Gendry

Am I doing it right? Pointers?

Recommended Posts

Ive been into the idea of blacksmithing for about a year now.  Ive heated some rebar and pounded it flat in a half  pit I made in my back yard.  I'm getting more serious though, and into the hobby.  I've setup a new forge design at my work, in the back of the shop out of the way.  I cleared out a nice area and set up, I have pictures, any advice or comments from you guys would be appreciated here, real greenhorn  here..


Cleaned up my work area:   Backbladed the hard packed earth, cleared out alot of that (potential fire hazard) grass, laid down some rock and evened it out, cleared away debris, and just organized the area.
newarea.jpg

Forge:  Here's the forge, cleaned up.
forge.jpg

Inside of forge:  Here's what the empty forge looks like, you can see my air induction pipe.  I have holes on the top and both sides to let air out.  Might drill a big one near the entrance to regulate airflow.
forgeinside.jpg

Charcoal Station:  Here I make half my fuel.  I bake wood into charcoal basically.  I stuff the small drum full of wood bits, then put it in the bigger drum, upside down, and build a fire around it.  Gas escapes out a couple holes I put in the top, but no oxegen gets in as it burns, hence charcoal.
charcoalstation.jpg

Baking Charcoal:  Here it is at work.
charcoalmake.jpg

More charcoal:  Made anoter area to render charcoal.  The can's do the same as the barrel, just on a smaller scale.  Need to grab a few more cans.
render.jpg

Charcoal:  Here's that charcoal I rendered in the last pictures, dug a pit, lined it with a tarp and covered it, my new charcoal supply.
Charcoal.jpg

Ready to go:  Forge bowl is full of raw fuel, broken up store bought briquettes, homemade charcoal, and wood scraps.  Forge itself is just a  old break drum, with a sheet of steel welded on the outside to provide a higher wall.  The air induction is just a steel pipe, capped at one end, with some holes drilled in, and a  $15 hair dryer taped to the end to provide the air.  I start it by building a fire below it and it catches the paper in the bottom of the bowl through the holde
forgecoal.jpg

Heating up:  Letting it get a nice hot coal bed going.
forgefire2.jpg

Ready to forge:  Doesn't take long to get a great heat from here, almost too hot, you have to watch it.
forgefire1.jpg

 

Any suggestions you would make to help me improve my setup?

 

(Should mention some pictures are a few days older then others, which is why you see broken bricks, and grass in some but others are cleaner.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just incase somebody mentions it, I do have an anvil in the immdiate area.  I had moved it to the shop for some modifications during these pictures (cut a hardy hole, weld some of the mass on instead of using clamps, unfortunatly I havent got the chance yet.).  It is also a half , jerry rigged piece  for now.  A chunk of I beam with some work.

Anvil: I know this isint great, it works for now, but I have some ideas.
anvil.jpg

Anvil horn:  Put this on the day I took the pictures, works nice.  I imagine those straps will snap soon though.  Ill weld that or something like it in its place.
hotn.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Gendry and welcome!

 

I don't know why haven't been there any comments on your topic. But I can start it as well .

 

So you have a very useful setup and I really like its "do it yourself" and "let's get start it anyhow" feeling. You really don't need 2000 bucks to get the smithing started.

 

My thoughts would be:

1. Nice charcoal making! I'd forget about brickets and use only home made charcoal.

 

2. Don't hit on that "horn" while it's held by those straps! It's really nasty to get struck by a chunk of steel  like that. BTW you don't really need a horn like an anvils horn. You can make a mandrel and fit it in the hardie hole. You can make an other mandrel shaped tool but bend it to right angle and put it in the hole, too. 

Clamping doesn't work under hitting. I understand you already changed the other chunk sitting on the horizontal surface. If welded it is safer.

 

3. You may want to consider the foundation of the anvil. If you leave the whole thing out there permanently you may as well sit it into some concrete or some dirt/sand etc. It will work better, I think.

Also you can check out the height of the anvil surface and get it to the good height with the foundation material. (They say knuckle height is the proper but you know what worksw for you the best.) Anyways if you have experienced any arm, forearm, wrist pain - other then sore muscles - it may be because of the anvil height.

 

4. Some shade would be nice for the forge and maybe for the anvil, too. It's useful to see the colors of the hot steel. Sunshine mislead your eyes and you can't realize the real colors. - This may not be the most important thing right now, but judging the temp of the hot steel by the naked eye is very needed skill in blacksmithing. (If the area is shaded when you work there, forget this.)

 

5. If you need to get longer pieces hot, cut two gaps in the opposite sides of the sheet metal of the forge. You can then place the long rod so that its ends are free but the midle is in the fire.

 

6. I can see sparks coming out from the fire. Maybe there is too much airflow. IIRC hairdryers provide air richly and again IIRC charcoal doesn't need that much of air. Some sort of controling can help. (What about drilled holes in the airpipe and a bit bigger dia piece of pipe you can slip on and off the holes one-by-one.)

