LastRonin

Should I make a swage block out of this?

Recommended Posts

Recently I was given a piece of A36 mild steel 2" x 12" x 12". I am contemplating making a small swage block out of it. I don't have access to a milling shop or any fancy tools, just basics like drill-press, porta-band, 4" grinder and simple everyday handyman tools. I'm wondering if it's a reasonable project to tackle with such limited resources. Though one 'resource' I have in abundance (some might even say overabundance) is determination (same ones might call it stubbornness). So if I do tackle this, I won't give up on it easily. I'm out of town for the week, but if any interest or ideas are still here, I'll try to post a pic of the steel with my rough draft ideas of shapes chalked on Saturday.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you could add an Oxy-Acetylene cutting torch and/or Air Carbon Arc Gouger to the list of available tools, you could save yourself a heck of a lot of time and effort. Both can remove steel as fast as a router can remove wood.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I MIGHT be able to finagle a bit of time with a OA torch. But my cutting skills are not all that practiced... If I do use one of those I'd probably have to err on the cautious side and still leave myself a good bit of grinding/clean-up.(Easier to take more metal off than add it back on when you don't have a welder :unsure:) But that is definitely an 'aha, why wasn't I thinking of that' idea.

Thanks John M

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anything is better than nothing in my book.

 

If I had a block that big, I'd be heating the edge with my big rosebud and beating in some round stock and square stock to get started. I'm betting I could dump it in my big forge and get it hot enough I could hammer shapes into the flat as well, though I'd have to lay it on my big 1 1/2" steel table to do it since my anvil is really small. I'd also be drilling thru it in the common sizes I work with, 1/2" thru say 1" in 1/8" increments, and I might even think about drifting some to square.

 

 

Another option I'd think about is going and talking to my old instructor at the tech school who runs the machining class. They could machine the outside shapes I want no problem. I might also talk to the welding instructor there and see if he'd toss it on his CNC plasma to rough out some of the shapes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm... For some reason I can't "Quote" things anymore...

 

DSW: Lol, I was thinking of most of those things, just not necessarily done exactly that way... No OA torch of my own, so was thinking cut/grind the round and angled edge shapes. Grind and dremel finish a spoon hollow in one side, a round small bowl dish also. Was planning to drill a series of holes in 1/8" increments from 1/4" to 1" and debating trying to find a way to do some square ones, at least maybe one at 1/4", one at 1/2", one at 3/4" and another at 1". I don't have a forge large enough to efficiently heat it for drifting, so not sure how I'd do the square, but haven't given up on trying to figure it out(even if it ends up being that I build a larger forge, if even only a temporary one :D). Unfortunately I don't know your old tech school instructor, so I doubt he'd machine the shapes for me. :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Drill small holes in a square pattern and chisel the center out and file to touch it up = square hole

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now you have a good project to justify buying a set of oxy fuel torches! LOL :P

 

You may not know my instructor, but  that doesn't stop you from talking to others. Many times schools are looking for practical projects for kids to do while learning.  Especially if they have a CNC mill to do complex shapes like a spoon or dish. They supply the tooling and labor and you supply the material. Don't just rule it out because you don't know anyone. What's the worst they can do. say "no"?

 

Holes smaller than maybe 3/8" might be a bit tough on 2" thick stock, so take your time and be sure to clear the chips.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since a forge can just be a hole in the ground, a chunk of black pipe and a blow-dryer or shop vac; you must live on the water.

 

I once needed to box fold some 3/8" plate a couple of feet long, so I dug a trench in my back yard---in the inner city of Columbus OH! suck in a piece of pipe with holes drilled  in it and used a shop vac and  voila a forge with a 30" long hot spot!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Greetings Robin,

 

I have several swage blocks.  One of the handiest ones is a water jet cut one about the same size as your material...  On the outer edges you could with some effort use your porta band and cut the V portions out for use on square stock...  You would be surprised how fast you can cut the material out..  The other edges for round stock you could clamp a dispensable bar on the edge and drill on the gap for a half round..  You have more energy than myself but I sure like your perseverance ..   No one swage block covers all the answers but the V and 1/2 round cuts is a good start and would make it quite useable. I wish you well.

 

Forge on and make beautiful things

Jim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DSW: True there. I hadn't thought of that. Might work out, but if not... then other ideas to the rescue. :)

 

ThomasPowers: Not QUITE on the water, but pretty close... the hole and shop-vac were pretty much dead-on for what I was contemplating for the temp forge. Just need to get time at my regular forge to forge the drifts first. :blink:

 

Jim Coke: Yeah, why I figured I'd start with the ones I'm most likely to use in the near future... and leave some room for others that come up.

 

 

 

Thanks to all you guys for your inputs and ideas. I like having many options and also appreciate the voices of experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you got a trade school near you?  If you do contact the Machine shop teachers and see if they would give this to a student for a project. You could pre plan what shapes you wanted and where you wanted them ,Look at catalog immages of swage blocks and decide what you want having a custom made swage block would be great! Depending on the school you might get this done free. When I was in trade school a lot of these type jobs were given to the younger students for one thing you'd be supplying a bunch of free material for them thats how my instructors looked at some jobs. You have the material they would just be using student labor saving the school materials costs. Another way to do this is to find a Machine shop student and work directly with them we could bring in out own projects and earn grades on them. You could also look into Adult ed classes either take one yourself or approach the instructor for them about getting this done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This parade can dampen even the highest of spirits. Look in the archives to see "making a square hole from a round hole". We did that in 3 inch thick material quite easily. But you will need some experienced strikers and metal handlers on site.

 

There is no "one" correct swage block. Some have spoons, others have square holes, and some dished out circles, and on and on. Here you need to visit another smith to be pals with. Use his experience and shop some to see the desired shapes you need.

 

BUT for you own shop there are a gozillion shapes to work with as swages, it you really need them. Find a heavy equipment repair guy and trade for some track pins, blade pivot pins, sprocket segments and other heavy objects. Take some bartering material such as key fobs, fire irons, pokers, as many people do not want money as much as a item made by a blacksmith. A learning curve is gonna be shown here as you develop the savy techniques for showmanship and trade-ability. Bottle openers are good learning devices that trade well...using a horsehead or leaf pattern terminal on the item. SHOWMANSHIP...TRADE

 

One item that will prove to be highly important is some angle iron welded into a vee...with some type tang to be held in the vise or hardy hole of the anvil. That makes a great swage....most important as a entrapment tool when forge welding cable and rods. Try to acquire cable larger than 9/16 but smaller than 1-1/8. Too big  as well as too small is difficult. Cable trades easily too. Try to get pieces that do not show too much wear, such as ends from a spool or cutoffs.

 

Save your big chunk of metal until you have a good bit of experience or use it as an anvil...edgeways. Torching swage shapes is for the experienced...with good clean tools. Bubba down the road is not the guy to do good torchwork.

 

Good luck and

 

 

Carry on

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I needed to make a square hole, or any sharp "inside" corner shape, in 2" material, ... a Wire EDM is the obvious choice.

 

This is something a Trade School should be interested in doing, ... and the Tooling Cost is minimal.

 

 

 

.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.