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I Forge Iron

Swinging a striking hammer, rail road swing


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Welcome aboard David, glad to have you. If you'll put your general location in the header you might be surprised how many members live within visiting distance. 

I'd normally have some encouragement for a youngster breaking into the craft or perhaps a wise crack but you have me at a loss. Have any videos of Gandy Olympic events? I'm not surprised you guys had competitions and fierce ones as the work itself demands. 

Have any good stories? Like puns?

Frosty The Lucky.

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Just got a 30lbs "sledge" hammer... Its actually for working out with tires. Makes my 20lbs sledge feel like a toy. I love swinging sledgehammers, plus levering exercises too... . I was using splitting wood with a wedge doing 1 arm "windmill swings"with my 8lbs sledge.  I think over all light sledgehammers are better because you can swing faster.  The other style  i call is wood chopping.  It is no wonder i love blacksmithing. 

I'd love to find a more experienced smith.. They would love to have me as a striker. 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, JW513 said:

They would love to have me as a striker. 

Only if they could control you. I'd be pretty hesitant to have anybody wind milling at my anvil, heck in my shop.

Still, I've been wrong before, could be again.

Frosty The Lucky.

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i'd never windmill on an anvil..

I've swung my fair share of sledgehammers at work, there's a big difference between working out with a sledgehammer and using one in construction.. I've always been into fitness, and one day at work it dawned on me that I could use them to work out. 

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The problem with a "railroad" swing of a sledge hammer is 1) accuracy.  Even if you can do it repeatedly can you accurately and repeatedly hit the spot the master smith wants you to hit?  If so, great.  If not, you won't be a good striker.  Accuracy is more important than power. 2) it may be more difficult to stop a RR swing if halfway through it the master lays his hammer sideways on the work to signal the striker(s) to stop. 

I think both reasons are why you usually see strikers using a swing starting from overhead or so.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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On 4/26/2021 at 6:39 PM, JW513 said:

. They would love to have me as a striker

Sorry, not the case. You would be out the door before you got yer windmill around the second swing. What you are talking of is absolutely dangerous to the smith you are striking for, the well being of my anvil and least of all,,, you. Your job as a striker is to follow the commands and lead of the person you are striking for. That includes how hard you hit, how often you hit, where you hit, and the angle your hammer face strikes the hot iron. In my shop, from the get go you WILL strike how I show you,,, or you won't strike in my shop 

With due respect to all, this is just plane basic shop safety.

Yup, there is splitting wood, driving rr spikes, whatever your work is ,, then there is striking in a blacksmith shop,,, to be fair  :)

A final note, in my shop you either strike like this, or you don't strike. Easypeasy

how to strike.JPG

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True but with all the brand new guys wanting to pick up the craft jumping on what a dangerous mistake windmill striking on an anvil would be is a good thing. 

I'm just hoping some young man out there isn't thinking "I'll bet I can do that, even if nobody else can." I know I was probably 30+ before I started considering that I wasn't as smart and capable as I thought I was. :huh:

Some seeds just shouldn't be planted in folk's brains:angry: so we take a weeding fork to them. :)

Frosty The Lucky.

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One way to learn to swing a sledge hammer is to hand split a couple of cords of wood.  You quickly learn to aim to hit the correct place on the end of the log, learn how hard to swing, and learn that twenty minutes of splitting wood is not even started yet.  Pace yourself takes on a whole new meaning.

As with hand hammers, choose the proper weight hammer to get the job done, done correctly, and be able to do that for several hours.  Learn to control a 6, then an 8, then a 10 pound hammer before grabbing that 16 or 20 pound hammer and embarrassing yourself.  Everyone knows what it means when your tongue is hanging out and your panting for air.

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When i was younger we used to challenge each other by taking a sledge, 8#, holding the end of the handle at an arms length with the head straight up. Then just with the wrist lower it down slowly to touch your nose and back up right. 

 

 

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On 4/29/2021 at 12:50 PM, Irondragon ForgeClay Works said:

my hands are reversed on the hammer haft

Lol, I almost mentioned that. Im left handed. Maybe thats the difference. Left hand forward (opposite for right handers) gives me good control over the hammerhead,particularly when rotating the hammer face to match the other hammer.

Glen the critical thing is to realize there is a world of difference between splitting wood, breaking rocks, driving in a stake and striking. 

Also when striking this way, the weight of the hammer and difference in anvil height (knuckle high for short guy vs a basket ball player) are minimized.

Thomas has concluded that back in the day, anvil height was determined for the needs of the striker. With this style, the near hand, up by the hammerhead, controls  accuracy, force,and angle of the hammer face. Theres rarely any need to bring that hand any higher than eye level.  One of the jobs of the off hand at the back end of the shaft is to make sure the when the shaft is parallel to the anvil when the hammer face is at the top of the work. That way the striker can easily strike comfortably with any smith . Besides, the smith at his own anvil does far more work without a striker. 

I have a vid of a pair of lady farriers double striking and forging a draft horse shoe. The striker uses a slightly different style(maybe Irondragons way) but every other part of their dance with the anvil shows the control you must have to be a good and safe striker. I cant give credit to them or the camera jockey, so i dont know if i can post it.

