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I Forge Iron

Serious Blacksmith Skills


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I understand some won't agree but this project/lesson will develop serious smithing skills. It's alot like the Mr. Miyagi -Karate Kid approach.  Yes it stinks.  But we can't all dive directly into smithing knives from iron and 52100.

I am quite a supporter of drawing 1/4 square into a long taper and this can piggyback that exercise. 

This is for established smiths too.

Grab yous a box (dirt cheap and many uses) of #16 horse shoe nails. The head is kinda small but it's possible.  They are about 3/8x1/4 head. 

Draw just the very tip of head into a point. Then widen out the remaining portion to resemble a flame. Heat the opposite end (nail point) and form eye with a hammer or needle nose pliers.  This eye is rolled to the back side. Backside being the flat side of flame you forged.  The use a small jig to roll the hook or a small bick works well.  Punch a hole cold as it is quite thin.

Horseshoe nail candle flame hook. A mouthful,  yes.

Another is a forged quarter-sized nail head with mounting hole.

Try these. Not so easy unless you have precise hammer control. And yes; These little guys will frustrate you to point of wanting to throw a hammer. Sleep will be lost untill you master these exercises. 

I have my students (attempt) to make these. They think drawing out stock and S-Hooks are stupid. Though they can't do either draw out nor S-Hooks , these little guys are humbling cuz I make it look so easy.  Besides;  it's just a nail.  How hard could THAT be?

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Wicon , you probably have enouh hammer skills the horse shoe nail hook wouldn't be too much of a challenge.  But I must say; I am not impressed with your 1,000 + pound anvil and jiant plastic penny but I do appreciate that three pound Chec style hammer of yours!!!!

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The exercises are more intended to establish hammer skills and fire control for beginners. It's nice in that the exercises employ little steel stock and it heats rapidly.  The down side is it burns real easy and cools quickly. 

I employ a number of beginners exercises in the class;  draw out. Cutting on the hardie.  Rounding square stock. S hooks.  Twisting.  And the two aforementioned nail hooks and round headed nail hooks. If time allows; forging 3/16 nails.

Please feel free to share some beginners exercises you teach or have used yourself.

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Love it, S!

I'm always looking for projects that keep folks working on the basics.  Too many people think they can fly before they even know how to crawl.  I always ask, how can you expect to make a sword when you can't even make a decent hook?

This will definitely be a challenge since I've never attempted to work anything so small.  But, there's a store right down the road that sells horse stuff and I can see me picking up a box of nails in the near future.

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My "intro" class does a S hook and two nails out of 1/4" sq stock and then if they have enough time they do a chile pepper out of black iron pipe.   All of these projects have drawing out and keeping it square doing so as part of them. The hook is hammer and anvil; though after teaching them how to do the counterbend with the hammer and anvil I then demonstrate how to do the other end with a pair of needle nose pliers that is dedicated to forge work---"The only correct way to do a process blacksmithing is ANY WAY THAT WORKS!"  (Had a more advanced student having trouble bending some 1/2" sw stock on the horn so I reeled off several other methods: stick it in the hardy hole, use bending forks or wrench, use the postvise---best for his skill level and requirements; etc.)

I used to do all my small work with a 3.5# swedish cross peen; till I realized I was just bragging about the control I had and in rality I was messing up my arm "holding back" the hammer when doing delicate work.  Been married nearly 32 years now and don't need to impress *anybody* so now I use and teach doing small delicate work with small delicate tools, works better and you can do it all day long without messing with your arm---though to mess with their minds I will sometimes switch from the 8 oz cross peen to the 8# one handed sledge to more a different project along...Gas forges are great for having delicated and heavy work in them at the same time!

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Bookmarking this page, hoping for more people to comment on "unusual" beginers techniques that I can use! It's been a very hard year for me (and it still is), but as soon as I get the resources (including time), I'll be sure to come back here!

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you can also make a small (very small) sugar spoon out of the head end of the nail. never made one but have heard of the idea somewhere-cant remember now.

                                                                                                    Littleblacksmith

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1 hour ago, littleblacksmith said:

you can also make a small (very small) sugar spoon out of the head end of the nail. never made one but have heard of the idea somewhere-cant remember now.

                                                                                                    Littleblacksmith

It's a good exercise unfortunately it has bad things connected to it. Little spoons on that scale are used to "snort" cocaine so they wouldn't make good teaching aids, no matter what inner city kids might think.

I adjust my lesson "plan" to individuals, I get away with such slop because I rarely have more than one student at a time. Nails can, with disquieting regularity, become exercises that take up more than first sessions. I'm finding an awful lot of kids who have never used a hand tool in their lives except maybe a screw driver. I'm afraid the horse shoe nail hook would be intermediate level for some of these poor kids. I'm going to have to give a few a shot myself, I'm HOPING I'm still operating at an intermediate level.

Twists are another place I start with kids having decent hand tool skills after I run them through a forge weld. I'm seeing such a huge disparity in kid's skills I must be really out of touch.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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3 minutes ago, Rashelle said:

You're not out of touch Frosty, there is a huge lack of hand skills amongst todays youth. I blame wee and the odd movements pretend skills on computer games induce.

