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Neophyte Metal Diary - 1

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Neophyte Metal Diary - 1

This is a place where you can brag about your success, cry about your failures, or otherwise tell what you are doing in your life.

I am experiencing the beginnings of metal working, and not on a regular basis either. I mainly work wood. I decided I would tell about my metal working experiences in case someone else is considering following the same adventures. They can see my mistakes and try to avoid them. Advanced people can make suggestions if they want, or just sit and laugh at my mistakes. I will post these even if no one reads them, as they are kind of fun to write.
I will mention that elsewhere, I have written a woodworking diary since 2000. I wood carve and wood turn as my main hobbies.

Several years ago, my brother found the Gingery instruction books, and have purchased possibly a hundred books on how to do many things, mostly metalworking. He had taught himself how to weld over the years to make his job more profitable. He was going to build his own lathe from scratch and even purchased the metal to do it.
A couple years ago, he had the opportunity to get a SMITHY, which is a metal working lathe and a milling machine combination. He has since learned how to use it, made or picked up tooling, and made things with it. I picked up an old Craftsman metal lathe with back gears and thread cutter. My brother stripped it down and cleaned it up and we finally have it useful for use.
Most of my metal working has been where my brother set up a piece of metal in the lathe and the cutters in the tool holder, and I turn the wheels on the tool rest to face the metal, or remove metal on the perimeter to bring it to size, or eat metal inside the piece to open it up. I basically do his drudgery work so he can do something else.

On the Forth, he set me up to make some centering punches used to locate the center of drilled holes in the metal below. He drilled a set of holes in an angle iron to show me the sizes he needed, and had me match the diameter of the punches to the holes. This was basically the first time to have such a "critical" job. I had four of them to make, and did well on the first two, but on the third, I went too small, making a too sloppy fit, so I made it fit the smallest hole, then remade the second smallest. lucky I had that other size to do.

I read that one just needs a camp fire and a couple of rocks to work metal. Since we had the Bar-B-Q going, we stuck a piece of all-thread into the fire. I took it out and saw that the end was a little red. I took a heavy hammer and pounded on it, flattening it somewhat. I stuck it back in the fire. I did it a few times. While we were packing up, my brother squared the end with the last heat.
This is not much of an experiment, but it is a proof of concept. We saw that we can do some black smithing with very little. A little blower to drive oxygen into the fire would really get it hot. Shape the fire right and we would get better kind of heat.
What it did do is to get us excited about some real metal smithing. We were working toward it, but this showed us it can be done. We just had to have patience while the fire heated the metal.
I do see that when you hit the metal right with the hammer, it flattens more effectively than when not. Luckily, I never missed a single stroke, which was something I half expected. One cannot form the metal if you miss. While we have an anvil, It is stored away right now. We did our "smithing" on the flat of a vise since it was available.

We eventually want to get into metal casting, and black smithing. I mainly want to be able to say I can work metal. I am a writer (unpublishable but I do write), and would like to write believable scenes involving blacksmiths and metal working, but being able to actually work metal would be kind of fun.
My brother wants to build a working scale steam locomotive. He is learning what it takes to be able to do it, and building the tooling to make it happen.

Today, I started making two new carving knives. My dad taught me how to make carving knives. I changed his design slightly to fit my preferences and experiences. I no longer have a sharp point on the end. My ends are squared off, as if broken there. It cuts more like a wedge than slicing. I found this is more effective, and it is harder get that point through carving gloves to stab your hands. Anyway, I finally found my half inch wide rat-tailed files. They were not where I thought they were. I had put them were I would easily find them. NEVER DO THAT!!!
One file makes two knives. Remembering the mistakes in my last set of knives, I planned ahead. The last time, I was making the entire file into a single carving knife, then realized it was way too long even for me. I like my carving knives long as I can reach deep into holes and carve out the wood really nicely. I changed my mind half way through the process and finally broke the knife in half and made too small a tenon on the second knife. It just did not work right, though that second knife ended up better than the first.
I started by placing the edge of the file, were I figured the rat tail of the second knife would be, against the grinding wheel and cut it in. I quenched the file in water, then ground on the other side until I had what I considered a good rat tail. I ground the sides at the tail end, placed the file in a vise, and wearing a glove, I snapped the file in half.
I ground the file ridges off, quenching often, until the metal was clean. At this point, I quenched often, but nothing I was dong was really critical. I have loads of metal to remove. From this point on, I have to use more care.
The proper practice for grinding a knife, is to place your fingers on the backside of the blade while you grind. When the metal gets too hot to hold your hand against it, quench it. You won't lose any temper that way. I have not do that so far, but have not really heated it up too much in the blade area.
I will work on both blades at the same time, and will try to take pictures of some of the stages as I go.

