Sign in to follow this  
Ohio

If I had half a brain, I'd be dangerous

Recommended Posts

Hello. I've been reading this forum for quite awhile and finally joined. I'm pretty interested in learning blacksmithing because 1) I like to make things and 2) fire + hitting = good. I can weld (ugly, but they hold), cast aluminum, failed hilariously at metal spinning (like that'll stop me), and do a lot of woodworking. I'm interested in combining wood and metal in some of my designs.

I'm not quite ready to jump into blacksmithing as I have to first re-build the shop and add a metalworking area, all scheduled for next spring. I did heat up some cold-rolled steel and hit it with a sledge on my little railroad track anvil a couple of weeks ago and made a slightly flatter piece of cold-rolled steel. I'm so proud. The anvil came from my neighbor, who is a blacksmith-turned-stone-mason who has promised to show me some stuff this winter because I'm letting him use my wood chipper aka "Chippy." He's a really good guy and I'm like the son he never had, which is pretty funny considering I'm a girl.

I'm also a professional beekeeper and lavender farmer, have a feature documentary coming out in December, and have published four books (3 novels, one textbook).

Finally, thanks to all who contribute on this forum---it's a wealth of knowledge with occasional yelling about safety (or lack thereof). Really a great resource and I appreciate you all sharing the knowledge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome aboard!

There is a TON of knowledge on this forum, so read, read, read! Sound's like you're off to a great start having a neighbor that wants to teach you (BIG plus). Incorporating wood into blacksmithing projects is really beautiful to see when it is done with excellence. I'd love to see more of it on this forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome aboard nameless Monroevian girl who farms lavender, keeps bees, published author who likes to play with fire and hit things with hammers. Oh I smell a sense of humor and an appreciation for it's highest form the pun.  

You are so going to fit in here. What did you try spinning: shape, metal, size? What do you have for a lathe? Pictures? We LOVE pics you know. :)

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I assume your posting name is from the Japanese and not the state?  A lady here at my church makes the most wonderful lavender chocolate cookies; makes me wish for a snowstorm and a hot cup of tea every time she passes them around!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 

What did you try spinning: shape, metal, size? What do you have for a lathe? Pictures? We LOVE pics you know. :)

Thanks for the welcome.

I tried spinning an aluminum disk on my little Rikon wood lathe (side note: I also have a RIkon 1/2 hp grinder and 14-12 bandsaw---I am really impressed by this brand and they're not paying me to say this). I have Terry Tynan DVDs (and another set from a wood turner whose name escapes me at the moment) and watched them repeatedly to get the idea. I got the disk from Terry (he sent me a load extra just for fun), turned a couple of mandrels and follower blocks, made and bought some tools I had to handle up, set the tool rest and the bit you use as a fulcrum, centered the disk perfectly, lubricated it with a proper lubricating goop I made, turned on the lathe, and messed up that disk real good. No pictures as the messed-up disks went into the Box of Shame to be melted down. 

I'll try again when the season winds down. I think I know what I was doing wrong, but I'll try to snap some pictures to share when I mess up again so you can all point and laugh.

I feel pretty confident the little Rikon is powerful enough for these small spinnings---Terry demos it on one of his DVDs and so does the woodturning guy. Terry really is an artist, though I giggle every time he says, "Lubrication."

 

I assume your posting name is from the Japanese and not the state?  A lady here at my church makes the most wonderful lavender chocolate cookies; makes me wish for a snowstorm and a hot cup of tea every time she passes them around!

That's a good guess. Well done.

Lavender and chocolate---that's an interesting combo. There's an array of lavendula bouquets drying in the shed that we sell for culinary use. We combine it with honey for glazed carrots and a muffin recipe, maybe I'll suggest we try something with chocolate. The lavender flavor profile is very much toward the rosemary/sage end, so with the right chocolate cookie, I bet that would be delicious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome aboard!

What @Frosty didn't tell you is that he grew up on the floor of his dad's spinning shop. Any mention of spinning really turns his head.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is Terry still affiliated with Paul? If you want to talk to a good spinner talk to Paul, I can't recall his last name.  I have Terry's DVDs. Typical old European opinion that only a stick spinner is a "real" spinner. He and I had words a few years ago not that it should matter.

