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I Forge Iron

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Uggg the first link has some blatant errors.

And as for a law against it, sure why not, there are laws against a huge amount of things that are not commonly done. It's only takes a few people trying out a bad idea to have a law passed against such a thing.

Has anyone seen a house fire? Pretty much nothing survives when a building burns fully to the ground. The fire is much to hot and lasts much to long for little nails to survive.

Nails were hand made but they were not gold. If they were scarce and super valuable people would not be using iron by the hand full to add decoration to normal things. Many common house hardware had extra decoration added with iron that was not needed. Things like bean cusps on hinges and handles, wether veins, all kinds do decorated cooking implements. Lots of material was used simply to look pretty. In colonial times iron was common in any town or city for sale.

By the time cut nails were bring made in the Victorian area iron was much cheaper. Labor prices were rising and paying nail makers to hand make nails was to expensive. That's why some smart fellow invented a way to stamp them out on a big machine.

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A couple pics from online shop of the late Ken S, of Poor Boy tools on fleaBay.
 
attachicon.gifPB fabbed tongs.jpgattachicon.gifPB fab tongs set 2.jpg
 
And some more traditional looking welded tongs.
attachicon.gifwelded tong assembled.jpgattachicon.gifwelded tong parts.jpg
 
My "excuse" is, that I teach welding, have access to a state of the art fabrication shop, but can not burn coal at work, or burn anything at home. So I can either cry and moan, or work with what I got. I don't work by rush light or whale oil lamp, either.


I'm sorry to hear Ken has passed on. I saw those tools on eBay a number of times and always admired the ingenuity of them.

I tend to draw out the reigns of tongs simply because I still struggle with fire welding. I really need to square that skill away and get someone to teach me to do it properly and consistently but unfortunately life gets in the way.

If however I could fire weld then yes, I'd weld the reigns every time.

I don't see how being faster/ easier is an excuse and not a reason? Surely we're all looking for easier and quicker ways of doing things as the faster we can be the more money we make no?

Cheers
Andy
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I'd still forge the prerolled rein material so that they would be lighter and have more spring before or after welding them. It does not take long nor much effort to draw 3/4" to 3/8" or under, and you only need 2-3 inches to make a 10-18 inch long rein.


Personally, I prefer to draw reins for the reasons you mentioned - and from the perspectives of handling performance and total time to finish, drawing might be superior - but it's hard to argue that welding isn't fewer hammer strokes. The jaws take the same amount of work so that's a wash...welding reins is one heat for the upset and scarf then one more welding heat to join the pieces. You might be able to finish reins in two heats but it will be more hammer blows. The assumption is that welded reins are not forged any further.
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I suggest we not lose sight of the more important issue. (Tong reins are just a teaser). To use a business term I dont like, the takeaway is Brians method for moving steel efficiently. He showed that in his video on drawing tapers.

The key seemed to be that a small section of the iron is pinched on anvils edge to get efficient movement of metal versus full flat hammer blows on the anvil flat face. I guess the rounding hammer is also key because it concentrates the force in a smaller area than traditional flat hammer.

Do I have it right?

Brian,

Please complete the lesson for our benefit. I often forge the reins because upestting for the scarf and clean up of the weld take almost as long as welding.

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Uggg the first link has some blatant errors.

And as for a law against it, sure why not, there are laws against a huge amount of things that are not commonly done. It's only takes a few people trying out a bad idea to have a law passed against such a thing.

Has anyone seen a house fire? Pretty much nothing survives when a building burns fully to the ground. The fire is much to hot and lasts much to long for little nails to survive.

Nails were hand made but they were not gold. If they were scarce and super valuable people would not be using iron by the hand full to add decoration to normal things. Many common house hardware had extra decoration added with iron that was not needed. Things like bean cusps on hinges and handles, wether veins, all kinds do decorated cooking implements. Lots of material was used simply to look pretty. In colonial times iron was common in any town or city for sale.

By the time cut nails were bring made in the Victorian area iron was much cheaper. Labor prices were rising and paying nail makers to hand make nails was to expensive. That's why some smart fellow invented a way to stamp them out on a big machine.

Have you ever burned wood with nails in it? where do you think the nails go? I heat my home with a gassifier and it still doesn't melt nails!

