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Blindman51

Beginning Blacksmith on a budget

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Hey guys, I'm new to the forum and am trying to get into blacksmithing. I have a history with metalworking and have always loved working with metal (besides for when a shaving gets lodged under the skin) So here's one of my questions, How can i get all the tools i need for as little money as possible?  If possible i'd like to make as many of the tools as i can myself to help save on cost, also because it'd just be cool to have a bunch of tools i made myself.  I already have ideas on the forge and i'm looking for something i can use as an improvised anvil until i can find and afford something quality.  As of now i plan to be making mostly knives and decorations, but if i get good enough that i feel my work is of good enough quality to be sold i'll probably also get into making various tools as there are many farms around my home.

 

thanks in advance guys, I've learned a lot watching YouTubers such as Alec Steele, and Walter Sorrells as I learn better through watching than reading. if you know of any YouTubers who have videos on making tools please share a link.

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Go right over thataway about 6 miles and you should be able to find most of what you need at the scrapyard there for 20 US cents a pound.  Not knowing what country you are in makes it harder to give better suggestions...

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i realized that a few mins ago lol, just updated everything so i have my location.  As i'm waiting to move up to michigan to actually get started i'm more focusing on accumulating knowledge at the moment. i'll work on finding the materials once i settle in and can find a reliable source for metal and fuels

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19 minutes ago, Blindman51 said:

How can i get all the tools i need for as little money as possible?

You can get all the tools you need with a hole in the ground for a forge, a rock to hit with, and a rock to hit on.  Want to upgrade a bit, then read the thread JABOD just a box of dirt, on this forum, a flea market hammer, and a sledge hammer head. Needs and wants are very different. You said need and with little money.

Youtube has some good videos, some bad videos, and some videos that are dangerous. You do not know which is which until you have a working knowledge to compare to. The youtube vidios can not be corrected to remove any bad or unsafe information.

Read the sections of interest on IForgeIron, such as  the hammer section, the forge section, and the anvil section. Pack a lunch and a cold drink before you visit the site. Most of the questions have been ask, answered, and discussed before. 

Find a local blacksmithing group or organization in your area and attend the meetings. You will learn more in a few hours than you can ever imagine. Usually that is where you can find the tools you need, and a bunch of the tools you will want.

Do a site search for TPAAAT and follow the method for finding all sorts of tools. It works.

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I'm a big fan of fleamarkets, scrapyards and yardsales.  I pick up hammer handles whenever I can find them cheap as many hammer you buy cheap need a new handle anyway.  I've built my tool holding up while on an allowance---used to be US$15 a week for *ALL* my vices, books, beer, tools, coal, etc.  It's now up to $25 but I already have my tool "needs"  pretty well filled.  Staying on the allowance means we always had savings and I could wheedle my wife for some big ticket items and always had cash to hand when I stumbled on a unbelievable deal----my mint condition 515# Fisher anvil was only $350 for instance.

Frankly I find that many used hammers have a better dressed face on them than paying 4 times as much and buying a new one at a Big Box Store and then having to dress it to get it to work right.  The scrapyard I mentioned above has a number of chunks of heavy steel that would make a lovely anvil that would resemble historical ones and the ones used to forge japanese swords on...but I have used the broken knuckle of a RR car coupler before---had a flat side and a curved side and worked quite well, about 80 pounds and free to me!  I have a 16# sledge hammer head just holding my clothesline taught that would make a good starter anvil. (there is a youtube video of a fellow in Nepal? forging kukri using a sledge head as his anvil.)

The harder things to find tend to be tongs for me; I only buy about 1 set a year at my price (under $10 for good working usable set).  Luckily I have been doing this for 36 years and so have a nice set of using and teaching tongs built up.  Of course you can start by using long stock or tacking a handle on a piece to hold it with. (But it might help to get a set of the tong blanks being sold pretty cheap and working them up!)

When you get up to Michigan, be sure to attend Quad State in western Ohio! (I drive from New Mexico every couple of years to attend!)

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When you get to Michigan, look up MABA, the Michigan Artist's Blacksmith Association.  They have a listing of affiliates around the state, and it's likely there will be a nearby group you could go and check out.  Many of the old timers in the groups have or can find specific tools pretty cheap, plus you might be able to use their facilities to make your own. 

 

 

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For videos check out Brian Brazeal's tong making videos. Tongs are not considered a beginner level project, but I certainly learned a lot by making several sets of tongs. So far all of my tongs are self made.

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Use what you have, to make what you need, until you find what you want. 

You can use all sorts of regular tools to make smithing tools. They may not always be the best tool for the job, but they'll get the job done. I've used a claw hammer and a rock as an anvil to make a bottle opener. 

Vise grips and channel locks make decent enough tongs to get stuff done, and if you use longer material, you don't need tongs. (read as you don't need tongs to make tongs)

Punches and drifts can be made with the cost of material. 

Files and grinders can get spendy, but if you already do metal work, you should have most of that stuff all ready. 

The biggest thing is realizing that you don't need an English pattern anvil. Any hard and heavy hunk of metal can do the job for quite a bit of work. Railroad axles, forklift tines, and other heavy equipment parts are often used as anvils. Railroad track isn't the best option, but it can get the job done well enough. 

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Only thing I wouldn't scimp on is PPE. I'm not saying you need top dollar stuff, but definitely get yourself some basic earmuffs, some shade 3 welding goggles (they reduce IR from the forge to safe levels) and an apron. Gloves you can take or leave, but personally I wear kid skin tig welding gloves that are cuffed at the end; nothing worse than getting hot stuff in your PPE!

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Welcome aboard Blindman, glad to have you. 

I'm a fan of a truck axle mounted on end flange up as a field expedient anvil. Ask at a local truck shop, broken ones are perfect but it it's too long you can cut axles with a hack saw reasonably easily. The  more steel directly under the hammer the more effective that piece of whatever anvil will be. It's called the depth of rebound and basic physics. A 3" dia piece of shafting 30" long laid on it's side works pretty well but it will flex with every blow even though you can't see it. However standing on end the amount a human arm swinging a hammer isn't going to compress it enough to be measurable without specialized equipment. You do NOT want the anvil getting out of the way.  ;)

Any smooth faced hammer will work fine but don't go for real heavy, stick to a moderate weight till you've developed good hammer control. Power without control is called a wreck. I recommend "drill hammers" around 32oz. for the shorter handle's better control and accuracy, smooth faced with enough weight to do good work without being so heavy it makes mistakes permanent so quickly, tires you too quickly and is a lower risk of doing joint damage. 

I'm a huge fan of garage, yard, rummage, etc. sales and am always looking for a short list of useful tools: Ball pein hammers, especially with broken handles, that's a good bargaining chip don't you know. ;) Ball peins can be reworked into a bunch of top tools and hammers. I'm always ready to pick up old chisels, punches, Allen wrenches, crow bars, etc. for the medium carbon stock for other stuff. Of course you come across blacksmithing tools but folk want antique shop prices so have your bargaining shoes on if you see something you like. 

Have you thought about what kind of forge you want? There are up and down sides to all of them and no reason not to have a couple different types in case.

Lots of stuff. Just don't get in a hurry the only thing rushing does for you is make your mistakes faster. Been there experienced that. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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ive looked at many options for different forges and it kinds depends on how accessible fuel is in whatever area i move into.  Im liking gas forges especially since they're so clean, one less thing to do, but im not really sure yet it seems very simple to make a coal forge so if i can find a source i may just build one to test it out.

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