Casey J. Clark

Brand new to the skill

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Hello

  A little about me. I served in the Army for 5 years, been medically retired and 100% disabled officially since 2013. I need a hobby. Being a stay at home dad is awesome, but lately banging my head on the wall is the most fun I've had. I enjoy working with my hands so I figured I would give this a shot. I just fabbed up a small coal forge out of some scrap I had. Any tips, pointers and/or criticism is welcome! 

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Welcome aboard Casey, glad to have you and thank you for serving. One criticism comes to mind reading your intro. Beating the wall with something other than your head is a LOT more fun. ;)

Beating hot steel is good meditative therapy. You don't need much, a: hot fire, coal is good, something hard and reasonably heavy to beat against, a smooth faced hammer or two to beat with and something to beat on. With those you can make the rest but nice additions are cold chisels and a hack saw to cut stock and work. Punches are good beginner projects like chisels. Tongs are more intermediate projects so be patient, there are a lot of basic techniques involved in making tongs once you have a handle on them tongs become pretty easy. A pair of slip joint pliers with steel rods welded to the handles makes fine expedient tongs. I know I have a pair on my go to tong rack. :)

Take your time, it'll come to you and once you get a handle on how metal moves and your hammer control gets good everything becomes a series of basic steps in the right order. 

We LOVE pics you know, shop, tools, projects, finds, kids, pets, landscapes, whatever so long as you'd show it to a toddler without having to explain things you'd really rather not. It's a G rated family site, we like the idea nobody has to worry about letting their kindergartener surf the site.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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Welcome aboard. 

My tip is to read as much as you can here on the subjects you are interested in and then take that to the forge and try it out.  For starters there are the safety sections to read through then hammer dressing and hammer control. There's improvised anvils, posture, beginner projects...... On and on. Lots to learn. Lots to read. :) if you get stuck on something we are here to help. 

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This is what I'm using for a forge. I alsso have a  45lb about 24" piece of rr track and a 4lb drilling hammer. Thank you guys for the tips. I have no clue what I'm doing but I will start with what you've said and see what happens. 

IMG_20180327_111556.jpg

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Welcome to the forum! Blacksmithing is an amazing craft. You have the freedom to let your imagination run wild. Learn from experimentation. Screw up. Screw up a lot.  It is an amazing and fulfilling way to learn. Just stay safeish. The fewer of you screw ups that involve losing body parts the better. But hey. If you burn your hand off, you can learn how to forge a hook. Every experience is an educational one.

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Welcome! This is an awesome group of people to learn from. You really can't beat this bunch of folks. 

You have probably noticed already that your forge doesn't lend itself very well to heating the middle of long pieces...  That said, it looks great for your typical small knives, hooks, bottle openers, and other fun tinker projects PLUS (as long as you keep using charcoal) it will accommodate a grill over the top for when you get hungry! You could even stick a wok up there...B) 

The other thing I'll mention is don't be too quick to reach for the 4 pounder in an attempt to show off your manliness... I did that too, when I started, and eventually worked down to a 2 pounder for my go-to. 4 pounders are nice to have on hand for the occasional gorilla project/spectator that walks in that has never never seen a blacksmith working before.:)

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Yeah I just grabbed a hammer that looked heavy and realized very quickly it is too big to start. I need to find a good source for fuel. The charcoal is temporary until I save enough to either buy or build a gas forge. Where is the best place for charcoal? Buying from Wal-Mart right now. I really don't want to buy from them but it's the only place around that sells lump charcoal locally.

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Make your own, that’s the best sorce for charcoal. Second best thing is to remodel your forge to increase it’s efficiency.

Historicaly 1-1/2 to 2# for a hand hammer (Viking era) and a side blast forge with a 3/4-1” ID tuyere producing a 6” hot spot. As we can only forge about that much in one heat and i nessisary heating degrades high carbon steels.  

I find a trench 4” wide and 8” long and 3-4” above the tuyere works very well. I prefer one “bellows stone” or bank to pile charcoal against.asian and African forges use two banks, or an open ended trench. Take a gander at the pinned posts in the solid fuel section. 

I’m not saying to throw out the baby with the bath water. You have most of the parts to a good charcoal forge just need to remix and add to it.     

We can help you with the best way to use that hunk of rail.

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Lol gotta love being completely green at something new!  I'm sure this has been covered somewhere on here but what is the most cost efficient way to build a propane forge that is square in shape and can be put on wheels?  I am on a very strict budget with my v.a disability so I can't afford to go out and buy a nice new forge. 

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Why does it need to be square?  Square may make it more expensive to get an efficient forge..

My cylindrical propane forge has seen about 20 years of use now and is bolted to a propane grill stand with wheels.  I removed the grill and bolted a steel plate (3/16"?---what ever I found at the scrapyard---used self drilling self tapping screws too IIRC---no welding!)

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Square was just what came to mind is all.  As long as it's efficient I'm good with whatever shape.  Any tips on where to buy parts for the propane forge?  regulator, lines etc.

