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My father does a lot of wood working and for Christmas I would like to make him a Froe. 

I am thinking about making it out of a truck leaf spring. Once I get the blade formed and the design completed. Do I heat it to non magnetic ? what do I heat treat to? I am thinking the blade should be similar to an axe temper. I use a toaster oven for my knife blanks but this may not fit in the oven and it only goes to 425F. If you could advise I would appreciate it. I am really trying to learn the heat treat process for theses steel better but find it very difficult to understand.

 

 Thanks

 

Edited by remist17

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froes were generally pretty mild; if you did want to heat treat it I'd draw to "spring" more of a blue colour.  I am sorry to hear you don't have a kitchen oven to use to draw temper---note quenching in warm vegetable oil is suggested to avoid issues with spousal units when using the oven for tempering...

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I did not harden the one I made from a leaf spring. I left it in an annealed state. It doesn't / shouldn't / rarely actually cuts anything, the split opens up a bit ahead of the edge if it all works well. Sometimes you just need to pick up a few more fibres to keep the spilt central or where you want it. This was splitting withies and hazel for hurdles, and some ash for tent pegs, all very green wood and easy to split.

Forgemaster posted his rule of thumb for heat treating spring steel on here, do a search for it.

Alan

 

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remist,

Froes are a splitting, rather than a cutting tool.  They need to be neither hard nor sharp.  As a beginner, Truck leaf springs can be harder than woodpecker lips to forge.  I've heard the property called "red hard" in that the alloy is hard under the hammer at a red heat. Adding to the frustration, the additional carbon content makes it burn easier than mild steel as well. I'd recommend making it out of mild or medium carbon steel.

The handle hole is a little tricky since it's flared towards the edge so the handle can drop in like a pick axe does. 

I have some old blacksmithing books that suggest making a simple lap joint with a rivet to hold everything together for a forge weld.  Once it's welded, they drift the handle hole to flare it.

The books differ as to how long the lap joint should be.  One basically doubles a length of steel over making the joint the entire length of the blade.  Another one makes a short 2-3" overlap then draws it down. Finally, there's a third one that does a kind of jump weld.

 

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remist, when you finish making your froe, I suggest that when hammering it to split wood that you use a wooden mallet of some kind.  A steel hammer will quickly beat up the striking edge.  Sometimes I just use a piece of log/branch about 3" in diameter.  Disposable/replaceable/renewable ;) 

You will enjoy making it and I'm sure your father will enjoy a special hand-made tool from you.

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I've made a few from springs and used far more than I care to remember. 

 

A froe needs to be tough, you can't use mild steel as it just bends under any force at all. You should harden your spring but temper it to purple or blue. You do not need to weld the eye of the spring either. 

As said it doesn't need to be particularly sharp but the back of the froe will often take quite a hammering so the back needs to be softer than the edge. 

All the best 

Andy

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I made a Froe last year for a woodworker friend of mine. I used a big bar of some mild steel worked perfect.You can actually get a froe handle from this company called Beaver tooth handle company. Everything I read on traditional froes said mild was fine cause a wood mallet is used to hit and its actually more of a hit and twist action than a chopping action.

IMG_0016.JPG

Edited by jmann2118

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image.jpg

This is the Viking longhouse at the Ancient Technology Centre in Cranborne UK. I helped build this from 2007 to 2010, there are 30,000 chestnut shingles on that roof and I personally made a good few of them. So you'll forgive me if I sound a little arrogant when I say I know a thing or two about using a froe.

Mild steel will work just fine on anything that is straight grained and soft. But if you have any knots or tough wood it will bend. I can assure you of this as I've done it. 

Spring steel is the way to go, you don't necessarily need to harden it, but you need the toughness in a froe. 

 

Cheers 

Andy

^^cant edit. You don't need to harden like a blade, a blue spring temper will do. 

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Charles I was visiting St Fagans National History Museum  in Wales one cold wet spring and there was a fire in one of the Celtic Round Houses with a docent keeping an eye on things.  Well my wife got to talking spinning with her and I had a lovely sitdown and was thinking how nice and snug it was and that I could spend a winter in a place like that.  Of course we heat our house with wood so I'm used to the "discipline".

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Grew up with a wood stove, and frankly have been happyest the simpler and less stuff I had. Old adobes, cabins and hogons were my dream homes as a kid. I have found that I am confortable "roughing it" 

As a concession to Sandy I would draw the line at a traditinaly insulated Ger, a permenent resedence, but I have been more than confortable with a tarp and a fire. Left to my own devices I would be tamping dirt in to old tires...

Edited by Charles R. Stevens

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The secret was the "sitdown" if you were standing in the celtic round house you were being smoked out; sitting below the smoke layer was warm and cozy.  However I must object the smithy there is only 200 years old so not "old" at all...

 

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So I'm not the only one who can be comfortable in the bush, cool. I was already an accomplished rough it camper when I got the job as a driller and started spending 3 weeks a month in the bush.

When I was in town I'd go fishing and camping with friends and they'd freak when they saw my shelter kit. I'd take a plastic tarp, couple space blankets, a ground pad and sleeping bag. Tag alder is everywhere and it's considered a weed by Fish and Game and Forestry up here. A few long wands make the basic arch about a foot higher than to sit in comfortably and shorter ones woven in from the back makes a dandy lean to shelter. The first space blanket gets woven in to provide the inner wall of the shelter. Then thatching the shelter IF grass is available.

Weave a bet from alder and willow wands supported on small logs or forked sticks. Logs are MUCH better but you gotta go with what's available and rocks are only OK. Lay leaved branches and grass over the mattress springs and the ground pad on that. The only camp bed I know of that's a better sleep is  warm sand. Sand's like a waterbed for fitting a bod.

Hopefully there's be dry rocks close buy so I could build a proper reflector fire pit in front of the shelter. On one job there was slate close and my fire pit had a chimney, oven and cooking stone above the main reflector. THAT was a nice place, one of the best ever. Heck, I used a nice sheet of slate for a dinner table and one as a side table by bed. Sweet digs.

Frosty The Lucky.

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WRT the smithy at St Fagans Museum, Wales:

  • Original Location: Llawr-y-glyn, Trefeglwys, Powys (Montgomeryshire)
  • Date originally built: late 18th century
  • Dismantled and moved to St. Fagans: 1970
  • Date opened to the public: 1972

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Cold you say!  My favorite cold story goes back 30 yrs ago.  We have a hunting camp way back in the mountains of Vermont about 1800 ft level.  For a number of years a group from our rifle team would hike in  on snowshoes about 2.5 miles for a "Rabbit Hunt weekend" which was mostly  a 24 hr.poker game.  one year it was well below 0 when we got there at about 11AM we dug down to the back door and the wood shed got a fire going and went at the poker game in full outdoor clothing in the loft as it is an A frame as things got warmer we started removing cloths and moved down stairs.  Anyways it got colder and the wind picked up in the morning we found the half gallon of milk frozen solid 3' from the stove setting on the floor.  It was a long trip out of there that yr. at least all down hill.   

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