beard

Beginner with questions and pictures

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beard   

Hey everybody.

 

Blacksmithing has been something I've wanted to try for the last year or so. I've been looking around ebay and craigslist for anvils and tools every week or so but all I ever find is broken overpriced junk or extremely overpriced halfway decent equipment, until last week. I went a few pages deeper in ebay than I normally do and came across a guy named Igor that has unused railroad track pieces cut to whatever length you want, and sold for $1/lb. The track anvils at my local flea market are priced well over $100 so this seemed pretty fair to me, I bought a piece cut to fit a USPS flatrate box like a glove(11 1/16 inch) and paid $32 for it. At first I wanted to have a little bit shaved from the top for a flat work area but after looking at it I'm not completely sure that's what I want to do, what do you guys think about that? IMG_20161210_175313481.jpg

 

I picked up a couple hammers and tools for next to nothing from that flea market, I've got a few of them at work right now so I don't have pictures of them. The Bonney feels about 16oz and the drilling hammer is 3lb. I brought the 2lb engineers hammer and 3lb cross peen to work. The face on all of them are in pretty good condition except the cross peen, I can tell it's had a hard life. I'll probably use some big vise grips until I find nice tongs, or make my own when I'm skilled enough.IMG_20161210_175122529.jpgIMG_20161210_175137422.jpgIMG_20161210_175204430.jpgIMG_20161210_175149530.jpg

 

My forge-to-be is a rotor with a huge bowl, I got it from a machine shop right up the road from where I work. I went there originally to ask the guy about cutting the top of the track and as I was leaving I saw his scrap metal pile, he let me dig through it and let me have the rotor. The bowl is 8" across and 4" deep, I think I might want to find something smaller but I don't know a lot about it so I could be completely wrong. There's also a big chip and a crack in the side of it, I'm not sure if the constant heating and cooling would cause that to get worse. I'm still trying to find the right pipes for it too.. I went to Lowes a few days ago and the only non-galvanized piping the had was this cheap feeling super thin metal conduit. There's a steel supply warehouse near work I want to stop by on Monday to see if they have what I want, if not I'll go back to the guy I got the rotor from and talk to him about helping me get this thing piped out. I know he has the material but I wanted to do this project myself.IMG_20161210_175240593.jpgIMG_20161210_175228608.jpgIMG_20161210_175258073_HDR.jpg

 

Now this stuff.... It's all over my property and my neighbor tells me it's coal, and to me it looks like the coal I see online. I picked up just what was on the surface of where I park my jeep and filled a 5gal bucket. I'm finding it in all sizes from an acorn to bigger than my hand, and it weighs almost nothing. Could I get a little input on this?IMG_20161210_175046615.jpg

 

As far as materials go, unless I think of something specific I need to buy the metal for I'll probably get most of what I use from the scrap at work. I work in motorcycle salvage and there's a 40ft dumpster out back full of steel and aluminum bike parts and as long as I make stuff for my boss too, he's cool with me taking pieces of it from time to time. 

 

 

I'm going to work for a little while tomorrow to finish cleaning the last of a GSXR I tore down yesterday and when I get home I'll head up the hill to look for a big enough hardwood to cut and make a base for my 'anvil'... then I'll see about setting up a forge. I've got a couple radiator fans I rescued from the trash at work but I think they'll blow too hard unless I set up some way that it doesn't push every bit of air into the pipes. I feel like this is a pretty decent start, if anybody could point out something I could do different or better I'd really appreciate it.

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If you're only planning on working on small stuff that piece of RR track will do you fine as long as you have it secured tightly. As for those fans you could always just make an air gate to decrease the air pressure if you want.

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An arched top is going to make things slide around more as you try hitting them.  I generally try to use well worn rail which has the flat top and good work hardening.  My suggestion: try it and is it seems stuff is always trying to escape flatten a section.

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beard   
1 hour ago, ThomasPowers said:

An arched top is going to make things slide around more as you try hitting them.  I generally try to use well worn rail which has the flat top and good work hardening.  My suggestion: try it and is it seems stuff is always trying to escape flatten a section.