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There are two stickies in the Gas forges section Forges 101 and Burners 101 which will guide you through building a propane forge. While there look at Frosty's T burner illustrated directions thread.

When we built our forge, we didn't know anything about them. After reading through those threads and guidance from experts we were able to build a serviceable forge.

 

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There is no best anything where blacksmithing is concerned unless we're talking about specific purposes. A cylindrical propane forge is pretty easy to build and good place to start. Whatever the shell the numbers that count are the volume of the chamber you're going to fill with fire and it's shape. Long and narrow wants more smaller burners to keep the temp even.

There are a number of proven designs discussed and posted as plans in the gas forge section, the most current thread is Forges 101. The most current propane burner thread is Burners 101. Wayne Coe is a member here and sells small amounts of forge building supplies for reasonable. No need to buy a 50 lb. sack for $100 when you can buy a 5 lb. bag from Wayne. There are proven forge designs and instructions available on his site and he's pretty easy to talk to as well.

Don't over think the thing or get in a hurry, it'll come in time.

Frosty The Lucky.

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OK basic issue: you don't know much about smithing but you start limiting yourself when asking questions. Suggestion: ask general questions: "What would be a good forge to build. I want to use propane and make XYZ". (What you want to forge is important as it may change the the size from something you can drive a train car in to one that fits in a 2 pound coffee can. Propane forges have size limitations so expect to make several over the years if you change the stuff you are forging.)

Please do not use the term 'best' unless you can qualify all the details. Some folks get upset when they ask for Best with no qualifiers and I suggest something that costs a couple of hundred thousand dollars...

Have you looked at Wayne Coe's website with building a propane forge instructions (He also sells forge building materials at useful quantities and decent prices.)

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My apologies.  You're right, i know nothing about smithing (yet! Very eager to forge metal with my hands!)  I would like to build a propane forge that I can make small items ( S & J hooks, nails etc..) and be able to work up to blades around about 15"  long, including the tang.  I hope that helps.  I will look into Wayne Coe's website.  I appreciate y'all taking the time to help me get up to speed!

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Not a problem; but if you ask specific questions you will generally get answers with respect to your question which may not be what you actually need.   Others may not have specific knowledge for what you need. (For instance viking swords with 30" of blade were forged in charcoal fueled forges with a 6" hot spot ...)  Putting a "back door/hatch/port" in the rear of your forge allows you to work longer pieces easily.

And we can get astray in odd details---how do we know the sizes of viking forges?  (Archaeological remains, also the twists on things like the Oseberg Tripod show how large the hotspot was as it is real wrought iron and so requires high heat for working...)

My primary propane forge that has lasted 20 years so far was built at a gas forge building workshop put on by an ABANA affiliate. The shell was a section of a oxygen welding tank---waaaay overkill; but it's nice to be able to weld stuff to it even on a temporary basis.

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We also try to answer the questions you should be asking when you are ignorant. Often you don’t know what to ask or ask the wrong questions in ignorance. We also are keenly aware we are talking to a wider audience than just you, perhaps your great grandchildren may be reading this in the future

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No Casey, don't apologize, wanting the "BEST" is normal especially for folk new to a craft. Any craft. See, already you want at least two forges! For a good learning forge size look up the "Whisper Baby" not to buy one but to get a handle on a nice sized single burner propane forge.

Learning to ask questions in a meaningful way is a skill like any other it takes knowledge and practice. It's not possible to get specific answers to a general question though believe me there are lots of well meaning people who will try.  Youtube is full of mostly well meaning folk posting how to videos about things they just sort of figured out. A number of them are ego driven like the "king of randumb." It takes some knowledge and experience to learn to sift the wheat from the chaff and like a wheat harvest it's mostly chaff.

That's okay just don't do some of the really dangerous stuff, Okay? I'm starting to like you and don't want to see you blow yourself up. :o 

Read, think, try, ask. It's a pretty well established way to learn things.

"Those who do, do, Those who can't do teach,

Frosty The Lucky.

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9 minutes ago, Charles R. Stevens said:

 perhaps your great grandchildren may be reading this in the future

I only hope there will be blacksmiths still around in that long.-_- 

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Thanks guys.  I do want to be able to ask the "right" questions so that way I can get the best possible answers.  Would it be wiser to buy a small knifesmith forge, learn on that about how propane forges work (reducing my self exploding chances) and then source material to build one?  I was looking at the Mathewson KnifeSmith Forge https://mathewsonmetals.com/shop/item/knifesmith-forge Thoughts?  Thank y'all again for helping!

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35 minutes ago, Frosty said:

 

"Those who do, do, Those who can't do teach,

Frosty The Lucky.

Boy did I screw that one up! :o 

The old saw is, "Those who CAN do, Those who CAN'T teach and those who CAN'T teach Administrate.

Now I'm confused, I don't recall which thread I quoted that saying, it may have turned up here for no reason I can explain. Oh well, I'm used to weirdness in my life.

Frosty The Lucky.

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In honestly you will do 90% of your forging in a small forge, say a 6” hotspot. A gasser is more expensive to buy or build than a simple sideblast. It has its advantages

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