 

Saying iron was common during colonial times is just plain wrong.

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I suggest we not lose sight of the more important issue. (Tong reins are just a teaser). To use a business term I dont like, the takeaway is Brians method for moving steel efficiently. He showed that in his video on drawing tapers.
The key seemed to be that a small section of the iron is pinched on anvils edge to get efficient movement of metal versus full flat hammer blows on the anvil flat face. I guess the rounding hammer is also key because it concentrates the force in a smaller area than traditional flat hammer.
Do I have it right?
Brian,
Please complete the lesson for our benefit. I often forge the reins because upestting for the scarf and clean up of the weld take almost as long as welding.


So we should all be using Brian's technique?
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I suggest we not lose sight of the more important issue. (Tong reins are just a teaser). To use a business term I dont like, the takeaway is Brians method for moving steel efficiently. He showed that in his video on drawing tapers.

The key seemed to be that a small section of the iron is pinched on anvils edge to get efficient movement of metal versus full flat hammer blows on the anvil flat face. I guess the rounding hammer is also key because it concentrates the force in a smaller area than traditional flat hammer.

Do I have it right?

 

 

No, I think you might have it wrong. Given that the question is about welding on reins, then how fast person X, Y or Z can hammer them out becomes very literally a secondary, less important issue.

 

Concerning the problem of spring in tong handles, do not use undersized stock for the reins, and if it is round stock, the sides can be flattened to give a stronger cross section.

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My copy says he trained and for many years, work as an engineer, both in Holland and Java.   Somewhere inside the book, I thought I had read that it was in Java he was exposed to blacksmithing.  ??

 

The COSRIA blacksmiths are forge welding the tongs.  Of course, what do they know?, they would have all been formal apprenticed trained blacksmiths.

 

There is a lot of stuff in this thread!

Two things;

A lot of stuff in the Weygers book is a bit bodge-y. Not my first port of call for historical information, anyway.

Second, the COSIRA blacksmiths were not formal apprentice trained smiths. They were just smiths, and very good ones.

 

A last note about welding things as opposed to forging them; Back in the days smiths were more confident (or is it compitent?) and welded all kinds of crazy things that today we would forge. I've seen a few examples of eyes on the horizontal bars of a grille welded on, rather than punched. Recently I copied some brackets with fish tail scroll components. The original fishtail end was welded on! I have my ideas as to why, but it seems strange all the same.

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How the cat get skinned is secondary to getting the cat separated from the hide, or skinned.

You can not grab on to hot metal without tongs so building the tongs then becomes secondary to
grabbing onto the hot metal. Without tongs the work does not progress.

The jaw configuration to fit the metal is most important, followed by the placement of the rivet to
give the needed and proper leverage from the handle to the jaw. Only then do the reins become an
issue and that is first comfort and finally the ease of actually making or attaching the reins.

Everyone has their favorite way of making reins. If you want quick and easy, just electric weld a
piece of scrap to the end of your stock for a handle. The weld can then be broken by bending
against the weld when your finished. Touch it with a grinder and your good to go for many projects.

Yes there are those projects that require tongs, so try all three or more methods mentioned so far
and figure out which works best for you at your level of blacksmithing. 6 months from now your
level of blacksmithing will change and so may your preference for making tongs.

Please continue the discussion so we can learn to fine tune the reins to best fit the hand, achieve
the spring of the rein metal, etc.

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Let us not get personal as no one wins. Gerald has his way, Brian has his way. How they got to where they are today is not as important as can they produce, and can we learn from them? Try both or all methods and choose which one works best for you. In 6 months or a year, revisit both or all methods and choose again which works best as your skill set will have changed.

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Interesting.
From my exposure to forging, what I have observed about welded on tong reins is it had more to do with using different metals that were and are available to make a better performing tong, but now people are teaching other people, who in turn teach other people, that it was and is done to expedite the forging process.
Hammers and axes, for example, had steel welded with wrought iron for a reason: performance. There are some really good smiths today that do this for its historic significance and that is understandable.
I do want to address other topics that I find odd that are being propagated in the blacksmithing world today, but if it ends up with name calling, I'll be silent.