Dad used to hire European spinners, always made space for a German spinner and I got to hear the same tired old BS about stick spinning being the only real way to spin metal. Then Dad would show them just how wrong they were and win their undying loyalty. Dad could've even taught Terry to be a spinner who could make a living at it. Stick spinning is a VERY narrow niche market and CNC has pretty much taken scissor shops out of large scale production. 

Dad had a scissor tool shop and used to go to the going out of business sales and auctions of hand spinning shops regularly. The only stick tool I've ever used is a trimmer I've never spun with hand tools.

Pic one is Dad putting finishing touches on a radar dish. Late '50s maybe earlier. 

spinner 01.jpg

Pic 2 he's spinning HOT, possibly inconel or similar jet or rocket engine alloy. Sherrie is holding torch, one of my regular jobs.

spinner 02.jpg

This is Wolfgang Hoff, spinning aluminum church bells when everybody was going to speakers instead of real bells. It was a lucrative contract Dad's shop was the only one with the equipment small enough to make money on them. Wolf could just crank them out. I had to polish the things, emery cloth and kerosene, it turned my skin grey for weeks till it finally cleared out. Ughh. Polishing aluminum parts ANOTHER of my regular jobs it got to when I didn't look like old aluminum my friends asked what was wrong. 

59bf10987183d_WolfgangH.jpg.8ba20ed7600c1596c227d48fbfcdaef7.jpg

This pic is a show off piece Dad made, the inner bowl is food grade stainless steel, 14ga. IIRC. The outer is copper, same gauge whatever it actually was. There is dead air between the two pieces and they are only secured by the bead rolled in the stainless bowl over the MUCH softer copper bowl. This last step was free spun or as said now "spun on air." It's 20" dia x 8" high.

Dadbowl7.jpg.060f14e1ba570d1675a8a6172d734aab.jpg

I don't know if you can see how close and tight the bead is but the copper outer bowl is clamped hard in the SS rim. Free spun without a wrinkle all scissor tool. I posted pics of this in answer to Terry's firm assertions I was just a loud mouth blankety blank. Everybody in the craft knows scissor spinners aren't real metal spinners. I believe I told him he could call himself a real metal spinner if he could match this ANY way he can and he never spoke to me again.  I'm sure I'll stop crying someday.

DadbowlC.jpg.9b7f4a723f41b7d07f051d31bedd8b53.jpg

I grew up in a real metal spinning shop. Dad has parts that have left the solar system, has parts on all the planets inside Jupiter had parts on all the manned space missions through Apollo and so much more. Heck, next time you're in Olympia take a look at the Monel sphere on the Capitol building, that's his. I didn't take well to a mouthy person like Tynan. 

Sorry, don't mean to unload but he still ticks me off. 

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 

Oh, dear -- what have I done?

You want a list John? Give me a few days, I'll get back.

I posted within a couple minutes of you max and it took me a little while to find the pics. No comment about the almost random seeming syste this stinking thinky machine uses. 

Anyway, our metal spinning Lavender farmer from Wa. said the magic words THEN topped it off with a certain person's name and well . . . the rest is history. I'd apologize but it was a refreshing vent. If she's not afraid to talk to me again we'll maybe talk tools, I remember what most of Dad's hand tools looked like and what some did. 

Heck, maybe I'll get her to try a scissor tool, they're easy to make especially for small work and it's a so much easier way to spin.

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i didn't know anything about "spinning" metal but I do now. thanks Frosty! Sounds like you had a really good teacher.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frosty, that show-off bowl is certainly showoffable. I like it. Your dad's record is impressive, though spinning hot is crazy---I mean that in the nicest way possible---and I doubt I'll ever make anything that ends up going into outer space, though I'd be happy to recommend some people I'd like to send.

Anyway, back to your vent...are you saying I should ignore Tynan's DVDs as his information is wrong or dangerous?

I am interested in using a scissor tool, but the research I've done says that I should learn how to turn using the sticks and I have the basic tools already made. The other turning DVD I have says the same thing Tynan does, as does this tool maker. You obviously disagree and I respect that. Here's the thing---I would rather use a scissor tool as it looks safer than having my hands so close to the spinning disk and the leverage from the scissor may mean I'm not wearing myself out as quickly. But I don't know if that's the best way to learn. Honestly, I don't. I can see why someone may think using sticks might help me get a better sense of touch with the tool and material, but I'm just speculating.

