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Plantagenet Ironworks

Another nameless face in the crowd of aspirants.

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My name is Sebastian, I am 34 years old. Currently in the Moore Oklahoma area. I suppose you guys have a steady stream of aspiring smiths that start with big intentions and ideas and simply fade away into the sea of whim and inconsistancy. Just the same, I suppose I should introduce myself, tip my hat and issue warm greetings before innundating you with the innane questionings of an aspirant.

 

My blacksmithing goals are small. I have interests mostly in jewlery and small utilitarian items, if I could somehow work my way up to a few high quality knives I would be pleased with myself. I cant imagine anything I make would be over 12 inches. But you never know.

 

About ten years ago I came to the conclusion that I was pretty worthless. Not a self esteem thing, but it occured to me that like many of my generation I had no definable skills beyond a computer keyboard. I am an author by trade and have thrown my hat into the self publishing world. I also work in the computer gaming industry. You catch my meaning, if it didn't have a keyboard attached to it I was pretty useless.

 

So I started a bit of a journey of personal improvment, I started a crusade of research and book knowledge. Small scale farming, health and first aid, firearms, bushcraft, basic engine repair... lots of reading, lots of research with only a smattering of practical experience. All the things my father should have taught me, however declined the task.

 

Then I picked up a book called "The Backyard Blacksmith" by a Farris named Lorelei Sims. I am sure many of you have read it. The book has kinda stuck with me and over the years I have read it over and over.

 

I have changed a lot in the past ten years. Going from an arrogant preppy narcissist with a bad attitude typical of my generation to a much more calm and passive family man. Adopting the 'speak softly and carry a big stick' mentality. I have developed a taste for practicality and for the traditional way of doing things seeking to improve my mind and myself more than to increase my 'stuff'.

 

So I am at the point now where general undirected book knowledge on a variety of things isn't going to cut it and I need to take steps into developing an actual skill. I am ready to get my hands dirty.

 

So I find myself here, among you, seeking guidence, advice and looking to learn like so many before me.

 

Resources that I have:

 

1: A strict budget of $100 to start. Personal preference, I could spend more but from what I have read I think I can pull it off.

 

2: Roughly 20 Railroad Tie Nails that I picked up a few years ago next to a dumpster in Alaska. "Hey, those might be useful one day!"

 

3: A Kobalt Cross Pein Hammer (2.5 lb) that I purchased last weekend and should probobly take back. It cost me about $20 or so from Lowes. I think I could pick up some used/vintage tools elsewhere and save a bit on the budget this way.

 

4: A typical suburban backyard in Oklahoma City with no home owners association. (yay!)

 

5: A massive artisan/craft/flea market this weekend in the area called "An Affair of the Heart" that should be adventagous to the cause.

 

6: More concrete Bricks than I know what to do with.

 

7: An empty propane tank.

 

8: Farris Lorelei Sims' book.

 

What I know I need:

 

A: A Forge. I am still debating between a gas or coal forge. My traditional and budget consious side says to make a coal brake drum forge and learn to do it 'right'. My parent and safety side reminds me that I live in the suburbs and I need to be mindful of being able to shut off the fire completely when I walk away from it.

 

B: Tools. Something to hold the metal, something to hit the metal. I think the both of these should work themselves out this weekend.

 

C: An Anvil. I think this is my biggest hurdle. I saw two anvils at a junk sale about 6 months ago and walked right past them... that was a mistake. Even if they were cast iron and would have to be replaced, sadly I didn't even look at them. I am obviously kicking myself now. I know that a 2 ft section of rail would do nicely, need to work on this and learn how to tell the difference between an iron anvil and a steel one. I move around A LOT (Every 3 to 4 years) so an anvil under 70# or so would be wise.

