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dognose

swage block instruction 101

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My shop is "complete" except for a swage block. I wonder why they are important and how often they are used. Are they one of those tools that when you need one there's no subsitute or are they are they a throw back to years past. Some of the edge forms I can make sense of, others, imparticular, all the slotted squares and rectangles in the center make no sense at all to me. Seems that everything I make fits into my anvil's hardie hole. When would these come of use? could someone give me an introductory course in the use of a swage block? I feel naked without one but am unsure as to why?

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I use the ouside shapes on my swage block only rarely and like Dognose, I can't see any practical use for the inner rectangular and square holes.
It makes a fine place, handy to the anvil, to place my box of punches and drifts.

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For me, they fall into the same category of a cone mandrel, I want one because a smith is supposed to have them, and well, I like tools, but honestly don't see a real need for what I typically do. At this point I can make a substitute for any component of either that I need, but with that said, If I find either at the right price they will likely come home with me : ). As far as the uses for the interior holes, I think they are primarily used as bolsters for punching, slitting, drifting as well as excepting different size stock for upsetting / swedging. I'd also like to learn more about how and why they are used.

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If you are looking for one at a good price, try Saltfork Craftsman.  They are in Oklahoma and will mail order.  It is a small swage block and I don't use mine very often but, it is one of those tools that is sure nice to have when you need it.  My wife ordered mine several years ago for my birthday.  She said that the FedEx guy was not very happy when he had to carry it from the truck to the porch.

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Saltfork is a neat website, I just looked at it.  Interesting to this discussion it has a "Getting Started in Blacksmithing" link that says you need an anvil, tongs a forge and suggests making/gathering additional tools along the way and carefully - as in not everything is probably necessary.   I agree with Dognose, I would like to have a swage block 'cause it "seems" like I need one, but I honestly don't know if I'd ever use it.  I guess like anything else it really depends on what you're doing, what you normally produce.  I bought a bending jig recently because for what I do it's something I'll use all the time.  But for a lot of blacksmiths it might also be a boat anchor, something taking up space.  All depends on your work needs.

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I have an old block with the holes, and I've used it as a bolster for through-punching and drifting once in 51 years, for a large gate job. The hardie hole was too small, and the swage block worked very well, even though not often used in my shop, I will occasionally stand the block on edge to use the "half round" swages. I have used the Vee's for forming, but have not yet used the large half hexes.

 

I have a small Roger Lorance swage block with a shovel depression on one side. I use it on the floor for jump-upsetting. The other side has circular depressions which we use for dapping "conchos" (bosses). Recently, we used the bosses with central square holes to receive large, to be clinched, cotter pins, the latter attached to  swinging drop handles.

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Swage blocks are great to have when you need one, but how often that will happen in your career depends on what type of work you do.

 

The large through-holes can come in handy for bending wide stock.  If one matches your hardy hole, it makes a great striking anvil for actually making hardy tooling.  That's about it.

 

The smaller swage blocks actually come in handy more often simply because they tend to have dishing shapes that help you make bowls, ladles and spoons.  I used a buddy's to make a pocket-sized ladle for pouring lead balls for my flintlock.

 

I would buy one of the big ones only if the price was fantastic.  Anything over 100# is a hoss that you really need to think about because moving them can be a bear even if you have a stand for it.  Buy them to save them from the scrappers.

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Good Morning,

 

A swage block is no different than any other tool. If it gets you out of a jam, once, it is worth it.

Look at your tool box and you know the tools that you always use first. The rest help you through a problem.

There is no perfect, one tool. Everything is a compromise, depending on the job at hand.

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holes: for punching and drifting.  hard to drift an axe with any of the hardy holes I have seen, thay are too small.

 

edge shapes,: I love them for patern welding cable, as well as rounding up square billets, some patterns need to be rounded before twisting, others are best left square. and if I acccidently got a diamond cross section, the square notches hold better than the cutting shelf on the anvil does for re squaring.

 

Odd shapes:  nice for making fishing luers with the left over trimmage of pattern welded material.

 

 

Like any tool,  if ya need it, there are not many substitutes. If you dont do any of these operations then it may be a boat anchor.