I'm not into insisting on using only the original tools for any craft---being all neanderthal for the sake of being neanderthal is fun for some people, but it's not my thing. I mean, I can and have hand planed stock for my woodworking projects, but it's not the only way to get stuff flat. And I can see why some people will never touch a power hammer as that's not why they blacksmith. (Don't even get me started with beekeepers, omg, they are the second-most craft intolerant people we have ever dealt with. It's as bad as Mac vs. PC. I feel traumatized just mentioning it.)

Right now with the craft of metal spinning, I have to start somewhere. Terry Tynan offered me an entry point and I'm grateful for that. But again, if you find his DVDs to be objectionable from a safety or even efficiency perspective, I'd like to know why, if you care to share.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FYI, there are some other threads on spinning that you might check out. Don't bother with the forum's search box; it's pretty worthless. However, if you use the web search engine of your choice and include "iforgeiron.com" as one of your search terms, you'll have an easier time finding what you need. 

 

(Don't even get me started with beekeepers, omg, they are the second-most craft intolerant people we have ever dealt with. It's as bad as Mac vs. PC. I feel traumatized just mentioning it.)

I've never raised bees, but I did raid a bee tree that had been downed by a storm about a year ago. No gear at all, and only one sting (from a bee that got tangled in my hair and that I foolishly swatted before giving it a chance to find its own way out). Best honey I've ever had.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, Terry's videos are a good place to start. My objections to Terry is for the kind of person he is, not the videos themselves. You're right, you need to start somewhere and stick spinning will give you a much better feel for the metal. 

Metal spinning is no longer a commercial craft, CNC and improved stamping has replaced places like Dad's shop, there may be a couple left but I haven't found one on the web. As an "art" craft efficiency and effectiveness isn't as important as the process. Guys like Terry and many others would starve to death if they had to try making a living stick spinning but they have an investment in how they practice the art so that's their position and they're sticking to it. 

You've watched his videos, next time time how long it takes him to spin the half sphere he demos. (I THINK that's one of the demos) A copper half sphere is a popular video demo.  That same part in Dad's shop would be dropping off the die every 20 seconds or so: spun, trimmed and bead rolled OR male/female edge if they were to be copper spheres.

If you have cable see if the OLD TV show, "77 Sunset Strip" is showing. In the club Dino's every table has a candle lamp, the shades and bases came out of Dad's shop, I learned to spin making those things, we made tens of thousands. I started sharpening corners and rolling beads. It was better production (read cheaper and more profitable) to have me at 10yrs. doing that than it was to have the spinner change tools twice. I got 1/2 cent each and once I got the hang of it could earn $20.00 in the 4 hrs a day Dad would let me work at the lathe. 

Packing and stacking blanks and parts was just one of my many duties. 

My absolute favorite was 9" steel blanks, spinning 3,200 rpm they move like butter under a scissor tool. The only time I've ever used a hand tool is a trimmer. I'd have to dig Terry's videos out and learn hand tool spinning from them. 

It's not that I disagree with the art spinners it's a different trade, same craft different trade. Think of it like a pilot who flies an air taxi. He's commercial and passenger rated, carries similar responsibilities and answers to the same consequence. But compared to a commercial airline pilot? It's the same craft but an entirely different trade. Heck, you'll even hear bush pilots say, it's the only REAL piloting. Very visceral, minimum instruments can be used. Close to pure flight you betcha but the ONLY one? Hardly.

At one time, early public access internet days, Paul and Tynan had a metal spinning website, email list, early forum, etc. just breaking out of the bulletin board days, BBS were almost nothing but places for flame wars. So there we are, I'm a mouthy young kid who's watched the "hand spinning is the ONLY real metal spinning" spinners made to change their tunes because they wanted to make a living. Trying to do production work with hand tools would be like hauling gravel with a Honda Civic. Terry's very self centered and just knows he's right. We didn't hit it off well at all. How often does an artist think production techniques makes art?

If you wanted an art piece Dad could do it but you have NO idea how much it cost to have Dad spin a one off. He did a pair of bullet headlight housings for IIRC one of Dick Van Dyke's antique cars, something from maybe the early teens. Cost more than a grand each and the shop lost money. 

Learn to use hand tools, you're on a blacksmithing forum make your own, you can equip yourself nicely for what the tool guy is asking for a basic set of hand tools. And forget those silly little bead rolling tools a round roller works better and you can use it as a hand tool. What do you need?  a couple: Rounds, flats, points, spoons, ? Each come in different sizes of course but that's the basic as I recall. Oh a trimmer almost forgot the one hand tool I ever used. Ball ends, creasers, Vs, on and on. You end up making what you need as you go, there was an area in the center of Dad's shop dedicated to stock to make tooling from dies to spinning tools. We used to go to the coolest salvage yard on the planet when the stock pile started getting low. 