Tomorrow, I go to my brother's house and see what trouble I will get into. I will have my carving stuff with me, but may do nothing but metal working. will see.

Most diaries will not be this extensive, but I thought some background would be good to understand where I am starting from.

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Neophyte Metal Diary - 1
this metal working diary started 07-07-07
07-08-07 Sunday

My brother was welding up a wheeled car for his wife. I decided to stay out of his way in the morning and carve.

Several months ago my brother built a powered hack saw. it is basically a hacksaw on a slide, attached to an arm on the powered shaft. The arm swings around and draws and pushes the hacksaw back and forth. He built it based on some plans he purchased, making changes based on his construction skills and needs. The best way to picture how the saw works, is that it is like the connecting arm on a steam engine running from the wheel to the cylinder at the front of the engine. The round motion of the wheel is converted to the back and forth motion on the saw.
This machine is a dream. He had it cutting a slice off a four inch diameter shaft. Other than adding cutting oil periodically, it works without any attention. In about forty five minutes, it sliced off a slab of the shaft. My brother tried to cut it with a henrod torch and only went down a little bit. His cut off saw sat there sending sparks everywhere and not getting much of a cut. The power hacksaw, using a standard hack saw blade, worked its way down, with no sparks, no mess. He then had it cut another slice off just as easy as anything.
He does not have the saw squared up. He needs to completely disassemble it, paint it, make some changes, square up everything and build a housing to keep fingers out of the wheels and belts. Already it is the best piece of equipment he has made so far.
He will make one change. He has a metal arm that the saw shaft is attached to. He is going to turn it into a solid disk with sets of holes in it. He will be able to change the throw of the saw by how close or far away from the center, the arm is attached to the disk.

Later in the day, I got onto the grinder and started shaping the knives I started with yesterday. I had a second file with me so I could take a "before and after" picture. I noticed that the second file was wedge shaped like a knife. It was too much. I had to make that into knives. after a bit more careful measuring than yesterday, I ground in the rat tail in the middle of the metal. This time I left the two pieces connected simply for ease of handling it. I can hang onto one entire blade while grinding on the other. I will change that later. I ground off the file teeth and then did a little shaping on all four knives.
I decided to stop and will do the rest of my grinding on a water stone grinder, which cuts slower, has more surface on the wheel and with the water, I won't have to worry about losing the temper.
When I finish the knives, I might carve a couple handles, depending on my mood at the time, or just leave them as working knives.
I had made two knives at the beginning of the year, and gave one away back in April, and today, gave the second one away. I like having extra knives. when heavy carving, they get dull, and it is easier to swap knives than to sharpen. It is also nice to have spare knives in other locations other than my carving box.

My brother is in the process of building a lathe for a sewing machine treadle I picked up. He has the bearings and is about to make the shaft. He picked up a center finder tool and found it way off, at least on something that small. He decided to make it out of a larger diameter shaft, and machine it into size so that the center being just a fraction off won't make that big a difference. It will be centered to the machine center.

Other than my knife making, it may be a month or so before I get another chance to do serious metal working. It was fun this weekend.

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I said I would show pictures of the carving knives in process using the grinder methods. In this picture, I show an original file beside the knife blanks positioned as they would be found in the file.. I cut the tang of the second knife with the grinder, cutting in from top and bottom till it was thin enough. I have also ground off the file teeth. Now I have to create the knife profile so they will cut.


