Jack-O-Lantern

Advice to newbies from a newbie

Recommended Posts

This may seem presumptuous as it is only my second post and the fact that I've only been smithing for 7 months. However, after studying this craft for a year and being in the thick of newbiness I've noticed several things that I feel should be discussed and avoided by my fellow beginners

The act of heating and shaping metal is awesome in and of it self. The fact that its so cool makes people want to share whatever they heat and twist while calling themselves blacksmiths. This is like nailing together 2 mangled pieces of wood and calling yourself a carpenter. With that said: be picky about where you get info.

Do not be satisfied with your forge if it only heats to a dull cherry red. It is pretty cool when you accomplish such a feat, but in the future when you learn more you'll realize that you have alot of tweaking to do. When you can heat at least a 1/2 inch piece to white hot, THEN you can be satisfied with your forge.

DO NOT START WITH A SWORD!!! The veterans preach this constantly and they're right. Even if you manage to make a pretty sword shaped object you'll eventually learn that its junk and you'll wish you did not waste your time/material/and fuel.

Do not waste time waiting for cash for tools and material. Being poor is a great teacher. Look up ancient methods. There was'nt homedepot and IForgeIron.com in medieval times. Examples: If you cant afford chemicals or toches to blue/purple a blade or whatever; then burry it in coal and experiment with timing. If you can't afford refractory cement; go dig for FREE clay. If you cant afford charcoal; MAKE SOME. If you can't afford casting sand, mix some regular sand filtered on a piece of window screen with some baby oil. I had a hairdryer for bellows. It broke and so I built a box bellows from an old bookshelf. I could'nt afford to get pipes welded for my forge. So I took my brake drum and some pvc and dumped concrete on it. My old vice broke. So I rigged a monkey wrench for twisting handles. Be ingenuitive and don't give up! Its incredibly educational and satisfying.

Find any book or pdf that teaches basic hammering techniques. It opens a whole new world when all that frustration is relieved by a simple technique.

If you need some stock then go to Good Will or the like. They always have super cheap pots and candle holders and whatnots that you can use for material.

A POX UPON REBAR! I hate that stuff. It takes forever to heat, and its stubborn as XXXXX   I've seen plenty of vids with fellow beginners attempting to forge it. This one guy used 3 heats and 25 minutes of hammering to only slightly flatten a 1/2 inch tip. Its like if someone put superglue in play-doh. All kinds of impurities that I don't really know about yet.

If you use charcoal and have to get store bought then do not use bricket charcoal. Use natural wood chunk charcoal. I recommend royal oak brand. The other stuff is like a spark fountain and dos'nt heat the metal very well.

Thats it guys. Any tips would be appreciated. Good luck.

 

 

Terms corrected from "Coal" to "charcoal" because they are not the same thing, also edited for language violation

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

read all you can here, then ask questions

 

if a regular is rather blunt with you it may be because the answer is here already and they have answered the same question 20 times this week to those who have not looked.

 

im only a beginner but I have no trouble shaping rebar an inch thick and im not big or muscular, may be forging some 1 1/2" thick truck half shafts this saturday into hooks.

 

here in the UK rebar has to be a certain quality not the junk you may get in the US

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome aboard Jack, glad to have you.

 

Don't despair, rebar isn't an alloy spec material anymore, it's made to performance specs, just so long as it meets minimum specs they don't much care what all is in it. You may run across rebar that's actually tool steel, whatever was in the rail car that got dumped in the melter.

 

Given some time and experience you'll develop the skills to determine what you're working with by how it reacts to a grinder, the fire your hammer, etc. You won't be able to tell it's analysis (don't be sily <grin>) but you will be able to determine a working range and utility range.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactly. Look around before you ask. Also, an old crowbar 1/2 thick is more workable than a 1/4 inch piece of rebar in my limited experience. If good English rebar is as plentiful there as this crap is in the states then you guys are lucky. I think it comes from a lot of recycling. I dunno. I suggest anealing it first. That's softening. Heat to a brighter red and leave it burried in ash for a day. I'll try it out and see if it helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anneal before forging? Why would you? It makes sense if you are grinding or drilling afterwards but I don't understand the logic if the next step is forging.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Try different pieces of rebar, not different pieces of the same bar. Some is very workable some not.

 

New steel shares a similar fault, unless you order and pay the vig for 1018, mild is a hash of recycled steel that meets a spec, not a formula.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@ Dan: I've never actually tried annealing but my thought is that if you can make it softer at room temp than it would be without annealing, that it will be easier to heat and have more of a maliable texture. I think this may be true because I've noticed that even if two seperate types of metals of the same size are heated to yellow, they still have a different reaction to the hammer. Basicly I'm going for a copper feel as opposed to tungsten. Is this true? Will it work?

