HafizAliH

Beginner questions and critique.

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Hey guys, been lurking around the forum for a while, got around to making a forge, and worked some rebar (only rebar) for a couple hours. I had a lot of questions before I started, but actually heating and hitting metal made some things clearer.

 

Now let me explain my setup before I ask anything. Sorry to say I don't have any pictures, but hopefully I will be able to get some up tomorrow. I made a brake drum forge about maybe 4 or 5 inches deep, from the brake drum of a truck in some junkyard. I bought a piece of railroad track from some guy on ebay and attached it to a stump/log. My bellows are box bellows I made myself, they move maybe about 1.5 cubic ft of air for every complete push or pull (1.5 on pull and 1.5 on push, so 3 ft^3 on one repetition). I'm using hardwood charcoal for my fuel, and a 2.5 lbs "blacksmith hammer" from the hardware store. Bellows:

 

First I just hit the metal for a while, flattened it out really thin, then kinda folded it a couple times, getting a feel for the whole process. I noticed the metal became very brittle like after flattening and folding. I had been hitting it for a while, so I'm assuming some part of the rebar composition was lost in the process. I also noticed it had put out little "spikes" or something when I looked at it after it had cooled down, small almost mountains out of the surface. Cut that part off and scrapped it. Any idea what happened, or what the "mounatins" were?

 

Then I tried forge welding, didnt really know what I was doing, I figured I had to heat the metal a lot and kinda beat it into itself. I took some rebar, made a 180 degree bend and started heating it up. I heated it much more than anything I had heated before that. Funny thing is, when I pulled it out, only the main bar was there, maybe at a bright orange or yellow heat, and the part that I had bent back seemed like it had fallen off maybe. What did I do wrong, and does that happen often?

 

At the end of the day, I eventually made a banana holder for my mother, it came as a random Idea after I had made a spike of some sort. I fixed it to a wooden base as it wouldn't stand straight without it. :angry: . I attached some pictures, what do you guys think?

 

Last question, I read on here that charcoal likes deep fires, and I'm thinking that 4 or 5 inches deep won't cut it. I have a small ridge or crevice around the perimeter of the brake drum that I can put a piece of sheet metal into, but I wanted to know what thickness would be necessary to contain the fire? 1/8 might be thickest sheet that would be easily workable when cold, but I don't know if it will be thick enough to contain the actual fire.

 

attached some relevant pictures. tell me what you guys think. Sorry for the long post!  :D

 

 

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post-46456-0-43782500-1380587011_thumb.j

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It's really hard to say what's going on but it sounds like the first issue may be the forge itself.  if the heat it to concentrated you'll get a small work zone cooling quickly back to black.  When that happens and you overwork the steel cracks happen.  Cheat a little and pipe a hair dryer instead of the bellows.  You may find the heat to be a little more stable.  As far as what your working with, rebar is junk steel as I'm sure you've read.  It can have little carbon or have enough to harden.  It can also have other things that may make it prone to cracking.  Get some better steel and play with it. 

The banana holder is neat and you did a good job on your first taper, thos are hard for newbies.

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A proper box bellow is way better than a hair dryer and much less likely to burn up your steel.

 

I'd strongly suggest you spend some time at an ABANA affiliate meeting rather than trying to learn totally on your own should save MONTHS of frustration.

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Good Morning,

 

Nothing better than learning by doing. The piece you bent over and then it disappeared, was burnt off. Yes you can burn steel (and rebar). If you were watching you had it too close to the "Hot Spot" and didn't move it around to get an even heat. By leaving it at the "Hot Spot", you probably saw little tiny sparks, coming up and out of the fire. That is the steel burning. Better to learn with junk steel than "Paid for" steel.

 

Don't be afraid of making a mistake, it is one way of learning.

 

Enjoy the ride, go gentle with the blow. :) :)

 

Neil

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I like how graceful you made your curves and the squares on the bottom. Hang in there and pay a little more attention to fire management- it will get easier as you spend more time with the fire and steel.