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Neophyte Metal Diary - 1
this metal working diary started 07-07-07
07-14-07 Saturday

90 degrees under the awning, sunny with partly clouds, none seemed to hide the sun enough to be noticed. Light breeze, though a fan helped at one point.

I ground on the knives, shaping them, getting them close to being sharp. I used the water stone, which is messy. The Harbor Freight grinder I have has a speed stone and a vertical water stone. I work where the stone rises out of the water. I had to refill the basin several times as a lot of the water ended up on the ground.
There are several advantages of this stone. One is that it is wider, and larger in diameter, which makes for a flatter grind. The water keeps it cool so I can leave the blade against it for extended periods of time. The speed stone heats the metal so fast that it is hot almost as soon as you get it positioned right. I got all four blades almost right.

I decided that I can add handles and then finish the blades with better control. I picked out a one by two mahogany piece and traced one of my existing carving knives onto it. I then bandsawed the rough shape out. I then used the disk sander to round the corners and final shape it. It would be better to use a belt sander, especially if you can work around the roller of the sander, but had to use what I had.
I then cut a curf in the end, up and down, on the blade end of the handle. I then went to the drill press and drilled out a hole in the center of the curf to take the tang of the blade. I hand sanded the handle a bit.
I finally used Gorilla Glue into the hole, on the tang, and in the curf, and drove the blade into the handle. I later scraped off the worst of the Gorilla Glue foam up, but have more cleanup to do.
I then tried making a yellow pine handle and it started splitting out while driving the tang in. I then made two black walnut handles and they also started splitting out as the tang was driven in.
It was while I was cleaning off the excess glue that it dawned on me that the bit I drilled the tang hole with, was way too small for the tang. It helps to measure. the glue does most of the holding, though the shape of the tang helps, along with the blade in the curf. With one blade, the tang is only half way into the wood. Not really good design.

Tomorrow, I might break apart the handles to free the blades and make new ones so I can make them fit properly. The last two handles went fast, so It won't take too much time to make new handles, and I actually will be able to use the yellow pine for one of them.

I will finish sharpening the knives later. One thing with carving knives, is that they have to be used to be fine tuned to carve perfectly. Slight errors in grinding can give one headaches.



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Excellent knife.
As a woodworker, I like that stump too...

Neophyte Metal Diary - 1
this metal working diary started 07-07-07
07-15-07 Saturday

high 80s, mostly sunny, light breeze, 94 under the awning. Rain arrived hours after I got home.

I never do work at home, other than sanding and varnishing some wood working project. I do my work either at my mom's house or at my brother's house. At my mom's house, the equipment is under an awning. It might be 83 degrees out in the shade, the heat radiated down from the metal awning makes it over 90 degrees. Since the thermometer is under the edge of the awning, I give the awning temperature compared to what the weather report might say.

I tackled my new carving knives. The first knife with a handle was the closest to being done. I sat with the sharpening stone (in this case a cheap diamond plate) and worked the blade. I eventually got it where I could stop the knife, and get it sharp enough to shave the hairs on my arm. It worked as a carving knife.
I took the second knife I made and cleaned the glue off the handle, first with my first new knife, then with sandpaper. I then took to the blade. I have it fairly close, but it still needs to do more grinding.
I scraped the third knife of glue, but did not do any more. I still have to make a handle for the fourth knife.
I held off on making the handle of the fourth knife in case I needed to make new handles for the two that cracked. The one I am nearly done with is Ok so I will leave it as it is for now. I might leave the other knife as it is. I will know when I start dealing with that. It is not hard to make new handles so that is not a serious problem. If I decide the blade is wrong, I can replace the handle fast.
Part of the problem with the new knives, is that they may be too broad for comfortable carving. Then of course, a little more grinding in one spot compared to another might case thin spots on the cutting edge. I need to use the knives, get them to the right profile, and edge.

There are as many sharpening methods as people doing it. If using a regular sharpening stone. I found that soap is the best medium with a stone. It does not build up like oil does when it dries, and if the stone gets filled up with grit and such, wash it in water and the stone is sparkling clean. I use whatever liquid dish soap is on hand. I got consistant, excellent results that way. Clean up of your hands is simple, just add water...