It doesnt do anyone any good to post wild unproven guesses and rumors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@ Dan: I've never actually tried annealing but my thought is that if you can make it softer at room temp than it would be without annealing, that it will be easier to heat and have more of a maliable texture. I think this may be true because I've noticed that even if two seperate types of metals of the same size are heated to yellow, they still have a different reaction to the hammer. Basicly I'm going for a copper feel as opposed to tungsten. Is this true? Will it work?

No. Certain steels are harder to move even when at forging temp, but annealing only helps for cold work like drilling and filing. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No. Certain steels are harder to move even when at forging temp, but annealing only helps for cold work like drilling and filing. 

Ha! Learning already. Thanks for saving me some coal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On July 16, 2014 at 3:56 PM, Frosty said:

Welcome aboard Jack, glad to have you.

 

Don't despair, rebar isn't an alloy spec material anymore, it's made to performance specs, just so long as it meets minimum specs they don't much care what all is in it. You may run across rebar that's actually tool steel, whatever was in the rail car that got dumped in the melter.

 

Given some time and experience you'll develop the skills to determine what you're working with by how it reacts to a grinder, the fire your hammer, etc. You won't be able to tell it's analysis (don't be sily <grin>) but you will be able to determine a working range and utility range.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

Frosty may be referencing the old-fashioned "Spark Test." I don't know where this chart came from, but I've seen it here and there, so figured I'd give it a share. Nobody from this site probably created it since there are so few random charts and guides here.

5726ddf9e4c38_SparkTest.thumb.jpg.9cd386

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I forged an arrow head out of some rebar about a month ago (sorry I gave them to a friend and don't have any pics) and quenched it in some water to harden it not thinking that it would get as hard as a file and it did.

                                                                                               Littleblacksmith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

File hard as quenched; what did you draw it to when tempering?  (the thing about rebar is that the lower grades have great variability and the higher grades are harder to source as they are used for bridges, skyscrapers, nuclear power plants, etc.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

File hard as quenched; what did you draw it to when tempering?  (the thing about rebar is that the lower grades have great variability and the higher grades are harder to source as they are used for bridges, skyscrapers, nuclear power plants, etc.)

Does Rebar differ in composition even within the same stick? 

 

I suppose I ask, because if they are from a single pour, shouldn't the composition be the same for the length of a bar? or is it some factor I am not thinking of? Perhaps we ought to have a dedicated sticky talking about rebar use, composition and use in blacksmithing? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, I think I understand the principles, now. Although, is it due to the switching of ladles, or can a single ladle produce both high carbon and low carbon steel? I suppose I am asking more about the dissemination of carbon within a certain melt. For example, if half the metal is places in the ladle first, and this all beinglow carbon, and then high corbon is placed into it on top before being melted, do the different carbon steels remain separate like oil and water, or do they mix together to form a homogenous molten soup? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The melt in a ladle should be close in carbon content, switching ladles is what can throw you off  The heat will cause convection currents to mix stuff a bit/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It can vary tremendously in a few inches: mixing may or may not happen equally just due to convection. I have had some shatter when water quenched, and some unravel into strands like a rope when heated and twisted. The foreign sourced stuff is the worst. Someone posted a movie on another site where they picked up 2" thick rebar and broke it into bread loaf sized chunks like a dry pretzel by banging it against a concrete barricade. Want that holding up your bridges?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rebar is made to a performance specification. Meaning so long as it meets minimum specs, say 50,000 psi Tensile and 40% elasticity, ( to pick a couple numbers for conversation's sake) it passes. If it's harder or springier or whatever doesn't matter so long as it meets minimum specs. This typically means rebar is poured from the tag end of melts and isn't closely metered from the scrap bins. It's a pretty casual analysis and the continuous caster is charged with ladles from the melters. If those ladles are whatever's left over from another pour it's just emptied in the rebar continuous caster. There are no agitators to mix the melt in a continuous caster so the steel is cast as it comes.

The billet is allowed to cool to below solidus and it goes to the rolling mill where it's rolled to size and finally run through the rebar texturing dies.

Bridges, sky scrapers, etc. use rebar held to different and higher specs. . . Still.

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, Charles R. Stevens said:

As Is A36 structural steel, often I see some one bad mouth rebar and in the same breath recomend A36. 

Too true Charles but the specs for A36 are a little less randomly and casually followed.

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Move down a foot or two and try again?

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could try Teenylittlemetalguy's "Alaska Flux." It works quite well.

Frosty The Lucky.

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.