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Hawk200

New to Bladesmithing in North East CT

28 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Hi everyone!  I just happened to come by this place by doing a search on railroad spikes....first link to pop up!  I'm glad I found it.  I just read a few topics and I am as giddy as an 8 year old girl with a xxxxxxx puppy!

Anyway, I just started this craft about two weeks ago.  I have a slight addiction to Forged in Fire and watching Alec Steele on youtube.  Of course there are others I have been watching too.

I purchased a Majestic 3 Burner Knifemaker Deluxe forge and set it up right when I got it.  My dad gave me a small anvil (around 50lbs) and I purchased some hammers, PPE, a 1x30 belt sander, and some odds and ends.  I had some rebar in my garage that I used to make a small knife that I was pretty proud of.  Now that I spent some money on a setup I'm on the lookout for some cheap metal to try things out on which is why I started my search on railroad spikes.  I found quite a few answers on that and where to go for scrap so, THANKS!

A little about me.  I'm 42 and have been working in IT for about 22 years.  I live near UConn in NE Connecticut and have been here (in this town) for almost 10 years.  I have been interested in blacksmithing since I was a kid but had no idea where to start or how to.  It wasn't until the past couple of years where blacksmithing and bladesmithing has become a lot more popular that I REALLY looked into it.  About 4 weeks ago I told my wife I wanted to get a forge and she really wasn't agreeable to it.  Matter of fact she told me "you better not buy one".  Well, just because she said that I went and bought one that night.  When she went to bed.  I was brave enough to tell her the next night after I had a six pack...six or more.

Surprisingly she was ok with it and after she watched me make my first knife she was impressed with it.  OK, maybe not impressed but no longer xxxxxx.

Right now I'm making an anvil stand out of 4x4s.  My anvil is on a wood stump that I had cut in my yard.  It's not flat nor is it stable so I figured I would be safe and make one.  I should be done with it today and back to forging this weekend!

 

My apologies for the long intro.

Edited by Mod34
Edited for inappropriate language

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Welcome aboard! We have a number of members in CT and a fair few who are active in the New England Blacksmiths Association, so you've got a lot of people in your area who can help you get started. Please put your location in your profile settings, so folks know where you are; it also helps when you ask a question with a region-specific answer (like "How much is this anvil worth?").

There are a number of threads about anvil stands, so check them out for inspiration -- and make sure to post pictures of your work!

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Thanks, JHCC.  I updated my location and profile as suggested.  Thanks for the tips!

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You are quite welcome -- and here's another one: the IFI curmudgeons are some of the most helpful, informative folks you will ever hope to meet and will gladly share every bit of what they know with you IF you do your research before asking a question. If you want to know something, take some time to see if you can find the answer first (pro tip: since the forum software search function is quirky, try using a search engine with "iforgeiron.com" as one of your search terms); if that doesn't get you a usable answer, at least you'll be able to ask a more detailed, informed, and specific question.

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Exactly!  I've been on other forums that I've been a moderator on (for bodybuilding) and that was an unwritten rule as well.  So I take that to any other forum I go to.   So far the search engine on the site has provided the content I've been looking for but I will keep that in mind if I have a problem looking for something.

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Welcome aboard, Hawk200.  I'm one of the CT members here and I'm a member of NEB.  I'm relatively new to this as well (less than two yeas) but I can offer plenty of help.  If you need help with tuning your gas forge look elsewhere (we have a few gas gurus on here daily) but I can at least offer advice.

The first thing people will tell you is to ditch the rebar and go with known steels.  If you just want practice then hammer away on the rebar just to improve your hammer control and to get a feel for how the metal moves.  But, for knife making, the real challenge comes with grinding and heat treating.  You can learn the mind numbing art of grinding on rebar but you won't get good at heat treating with it.  Since the grind affects the heat treat you probably want to practice the two together.  You CAN find old files and do a break test first.  I found the break test highly instructive.  But, in the end, you will find yourself ordering annealed blanks of known steels online.  You can get loads of handle materials at Masecraft Supply in Meridan.

If you do IT at UConn then we likely have a friend in common.

 

Lou

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Thanks, Lou!  I actually saw your profile after I joined. I was looking for people in the CT area that's on this forum.  

So, you're right.  I am using the rebar to figure out hammering and shaping without wasting time and money on good steel.  That's exactly why I was looking for spikes so I can figure out movement with thicker stock.   HAHA, grinding was mind numbing to say the least.  So far the gas forge seems to be working great but i've only used it a couple of times and I don't know exactly what to look for yet.  I appreciate you mentioning it.

And, THANKS!  I haven't even looked around for places to buy handle materials yet.  

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8 minutes ago, Lou L said:

You can get loads of handle materials at Masecraft Supply in Meridan.

Also check out the Bargain Barn at Logan Steel in Meridan -- no blade steel, but for any kind of structural or bar stock, you'll be like a kid in a candy store. I stop by when I'm in CT on business.

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I actually don't work at UConn but I have an acquaintance that does.

 

JHCC, I just bookmarked the web site for Logan Steel.  I will be making a trip there soon!

 

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5 minutes ago, Hawk200 said:

That's exactly why I was looking for spikes so I can figure out movement with thicker stock.

Lower carbon steels don't behave under the hammer the same way higher carbon steels do. 

If you want a low-cost option, make friends with a mechanic and get some coil springs (preferably unused, perhaps switched out from a lift kit job). Cut them into 6"-8" lengths and practice on those; you'll also be able to practice heat treatment and grinding, and you'll end up with an actual knife rather than a mockup. Just be aware that how one spring responds to heat treatment may not be the same as another from a different manufacturer.