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Welcome.   One of the nice things about a coal forge, is when we stop pushing air into the fire, it goes out soon, If we use the rake to  seperate things on the forge tabe, its out fast,  cold within minutes.  Coal needs air to burn,  unlike charcoal, it will go out soon without a blower of some sort most the time.   I play it safe and pull the pile apart to make sure.   By the time I return my tools to their proper places, I can almost hold the coals in my bare hands.  So I know its safe to leave the shop with out a long waiting time.

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If you have neighbors gas or charcoal is the way to get started as no fumes.

 

Now remember none of the Plantagenets ever saw anything that looked like a London pattern anvil.  For over 2000 years an anvil generally looked like a big squarish block of metal. For the last 200 years the london pattern anvil has been around So what does an anvil look like?  (Now the london pattern anvil is really really handly being the "swiss army knife" of anvils with lots of features helping different process out---but it's not needed!)

 

OK is rich in oilfield scrap much of it *heavy* and often with nice curved surfaces---shoot I could forge swords on a worn out oilfield drill bit!  Much more important to get started than waiting till you have the "right" stuff (that most blacksmiths thoughout history including today wouldn't recognize!)

 

Google:   "the ball bearing test" anvilfire to learn a simple way to differentiate between anvils and ASOs (Anvil Shaped Objects)

 

Also look up the local ABANA chapter to find local smiths who are generally happy to share knowledge, skills, where to find stuff locally, etc.

 

I started smithing around 1981 in Southern OKC and did my best to lighten up the state---moved 2 powerhammers and several anvils out when I moved away.

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Hey Sebastian - I am also a newbie here and am getting my small shop up and running. It's pretty amazing how much time and energy it takes just to get something modest off the ground where you can even start messing around and building things.

 

I am going with a coal fired forge, I think; there are several plans I've been checking out, one for converting an old Weber and another a water heater. I'll probably end up with a hair dryer or vacuum blower to start and see how that goes.

 

Like I mentioned in my introductory post, my biggest hurdle at this point is finding an anvil, but I've gotten some good advice from some folks here and plan to go haunt (annoy) the markets around here to see if I can get the word out about what I'm looking for. The new anvils look pretty xxxx swanky, but it's just not in the budget right now so, like you, I'll take the best hunk of junk I can and smash on it until one of us breaks.

 

I am definitely into getting back to basics as well. I really like the idea of being able to craft tools or implements from scratch. We get used to going to the hardware store and seeing a dizzying array of tools for a given job, not thinking that even that selection is limited, but pretty much anything can be fabricated in the shop. It's a pretty powerful feeling I think.

 

Anyway, good to see another newbie and good luck to you!

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Anyway, good to see another newbie and good luck to you!

 

I really like the video in the sticky of the general forum of the guys beating hot iron ore on a big rock with smaller rocks... certainly puts things in perspective.

 

I have a major railroad close by where I am, so truth be told I will prob end up with a rail track anvil, which honestly will prob work indefinitely for what I am planning on doing.

 

However, I am not looking forward to the amount of grinding, sanding and cutting I would want to do to make a piece of slag rail into a quality anvil.

 

We shall see what I come home with this weekend from the big flea market going on. Should be fun.

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Look for a piece of rr track about 3 to 5 feet long or longer. Plant it on end into the ground.

 

There is a discussion on the site about just how large the face of the anvil should be. The work zone of the anvil face is the size of the hammer face. The rest is bragging rights.

 

gallery_1_534_22039.jpg

 

This is the hammer face, a piece of 1/2 inch stock and the end of a piece of rr track being used as an anvil.

 

The reason the rr track is turned on end is so the mass of the track is directly below the hammer blow and provides the most resistance to the force of the hammer, there by moving the metal.

If you put the metal on a mile (5,280 feet) of rail road track, the mass directly below the hammer blow provides the resistance to the force of the hammer, not the other 5,279 feet of track.

The rr track anvil face is too small to hit?

The impact target size does not change if you put it on an real anvil that has a face of 5 inches wide and 30 inches long. It is still 1/2 inch stock and the same hammer. You either hit the target with the hammer or you don't.

