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I Forge Iron

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Hey guys I've been a lurker for a few months here and finally created an account and thought I'd introduce myself. I'm a pipe welder, but I've always been intrigued by blacksmithing, and after watching Chandler Dickenson's videos on YouTube for a while I finally thought what the xxxx I'm giving it a shot. I'm glad I found this forum, there's a ton of dead forums out there for sure.

I haven't done much to speak of yet, but I'm working on getting a pair of RR spike tongs right now. I'll post pics of my forge and "anvil" below but I do have a few question.

There's hundreds of sites to buy steel on, which one would some of you suggest? Right now I'm just messing around with RR spikes, and after my pair of tongs are finished I'll probably just keep going and make another 3 or 4 pairs and continue to learn by trial and error (as everyone else does) I already am on my 4th try on the tongs (melted some, tried punching the hole in the boss while steel was too cold etc your general noob mistakes) I'm looking forward to getting those spikes hot and messing around. Wondering what kind of steel you would recommend to make a good pair of tongs when I'm confident in my ability to make a "good for a new guy" pair.

I use coal for forge (xxxx it's hard to find in this state) because I live in the city so charcoal was out of the question to use as my fuel.

Any general tips or constructive criticism is always welcomed. Thanks guys





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Welcome aboard, glad to have you, the young one in your AVATAR yours? Congrats. Critiques eh? tongs aren't really a beginner project but you look like you're getting the hang of them so carry on. Thin the reins they don't need to be nearly that heavy. There are tong making threads here somewhere, maybe even a section so I won't go into my mistaken thoughts.

If you need a pair quick twist tongs are really easy and fast. Simply cut  a pair of pieces of rectangular stock say 5/16" x 1" stack them together and drill a matching holes through both a couple few inches from one end. Rivet or bolt them together a lag bolt with a short lag works nicely. Clamp them in the vise and twist the bolt 1/4 turn. Turn them over and twist the bolt area again. The bolt is through the boss of course and twisting gives you the its and reins.

I know there are better descriptions but you aught to be able to figure it out fro that.

Oh yeah, flip that rail over, the flange isn't rigid enough to make much of an anvil. The rail is thicker, more rigid and being directly over the web gives you a much better depth of rebound. If you have a longer piece of rail mount it on end, you only need a little more face than the width of the hammer face and on end gives it a tremendous depth of rebound. Elastic rebound is what makes the anvil hit the work from the other side, the hammer is still decelerating in the soft steel when the pressure wave returns the energy from below.

Charles Stevens posted some excellent pics of vertical rail anvils he ground various tools into. hardies, butchers, fullers, bending forks, bic, etc. He did it to illustrate what kind of potential the ends of the flange and web on a piece of RR rail offer.

Welcome to the addiction.

Frosty The Lucky.

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A good source of steel is a local welders shop or a shop that makes iron railings and/or  fences. They always have short lengths that they throw away. When you get to the point where you need carbon steels , garages and any place that repairs cars are a good source. They routinely scrap springs, sway bars, etc, etc. . Some blacksmiths scorn on using scrap, but it's a whole lot cheaper than buying new material.

Bring along and show them some of your work, even if you are not satisfied with it. Nine times out of ten they will help.

There are dozens (hundreds?) of videos on YouTube, A lot of good information.

Might be a good idea if you mention where you live, City and State. Then other members can help you locate coal/steel, etc etc.

PS the tong half is a lot better than my first, and I had help from a professional blacksmith

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Thefng you can pm Jacob's hammer on here he is also from Lincoln.  There is also the prairie blacksmiths that is nebraska's abanna chapter of blacksmiths.  There are a lot of guys in the Lincoln and Omaha area.  There is a professional smith that lives out side Bennet his name is Jim he is on 120th.  The PBA has good coal.  Jim stocks some for us.  If I'm headed that way I can bring you some.  There are a few guys on here that are in Lincoln so hopefully they will reach out.  You are always welcome if you get to Kearney.

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Another good source of steel is the scrap bin/bucket of another Smith!  I'm very grateful to be able to raid the scrap bucket of two local Smiths when I'm in the area, what they consider scrap is absolute GOLD to me.  As still very much a beginner I don't need a 6' run of rod, I can take a 6" piece and happily craft something from it.  One man's scrap is this woman's gold.   Get in touch with some local smiths, guys who do it for a living and don't have uses for the small pieces.   Sure, big rods, pieces of scrap, etc are great, but don't turn your nose up at small pieces you can still do a LOT with. 

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The net is generally a horrible place to buy steel save for specialized alloys for things like knifemaking.  Big box stores are generally a horrible place to buy steel---I can buy 20' of new steel for the same cost of buying 4' at the big box store.  At my southern place I looked up steel in an old yellow pages and went to the local steel yard---it's about 1/2 a mile from the grocery store.  At my northern place I go by the local Windmill sales and service place.  They sell steel on the side as the bigger an order is to the distributor the better the price they get, so it's 1/3 cheaper buying from them than from the lumber yard in town.

That's for new stuff; I generally visit the scrapyard first as I'm a pretty good judge of what I find there and 20 cents a pound is a good inducement; if I can't find what I need then the Windmill place is on my way home. Also the talk with another smith is a good idea. I've given away a lot of steel in my time and if nothing else you can find where they buy theirs!

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