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I Forge Iron

Making my first hafted tools

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Hello everyone! I was/am a long time lurker at anvilfire and a newer lurker here but I have a question and decided to join the board. Loads of good stuff here - thanks to everyone who has made this site such an awesome resource!


I have all the bare minimum of required tools, including a gas forge, post vice, angle grinder, 100 lb london pattern anvil, even an oxy-acetylene kit but I dont have any hardy tools, fullers, flatters, awesome hand-made rounding hammers, etc. I did get a smithin magician kit to help myself make all the tools I plan to make. I don't plan on buying a full set of top and bottom fullers, a flatter, etc and so I am going to get to work on that.


I guess my question is "What order do I start making these tools in?"


Right now I have a bar of 3' x 2" round 4140 stock, a bar of 4' x 1" round W-1 and a small round bar of 5" x 2.5" 4140 I am saving for making a rounding hammer.


I was thinking of trying to make a hardy fuller or cutoff hardy first, but I'm stuck as far as how to do that with what I have got. I feel like I kinda need a fuller to make progress with this 2" bar stock but I can't make one out of it without serious wasted effort (I dont think). Probably need a striker or a power hammer to make headway (closest I have to a striker is a wife with a bad back). And I guess I would need a hammer eye punch and hammer eye drift first if I want to make top tool/ bottom tool sets.


As far as I can figure, my mistake was buying 2" round bar instead of 1.5" or 1.25" to make top/bottom tools.


What are your thoughts?



Matthew Marting

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Well you could always maybe check with closest scrapyards for larger truck axles or large machinery pins and the cost part of doing it that way is a lot less. But as far as a striker go's I've found it super hard to forge tools like that alone or without a power hammer if solo.but it can be done with a few more heats and motivation

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You can make a tong held hammer eye punch rather then a handled or wrapped one, by hand. Same for the drift. As far as the wife with the bad back goes see if she'lll direct and you strike instead. You be your own striker and direct her in directing you.


Yes 1 1/4"- 1 1/2" would be easier to make the fullers out of. You can check with auto spring places for their drops for those sizes of stock at scrap or better prices if that matters to you. A hardy you just need stock slightly larger then the hardy hole to start with so you can either reduce larger stock ( taper like Brian does for the capability to fit multiple sized hardy holes) or upset to the size desired.


Fullers in a pinch can just be the appropriate sized stock laid down on the anvil face and or held above the stock or both depending on desires. That you can also bend over to fit to either hardy or pritchel hole if desired also.

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If you have a hammer and anvil you should be able to make what you want. Moving 2.5 dia. stock by yourself on a 100# anvil will not be easy. I think what you really need is an experinced friend, find your local smith group, and make friends.

  As for what to make 1st that depends on you, and which tool you want to make ect. it would be fairly easy to drive a round stock into a block and make a bottom swedge, then you could flatten a side of round stock in your swedge and you would have a bottom fuller, no stem but it will work without rolling around as long as you hit it straight not at an angle. You can do the same for the top tool only leave enough to draw out a handle, it would not be swood handled but it would do the job until you could make a better one. Anyhow I expect you get the idea, what would help is someone to help you see the next step.

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Thanks guys! I was worried that this kind of question had been beaten to death and I would just get a bunch of "Why didnt you search the forum better?" posts. I also got a bit side-tracked during the post and ended up asking a completely different question than I mean to.


So, I'll need to start being more social or more motivated if I plan to use that 2" stock. Or wait till my brother is in town.


Bending over stock and putting it in the pritchel hole is a good trick - one I will try.


Tapered hardy shanks sound like a great idea, and I especially like that they seem to seat themselves in the hardy hole but I asked myself why they hadn't allways been made that way. I also noticed that the only ones I have seen with a tapered shank have been hot cutters. I got to thinking, and wonder if a taper on the shanks hardy tools with more surface area like a impart undue stress into the connection between the heel and body of the anvil. On something like a hot cutter the stress would be negligible, but on something big... would it matter? I dont know. Is it ok to make all my hardy tools with a tapered shank or would that put my anvil at risk?


Thanks again

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Welcome aboard Mathew, glad to have.


