from Elizabethtown, PA, "wdandmlteach" meaning Wood and Metal Teacher, posted under "Tools" 'Swage Block Ponderings.' He knows how to make a pattern/matchboard, I doubt whether you can find a modern day foundry with already made-up patterns. Most moderate sized swage blocks are three to four inches thick. Many of them were square; a few, rectangular. Some had holes through them; some did not. The old ones were usually gray cast iron, but nowadays they can be of ductile iron. Saltfork Craftsmen of Oklahoma had already located a foundry and they are selling mandrels and swage blocks. Steve Fontanini has a foundry in one of the Western states to cast the anvils that he sells. He might have some info.

I suggest that you go to www.swageblocks.com and look at the gallery of old and new swage blocks.

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Blacksmith suppliers like Kayne & Son, Centaur, and Pieh would have direct contacts in the industry. Whether vendors would be willing to share that information may be another matter. They can and usually do purposely hide the makers mark in their photos and leave it out of their descriptions.

Someone is casting the Rhino, Fontinini, Nimba, and various farrier anvils in the US. You might ask them.

Laurel Machine and Foundry (Laurel, Mississippi) was the last large US maker that I knew of casting swage blocks and cones. For them it was a tiny, tiny sideline.

Green & Mengel (US) also made some blocks and cones in various sizes. John Newman did cast 3 very different block patterns in Canada a while back, and some items from both makers still seem to be available from the above vendors. I have used products from both and they were well worth the price.

Edited to make clear: I am not advising you to rip off an existing design or designer, just some off the cuff leads to help you find a reputable foundry or partner to work with.

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Most of the patterns at foundries belong to their customers not the foundry. The foundry cannot use the pattern to make a casting for anyone but the owner of the pattern. They would be opening themselves up for a lawsuit and losing a lot of other work.

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If you can't find a foundry to cast for you you could keep an eye out for an iron pour. We have one every June and with a little coaxing and a lot of cast iron hammering for stock they'd be happy to pour a swage block. Any idea how many steam radiators you have to sledge hammer to bits for 100-200lb pour? Oh my aching arms.

Finding a pattern maker shouldn't be too tough, the biggest difference between metals is the shrinkage allowance. Once you have the pattern most any foundry should pour for a price. Don't forget quantity makes for cheaper unit prices. A large foundry would maybe include small pours like a swage block to use the last iron in the melt, like getting the cement truck to pour the flagstones when they clean the drum. It's always better to make a few bucks than toss or have to reprocess leftovers.

Frosty The Lucky.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thanks all for the help so far, what I need to do is get back to my association president and try to determine the actual design/size.

Also, you all have given me a lot of leads that I need to investigate and quit trying to recreate the wheel. Does anybody roughly know what the range of costs might be on 100 lb block vrs a larger one?

Thanks again, you all have saved me a lot of time.

regards,

jh

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Just a suggestion if you are designing your own swage block:

I have a small one, 50# or so, that I bought on ebay about a dozen years ago. For the most part it serves my purposes. However, one thing I have wanted that it doesn't have are triangular grooves. By this I mean true 60 degree equilateral triangles. It does have grooves with a 90 degree bottom but that doesn't give a true equilateral result. I've considered filing some in with a triangular file but that seems like a LOT of work and I haven't missed that shape enough to invest that much time and work. Sooner or later I probably will. Also, if you are making them large enough I'd suggest graduated bowl/ladle depressions. There have been times that I have wanted an intermediate radius between the small and large ones that I have.

Finally, consider the effort needed to shift them around. 100 pounds is probably the upper end, IMO, for one man to shift, particularly us older fellers.

Good luck, and let us know if you are going to have some excess ones for sale. I'm sure that there would be a demand.

Depressingly,
George M.

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I have two blocks in the 125 range and they are about the limit I want to move around. Flipping them in the stands to get the right side up is a pain by yourself. I also have a smaller 85 lb block that is square and I use it for portable I think it was cast in Mississippi or someplace about 10 years ago. A couple years ago we did a buy (BAM did) from salt fork for the ones they did around 100 lbs and I think everyone was happy with the result. It seems like we are reinventing the wheel here or maybe I am not understanding what the desired size is.

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