It was hard for me to buy a piece of track instead of an anvil. Any time I've ever started a new hobby or tried something different, I've always been the one that gets quality things that I'll keep and use for life. I don't mean I'd go drop $1000 on a new popular brand 150lb anvil, I mean I would research and find what's good and what's good for the best deal. I was looking in the 200-300 dollar range for a while but everything looked like blobs of beattodeath metal and rust, or it was an old 50lb cast iron with no markings that somebody thought was worth $6/lb. I saw a piece of track shaved flat with a horn cut on one end, it was probably 8 inches long and the price tag was $200. I found this guy selling the unused track for so cheap and I gave in, it was the most reasonable price on anything anvil-ish I've seen anywhere. By the way if anybody wants some track I can send you the guys phone number and ebay info, I'd just post it but I'm not sure what this forum considers advertising or how strict the mods/admins are about that sort of thing.

 

Your suggestion though... that's likely what I'll end up doing. If it doesn't work for me I'll have the top trimmed a little. Then again if I ever get lucky enough to make any money off the junk I make I'll set it aside so I can buy a real anvil.

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Glenn   

Keep the track and think of it as a swage with inside and outside curves.

It can make you money as a light anvil while you look for something else.

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have you read the chapter in the "Complete Modern Blacksmith" on modifying a piece of RR track into a semni london pattern anvil?

As for sourcing; I can buy all I need for 20 cents a pound at the local scrap yard if the 20' or so I was given by another smith ever runs out---it was a cattle guard that was removed long ago.

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beard   
10 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

have you read the chapter in the "Complete Modern Blacksmith"

I hadn't considered that, I had to look up what a swage was.

 

And to Thomas,

I haven't read anything formal on the subject yet. I've only watched a few videos on assembling a forge and making stands for anvils, and a couple google searches on what can't or shouldn't be put in the forge. I plan on figuring out a lot of this for myself. I enjoy things more that way. I think I'll eventually want to start melting down some of the scrap into some solid chunks, I might do some reading about how that is done and what tools I'll need at that point. Until then I'll be fine cutting pieces off GoldWing frames and grabbing the damaged suspension kits out of the dumpster for the springs.

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Not to discourage you, but you more than likely won't be (purposefully) melting a lot of steel. That would require a foundry. I'd suggest starting with some 1/4" square bare and try to make a few hooks, I'd ask your boss if he knows where you could find a steel yard so you can grab something easier to start with than stainless steel and springs.

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gote   

Melting steel is a magnitude more difficult than blacksmithing. It is cheaper to buy a top notch brand anvil than getting all the gear expenses and experience together to cast a steel anvil.

Since you are beginning, I suggest that you start using stock that is so long that you do not need any tongs.   

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beard   

I never said anything about casting an anvil, but good point about working with long stock. Thanks for the tip.

 

Gonna take a ride to this steel supply place tomorrow before work and see if they have what I need to pipe out my cheapo forge. I never did make it up the hill today to cut myself a stump, too cold and wet.     

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Here in the USA hot rolled is usually sold in a 20' long "stick" be ready to subdivide it (steel dealers will often cut for you but will charge, I tend to bring my 30" hacksaw and do it myself as I'm cheap...)

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beard   

I don't mean to sound rushed but could anybody offer some input on the crack in the rotor I have pictured? If that's going to be a problem for me down the road I'll stop at a few more places and see if they have a brake drum.

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Dave51B   

As far as the crack, that shouldn't be a problem. But. with that rotor you will find that when you get your fire working, your air will blow out between the flats and make it difficult to control your fire size. My suggestion is that that rotor will be to large for your liking. Find a smaller rotor.        Humble Opinion                      Dave

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Daswulf   

With the rotor, the crack shouldn't be a problem but as Dave said you might want something more along the lines of 8" dia. And 2-3"deep. But what you have could be modified with some clay. But a better free rotor couldn't hurt. 

As far as pipe the Home Depot near me has 2" black pipe. Lowes didn't so if there is one near you it might be worth a look. There are always other options tho. Don't think yourself into a box. 

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Glenn   

As Dave said, the fire will want to go through the holes between the two discs. So put some mud or dirt into the holes to block them off. 

The bottom of the rotor will need a piece of steel to cover the large hole and the bolt holes. The depth of the rotor can be adjusted with some clay mud. Try it as a fire pot and see if it works for you while you make plans for your second forge. No one ever said you could only have one forge. (grin)

Do not run the fire too shallow. You want a fire ball about the size of a good melon, 6 inches in diameter or so, maybe larger.. This gives you enough fire to heat small to medium stock. Larger stock takes a larger fire. You want to insert the metal about 2/3 of the way up into the fire ball. The metal should enter the fire ball, and the sweet spot, level. This means that you build the fire pot to make this happen. This way you simply lay the metal level on the table and insert it into the fire. No need to hold the metal that way, and you know your in the sweet spot of the fire automatically.