Dave

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You must have to work that box bellows a lot.  Seems small to me.  I love my box bellows for the control it gives.  The larger the bellows the less work you have to do.  I will suggest a fun simple project like throwing spikes, s hooks, j hooks. I agree find an abana affiliate and you will make your job a thousand times easier.  ABANA also has some good lessons that may help you out.  

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Hafiz,

 

If you have the means to travel I would suggest trying to get to the next MABA meeting. I don't see any meetings planned for Oct. or Nov. but there might be a meeting posted on the website http://www.miblacksmith.org/ if one does come up. 

 

If you want someone to stop by and check out your setup I'd be willing to. Shoot me a PM and we can work out the details.

 

Thanks!

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Greetings Jeff,

 

The offer still stands ( free lesson )   Sounds like you need a little of 101...   You can find me...  2 meetings scheduled for MABA for Oct...  Check you Upsetter news letter...  

 

Forge on and make beautiful things

 

Jim

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"Nothing better than learn by doing"   I do not agree and hope that any bridge engineer, aircraft designer or surgeon does not either!

 

You really need someone who can tell you if you are doing it right; otherwise you tend to "practice your mistakes" until they become bad habits.  We've had several thousand years of working with iron behind us so muct of us won't have the time or energy to make all of those mistakes all over again.  Much faster and easier to learn the basics and go on to making new and improved mistakes!

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Beer always helps... about 3 beers after you've been pounding for awhile, and you'll have a DUH! IDEA, and go right back to it. :-)

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Riiiiight..... because alcohol and 2500 degree hot/possibly sharp things go so well together.

Master Powers, I agree that training is definitely effective.  However, all the books in the world won't make hammer control any better.  Only practice can do that.

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I was Just kidding . Books are good, but it's really nice to have someone show the proper way and practice from there.

Beers are good afterwards, though. :)

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Welcome aboard, glad to have you. It's hard to tell what happened to your failed piece though there's been some high probability guesses so far, they're still guesses.

 

You can teach yourself, no question, I'm mostly self taught at least till the internet went public and I got hooked up with folk online. While you CAN learn on your own it takes a LOT longer than hooking up with a skilled smith. That you are here asking questions puts paid to that item and we LOVE good questions, we love helping folk.

 

Find something better than rebar, it's inconsistent in composition it only has to meet a performance specification and doesn't really matter what's in it so long as it's strong enough. that means there's just no telling what it's going to do unless you are pretty skilled. If you can read the steel's reactions to the hammer, heat, etc. you can make it sing and dance. A beginner on the other hand usually doesn't know what a bar's saying or even that it's talking. The steel WILL tell you what's happening and not only by it's movement but how it moves at every blow, how it sounds, changes color, bends, etc.

 

Just buying new mild steel eliminates the bulk of the unknowns so all you need to deal with it it's reaction to you and it's reactions will be consistent. That way you can do a thing, see the results and either do it more or stop. No sweat, hit the steel supply and buy some 3/8" or 1/2" sq. maybe some 5/16" x 1" rectangular and some 1/4" or 5/16" rd. and start experimenting.

 

I really like your banana hanger. a really important skill a smith needs to be truly successful is the ability to invent a plausible sounding reason for doing whatever s/he just did. I can't tell if you started off making a banana hanger but it's a fine one regardless. If you had something else in mind and just adapted as you went, I award you a hearty BRAVO!!

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Wow. This forum is fast (and helpful).

 

Thanks for all of the replies guys. I think I will work the pieces of rebar that I have. I can mess with it and get a feel for different things without wasting too much money.  :D

 

Also, Jeff, I appreciate your offer, however I'm not sure if I will be able to make it out to Brighton anytime soon, with college and all. 

 

Jim, I think Cadillac is a bit too far away for a '93 camry, B)  but I still appreciate the offer nonetheless. And what's this "Upsetter newsletter'? haven't heard of it before.

 

Again, thanks everyone, great knowledge base here and very helpful members, I feel fortunate I found this place.  :D

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