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A few things to consider, and a question. No matter what operation you perform, where do you go when it's done. A few examples: turn a scroll over the horn, then remove edge bend and twist  on the face of the anvil. Use a cut off hardy: square up the end and take out the edge bend and twist on the face of the anvil. Use a striker and a top and bottom tool to forge square stock to round then: move to the face of the anvil to take out the edge bend and twist. Most every operation ends up on the flat of the anvil for edge bend and twist or to level it up. So who and where is the most time spent? By the smith at his station on the face of the anvil. So you are concluding that the height should be set up for someone who spends less time there, and may strike at different forging stations as well, not to mention that not all strikers are the same height. 

I kinda figured that forge stations were assigned to master or journeymen smiths and strikers were apprentices. Their purpose in striking was to strike for many so they could learn each individual style. Do you really think that forging stations would be set up for the benefit of the apprentices?

Please note above that this style and it's variations allow the striker to very easily adapt to many different heights and tooling situations. 

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On 4/29/2021 at 1:15 PM, Frosty said:

    <snip>

I'm just hoping some young man out there isn't thinking "I'll bet I can do that, even if nobody else can." I know I was probably 30+ before I started considering that I wasn't as smart and capable as I thought I was. :huh:    <snip>

Frosty The Lucky.

I wager that was in large because your old man was so dumb while you were growing up then became much smarter about the time you turned 30.  ;)

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On 4/29/2021 at 2:15 PM, Frosty said:

True but with all the brand new guys wanting to pick up the craft jumping on what a dangerous mistake windmill striking on an anvil would be is a good thing. 

I'm just hoping some young man out there isn't thinking "I'll bet I can do that, even if nobody else can." I know I was probably 30+ before I started considering that I wasn't as smart and capable as I thought I was. :huh:

Some seeds just shouldn't be planted in folk's brains:angry: so we take a weeding fork to them. :)

I'll take any criticism good or bad. I just want to be clear, I've been in the trades since i was 14, going to be 28 in two weeks, so half my life i've been working, still making mistakes and still learning everyday.. But  I'm all about working smart and safely using tools. XXXX I won't even move heavy objects with people unless I trust them. There is a lot to being a striker, and building chemistry with a the smith/ other strikers. But it's something I want to try If I ever get the chance.

And I'd never ever ever abuse any tool, especially an anvil.

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Well I wouldn't assume that a shop with multiple active people in it would have only a single anvil and so having anvils at differing heights would deal with that!   If you look at all the pictures in the Blacksmith Calendars sold a few years ago you not the multiplicity of forges and anvils and work stations in a typical shop.  Many people seem to build their conception of blacksmithing based on what it was like in the twilight of the craft when most things once did by the smith were done by factories. Often one man shops being run until the aging smith stopped...

Now I have seen the railroad swing in use, even movies of it from 100 years ago dealing with very large items where an anvil wasn't used as the mass of the item was sufficient---say a multi ton anchor.

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On 5/3/2021 at 6:47 AM, ThomasPowers said:

Now I have seen the railroad swing in use, even movies of it from 100 years ago dealing with very large items where an anvil wasn't used as the mass of the item was sufficient---say a multi ton anchor.

Now I read your reply, much later, I'm sorting through my inbox. The anchor welding film is a perfect example of rail road swing in a smithy. Another example is a fellow upsetting what looked like 2" plus bar. He was striking downwards with a sledge in each hand in full RR swing mode. They didn't look like light sledges either, probably 6lb. minimum, probably 8lb. 

I can't find the link or video on my machine or I'd attach it. <sigh>

Frosty The Lucky.

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Funny but in "Welding the Big Ring", Library of Congress, youtube  the folks working on the ring are not using 360 swings but someone in the background working on something else is doing full 360 swings through most of the video!

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There's a lot going on in the background. There is one swinging full 360 on the other side of the forge fire they're heating the big ring in and another swinging 360 behind the crew hammering the big ring. Then towards the end they're hammering with the forge fire at the left edge of the frame, you can see that smith swinging and there's another to the right of the frame and a third farther back from the guy on the left.

If I'm counting right I see 5 guys swinging full 360s in that smithy. That's just in that area. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Great video! Thanks. Thomas. Yup, the ones forging the ring are using a variation of what I described above. No wild swings,,, very controlled, very heavy blows as the work demands.

The windmill crew in the back,,, who knows what they are doing. They don't appear to be forging hot iron or we should see sparks or at least a glow. So I would say they are doing some type of heavy cold work and using the proper swing to get her done.

I'm going to go ahead and post these two lady farriers striking and making a draft shoe. It's a beautiful dance and a great example of team striking. If it's bad, because I can't identify them, than please delete.

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The guys swinging 360 blows were working hot. Their forge is visible but often blocked and you catch a glimpse of someone not swinging a hammer changing the part. No sparks but you can see glowing iron going under their hammer as parts are changed. 

That is an enjoyable video to watch, thanks.

Frosty The Lucky.

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