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On 7/12/2017 at 12:21 PM, SLAG said:

In my opinion tong making from scratch is not a good first project. S- hooks are a good one. You need to to draw out and twist to make a sexy one. Bottle openers are a good second project. They usually require punching and drifting in their manufacture.

 Slag, I wish this post had been here when I first started.  All the Youtube videos said 'best thing to do first is make your own tongs'.  
   Well, after a couple days I realized just how bad that advice was, and I swallowed my pride and ordered some from Kens.  Best decision I ever made.

   I then began making bottle openers and practicing twists and such on them.  Took less that half a dozen and I was turning out some bottle openers that I am quite happy with.

   I will eventually make some tongs.  But the hammer control and eye required to make tongs is significantly higher than that required for a bottle opener, J or S hook or even a snail.

   As for a knife... that will come in time, but I am NOT going to waste money on steel so I can screw it up.  So... guess who has a box of RR Spikes to practice on?  When I get to where I am moving those well and they are turning out the way I expect, THEN I will take my coil springs and make some paring knives to start, then move on to other blades.

   But man... bottle openers are FUN!!

   Tongs just make me think I need to go sit in the back of the short bus.

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5 hours ago, Ben Hoover said:

 Tongs just make me think I need to go sit in the back of the short bus.

Nah, you're doing just fine the way you are. Keep pushing the envelope, you'll get where you want to go.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Another problem with tongs as a beginner project is that there are specific tricks to tongs that are the sum of many skills.

If you are working on your own I highly recommend Mark Asperys book number one. He goes though the very basics, step by step. Much better than any other books or videos I can remember.

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  • 3 months later...
On 7/16/2014 at 4:16 PM, Jack-O-Lantern said:

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

I just watched a video on you tube, specifically said to use briquettes they were of much more uniform heat. I do know that royal oak gets much hotter. That seems to be my major concern, producing enough heat. What is your feeling on that matter. Enough heat is my concern, would the un even heat matter to me? Not so long as it was higher temp resulting. IMHO

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Mr.  Illerob,

Briquettes, are a mixture of charcoal dust, glue, ( = binder " ), sometimes colorants, and sometimes sparkle dazzling bits. (like potassium nitrate, (KNO3), which also enhances the ability of the mix to catch fire.

This admixture of many non-combustible components bulks up the product. But it lowers the heat generating properties of the product.

In other words, you need more briquettes to get your stock (steel), to forging temperatures.  So there is, probably no savings for using briquettes over  the initially more expensive lump charcoal*.

Also, you can make your own charcoal, from scrap wood, cut-offs, and pallets. There is much site material, on this site), for doing that.

Anyone can post information on YouTube. Much is wrong including the reference you site. Briquettes are no more efficient in producing  even heat.

There is a list of suggested, knowledgeable, Youtube 'authors' on this site, somewhere. Use your favorite search engine and put " i.f.i."  into your search string.  check it out.

SLAG.

*there is always a counter example to be found that proves the rule,. YouTube has a video where an experienced smith uses briquettes to get steel hot enough to forge weld the steel, proving it is possible.

But it is not recommended.

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Yeah, you CAN use briquettes but it has issues that make it more difficult. As said, there are binders holding the briquette shape, milk glue, wood pulp, anthracite, etc. aren't a big deal. The lime powder on the other hand is there to reduce the temperature, prolong the burn time and turn white so you  know the fire is going. 

I've used them, welding included but it's far from ideal. Lump charcoal is easier to light, produces a hotter though shorter lived fire and unless you're careful tends to burn your steaks. Making charcoal is no big deal depending on the size of the batch and closeness of your neighbors. The FD might drop in if you get carried away too. 

Once you get a handle on how fire works and what you need to make it do forge work you can learn to burn anything flammable. Camel dung to coal and weirder stuff is in every day use somewhere. Out of date feed corn behaves surprisingly like coal, it sticks together as it pyrolizes into charcoal so you can make a closed / beehive fire. Moose dung works but you have to collect a LOT and they scatter it all over the darned forest. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 3 months later...

My first forge was fire bricks, wood, and a large centrifugal fan. My first item was an 10" paper thin dagger from rebar using a 5# maul. After a 10 year hiatus my new forge is oil fired, decorative fireplace brick, and a blow dryer fan. My first project was a set of tongs using flat security bar stock and a small tinners hammer. Bassakwards every step of the way but I did learn a lot. When it comes to metal use what's known if you can and learn about the metal you have. Never use a hammer you don't like just because it's what everyone else uses. Don't drool over a fancy 500$ anvil if a 16in section of rr track hasn't failed you even once. A forge is what you think it should be. If it heats to your needs then it's a forge. Make what makes you happy. And rebar is a God awful material but if you have 2000+lbs of the stuff, like me, use it! Also it's a great idea to study and research everything before jumping in. Don't copy something someone else made because you like it. Odds are they are more experienced, have better materials, and more time. Make it yourself, in your own way to match what you want and need. Have your own style and you'll never be disappointed!! 