There is a ring on the inside of the rotor. If you need the fire deeper, you can roll a piece of metal to form a circle and fit into the ring. Leave a gap in the circle to insert the metal into the fire.

 

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JHCC   

Hi, beard. Welcome to IFI!

You're asking some good questions, and your go-for-it spirit is definitely a plus. Keep it up!

Couple of things: 

1. Read this first!

2. There are a number of threads on IFI about using RR track for an anvil. I'm surprised no-one suggested this yet, but think about mounting it on end for better rebound. Given its size, you might think about making a stand that would allow you to use top, bottom, sides, and ends for their different profiles.

3. Regarding the coal, it does look like it might be a possibility. Gather up a few bucketfuls and give it a try. I'd recommend breaking it all up into acorn-sized pieces first. Burning it will help you figure out what it is: anthracite (hard coal) will need a lot of air constantly supplied, but won't coke up much. Bituminous (soft coal) will coke more and won't go out immediately if you stop giving it air. (Coking is cooking off the various volatile substances; the coal looks like it's melting and turning into a lava-like substance.)

4. Read up on rounding hammers, and consider modifying one face of your drilling hammer to make one.

Oh, and thanks for posting pictures. It's a lot easier to answer questions when we can see what you're talking about.

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beard   

Good stuff guys. Thats Hot, I really like what you did with the grill. I've had this old 55gal drum behind the chicken coop for about two years and I don't think anybody else is going to use it so I think I might use that as the base for my forge.

I had a feeling that the first rotor I got wasn't right for me. I hit up three more garages and the steel supply warehouse today. The only actual brake drum I found was a monster, and I came across another rotor that I think might be the one. I'll put the pictures of those two below starting with the rotor. IMG_20161212_190554634.jpgIMG_20161212_190610060.jpgIMG_20161212_190622919_BURST001.jpgIMG_20161212_190636410.jpg

 

I got my flange and T from the steel supply, and about 3' of 2" pipe. The price on the T was nuts, I almost told the guy to put it back. I'm going to see the man I got the first rotor from in a day or two about welding a few things, if he's got one he'll sell cheaper then I'm taking this other one back.

 

Here's a few more pics of the scrap that I deal with. I figured somebody might enjoy seeing it. The first one is about a week worth broken or damaged parts I pulled off the wrecked bikes. The rest of them are what has accumulated in the dumpster over a couple months. There's a bunch of oddly shaped stuff in there.IMG_20161211_143618205.jpgIMG_20161211_143850431.jpgIMG_20161211_143839917.jpgIMG_20161211_143856683.jpgIMG_20161211_143920040.jpgIMG_20161211_143941265.jpg

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gote   
On 2016-12-12 at 3:13 AM, beard said:

I never said anything about casting an anvil, but good point about working with long stock. Thanks for the tip.

 

I am sometimes a sloppy reader Now I do not understand why I got the impression.

Anyway, working with long stock is the easy way (I think Frosty said that the best tongs sit at the end of your arm) but you will want somewhere to rest the cold end so you are free to do things when the stock is heating up. Have that in the back of your head when designing the forge. I have my workbench adjacent to the forge and put a piece of wood under the cold end or occasionally rest it on the vise. The cold end will eventually heat up and then it is useful to have a longish tub of water in which one dips the left hand with the cold end keeping the hot above the water. (Not the hammer hand, it will become slippery) You do not even need a hot cut in the beginning. A sharp ege on the anvil can be used.

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Glenn   

When using the edge of the anvil in this fashion, you are NOT cutting the stock, but pinching it to make it thin enough to bend and brake by hand.

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Me I've used a chain from a roof truss with a hook on it.  Put the hook at the height you need...(Folks are always asking me what I do with S hooks, Well I have 3 in the bathroom holding the extra role of toilet paper at a convenient location from a towel rack, a couple in the kitchen/dining room to hold up the table light so I can fit under it, and then to provide a place to hang the kerosene lantern for when the power goes out, lots used for cooking over an open fire used with a tripod or crossbar, and then there are the ones in the shop....)

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