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I use a post anvil for nearly all of my work, I am primarily a bladesmith.  I built a forging station that has my post anvil (5x6x26 4140), a tooling anvil (another 5x6x26 on it's side with a couple of receivers welded on).  I realized that I needed a hardy hole for a few things, like a cutoff.  So I included the swedge block for that.  The whole thing sits on a piece of 1" x 3'x4' plate.  With some effort or help, I can use the edge shapes on the block.  As a hardy holder, I use it all the time, as a forming tool, just once in a while.  I'd like to get those Salt Fork blocks, they'd be handy for making fittings and such.

 

Geoff

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I've been using mine a bit lately, standing on edge so I can pierce round stock and square stock on the diamond.  You could make an anvil swage for this but if you've got the swage, you've got a good variety.  Mine's a standard one, great for bending larger stock than I normally use, but my swage block envy is a buddy of mine's who has one with all the edge cutouts, round, vee, hex AND various dishes for ladles, shovels, bowls and spoons.    

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Greetings All,

 

I have several swage blocks ..  The big ones I do not use as much as I do the smaller ones.. The large square and round through holes I use for bending and have been known to use them as a base for forming a butcher on the end of stock with a chisel ..  The 1 and 1/12 square are handy for holding bottom swage hardies.   I use the small ones most so I designed a bock to hold them in the vertical or horizontal position..  I have a much bigger set up for the large ones..  It also allows for vertical or horizontal holding.. I think the biggest reason people do not use their blocks is because the lack of a comfortable place to hold them...   So get a stump and fire up the chain saw and make you a stand.. You will like it... Pictures enclosed of my small set up.

 

Forge on and make beautiful things

Jim

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post-30666-0-94671000-1404265153_thumb.j

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I can only echo what others have said, I wanted one about 18months ago, found a bargain and bought it.

It is great for holding a punch I was forming things round. And I can see it coming in handy for a few projects I will eventually get round to. But mostly it just gets used as a shelf and takes up space.


I like swedefiddle's take on it. If you look at it as a tool, like 90% of other tools you have it might not get used all that often but when you need it, it is great to have.

I actually in the process of sorties few tools out that will slot into the the largest hole of my swage as it just so happens to fit a piece of angle iron I have.

All the best
Andy

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Ayup, I don't have anything new to add. I will however back the if you need one then you NEED one. I don't use mine very often but the times it's come in handy it's been a treat.

 

Laying flat it'll hold all my stakes is great for drifting and bending. If I need an acorn table it'll do well as a small one. It usually stands on edge, I use the half rounds most often but I discovered something I find a little amusing. Standing vertical some of my bottom tools actually work better on their side than in the anvil's hardy.

 

I use the round through holes for bowls and such, the rectangular ones work well for small scoops and shovels.

 

Other than that I keep it back so nobody runs into it, it'd REALLY smart till I could get it off a foot.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Swage blocks are best stored FLAT and out of the way so you can not kick them by accident.  Some swage blocks weigh in at 175 pounds or more.  The best way I found to move a swage block is to insert a pipe or broom handle into a hole that fits and crank it over onto its edge. Then put the pipe or broom handle through the hole and two people can move the block being sure to keep their feet well out of harms way.

 

Swage blocks have many uses. Top tooling can make a swage block a much more useful tool. We are now trying to understand what its purpose of that hole or shape may have been.  It is good to consider what type work the block was originally designed to do.

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The best way I found to move a swage block is to insert a pipe or broom handle into a hole that fits

 *Slapping forehead*  Thanks for making my life a bit easier Glenn!

 

 

This "WDITOT" moment brought to you by IFI...

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I use the holes, square and round for upsetting a shoulder on a bar such as on a hardy tool. then I can lightly set it to my anvil and not have to stress my anvil.

I did a leaf detail out of 3/16"x1-1/2" forge welded to half inch square, on the diamond. I used the half square of proper size and matching top tool to do the right angle on the bottom 1-1/2" of the leaf. Made for a great fit.

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We have three of them and use at least one of them every time we forge..It really depends on what you make. They have many more uses than most give them credit for..Stakes and hardy tools that wont fit your anvil will often fit in the block.

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One thing I picked up at the scrap yard recently was a truncated cone with a large sq hole in it.  I believe it was originally used to hold agricultural disks on a large sq shaft.  However the hole in it is the same size as the large hardy holes of my biggest anvils!  So now I have a portable hardy hole for my large hardy tooling.  Used it Saturday when I needed to use a hardy tool but needed it about 4" above the anvil face to deal with a particular shape I was working.

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