Save scissor spinning till you learn to hand spin, it'd be different in a production shop learning from a pro, it's not something to teach yourself without knowing how to spin. If you don't KNOW what the part is doing by sound feel and sight a scissor tool will just destroy blanks and probably put you in the hospital. A scissor is a compound lever and a hand tool is a simple lever with what 10:1 ratio? The same force applied to a scissor will result in closer to 1,000:1 ratio. That's another reason scissor tools are rollers not drag points. That kind of force on a drag tool would literally just tear the blank to pieces almost as soon as it touched. 

I was spinning the 16 ga. steel lamp shades and bases because I wasn't strong enough to spin larger stuff I was laying the blanks against the die in two passes for the bases and four for the shades with finger tip pressure on the scissor. You have the right hand lever under your arm for control but it didn't take any push from me to make 14 ga steel flow like butter. If I'd pushed it would've torn like tissue paper and turned into either a wad on the tool or shrapnel. You only do THAT once!:o That's once per part if it's as simple and easy to spin as the lamp parts.

The picture of Wolf spinning the bell has him at full extension and the ends of the scissor, that's because that wasn't the kind of aluminum blanks you get to hand spin, the gap in the lathe was open and Wolf was a master spinner who could put hundreds of thousands of pounds of pressure on a metal that work hardens abruptly and keep it under control. Wolf finished bells in only two break downs, Dad wasn't strong enough to do it in under 3 and that meant a trip to the heat treater's to anneal. That was Wolf's job. Pic of the break downs below.

You can just see the open gap in the lathe ways below the tool rest. Those blanks had to be 3'-4' dia. 

Frosty The Lucky.

Bells.jpg.a1d7f6652af12991d320b1e43012580f.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JHCC, don't you know it is a scientific fact that the more stings you get the better any honey tastes? Some day I'll tell you about the day I found out I was allergic to honey bee stings. Good times.

Welp, Frosty, some people are just xxxxxxx. I get what you're saying with the bush pilots vs. air taxis vs commercial pilots. With metal spinning, I'd like to work competently and safely. Efficiency is a concern because I often have ten billion things (most with wings and stingers) to take care of, but you're right---I'm more interested in the art side of the craft and how it fits with my other stuff. Still, the production side is pretty neat but when I see pictures like of hot spinning---well, there's no way to say it politely: I clench.

Thanks for sharing the pix and stories.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, it's tough having a conversation with a "butt orifice", it's even worse when you realize later on I was the "orifice!" :o It's more a cultural thing but if you ever run across Paul I wouldn't ask him what he thinks of Terry, I don't know why he didn't call the cops. Bah, a my word against yours thing. Old news.

If you're not puckering at least a little at a spinning lathe you need to find something safer to do. Spinning hot isn't something a hobbyist or artist is likely to ever do and those parts are spun on "split tooling." The ends of the parts are smaller dia. than the center the only way to get them off is to take the die apart. 

If I were to do any hot spinning now I'd try an induction forge rather than a torch and holder. It's got to move though so the right part of the part is hot, it's not easy holding torch, you gotta be on the ball. I've had worse jobs.

Did you know metal spinning is the OLDEST mechanized form of metal working? Much of the goblet shaped objects in Pharaoh's tombs are spun. On spring pole lathes (the origin of the term lathe) with wooden . . . tools. . . Wait for it! . . . Sticks! There was a great video lost years ago on my old 386 that showed a fellow I think in Africa who was commissioned to repair a gold chalice for a church. He wadded it up, forged it into a billet then drew it into sheet between the smooth face of hides on boards. He then put his spinning lathe together. Nailed (I think) a log between two trees, attached a wooden tool rest to the log, bent a sapling down and attached the treadle with a length of rope. He used nails for points and turned the die and a live center tail stock with what I assumed were chisels he forged. Then he chucked up the blank and using carved sticks lubed with lard he spun a chalice. 

His commission looked to be what gold was left over but he donated that back to the church. He had a lot of other repair and smithing work to do in the village before he moved on. WICKED cool video wish I still had it. 

Ancient ANCIENT art form. 

