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I Forge Iron

Swage Block Substitute

James Conyers

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I'm still pretty new to this obsession called blacksmithing and I recently picked up a drop of steel to beat on until I can afford a real anvil (There's aplace I've been using that has a full shop).  I don't have a hardie or pritchel hole but I would like to start punching and drifting at home as it is far more convenient than driving for 45 mins each way.  

::Sets out coffee, beer, whiskey, and snacks to appease the curmudgeons::

For a new guy what would you recommend for this task?  Budget is EXTREMELY limited, kid #2 is about 6 weeks from making his world debut.  

I have a fried that has a plasma cutting table and a MIG welder.  My initial thought was to get another steel drop and some angle and rig something up short term.


What say you fine folks?

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Search out a portable hole for the hardie hole. Search bolster plate for the prichel hole.  A short piece of rr track laid on its side makes a nice swage block with both inside and outside curves. A trip to the junk yard and you can find many things with inside and outside curves that can be used.  

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Blacksmiths have punched holes in steel for millennia. Hardy holes & pritchel holes in anvils, and cast iron swage blocks all appeared in the historical record in a fairly short time frame, about what we 'Muricans call the late Colonial Period. Prior to the Industrial Age, leg vises and a blocky anvil were about it in a basic shop almost anywhere, although anything was possible in an urban center.

Diderot shows individual bottom tools that strapped across the top of the anvil, but no swage blocks as we know them. Punching was likewise done with a bolster plate over the edge of the anvil, or on a suitable support. Got a drill and some scrap plate, plus some spare time? Make one for round holes, and make or buy matching punches. When you get better, you can make square or any shape your heart desires.

Diderot blacksmith tools1.jpeg

Bolster Plates.JPG

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