If you're going to go around taking all the fun out of hazing a new guy by putting your general location in the header and bringing up the reading sections of the forum right off the bat, what fun can we have with you? I guess all we have left is just making suggestions. <sigh>


I'm thinking all that 4140 would make excellent trading stock were you to hook up with the local organization. You can find local organizations listed near the bottom of the Iforge home page. I'm betting it wouldn't take much sweet talking for a "new" club member (hint hint) offering to supply some down right excellent hammer stock, to get a hammer demo going at a meeting or hammer in and walk away with a turning hammer and maybe a straight or cross pein in exchange. Hmmmmmm?


If you keep your eyes open for ball pein hammers or heads at yard, garage, rummage, etc. sales for cheap ball peins are good steel and make excellent top tools like sets, slitters and punches of Brian Brazeals' pattern. Better they're not so heavy they're hard to reshape and better even still, they already have the eye!


My most used straight pein hammer started life as a 36oz. ball pein hammer. It's sooooooo much happier now. <grin>


Frosty The Lucky.

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I've seen fuller set ups made of scrap metal held together with salvaged bolts and nuts held in the post vice.



Bill Epps comes to mind as a guy who made very, very simple anvil tooling.  Sometimes it was little more than a piece of flat stock welded to a square rod that fit his hardy hole.  Welding with an OA rig isn't particularly difficult to learn.  You can often use welding rods intended for arc welders.



An OA Torch or a cutoff wheel makes quick work of cutting scrap stock down to manageable sizes.  Rashelle's right about spring shops.  I went to a custom 4x4 shop and just asked what they wanted for old springs.  They lead me to their pile and said I could take whatever I wanted for free.


The shackle end of a leaf spring has a nice round profile and the metal is pretty durable.  Cut a short section off below the shackle end and clamp that in your post vice - instant bottom fuller. If you cut the end down to fit your hardy hole diagonally with the shackle area full width, you could end up with a bottom hardy that doesn't move on you.  If you don't want it cocked 45 degree's heat the "shank" and twist it when it's in the anvil.


Expanding on that it's possible to take a truck leaf spring and cut "Tees" where the vertical portion fits your hardy hole diagonally.  You can grind or upset the top of the Tee to suit your needs.  

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First off there's never any "serious wasted effort" its all quality learning time.

As what to make first, if you have a job, that will tell you what tools to make first.

If not, and you just want to add to your tool collection, then its your choice. At this stage of your experience, you have no clue as to what you may need, so make what you want.

Look at your original post. Check out the tool you decided to make. Call that a "job". See your list of tools? Now you know what tools you need to do the job. Don't forget to add a scribe, center punch, and a cold chisel to the list for marking your work.

See? You intuitively already know the basic process of being a blacksmith.

Now all ya gots to do is,,,, heat it and beat it.

Easy, huh?

By the way, the only difference in using a hand hammer over a power hammer is a lot of quality learning time.


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Excellent ideas guys. I like the idea of donating that bar stock to an organization for a hammer/ tool forging demonstration I participate in. I also underestimated the usefulness of existing hammer heads. It is such an irony that I had to move to get work and leave the biggest flea market I had ever seen behind me, 6 hours away - I would have totally spent the money I am now earning there (I once got 30 files for about $25, which aint bad but for the sake of a story let's say it was $12). For the past few days I have been dreaming about all the wonderful rusty hammers that could be had for scrap price.


At the moment I am in a town of 10,000 people in rural Missouri, so I am kind of limited when it comes to scrap yards. I may get lucky talking to guys at the dealership in town but IDK. I never thought about using the shackle end of leaf springs as a fuller! Another fantastic idea - leaf spring anvil tooling!


Anvil - you are right. I totally forgot to mention what I wanted to make in the original post... I can't remember myself because I want so many tools. Thats how I got into blacksmithing - I want no less than one copy of every hand tool and mechanical device, but that kind of goal gets cost prohibitive real quick. I also liked how you made me stop and realize that I need to set a goal/project and the steps to get there will become evident. I tend to over-analyze and constantly worry about whether what I am doing is the "best" way of doing something. But experience counts for a lot, and analysis alone won't get me anywhere in a practical sense.

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