 

7. Tools: you need some more tools, but I think you know that all right  :)

Look around here, read, read, read, and you will know what you wanna do and how.

 

8. The other guys are going to say to put your general location into your profile, so I don't say that now  :)

 

OK, be safe and hit it hard!

 

Gergely

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Gendry,

 

nice setup! Pretty "homemade", but if it works ... Here some thoughts for my part:

 

1) So you make your own charcoal. Cool! But you should keep in mind, that charcoal won't reach the right temperature for forge welding an so on. If you'd like to use smithy coal, you will need some improvements. But this depends on your ambitions.

 

2) Your "anvil" really doesn't look safe in my eyes. Better you get a real one. So much things can go wrong with your "setup".

 

3) Your forge needs some general improvements: the egde of your forge is pretty much higher than the charcoal level. This causes that your working piece is laid inclined in your firebed. Larger pieces won't heat up evenly. On the other hand the general depth of your forge seems to be good (3-4 inches might be ideal). So you should work with a higher charcoal level. Particulary if you later want to forge alloyed steel. 

 

4) I totally agree with Gergely. You need some shade

 

5) Concerning the tools: Your first "project" should be to forge a tong. It's a great chance to prove your skills and the selfmade one will do the job much better than the current one ;). It is also advisable to use a blacksmith hammer. Those hammers have a rounded face so they won't leave marks on the piece your work on.

 

I think thats enough for now. To be honest: if your setup works as you want it to, it's fine. But please get an other anvil :D! If you've got questions, don't hesitate to ask! There are no silly questions, just silly answers ;)

 

Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi again!

 

I have to disagree a little bit with Christian: charcoal was used through centuries for all kinds of metallurgical processes. 

"Charcoal burns at intense temperatures, up to 2700 degrees Celsius. By comparison the melting point of iron is approximately 1200 to 1550 degrees Celsius. Due to its porosity it is sensitive to the flow of air and the heat generated can be moderated by controlling the air flow to the fire. For this reason charcoal is an ideal fuel for a forge and is still widely used by blacksmiths." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charcoal#Metallurgical_fuel)

 

Bests

 

Gergely

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I must also support the statement by Gergely, that charcoal is great for forging.  Simple charcoal was the standard fuel for all western smithing for centuries.  Coal is a more receint  discovery, brought to the west by Marco Polo from his travels in China, which nearly resulted in his death by the inquisition, because every one knows rocks do not burn without the devils help.  Lucky for us we all got past that fear, and now smiths all over use coal for their forges.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All the viking forge welded swords were made using charcoal.  Coal didn't start being used by smiths till the High/Late Middle Ages, (Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel", Gies & Gies.  So for over 1000 years charcoal was the only fuel and the making of wrought iron sort of requires forge welding to refine it from the bloom. Traditionally made japanese swords are still forgewelded with charcoal to this day.  The pattern welded Javanese Keris was forge welded with charcoal.

 

Where did you get that mis-factoid???

 

Now a forge designed for coal will not be a great one for charcoal so if your experience is only trying to use charcoal in a coal forge you might have some wrong ideas about it.  I use a Y1K forge for some historical demos and have forge welded billets in a charcoal fired forge using two single action bellows and a block anvil based on the carvings of the Stave Church at Hylestad Norway and archeological reports.

 

(I hope to do another billet in such a set up at the SCA event Battlemoor coming up the end of August in Colorado; if you are in the SCA and attending stop by the forge in Artisan's lane and say howdy!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

****, who the **** wrote that yesterday?! :D

 

I have to apologize myselfe for that!!! Of course charcoal is useful to forge weld. 

 

@ThomasPower:

 

 

 

Now a forge designed for coal will not be a great one for charcoal so if your experience is only trying to use charcoal in a coal forge you might have some wrong ideas about it.

 

I think that's the reason. My forge is designed for coal. I tried charcoal, because it defenitely has some advantages over smith coal. But it did not work very well. Not hot enough and a enormous charcoal consumption. Maybe to high airflow!? And the handling of the very variable size of the coalpieces didn't seem workable to me. 

 

@Gendry

Where do you get all the wood for the charcoal fabrication? 

 

Well, I hope for your indulgence towards my mistake!

Edited by Moderator54
Inappropriate language

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Christian,

 

don't be too hard on yourself. There's nothing to be ashamed of. We are all people, well, mostly...  :)

 

Bests

 

Gergely

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome aboard Gendry, glad to have you. If you'll put your general location in the header you might be surprised how many of the IFI folk live within visiting distance. At the very least it'll help folk, different places have different resources and techniques so it helps to know where a person is.

 

This site has a large section regarding using and making solid fuel forges, I think you'll be well served by doing some browsing and reading that section.

 

Using a piece of "I" beam for an anvil isn't the greatest, it'll work but not terribly well. An old truck axle mounted on end or buried on end flange up at working height makes an outstanding anvil. A little grinding to smooth and shine up the flange end makes a fine surface and you're striking over the entire length of the axle so there is an excellent depth of rebound. If you do need a horn you can strike horizontally and use the axle shaft if you've mounted it solidly enough you can hit it darned hard.