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Not to be argumentative, but until recently, all blacksmiths in Britain were apprenticed trained. It's only in our lifetimes that if you find non-apprenticed trained smiths.   Also, years ago I had a chance to briefly chat with a smith that said he was involved in the making of the book and he was a five year served apprentice.  Or perhaps we're using the word "formal' differently.  Today, most folks mean "Gone to School"   I use it in it's older meaning of working and learning from a smith for a certain number of years.

 

Well, I think this has probably been gone over before, and probably to death, but I think whether or not we can produce smiths who claim to have done a "formal apprenticeship", what I really want to see is the formal framework in which they did it. There is none.

 

If one does an "apprenticeship" in anything it just means training. The formal hoo-ey that had in Europe, the guilds, the "Wanderjahr" or "Tour de France" they did not have here. To be a "journeyman" in this country was to follow the work, not some kind of ritual observation.

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There is a lot of stuff in this thread!

Two things;

A lot of stuff in the Weygers book is a bit bodge-y. Not my first port of call for historical information, anyway.

Second, the COSIRA blacksmiths were not formal apprentice trained smiths. They were just smiths, and very good ones.

 

A last note about welding things as opposed to forging them; Back in the days smiths were more confident (or is it compitent?) and welded all kinds of crazy things that today we would forge. I've seen a few examples of eyes on the horizontal bars of a grille welded on, rather than punched. Recently I copied some brackets with fish tail scroll components. The original fishtail end was welded on! I have my ideas as to why, but it seems strange all the same.

Good point. When mild steel replaced wrought iron, many smiths considered it unweldable.

I know a present day smith who does as much work as possible in real wrought (salvaged) because of the ease of welding compared to mild steel (as well as the ease of forging in general). 

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Interesting.
From my exposure to forging, what I have observed about welded on tong reins is it had more to do with using different metals that were and are available to make a better performing tong, but now people are teaching other people, who in turn teach other people, that it was and is done to expedite the forging process.
Hammers and axes, for example, had steel welded with wrought iron for a reason: performance. There are some really good smiths today that do this for its historic significance and that is understandable.
I do want to address other topics that I find odd that are being propagated in the blacksmithing world today, but if it ends up with name calling, I'll be silent.

 

Don't be put off by a little internet bristle, Brian. Don't be afraid to learn a little either.

 

Hammers and axes had faces/bits welded on for economy, not performance. I'm also willing to be corrected on that point, but I'm fairly sure of it. Certainly as a hammer user I can attest to the fact that a welded on face does not enhance performance, but rather shortens the lifespan of the tool.

 

I'm also interested to learn more about tongs made with different materials for the bit and reins. I have handled hundreds of sets of tongs in my life, seen some very big ones from old industrial forges, many of them welded. I don't believe I've ever heard of any that were made of different materials for the reins and bit.

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Good point. When mild steel replaced wrought iron, many smiths considered it unweldable.

I know a present day smith who does as much work as possible in real wrought (salvaged) because of the ease of welding compared to mild steel (as well as the ease of forging in general). 

 

Ha! That's funny! I would be the very first to call "bulldust" to wrought iron being easier to weld.

I've heard it so many times. In my experience it's "old boy" bluster. Like you have to get W/I to a sparkling heat to weld it. Nonsense!

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Dan, I'm not put off. I can hold my tongue though if I offend. I do want to learn more. I am a student of blacksmith, not a teacher.

When they wanted to conserve steel, welded on faces for hammers out performed just wrought iron, so ,yes, economy obviously. Now days we have cheaper sources of steel to forge hammers and such from a single piece. JNewman mentioned earlier in the post why weld on long tong reins: ease of handling.

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Even as recently as the American Civil War the cost of high carbon steel could be up to 6 *times* the cost of low carbon wrought iron.  For commercially made items "The cheapest that will work" is usually a higher lure than "the best for the job".  And by the ACW a *lot* of stuff was made by blacksmiths working in a factory!

 

As for WI and welding I've seen a lot of crazy welds that we would really really try to avoid these days with mild steel that were common with wrought iron--like some cooking grates with almost paper thin WI ornamentation welded to the WI bars.

 

Steeled axes out performed WI:  rather a tautology and gets into "The cheapest that will work"  and save for the "trade axes" that were sometimes WI  I know of no examples where a plain WI age was produced and sold in the latter 19th century.