Now one thing I need to do soon, is to make a shieth for the knives. The way I make them for the carving knives, is to take a piece of wood, split it in half. I then lay the knife blade over one half of the wood, and trace it. I then gouge out the wood until the knife is flush with the top. I will then glue the two pieces together. Warning, if you use white glue, let it dry completely. White glue has vinargar in it, which will rust your steel. I learned that the hard way, (several times, by the way).
When you shove the knife into the shieth, it will fit tightly to the knife. A rap on the end will lock it in place.

My brother was cutting some boards for a scroll saw project. Some stuff on the table saw was blocking the path for the band saw, so I pulled that stuff back out of the way. AS I was putting things back, a 4x4 slipped out of my hold and fell, end straight down, onto my left big toe, right on the toe nail.
I was lucky. This board was red cedar, which is comparatively light, rather than, lest say, black walnut. Light as the wood is, it still hurts.
My toe is black and blue behind the toe nail and it is swollen. It is a dull pain, but does hurt if I flex it. It will definitely hurt if I bump it against something. It hurts to walk.

I will be working my knives more next weekend. It is a good project when it is too hot to be out and about, or when the weather looks threatening.

Will see what else I will be doing next weekend.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Neophyte Metal Diary - 1
this metal working diary started 07-07-07
08-05-07 Sunday

Could not work at my mom's house. I went to work with my brother, which meant working metal. Yes!
My brother welded up a shelved cart for his wife to use at work. He had two of the legs about an eighth to a sixteenth off. What he did was to put the torch onto the upright and when he got it nice and red, I pounded on the corner to upset the metal slightly to get rid of the wobble in the car as it rolled. We had to upset two opposite legs. I did not do too bad at pounding. At no time did I hit the wheels which were right where I was pounding. There is still a little wobble but with all the different floor surfaces they are rolling on, and once it is fully loaded, no one will notice.
He did not have a pipe bender small enough, so he cut a whole bunch of pieces of the pipe with a slight angle on both ends, and then welded the pieces together to make the bends of the handle he was after. I helped him sand his weld job before he painted it. The paint hid the mistakes.

It was said to be in the 90s in some places in the area. We were working under a spreading oak tree. it is surprising how much heat the tree soaks up. While it was still hot, it was not like sitting out in the sun, or under a metal awning or something like that.

We started a bar-b-q and tried to heat the end of a metal bar. We got a little flattening, but not too much. My brother tried some pounding and found his elbow could not take the effort. Unless we get a power hammer, we doubt he will do any black smithing. My brother had to cut some metal. While he had the torch out, we decided to heat the end of the metal properly and pound on it. It was kind of fun and the end of the bar was nicely flattened. I do see that I have to learn to hit the metal flat. I have a bunch of corner hits, making it rough. We hung onto the piece of metal and the end is in the metal rack, the humiliated end sticking out so we can find it again.
Seeing the metal going really flat was kind of exciting. Results. The problem is that the gas we used is too expensive for this purpose. Have to build a forge.

I have a key cutter I got from a friend. This is a belt driven cutter to make copies of keys. I brought it with the suggestion of using it as the basis for the treadle lathe my brother is making for me. Instead, it gave him an idea of how to build it. Simpler, easier, and solves some problems. We even dug out a piece of metal for the shaft and the sleeve it will be spinning in. He has to get some bearings before he can really get started.
Most wood lathes use a tube with a thread on the end, and a morris taper on the inside. What we will do is to use a key way on the shaft and have everything fit the shaft and allen screw in place. We can make the thread for the accessories such as chucks to stick on the end of the shaft. This is kind of like the system that the SHOP SMITH uses.
I will be able to make all sorts of parts for that lathe.

