Papaw forge

Spreading metal

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I'm new to this site and new to this page . am defiantly green as grass and working on a tight budget . my question is what is the best hammer for spreading out a knife from a rail road spike I've made a few knives but didnt get them to spread the way I wanted . what might I be doing wrong???  thanks in advance

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Welcome aboard Pawpaw, glad to have you. If you'll put your general location in the header you might be surprised how many of the gang live within visiting distance. 

My standard response to folk who want to learn blacksmithing by making knives is. I highly recommend you learn to forge steel before you start forging knives. There really isn't a delicate way to tell you what you're doing wrong without sounding snarky but to be blunt. Trying to make a knife without knowing anything about moving metal.

We have NO idea what you're doing wrong that the metal isn't going where you want, you haven't given us any details of your tools, process, etc. It'd be like me asking you what I should wear tomorrow. 

For a start try reading about what interests you here on Iforge, there are tens of thousands of posts categorized by section and sub section.  Following my previous suggestion I recommend the Learning or beginning blacksmithing sections. A good levening for the many hours of reading you COULD do there would be the anvil, hammers, tongs, forge, etc. sections and sub sections.  If you're really new to it just the forge sections can take a week to get a handle on. 

Keep it simple though, anything can be an anvil and who knows you might have a good one now, might not. A basic forge is a hole in the ground a blow drier a little UNPLATED steel pipe and some lump charcoal. A good hammer for beginners shouldn't weigh more than about 2lbs. have a smooth face and have the corners rounded off so they don't ding the project with sharp dents. I start folk with a 32oz. Drill hammer, heavy enough to do serious work but not so heavy it tires you out or injures you quickly and the shorter handle gives a person better control. Hammer control is everything, power without control is scrapping stock.

Forget salvage steels, especially rebar, you need consistent and predictable material so you don't have to fight steel that may change properties unpredictably or require experience to identify. A 20' stick of mild steel at the supplier is FAR cheaper than all the time you can waste trying to climb several learning curves at the same time. I like 3/8" sq or 1/2" rd. hot rolled mild or A-36. A 20' stick is cheaper than a 6' piece at a big box store so don't go there if you can avoid it.

There are pages and pages of good beginner's projects here that will let you learn basic techniques and hone hammer control. Fire management is a MAJOR issue with solid fuel forges working mild steel, just wait till you try knife steels! But that's for after you've build a solid skills set to reasonable proficiency. 

On a last note, I didn't even get into RR spikes but that's for later.

Frosty The Lucky.

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2 hours ago, Papaw forge said:

I'm new to this site and new to this page . am defiantly green as grass and working on a tight budget . my question is what is the best hammer for spreading out a knife from a rail road spike I've made a few knives but didnt get them to spread the way I wanted . what might I be doing wrong???  thanks in advance

Getting steel to spread out in width is most easily done by a beginner using a 2 - 3 lb. cross peen IMHO.  A lot depends on how good you are at hammering.  As Frosty says, best if you read up on smithing techniques and learn some of the basics of metal moving before you attempt blades, but if you are driven to making spike knives I think Walter Sorrels has a good video on that.  When watching a smith work you will need to pay careful attention not only to which side of the hammer is being used, but how hard they are hitting, what portion of the anvil the stock rests on, how the tong side is being held, what angle the stock is being held at...

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Frosty nailed it.

As for a hammer, I'd get a 2lb rounding hammer. Properly shape the handle way down from the original thickness. You can learn to get a lot of whip out of a hammer and hit extremely hard with a 2lb hammer and not get worn out. 

Learn how to properly swing a hammer. How to use to use tongs. Read and read some more. Learn the terms and tools of the trade. Blacksmithing, I personally think, is a huge commitment. Dedicate yourself to it if it's what you really want to do. So after your full time job,  dedicate the rest of the evening to reading and learning about steels and tools. On weekends go visit with a blacksmith or even a farrier that forges. We move steel in a lot of different ways. Watch and ask questions. Mostly watch. 

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Look up the SJS post February 21, about 1/2 way down the page (the long post) Link to the3 thread is below.

 

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perhaps try reading the knife making threads, we actually expected people to read them after the live chats were over to learn from,  you may wish to try it. I have no clue why you posted this in sculpture, rather than in the knife dept.  I will relocate it,

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I'm learning the site just joined yesterday but I'm learning and will keep this in mind thanks for your input 

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The best hammer to use is a powerhammer with the appropriate tooling.  

A good hammer to use is a cross peen with a very large peen not one of the small sharp ones!

You can also use a flat faced hammer and a fuller or anvil horn

 

 

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