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I Forge Iron

Greetings from Toronto


CaptainSpaulding

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Hi everyone,

Just like most others I spent a fair amount of time lurking to get a feel for the place and it seems like this is one of the most genuine, helpful forums I've come across. In the few weeks I've been here I don't think I've seen a single snarky comment or harsh word directed at anyone which makes for a great learning environment.

Anyway, I've spent the last month or so collecting scrap materials to work with (rail spikes, coil springs, leaf springs, etc.) and I've built a brake drum forge in an old stainless steel grill/bbq so I've been ready to go for a few days except I didn't have a striking surface of any kind until today. I have a few friends who work for CN rail so getting a piece of rail isn't going to be hard but there's something about rail that scares me. Considering the fact that the striking surface is so small when they're stood up on end, I'm just afraid of hurting myself if I miss. I've been on the hunt for an anvil but I need something in the meantime which is where today changed everything.

I stumbled across a tool and die maker's shop while out looking for someone to talk to about anvils and just walked in, introduced myself and told him what I was looking for. He offered me a bit of advice and gave me a few names and numbers of people to call who go to tool auctions and I thanked him profusely. THEN I told him that in the meantime I'd still like to get my hands on anything steel and flat to use as a striking surface, described the dimensions of what would be ideal (I just picked a10"x10"x10" cube out of thin air) and he walked me to the back of his shop where he had two honking chunks of steel that look like they were used as dies (I'm just going by what I remember him saying). He said they were in a lot he bought at an auction but he had to take them to get what he wanted and they've been sitting there for 6 months and he had no use for them. $30 later and they were in my trunk!

They ring as loudly as anything I've heard in real life or on a youtube video so I know they're not cast iron but they seem really really soft as the corners/edges seem to dent very easily even when lightly tapped with a hammer. Since I'm still new here, I'm unsure which subforum I should use to get advice and information on how to go about hardening it. If someone could point me in the right direction I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks in advance and I look forward to actually interacting with you all and learning as much as I can.

I'm at work so I don't have my camera with me but I will edit/update this post with pics as soon as I get home tonight (about 8 PM Toronto time).

10 PM updated with pics: http://imgur.com/a/xpR0b#0

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Welcome to the forum and hope to see you at an OABA event. If you don't know what the alloy is I would just leave the blocks as is for now. If they are mild steel they will not get any harder with any heat treatment. Depending on what they are you may end up destroying them if you use the wrong quenchant. or you may end up with them too hard and end up with a dangerous block. Air hardening steels are common in tool and die shops.

When you are forging hot steel the hot steel is much softer than mild steel. So unless you are doing a LOT of work with a striker or are using it under a power hammer you will be fine with it unhardened. If you do mark it up you have 9 other surfaces to use.

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Welcome
As for rail being a small surface on end why use the end most make an anvil by cutting and forming a horn on the flat rail surface. You need a stand or stump to get it to the right hieght. Google railroad rail anvil or something similar and there should be tons of pictures.

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WelcomeAs for rail being a small surface on end why use the end most make an anvil by cutting and forming a horn on the flat rail surface. You need a stand or stump to get it to the right hieght. Google railroad rail anvil or something similar and there should be tons of pictures.
Thanks. From what I've learned here so far, the more mass there is under the striking surface the more effectively and efficiently you can move metal. Everyone who has gone from laying the rail flat to standing it up has said the differences in rebound and sturdiness have been night and day. Maybe I've interpreted it incorrectly but that's how I read it.
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Welcome to the forum and hope to see you at an OABA event. If you don't know what the alloy is I would just leave the blocks as is for now. If they are mild steel they will not get any harder with any heat treatment. Depending on what they are you may end up destroying them if you use the wrong quenchant. or you may end up with them too hard and end up with a dangerous block. Air hardening steels are common in tool and die shops.

When you are forging hot steel the hot steel is much softer than mild steel. So unless you are doing a LOT of work with a striker or are using it under a power hammer you will be fine with it unhardened. If you do mark it up you have 9 other surfaces to use.


Great, thanks. All I'll be doing for now is practicing hammering and shaping techniques with rebar and sections of coil springs for a few hours at a time on weekends. I'll assume that's a long way from a LOT. I wasn't really looking forward to heating these things up and then quenching them in anything so I welcome the news that I shouldn't do anything to them. That's what I was hoping to hear.

As for OABA events, I am actually planning a trip out to Kitchener for the christkindl demonstrations in a couple of weeks.
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Just bumping my own thread to clarify a couple of things...is there a specific place for those of us who are new to this forum and blacksmithing in general where we can ask the "simple" questions? I know some communities really frown upon starting new threads just to ask "should I use a 2lb or 3 lb hammer?" type questions and I hate hijacking/derailing someone else's on-topic discussion just to ask a really basic question.

At another forum that I frequent, there's a "small, simple questions" thread. Do we have something similar that I haven't found yet?

Thanks!

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most sections have PINNED threads that are at the top of the first page, for easy location. Read these and search the subsections that applies to your interest. Many topics have questions that are posted and answered already.

Also some threads are made into a STICKY, these are different that simple PINNED becasue these will stay at the top permantly. For example in the knife area we have heat treat and getting started threads.

We seperated the topics in the forum to help people find those things that interest them, rather than have them all clustered together in the one general smithing section, even tho many newer poeple post everything there becaue they have not looked around the rest of the site yet, forcing more work in the staff to relocate those posts.

At the top of the forum there is a colored bar with special areas listed, See the PAGES area? there is a lot of good how tos called Blue Prints and lessons in blacksmithing, see these sub sestions for projects designed to teach smithing skills.

Frankly there is no simple area, because most of these things we do as smiths are very simple, the so called advanced things are combonations of many simple things building on the others.

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