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Ohio and welcome

Have you considered joining the Northwest Blacksmith Association (NWBA), (blacksmith.org)? We meet in Longview, wa monthly. I live in Granite Falls, wa just north of you. If you decide to build your own forge of a design that needs clay, let me know. I have dug up a couple hundred pounds and there's plenty more on my property. I'm thinking of making a washtub forge or a JABOD for charcoal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, 4elements. I checked out the NWBA website and thought, "Longview is a long way from here," but maybe in winter we can make it down there.

I was looking at the JABOD and thinking it would be fun to build. I need to build my metal working shop before I can move forward. A few years ago I did build an outdoor cob oven for baking bread and stuff. It was an easy build and worked surprisingly well. I may just hit you up for some clay if I decide to build a JABOD in the next couple months, even without a shop to put it in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know Longview is a long way, 3 hrs one way for me. That kept me from joining for some time, but I'm glad I did. Its so worthwhile to have hands on and face to face. Most months there is someone doing a demo with opportunity for Q&A followed by open forge. I'll be going down this Saturday. I'm pretty much a newby hobby Smith with so much to learn. I've had a smithy for years, but could count my forge time in hours. IF I is a great forum, and NWBA is a worthy organization, both complementing each other. I wish I could meet Frosty,Thomas Powers, Slag, Glen  and others here, but that's not likely. However i do get to meet smiths in this region and perhaps that will include you too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Ohio, welcome to the forum. Don't let lack of a metalworking area in the shop stop you. Just set up a cover and forge just outside the shop. And don't forget the NWBA swap meet and hammer-in last weekend of October.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John in Oly, I promised not to build anything else until the shop is re-done next spring. But my neighbor has his smithy all set up and I know I just have to bring him brownies for him to fire it all up. I'm also taking a 3-hour intro to blacksmithing class in October to get my hands dirty.

I'll check out the thing at the end of October. I have to be in Gig Harbor for a film festival screening and Q&A on the 27th, but maybe I can convince the fab GF that we just hafta go to Longview. Maybe I'll try that Red Lobster bribery thing I was reading about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh come ON! You think that's a long way to travel you aught to try Alaska, it's 50 miles to the corner market. . .Well, not really it's more like 15. 

While you and the other folk in your vicinity are car pooling to Longview cruise past the Capitol dome and eyeball the Monel sphere Dad spun back in the '30s I think it was. It's STILL Shiny! :wub: Oooooh what's that, it's . . . SHINY!

Take your neighbor some brownies and invite him along, heck take enough brownies for the car pool and you might not have to chip in for gas! You live in an area with more active blacksmiths than all of Alaska and some of our guys travel a couple hours to make a meeting. Our meeting attendance has only just started topping 20 last few around 24+, it's a young club and just getting up to speed but guys drive a long way to attend. 

I've been to Longview, it's not so icky, I'd go. Hey, I remember the Everett Aroma when everywhere you turned was a pulp mill Longview ain't so bad. :P

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frosty, I wish you could come visit us some time at a NWBA event. I don't have a real problem with the distance to Longview. I live rurally on 5 acres. Its nice for privacy but everything is a distance, and yet western WA is well populated compared to Alaska or even eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, etc. By the way, the pulp mill odour is not as prevalent as it once was. Having access to many experienced smiths makes it worthwhile. You mentioned carpooling, but I have yet to connect with other members close to me, one of the reasons I keep an eye out on this forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of these days. Deb and I are in the process of buying a small RV and I'd like to do some traveling. Our family pioneered the Pac NW, I was born in Everett, I have cousins in Monroe, Bothel Camano Isle. Silver Lake. There are still a bunch of relatives in Everett and those are just the ones I know about. Oh, my little sister lives in Boise.  Ah, that's nothing to matter really. If we make it down we'll be planning trips to make events we both want to see. A NWBA meeting in Longview is on the way to almost everywhere else in the lower 48. I got to spend a little time at the anvil at Ft. Nisquale a couple decades ago during a living history day thing. What a blast. 

Maybe hit Quadstate and Pennsic and and and. 

As much as I love Alaska there are prices to pay for living this far from the lower 48. 

Frosty The Lucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did most of my traveling in my 20s and hope to again in a couple of years when i retire. I've touched all the lower 48, but never made it to Alaska or Hawaii. Also i really want to see colonial Williamsburg. I wonder if anyone has made a book or list of historical smithies around the country, museums and living history sites,etc. I've seen several posts but nothing comprehensive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this