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Greetings Plant,

 

I too was a newbie,,, About 40 years ago.... Now I am but a student of metal and blacksmithing ..  Butt I made my living along the way  with what I could learn from others and hard knocks...   I teach basic and advanced blacksmiths now that I am retired and I am sure you could find some very helpful smiths in your area that would help you...   Fill out your info on your profile and keep on reading....  Oh and save up some money and be ready to add to your equipment..

 

Forge on and make beautiful things

Jim

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Howdy from East TEXAS!! and welcome to IFI!

 

Check these folks out, I'm a member, and they are all about helping the newbie...or oldie for that matter...learn about blacksmithing.  www.saltforkcraftsmen.org   There is a meeting tomorrow somewhere in OK as they meet nearly every Sat.!  You will love this bunch and there are several members near you. 

 

My wife has family in Moore and that area. 

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Welcome aboard Sebastian, glad to have you.

 

You're not the only young man who wants to be able to do things with your hands. The Alaskan organization has recently met such a young man. He's an IT in training but never used hand tools and wants to learn. It's a good thing. As powerful a tool as a computer is it still isn't the same as being able to make THINGS with your own two hands. Once the blacksmithing bug has bitten you you won't be able to look at things or go places without seeing how things were made and think about how you'd do it. Heck, go camping and find a rusty old hunk of steel, next thing you know you'll be forging pokers, toasting forks, log hooks, etc. etc. in the fire.

 

Few things are as satisfying as turning some discarded rusting to nothing piece of . . . stock into something useful and or beautiful with nothing but your imagination a few hand tools and a fire.

 

There's a good reason we call the craft an addiction. It's a lifelong learning curve and a grand experience.

 

Enjoy the ride.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Sebastian,

 

I don't know how a coal forge and associated smoke would go over with the neighbors in a surburban neighborhood, but if you decide on a coal forge and don't have a ready source, there is a coal mine over at Venita, OK about 2 1/2 hrs. NE from you that sells to the public.

 

Welcome to IFI, good luck and have fun!

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Everyone has the idea that coal smoke is such a problem.  You can eliminate most of the smoke, or make a smoke screen the nave would be proud to call their own. Good fire maintenance goes a long way in eliminating coal smoke. 

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Good Evening everyone,

 

Bit of an update here. So my little flea market that I thought would be a gold mine was terrible. It was not at all what I expected, mostly handmade sewn things and so called 'decorative' clutter.

 

My only score... and my first tools, is a pair of Farriers tongs "Nippers" that are used to trim the hooves of horses I believe. One is marked "Champion" the other is unmarked. I figure they could be modified with a bit of heat and hammering even by a novice into serviceable tongs, I paid $5 a piece for them at a local antique market. I also put down my name and number as someone looking for an anvil or piece of railroad track.

 

I also emailed the president of the Saltfork Craftsmen, as he was the most local member to me with a bit of an introduction and a request for information on their group.

 

I initially started with thinking a gravel pit in the back yard, now I am considering building a small shed and a small hobby forge. I guess Ill make that decision as I get to it.

 

As with all aspiring smiths, Im on the lookout for a serviceable anvil.

 

I was wondering if a 70# farriers anvil would work for small scale stuff?

 

Im looking at doing mostly small household stuff, decoratives, jewelry and maybe a knife or two.

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A 70lb. anvil will do for lighter stock it's a bit light but it'll work. Keep your eye open for ANY large piece of steel, a flat spot is nice but not necessary. You can straighten work on a wood block with a mallet. Straightening on the anvil is harder in fact, takes practice to straighten without forging it. Just something else on the learning curve.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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So did you talk to all those folks selling frufru stuff and tell them you'd haul off any rusty old iron they had in their garages: hammers. forges, anvils, etc and even *pay* them scrap rate!

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Been putting together a few tools.

 

I picked up a couple files, an old vintage cross pein head that is about 3 lbs I think. I also found a cheapo "Plano" toolbox for under $9 that Ill use to hold my tools.