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Ah, very good to know.  I have a mechanic in my town that I can check with.  Most likely the coil springs will be used but at least it will be something to practice with if I can get my hands on them.

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I made friends with my mechanic a while back by making him a bottle opener out of part a collapsible steering column, and he and his head assistant (for whom I just made a Jeep-themed bottle opener) call me whenever they have something they think I'd like. I've got more coil springs, torsion bars, axles, and steering linkages than I know what to do with, and my post vise is held to its stand with the U-bolts that used to hold the leaf springs on a big ol' truck.

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I did a quick search and found that you have Country Tool &I Die right near you in Ashford.  You can stop by there, be friendly, and maybe get access to their cutoffs.  They will certainly know which tool steels they are.  Some of the stuff those guys use is hard to heat treat for beginners like us but you will have a known steel and can easily get the heat treat specs for it.

Logan Steel's bargain barn is my Mecca.  They have mostly a36 steel and stainless there, but there is some medium and high carbon stuff hidden in their bins.

We'll have to get together some time and forge together if only because I've actually never used a propane forge and, deep down, I feel like I'm missing out on something.  I believe I will be buying materials from Wayne Coe sooner than later in order to build my own but I'd like to try one.

Lou

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6 hours ago, JHCC said:

I made friends with my mechanic a while back by making him a bottle opener out of part a collapsible steering column, and he and his head assistant (for whom I just made a Jeep-themed bottle opener) call me whenever they have something they think I'd like. I've got more coil springs, torsion bars, axles, and steering linkages than I know what to do with, and my post vise is held to its stand with the U-bolts that used to hold the leaf springs on a big ol' truck.

Even more reason to go talk to my local mechanic!

6 hours ago, Lou L said:

We'll have to get together some time and forge together if only because I've actually never used a propane forge and, deep down, I feel like I'm missing out on something.  I believe I will be buying materials from Wayne Coe sooner than later in order to build my own but I'd like to try one.

Lou, that would be great!  having someone with a bit of experience show me a couple of things would be fantastic.

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I'd like to say that, because I'm a teacher, my summers are free and we can meet any old time.  Sadly, having children totally ruins that vibe.  But I am certainly pretty flexible with my time.  We can set up a time soon.  Next weekend I'm going off camping with the He Man Woman Haters club (it's a yearly trip with the guys) but, other than that, I'm around.

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Haha, I have two children as well.  7 year old son and a 5 year old daughter so I know how it goes.  

 

 have fun on your trip.    Hit me up after you get back and we can set up a Saturday and crank the forge up.

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I have them in reverse.  My daughter is 7 and my son is 4.  He'll be five a a few months.  Start scrounging for steel supply for now.  I'm still working out where to get thick coil springs and leaf springs.  In fact, I just re,indeed myself to stop by my cousin's automotive shop.  He is good friends with the guy who replaces the springs on armored cars and tells me he can get me leaf springs from them at 300# per assembly.  Plus he is good friends with the guy who runs the local scrap yard.  I don't know why I haven't stopped by his shop yet this summer....I'm realizing I'm an idiot as I sit here and type.  Time for a trip.

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I have a section of coil spring from an earth mover that got scrapped----it's 1.5" diameter stock....

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1 hour ago, Lou L said:

  I don't know why I haven't stopped by his shop yet this summer....I'm realizing I'm an idiot as I sit here and type.  Time for a trip.

haha, sounds like you are all set for scrap.

1 hour ago, ThomasPowers said:

I have a section of coil spring from an earth mover that got scrapped----it's 1.5" diameter stock....

Jeez! that's nice.

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for what? I'm waiting till I get some power to my poper hammer to be able to break it down into some usable stock.   Like the gun barrel at the scrapyard, at 20 tons it's a tad large to work by hand...and that's just *1* part of it!

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wow....I didn't realize that was the size!

 

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My local scrapyard gets scrap from the local University which has a explosives research group and so odd things turn up from time to time!  The naval gun barrel is one of the odder.

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I had the coolest visit to my cousins auto repair shop today.  I first just wanted to check out his place (it's a shop with 9 bays...he is an old school auto body guy...he repairs, he doesn't replace) but I soon started talking about scrap steel.  He knew I was looking for it.  He looked at my Iforgeiron tee shirt and had an "aha" moment.  "I have two anvils in the shop", he announces.  Turns out he has a mint condition Arm & Hammer I'd guess weighs about 120#.  A guy he knew walked into his shop two years ago and asked him if he needed an anvil.  He said no.  The guy says he'll sell it for $25.  "Okay, sure , lets go pick it up at your house...".   The other anvil has been at the shop for more than 40 years (well before my cousin owned it) and is unidentifiable..weighs maybe 50 pounds.  He isn't interested in selling either for some reason.  But he did make a call and I'll be stopping by his place next week while he is one vacation to pick up 250-300 pounds of leaf springs along with some other coil springs of armored trucks and other random steel.  He also has a friend who owns an old farm and he goes there regularly.  Apparently there is an old barn loaded with old equipment and he is confident I has blacksmithing stuff in storage.  The same friend also has an old school bus on property loaded with steel stock and he told me he will grab a bunch of it for me.  He has another mechanic friend who keeps, based on his description, a 400+ pound Peter Wright in his shop but won't sell it.

 

so, using TPAAT I have just recently discovered four anvils but none were for sale.  I am shocked how common they have turned out to be.

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What!  You hit the jackpot for steel!  Too bad it didn't work out for the anvils.  4 of them and not one available.   Hopefully he will part with one eventually.  

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I just scored a rod of stainless steel from a buddy of mine.  Weighs about 30lbs.  I'm not too familiar with stainless steel but I may try to mess around with it this coming weekend.  I stil haven't finished my anvil stand yet.

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