There is a cutting tool system I wanted to make for the wood lathe. I decided to make it. It uses a main bar as the center of the system. The bar has a hole to fit the small metal cutting bit. There is an allen screw that synchs down the bit in the end of the bar. One can make accessory handles and outriggers for stability, and inserts that hold flat style bits, at different angles and distances. Everything is interchangeable and adjustable.
Anyway, I decided to make one. I intended to use the drill press to drill out the end, but my brother chose to use the smithy. He slipped the bar right through the machine and clamped on the end with his three jaw chuck. I had to finish off the end, then drill it out in stages. Once I got that part made, he helped me set it up in the drill press and drill out the hole for the allen screw. He then guided me in tapping the hole, using the drill press to center the tap so it went in straight. The bar is done.
Now I need to make an outrigger, which will require a bit of welding, along with bending and drilling. And to make a few bit holders to hold flat bits for working on the inside of my projects. I have the start of a system that would normally be expensive.

I am not someone who actually is known for doing things. It is exciting to actually accomplish some projects, even if I am helped in the setup. This is fun.

I have another Sunday session at my brother's house next weekend. Will see what trouble, I mean fun, I can get into.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Neophyte Metal Diary - 1
this metal working diary started 07-07-07
08-30-07 Thursday

I had did some metal working several weeks ago, but have not had the chance to talk about it till now. Until we build a forge, black smithing will be far and few between. It is expensive to heat metal with a torch. Instead, I will be doing machining.
The day before my last metal working session, I had the opportunity to work with one of the mentors my wood turning club. I was learning how to work with a skew, one of those tools that are a real pain to learn to use. I learned a lot, especially not to use that tool on anything really important until I master it... He showed me many of the tools he made recently and that he works with. He pointed out some techniques used in making tools.
In wood turning, the handle really does not handle a lot of force. It is held in the hand and a light touch is usually far more effective than horsing the bit into the wood. Because of this, one can use prettier, but weaker woods for handles. One can have some really special looking handles for rather ordinary tools.
I read something where a man had such good technique that he went into the forest with an ax with a broken handle and used it for quite a while. when he returned, the ax was still in that condition. Most of use don't have good technique with our hammers or other tools. One might definitely need to concentrate on stronger wood for handles, rather than go with a pretty wood. A different kind of wood for the handles will make your tools recognizable. I have no idea the type of patina a well used tool handle might get. What the wood looks like might not make any difference at all.
Along with my instructions, my mentor also gave me some aluminum which I immediately handed to my brother. He can use it either in the form we received it, or melted down into metal castings, if we ever get the casting table and forge built...

The previous week, My brother and I made a boring bar. I need to make a handle for it and a number of other add-ons. This week I made an attachment to go into the boring bar. With the boring bar, I trued the end, then drilled out the hole that the bits would fit into. I then drilled and threaded a allen screw to hold the bits. my brother helped me on every stage on making the bar.
This time, I made one of the fittings to be used with the bar. I took a small piece of the same metal and finished both ends. The only help my brother gave me was to pick out the bits and tell me what to do. After finishing the ends, I bored out one end so it matched the end of the boring bar. My next step was to thin down the opposite end so it would fit inside the hole of the boring bar. We then drilled and tapped a hole to hold a bit. Our final step was to bend the piece so it would bore out the sides of a project.
We stuck the piece in a vice and he took the torch to it. Stuff I read about black smithing explained a lot of what was going on. My brother pulled torch away to let the heat soak in to the center, which was something I read about when it comes to forging and forge welding. I finally took a pipe and used that as a handle to bend the piece to give me the angle I needed. I actually went a bit too far. I was told later that it will dig in really aggressively at that angle. My brother wants to make several more at increasingly shallower angles.
After the metal cooled enough for us to handle it, we checked the thread of the set screw. The hole warped slightly. He promptly dropped his tap, and it was gone. It either went under a lot of stuff, or went inside something. WE all know how small needed objects travel time. Months later, it will be right there in plane sight, especially if one moved everything to find it. We had to go out and buy a whole new tap and die set just to replace that one missing tap.
As mentioned, I had to decide what to do, how to do it. My brother simply gave me the cutting bits to fit in the tool holder, the successive bits for the Jacobs chuck, the drill bit and tap for the allen screw. I had to do the work and figure things out myself. Being a neophyte, there is some thrill and a sense of accomplishment to have that much control on something like this..