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As for WI and welding I've seen a lot of crazy welds that we would really really try to avoid these days with mild steel that were common with wrought iron

 

 

Speak for yourself, TP.

Wrought iron has its own thing going on, but the juju qualities attributed to it are almost exclusively twaddle.

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Have you ever burned wood with nails in it? where do you think the nails go? I heat my home with a gassifier and it still doesn't melt nails!

Saying iron was common during colonial times is just plain wrong.

If you want to see how common iron was in Colonial America you need only look at there trash. Archeologist have excavated all around James town, Williamsburg, York town and most other colonial towns up and down the coast. The trash from all these places it very easy to find becouse a huge amount was tossed in ditches close to homes, used up wells, and body's of water close by. The time of the trash can be dated very well becouse of the items and styles. Things like clothes that would only have a short life span then tossed away. And what do archeologist find in most every trash pit? Iron, lots and lots of iron. Broken iron items of all kinds, pad locks, door locks, window casements, saws, knives, full suits of armor ( yes armor, lots of it tossed down wells that became brackish, there was a great amount of the stuff from first colonization that was no longer used just 50 years later ), weapons, hinges with barrels snapped off, and lots more things. I am sure some people would take old items to be repaired, or sold as scrap iron. But a large number of people simply tossed broken iron items in the trash.

If iron was so highly valuable people would not be tossing so many iron objects in the trash.

And who do you think all these people were torching buildings all the time? You think a man pays a carpenter to build him a home lives there a year then burns down the home so he can build another home on the same spot? Makes a lot of sence. Any building that was still in usable shape could be sold along with the land if the person was moving away for a much higher price than a few burned up nails found in the ashes. Most building were maintained much better than American do today. If one fell in to terrible disrepair all the cut lumber that was still usable would be salvaged first. And the rest cleared away.

Talk with a fire fighter about how hot building fires get. The majority of things in them are burned up. Tiny nails would oxidize and flake apart. The little iron that could be collected would need to be bundled up and re welded into a billet then drawn down into bar and forged in to nails again. But the amount of iron collected would be hugely less than was first in a building.
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I guess you are not aware of the farming cycle back then expecially for high dollar crops like tobacco that would exhaust the soil rapidly.  With so much land avaiable using up the soil and moving on was a common thing.  Now selling off worthless land was not so easy and much was abandoned along with structures on it.  Your "sense" man not be their "sense".  Note that the law was in 1645; quite early in the english colonial period; so later times might make a difference too.  The presence of bloomeries, blast furnaces and fineries in America went up markedly in the 1700's and boomed in the 1800's.  (For an interesting take on a 19th century iron furnace in VA "Bond of Iron" explores one such and the use of slaves in iron production.)

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Iron was big business Thomas, your very right. Lots of mining and iron production was started in America. But that still does not mean it was common to burn buildings for nails. There simply would not be any type of reasonable collection after a full house burn. Iron just was not as rare as some claim in the colonies, it's not gold. The material was of much grater value compared to labor cost to work it as compared to today. But still just iron. People used iron things then tossed them out as trash when broken.

I am not posting this information to argue with folks here, clearly I have angered some people. But I'm not angry or miffed at all. I simply care about smiths work and the history of such in America. All this is for the benefit of other people reading that are interested in such things.
Just trying to put out some good info for a site I enjoy and have learned from myself many times
Cheers
Mackenzie

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ahh to me 1917 *is* modern for smithing...917 is getting towards early, 17 is early and going into BC not a surprise. ..

 

I'd define "modern" as:  use of mild steel instead of wrought iron, use of electrically powered tools like the powerhammer, blower, grinder, etc. Availability of "modern" methods of welding.  So 1917 counts.  A lot of us use equipment that dates to around then and even earlier!

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I would imagine welding up WI would be an apprentice level skill, at least befor the advent of the rolling mill, as stock sizes were rather small, as well as lengthens, not a lot of 20' 3/4" round stock being shipped. 2' long bars of 1/2 square was another mater. So if you needed a 3/4" chunck to make tong jaws,your going to have to either jump up a 1/2 bar or fagot weld it. Now you can either make up a 8" bar of 3/4 and draw it back out or make up a 3" peice and jump on some 1/2" to draw down for raines. A lot of the turn of the cetury manuals show how to forge things from several different parent stocks depending what was on hand.

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