 

As a hobby smith without a dedicated space, a toolbox was a necessity.

 

I started talking to the Saltfork Craftsmen, and Ill end up going down to Norman one of these days and visiting and do a lot of watching.

 

I wanted a way to mark my toolbox, my family crest is a boar, so a Boar stomping on an anvil seemed appropriate. Not very clean, but it got the job done.

 

I think next time Ill make the template out of brass not out of printer paper :)

 

 

IMG_20131110_172946_zps4b7f5dc9.jpg

 

I picked up a piece of 4140 steel rod, 8.5 inches x 4.5 inches weighs 35 lbs or so, and Ill use that as an anvil to start, not 100% ideal but I hope it will work for now.

 

Things Im working on right now:

 

Putting together a forge, I have a break drum I am going to use, I found a nice thick iron one for about $22 brand new. Having trouble finding 2 inch black piping, Lowes/Home Depot are useless, 1 1/4th are their largest black pipe, so the aim is to hit a real hardware store this week.

 

Tool handles, another thing Lowes/Home Depot dont carry are replacement tool handles. The guy literally told me to buy a new hammer instead of replacing a handle... I laughed and walked away.

 

Next weekend is a large 'REAL' vintage flea market thing, they always have lots of tools, I have even seen an anvil or two in the past. Heres hoping I can find some punches, a ball pen hammer, maybe a wooden mallet and God Forbid... an actual anvil :)

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Don't worry about using plumbing weight black pipe for the air supply. Exhaust pipe works a treat, it's easy to work and weld without much for special tools. My larger forge has 3" from the air grate down with 2" welded in from the blower. the 3" extends below the "T" with a 3" exhaust flapper cap clamped on for the ash dump. A little counter weight keeps it closed unless I flip it open with a poker, tongs, etc. OR a back fire pops it open.

 

I got all mine form the shop as drops except for the flap cap.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Plant,

 

If you go the black pipe route, any regular plumbing supply house, not a big box store will have the black pipe.  It's a common item.  The advantage of threaded black pipe is that assembly can be done without a welder.  I have a welder, but went the threaded route.  That way, any changes I might want to make are simple.

 

Hammer handles are also common at regular hardware stores, not the big box ones.  If you have any hickory, ash or oak trees in your area, you can split them up and make your own.  I hate to bring up the Moore tornado, but dead trees may be abundant in your area.

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One heck of a score this morning, at least I feel it was.

 

I picked up 17 punches of various sizes, 1 small cross pein hammer head (1 1/2 Tru-Emper I think) and 2 pieces of metal that were in the punch box that Ill end up making something artistic out of for $10.

 

I also picked up the piping, caps and tee for my forge... didn't really get a deal on that, feel like I got screwed actually, $33 which is more than I paid for the brake drum. However, it was pretty much my only option other than internet ordering for the pipe. I made sure I got black pipe, not galvanized.

 

Buddy of mine has a 55g barrel that I may co-op for the forge stand.

 

Hammer handles are still in question, I need to find a tru-value or ace hardware around here somewhere.

 

I cant believe Lowes and Home Depot don't carry hickory tool handles... thats just dumb.

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<snip>..

 

Hammer handles are still in question, I need to find a tru-value or ace hardware around here somewhere.

 

I cant believe Lowes and Home Depot don't carry hickory tool handles... thats just dumb.

 

I found my handles at my local True Value, or Do-It-Best I guess they go by now.  The handles, if Lowe's or Home Depot carried them, would probably be made in China...ARGGGHHH.

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Yeah, good handles can be hard to find. I picked up mine at a local contractors supply that mostly deals with landscapers and so on. They had a really decent selection of handles. I also found a decent selection at an old hardware store I frequent. The kind of place that has everything on shelves stacked to the ceiling and stuff hidden in cubbies everywhere and in the basement...

 

 

Of course you could always make your own handles...

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Sounds like you're on the right track, Plant.  Imagination and Perseverance, two things you need most to produce quality work in any field.

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