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  • 4 months later...

So I'm new here. Just built my first forge dual burner about 2-1/2 foot long about 8 inches long four inches wide. Still a newb but having fun. Made my first blade today after dialing in my home forge burners. Any tips for a novice?

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  • 3 months later...

Soo much great advice here. Interesting reading that tongs shouldn't be an early project, for me it was about the third thing I attempted (my first pair worked out much better than my second). I think my first pair took around 10 to 15 hours to complete, last pair around 3

While I hadn't picked up on the rebar thing yet I can say that as a newbie to the art, buying an expensive alloy steel suited to punches was one of my first mistakes. Yea I didn't think about how I was going to harden it. Finding the 10XX steels good to play with though

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey Jack, that post sums up my view on starting out in the wonderful world of moving hot Metal into a thought out shape so you can stand back and say, "I did that". I too am new to this forum and the world of smithing/metalwork but I have had the passion for a long time to try my hand at it. I am a self employed carpenter by trade and I have many a times thought should I have chosen to be a blacksmith at college, but I cant remember that being a given option. I totally agree with you, people starting out shouldn't be put off by others that have fully decked out workshops with hydraulic presses and big blue's moving serious amounts of steel. I don't think anyone could say they went to bed one night thinking they would try a bit of smiting and woke up to a fully kitted out workshop. My point being everyone started somewhere and how ever you develop your skills should be at your own pace and of course budget. I admit I had been put off for many years taking up the hobby thinking I needed to have big expensive equipment after watching many of folk on YouTube! But it's not really the case to start off I think it's just the case of using what your comfortable using learning at your own pace and setting yourself realistic goals. So in a nutshell your post was a delight to read Jack and I hope it will encourage more people to take the plunge and not be put off by not having expensive equipment. 

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We all started somewhere and generally it was with some pretty basic tools and little or no skill.  As we practice we gradually out grow our basic tools and begin to upgrade. A JABOD and charcoal will do to learn how to make S hooks and bottle openers but is probably not up to making billets of pattern welded alloy steel.  Similarly, a fancy induction or high end propane forge is too much tool for a beginner to learn with.  Skills and tools go hand in hand and upgrade together.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Well a JABOD-ish thing and charcoal and single action bellows were what forged all the pattern welded swords in the early middle ages in Europe.

The difference is mainly skill and experience.  I've done a pattern welded billet using a claw hammer and a short chunk of RR rail. Charcoal sieved from desert bonfire remains and an improvised forge.

 

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The phrase "All the gear, and no idea" springs to mind.

Get it HOT and Hit it, and learn from there. Different degrees of Hot, and different amounts of Hit, it's in there somewhere, you just have to find it.

Watching helps, Doing will get you there. Guidance will help,

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Watching someone who knows what they are doing helps. Watching someone who doesn't know what they are doing, may be amusing; but generally doesn't help.

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True Thomas, I should have qualified the statement by adding the "someone who knows what they are doing" unfortunately I was not thinking of via internet or TV programmes, My Mistake.

 

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Can be live too.  I was at a SOFA meeting once and the demonstrator was making a tool of HC steel as part of his ornamental demo.  But he was treating the HC like it was mild, too hot/too cold plain  water quench and then handed it around. I noticed that it had cracked from end to end and pointed it out to him and was told "It will do for this job."---Broke on the second hammer blow.  He mainly worked mild doing ornamental work.  I came in by the way of blades and so my habits are to treat everything like it was HC---I really have to fight that using WI!

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Hi Thomas, just because they are demonstrating, does not mean they are expert, I don't know who the demonstrator was but if he is demoing and treating MS like HC then that is a problem in itself

If it is cracked, then you were right to point it out, and unless it was annealed after and before it was ready for using on a job, then it was in a potentially dangerous state, was this pointed out by him/her?

If the "job" was a wall mounting or static not to be handled item, then maybe in their opinion "It would do" was valid, but a bit of a cop out for doing a job to be proud of, I could not envisage a customer being happy with an obviously flawed item, smacks of lack of pride in one's work.

If its HC then forge it for its structure, if its MS then same applies, and also for WI.

Each has its own composition and should be worked accordingly, difficult to know on uknown metals, but that's why we test sample potential workpieces.

 

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