 

Yeah, then there's the attitude a college degree and office job is somehow more desirable,maybe noble than making, fixing, building, etc. getting your hands dirty. Callouses are for the working class don't you know.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Frosty & Rashelle,    Please don't blame today's kids for not taking to black smithing, & metal & woodwork, etc. etc. They are not exposed to it. Years ago (1950's & earlier) "industrial arts" (a.k.a. "sloyd") was a subject taught to all the boys in high school,  (Montreal, Quebec, Canada). Today, I do not think that any of the high schools teach it. Perhaps because of the cost of the shops & instructors, or the fear of legal liability. Hence young people may know little about these arts.  That early exposure stayed with me all these years & now that I am retired I finally have the time to do serious metal work & wood carving

Cheers.    SLAG.

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Oh, I'm not blaming the kids for not knowing. Like you said they are not exposed to it. My full time job is teaching, mostly youth, blacksmithing and bladesmithing. So I'm doing what I can to reverse that. They can't know if they had no exposure. I am proud at how far some of them have came in a short period of time, with exposure. In the 8-9 month "apprentice" program where they come in one day a month. One of their first projects was a all wood tool box. Peg and glue construction. Hand saws and both powered and manual drills were used. Files and rasps were used for clean up as well as sand paper. As they went they made the tools that went into the toolbox, that they used for further projects. They (and youth from the other classes) can identity a tool that needs fixing and fix it by themselves without asking me, other then if it's ok to use a belt sander.

Exposure is important and they are not to blame for not being exposed. I don't even blame their parents, as many of them don't seem to of been exposed through their life either. I just try to be available to expose them.

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Agreed, it's not the kid's fault it's the "modern" culture that has been telling us for decades you can't be a success if you work with your hands. No college degree? You're nobody. You see commercials on TV for online college degree programs all the time and virtually every one starts out telling you you aren't living up to your potential if you don't have a degree. They stopped displaying the cooked stats about earning more than 2x over your lifetime. I guess someone called them on it, it's an unsupported claim that's just too easy to confirm. I'll bet there aren't very many papered success stories who fix their own plumbing, wiring, build a building, etc.

Heck, I don't blame video games either. At least it's some exposure . . . sort of. It isn't just blacksmithing, most skilled trades are looked down on by the education system. Their main job is to push education, not necessarily paying jobs.

Sorry, rant off.

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Mr. Frosty,

Do keep on ranting. I learn a lot from your posts on IFI.

The latest secret knowledge in Washington D. C. is friend's & trusted acquaintance's referral's of the names of qualified trades' people that are competent, capable, & worthy of trust. Professional people are overabundant & easily available. (read Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, Architects, etc. etc.).  very good plumbers, electricians, handymen and women are very hard to come by. Many people in other cities have the same problem. Some experienced plumbers earn as much as junior Lawyers these days.

SLAG.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

'

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It's bad....really bad in terms of youth problem-solving and real-world objects.  I have a simple math problem which applies to my particular profession that I use when hiring high-school kids to help in my business:  (modified to make more sense in text form and using imperial measurements)  "If you measure 6 threads in one inch, how many threads would there be on a threaded bar which was a foot long?".  You can tell a lot about someone you are interviewing by the nature of the struggle to come up with the answer.  I don't fault the math because people rarely do simple math in their heads these days but it's amazing how many yunguns struggle to come up with the PROCESS to get an answer.  

No, I'm not trick questioning about a single helical thread...this is about resolving a simple real-world calculation.  Only about half eventually get there.  Some others have to be told there are 12 inches in a foot and then can sort of figure it out with a little leading...some just can't work the nature of the problem out and end up guessing wildly.

I don't really use it as a total "weed out" but it does let you know a bit about how a potential employee will be at problem solving.  Some youth sort of choke in their job interview [youthful nerves which I completely understand] so I do take that into account.

It's a shame that we've treated "trade" work as some sort of leper colony in the USA.  I find that the ones who have actually held tools and used a tape measure tend to know a path to an answer more often...but not always.  Even something as simple as holding the dumb end of a tape measure for someone in the past seems to help because they've seen that stuff gets measured and that measurement can help define the stuff.

You should see the heads explode when I start teaching em how to use a dial caliper....

 

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2 hours ago, Kozzy said:

 I have a simple math problem which applies to my particular profession that I use when hiring high-school kids to help in my business

 

I went to a job interview a couple weeks ago and part of the process was doing a simple math test. They gave me a sheet of paper with 15 questions handed me a calculator and said, 'you have 20 minutes to finish this test.' When I looked at the paper I was mildly insulted. The first question was, "what is the average for these numbers?' There was a string of 12 numbers to average (so hard lol). The next was, 'add these numbers.' Again 12 numbers long. One was 'find the duplicate numbers' and another was 'write the fraction and decimal for the measurement shown on the ruler.' I was done in five minutes but the kid fresh out of high school who was working on it when I walked into the office finished only moments before me. If I hadn't double checked all my answers I'd been done long before him. Not bragging here, just commenting on education systems failings.

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22 hours ago, Frosty said:

Little spoons on that scale are used to "snort" cocaine so they wouldn't make good teaching aids, no matter what inner city kids might think.

woops didn't know.:unsure:

                                                                                     Littleblacksmith

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