 

I think you're going to fit right in here, guys who just put something together and get to work tend to go a long ways. Especially if they already have good improvisational skills.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Damn, who the hell wrote that yesterday?! :D

 

I have to apologize myselfe for that!!! Of course charcoal is useful to forge weld. 

 

@ThomasPower:

 

 

I think that's the reason. My forge is designed for coal. I tried charcoal, because it defenitely has some advantages over smith coal. But it did not work very well. Not hot enough and a enormous charcoal consumption. Maybe to high airflow!? And the handling of the very variable size of the coalpieces didn't seem workable to me. 

 

@Gendry

Where do you get all the wood for the charcoal fabrication? 

 

Well, I hope for your indulgence towards my mistake!

 

You want someone here to sell you an indulgence? . . . Okay, want my address?

 

Truth is, I've heard about those mistake things, they seem to be all over the place. I wouldn't worry about it, seems lots of people are making the pesky confabulatious misconstruances.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool first start, and a lot better than I started with making knives.  You acquire tools and equipment and skills as time goes by.  My first anvil was a harbour freight Anvil Shaped Object, cast iron.  Then on to a block of mild steel, then a cast steel Russian that's pretty soft.  Finally got a good one just recently.

 

Just out of curiosity, have you ever considered a gas forge?  Simple and cheap to build, not real cheap on fuel consumption though.  I've been using them for over 10 years, but they are not as good as a coal or charcoal forge for spot heating and decorative work.  But they are nearly perfect for Damascus and blade work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

if you want a horn to weld on that gives you a greater range of shapes look for a worn out tooth from an excavator bucket  or something like that, it will be hard and worn to interesting shapes, choose the best angle for it and weld it on strongly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, thanks for the replys guys.  After the first couple days of nothing, I was worried you were all laughing quietly at my sad, mickey mouse setup.  I don't have the time at the moment, but tomorrow I want to reply to most of your individual comments, and I have a few other questions.  (And a some pictures of the 2 new sad little "knives" I made this week.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah so I have a few minutes.  Here are some pictures of the last 2 "knives" ive made..  (Sorry, know this is the forge forum, but just trying to introduce myself kinda)
my1.jpg
my2.jpg
my3.jpg

These are only my 4th and 5th real attempt at a knives, granted, but its still pretty sloppy work (in my defense all I have access to right now as far as shaping tools, are poor grindstones and bastard files.. AND, they truely do look better in person then in these pictures lol..).  But hey, at least they kind of look like knives (the second one can actually slice paper pretty cleanly).  First one was forged, from a piece 1/2 inch scrap bar I pulled from the steel bin at work.  The second, I actually cheated I guess, and traced my design onto a sheet of steel, then cut it with plasma and finished it with grinders.  Both are xxxx poor steel, and will never really go anywere.  Ive heard it said many times around these types of forum that "your first 50 blades are practice", so ive just been using junk metal to learn the basics and techniques for now, getting more indepth and complex as I go.  I figure after I make another couple dozen of these primitive knives I might pick up some proper steel and make a go of it.

Plenty of questions and comments coming tomorrow guys, I appreciate the helpfulness and plan to take advantage of it lot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, thanks for the replys guys.  After the first couple days of nothing, I was worried you were all laughing quietly at my sad, mickey mouse setup. 

 

Hey Gendry,

 

you know, around here you never get laughed at. You can get shouted at, at max... In a helping way, of course  :) .

I think we all have things to learn - from your story I think we all can see that if you want to do it you can do it.

 

And that method to make charcoal is very simple and looks like effective.

 

Hey and good blades!

 

Keep hitting it!

 

Gergely

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gendry: Do I have to keep bugging you about your general location? Hmmmm? <wink> don't sweat it, I wont, it's not like a forum rule or anything it just really helps everybody involved.

 

Folk close to you may have an extra anvil they'll let you use till you find a better one. Maybe invite you to their shop for some hands on practice. Seriously, one day with an experienced smith is better than a week or even month teaching yourself. I know, I'm self taught ad still have bad habits I taught myself to unlearn. Having a group of folk with the same interests to call, visit or just hang with is a valuable thing, the more eyes and ears looking for you the better. Sometimes it's as simple as needing help lifting a heavy thing and not needing to explain what and why of the thing.

 

Learning bladesmithing doesn't require you make dozens of "blades" it requires you to learn BLACKsmithing. There isn't anything to forging a blade blank that isn't blacksmithing basics. There are some things to NOT do where blades are the specific task but those are specialties and forge basics is what allows the special techniques to be details instead of major problems to solve.

 

I'm not a bladesmith guy but can tell you practicing on mild steel is not a minor difference compared to high carbon steel so practicing blades in mild is more of a bad habit maker.

 

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.