I had some metal cutting bits with my lathe stuff and a couple weeks later, I tried out the straight boring bar. I ground the end of a metal cutting bit so it had a rounded nose, and an angle up to the cutting edge. I used this on several pieces of wood and it ate the wood better than anything else I had. I have not had the chance to use the angle piece as I have not worked with any wood project that required it. It is for getting inside the work, past the neck of a vase where the middle expands out. Those are hard to reach and this makes it easier. The cutting bit I am using is too long but I am not ready to cut it in half or otherwise yet.

I had some strangler fig wood that is spalted. This is where the first signs of rot appear, where fungus spreads through the wood and gives interesting shades and color to the wood. it has not yet started getting punky. I do my woodworking outside so I am less endangered than one who works in a basement or garage, but spalted wood is dangerous to work with. That fungus will grow in the lungs if you breath much of it in. Outside, I am lucky that the dust does not linger long enough to be breathed in.
I decided to make a tool handle out of it. This is beautiful wood and softer than pine. I rough shaped it, then took a brass nut to be the ferrule, the metal around the tool end to prevent it splitting when the bit is driven in. I shaved the place the ferrule would be until it was just small enough for the nut. Since it was a nut, I screwed it in to make it stay on easier. After the nut was in place, I finished some extra shaping, and then, using my speed steel bowl gouge, I turned off the high points of the nut. Soft metal like copper and brass can be worked by hand held tools.
Satisfied with the handle, I decided it was finished. When measuring the handle for the bit I was making it for and found I did not have enough wood to keep from splitting out. The nut was too small for the bit I was going to use. I decided I will use a different bit for that handle.
This gives me an excuse to make another handle. I am thinking of a large number of bit designs I can make use of, or make from scratch. Speed steel, as used in metal working, is best as it requires less sharpening on wood. Wood can be quite abrasive.

I generally work with my brother on his metal working only when my mom is out of town. I might get a chance to work with him this weekend, or I might not be able to do much metal working till November when My mom goes on a trip. I hope it is sooner. It is a lot of fun.

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  • 9 months later...

his metal working diary started 07-07-07
05-35-08 Sunday

It has been a long time since I posted to this link. Our schedules and projects prevented any metal working.

We had a holiday, birthday, BBQ, preparation for hurricanes, get-together on Memorial day. I was prepared for carving but had an idea for metal working. It really depended on what was planned and the weather.

The boring bar I made previously has worked perfectly, but because it is straight, there is a limit to what kind of cutting I can do. I decided that I would like to make an attachment that a friend showed me. It allows me to turn the bit on an angle for cutting.

When I arrived, my brother said he had no projects planned, which is great. I am free to do some metal working. I said what I wanted to do, and my brother gave me as if I had spoken in an alien language. I then took a piece of paper and drew four sketches of what I planned to do. the first one showed the metal bar. with the cuts I wanted, the second showed it split, the third showed the two pieces together, and the forth was a view showing how it would be used. He got the idea.

We found an appropriate piece of metal, the last of that size. We sawed off the right sized chunk with the power hack saw my brother made.We cut it a bit longer than needed.
Note, with this kind of piece we were making and the way we did it, cutting it to the size needed would have been better.
I have done enough of these to know how to set it up for the work I was doing. He had the cutting bit already in there so I just had to fit the metal into the chuck and tighten it down. My first step was to finish off both ends.
The next step was to make the tenon that fits into the boring bar.A couple measurements gave me the size needed and I got to work.
The first tenon I made was a bit too small. We cut that off and started over. I got it right this time, just fits.
I then turned the piece around and drilled the hole in the end to take the cutting bit or a new tenon.

My original plan for the piece was to use the band saw to cut the flats for the parts to pivot together on. My alternate plan was to use the grinder.

Now was something new for me. My brother's lathe is a SMITHY and it has a milling machine built into it. The model he has requires him to pull a gear in or out to switch between the milling machine and the lathe. the next model up had separate motors. Of course, the gears did not want to change.

He set up the milling machine and set my piece into the parts holder. He then had me flatten the tenon. He then had me flatten the bearing surfaces for the joint. He said that by doing it this way, all three surfaces and all the drill holes, will be in line. My job, again, was to move the part back and forth under the spinning bit, then lowering it slightly, then doing it again. It did a beautiful job.

Now I have to admit that we flattened the tenon way to much. It should only have been a flat spot, but we went down nearly half way.
My brother removed the milling bit and inserted a drill chuck and drilled the holes into the parts. He then drilled all of them. Finally, he made the cuts with a sawzall and I had a part. The part that holds the cutting bit was a bit long.

I mentioned about a holding a flat cutting bit and the long length of the part holding the regular cutting bit. By this time, I had been on my feet too long.
My brother's friend was harnessed to do the work of moving the tools and parts back and forth this time.
They had two flat areas in their design. One was for the joint, the other was a flat area to hold the flat cutting bit. They also made a new bit reciever that was a lot shorter than what I made.

Somehow, I lost the Allen screw that fits my boring bar to hold the parts so I have not had an opportunity to try the boring bar attachments out, but the parts are better than I expected.

I do need more tenon pieces so I can simply swap piece sets, rather than unscrew them to swap between bits, but these attachments make my boring bar a real tool now.

It was fun working in metal again.

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  • 2 months later...

I just returned from a vacation in Connecticut.
We went to Sturbridge village twice during my two weeks. The first visit, I stood at the blacksmith shop and asked questions. There was another man who was asking questions and trying to show off his knowledge. I corrected him on something and gave a few bits of information, but asked questions mainly to learn. The blacksmith gave me a hook that was laying on display. It was a lot of fun.

The second visit, I paid for the hands on crafts, making a hook. My girlfriend said I had the biggest grin in the world during the entire process. I later went to the blacksmith's shop and dipped the hook in oil. I pumped the bellows while he heated the hook up and then He handed me the tongs and I dipped it.

If anybody was there, I was the fat man with the beard with my hand in a brace.

Anyway, I now really want to make one on my own, making all the decisions rather than just being the striker.

Wow that is fun!!!!!!!

There was a young boy (13?) who made a hook right after I made mine. His grin was bigger than mine.

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  • 2 years later...

It had been quite a while I worked any metal. Years I see.
A dying friend sold me his unimat lathe. My brother, who is advanced in teaching himself machining, helped me showed me how to work with it.
My first machining projects was reducing the diameter of some shafts so some grinding bits could fit into the dremmel.
WE worked out that we needed a cross slide for the lathe. After about two weeks of sketching designs, I mounted some orange wood in the milling machine. I changed designs as I went and afterwords glued some flanges on since I did not plan properly for that from the begining and my pieces were not big enough for them.
My idea was the screw would run between the flanges.

Later I machined the head of a sidewalk bolt into T-slot bolts. I then decided It would be faster and easier to use the grinder. It worked. the heads don't have to be absolutely square. they just hae to fit into the slot and not twist.

For several years, my brother wanted to build a forge. My mom's water heater bit the dust. He took it for the forge. My nephew decided he wanted to do some blacksmithing so he and my brother got together and built the forge. It is not at all done, but enough to do some work. He is using a heat gun where the element had died as the blower. We just let it run and eat up the coals for our first real test.
My brother gave us some re-bar My nephew made a pair of tongs.
I first decided to squasre the rebar. when the only sign of its origin was the bumps along the edge, I decided to make a hook to drive into the wall like I did in Sturbidge village. I narrowed the end, then bent it over. I then remembered a coal rake made in a blacksmith series. I flattened the bend out, which proved to me the idea of pulling the hammer at impact will draw the metal out. I handed it to my nephew and he said it was quite useful

I now have some metal to make my cross slide. Over the next month, I will be machining between my regular wood working.

Unimat lathe in lathe position
Unimat lathe in machining mode - machining a design test piece in wood
machined wooden cross slide pieces
assembled cross slide
t-slot bolts I made from sidewalk bolts
The forge my brother and nephew are making
coal rake I made

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