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6 hours ago, Jon Kerr said:

Looking at eBay prices the vice is worth a small fortune so I definitely want to keep it good.

I hope you’re looking at “Sold” listings, which reflect actual sales rather than what people hope they’ll get. 

Remember, there’s no shame in selling your vise and using the money to buy other tools. After I built my JABOD, I traded my old rivet forge for a frankenvise and some cash. 

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So I fired up the forge this morning with mixed success.

 I had some scrap rod which I found and looked rusty, so assumed it was “safe”. In the forge, it never really changed colour (perhaps a dim red) until it suddenly melted and broke (i was heating up a long bent u shape to do a hot cut). I thought that was odd but it was the first bit of metal into the forge so I tried again with a remaining bit. Once red(ish) I tried it on the anvil and it smushed into almost a powder. I have no idea what it is but its not steel. I was forging outside so hopefully didnt breathe in too much anything lethal.... I need to be more careful I guess. Any other safe way to identify metals than “rust”?

Following that I went back to rebar as its what I have most of lying around. I took on board the tips regarding hairdryer pointing “at” pipe rather than being jammed in pipe, and varying the angle to control flow.....

I’m still struggle with two things- the angle of the metal, and gettinv anything hotter than low-orange.

In the JABOD firepit my rebar still needed to be at an angle downwards to be in the heart of the fire and get hot. Should I be using a lot more charcoal and piling it right up?

The heat issue may be to do with the pipe I suppose. Still looking for a 1” pipe. I found one but I think its galvanised which is bad?

How much charcoal would you expect to be using? Today I used around 5kg (10lbs ish) in about 90mins. Is that normal?

I did manage to make a fire poker/rake/thingy, and a couple of rebar punches. Unforthnately since the rod wasnt what I expected I couldnt start training on the hooks.

 

 

 

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On 5/24/2018 at 7:15 AM, Jon Kerr said:

 I had some scrap rod which I found and looked rusty, so assumed it was “safe”.

After a quick google search I reckon this was likely brass rod, and I confused the old weathered brass colour for rust, and the crumbling phenomenon I experienced was "red short".... I'm not dead yet.

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Your forge looks good. Your fire is probably too small, so yes, build it up some. We sometimes say that the burning part of the fire (not including unburnt fuel) should be around the size of a small melon.

The temptation will be to increase the fire by adding more air, but charcoal is really sensitive to overblowing. You'll actually end up blowing the heat right out of the fire rather than into your workpiece. So, keep the air low, but build up the fire above what you have now.

Hang onto that brass; it has other uses.

In short, you're making all the right mistakes. Keep it up!

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52 minutes ago, JHCC said:

In short, you're making all the right mistakes. Keep it up!

This is extremely good to hear! Thanks.

53 minutes ago, JHCC said:

Your forge looks good. Your fire is probably too small, so yes, build it up some. We sometimes say that the burning part of the fire (not including unburnt fuel) should be around the size of a small melon.

The temptation will be to increase the fire by adding more air, but charcoal is really sensitive to overblowing. You'll actually end up blowing the heat right out of the fire rather than into your workpiece. So, keep the air low, but build up the fire above what you have now.

Very helpful, thanks. I've read the posts on here about building a fire and fire size but its still quite hard to gauge without seeing it in person I think. Once I get it right once, I probably won't have a problem again.

Lots of you have mentioned that the hairdryer is a bad idea and I think overblowing is probably one of my bigger issues. I've ordered this cheap air bed pump (£10, Tesco Direct for those in UK) so we'll see if it helps:

 

 

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Something else that melts at forging heat and crumbles before that is cast iron.  A file should show the difference between brass and cast iron.

(and to make things more fun some of the high alloy steels will "cottage cheese" if they get over their forging temps---exp H-13; but it's not common to find *those* in rusty scrap...

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20 hours ago, Jon Kerr said:

Understood. I just read a long blog post about "How to break your vice." and had never realised how serious an issue this is!

Looking at eBay prices the vice is worth a small fortune so I definitely want to keep it good.

Just keep looking for a leg vise. I just did a fresh search on eBay for 'leg vise' 'blacksmith vise' 'post vise' and also for 'vice' spelling variants. You'll find a bargain eventually and a good post vise can a good beating :D

Have you tested your chisel against metal yet? I tested my punch and drift today, drift works great but could do with a shallower profile to speed it up a bit, the punch sucked. That's the problem with found metal though ;)

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2 hours ago, Nick Owen said:

Have you tested your chisel against metal yet? I tested my punch and drift today....

 Not yet. Honestly, I cant work out how to hold the workpiece, hammer and chisel at the same time. Is there some technique to this? Do blacksmiths grow a third arm?

Shame about your punch. Was the metal just too soft? I just made one from rebar so will see if thats any good.

I continue to find free bits here and there. Managed to find a decent old set of tongs which is a great start! I still want to make a set soon though.

I finished off my JABOD today, including the correct size pipe positioned the correct distance from the bottom of the fire pit. Hopefully it will work better now it matches Charles’ design more closely.

 

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There are a number of Blacksmithing processes that require a "third hand".  Remember first that traditionally a blacksmith shop would have had multiple people in it! To get around this we have the treadle hammer where the hammer hand is replaced by your leg/foot---or you can hold a longer piece of stock between your legs  while using hammer and punch. (This is often a handy way to teach you to NOT let the steel get too cold as the workpiece will "bounce" more as it cools off...) There are also hold-downs of various types used with the anvil to hold the stock while you work it with your hammer and hand held tools.

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On 5/24/2018 at 5:36 PM, Jon Kerr said:

 Not yet. Honestly, I cant work out how to hold the workpiece, hammer and chisel at the same time. Is there some technique to this?

Coming along nicely! 

Metal was just too soft, I knew it would be as I took the stock from a box of machining steel... really soft ;) I figured that I might be able to get away with using it a few times before it needed dressing up but it dinged right away! No good but the drift works fine. 

If your forge is ready better get on with those tongs! 

Most of the projects I'm working on at the moment I can work at the end of a bar/rod and get away with just holding the bar between my legs whilst I use my hand for other operations, everything else just has to balance across the anvil, something which is a lot more difficult on a wee railroad track. You'll just have to get creative at using metal clamps or something as a hold down. 

It's frustrations like these that make or break people, personally I knew it would break me which is why I just went right for a traditional shaped anvil for the hardy holes, can easily make up some holdfasts for them. I'm sure there are easy hold downs for rail road tracks as well. Could ask in the forums! ;) 

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Yeah I can see a few things being an issue on the smaller anvil face but I’ll just have to learn other methods to get the job done. Determined not to spend lots of money on this hobby, and the challenge of scrounging/upcycling is actually fun.

I’ve been looking at Charles’ thread about rail anvils and its pretty inspiring....... he’s ground hot cuts, fullers, bending forks etc into his rail anvil. I’m keen to do the same but I dont want to turn my rail track on end just yet as it will mean I need more holes drilling and have to adjust the wooden stand, which is time and effort I could be spending on basic blacksmithing practice instead. Definitely something to look at in future though!

Not sure I’ll get chance to do much forging this weekend.... my previous project was a wood fired pizza oven and outdoor kitchen and it needs finishing while the weather is good! Pics attached incase anyone is interested....

.... Incidentally, on the list of ASAP blacksmithing projects is some nice handles for an oven door and wood store door, a set of log-grabber tongs, an ash-shovel, and a fire poker.....

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Nice oven! :D

Most of those projects should be pretty fun. I've been thinking about how I would tackle a shovel myself, without a swage block to form the shovel around I might see if I can just carve a depression into the top of a log/chunk of wood and form it in that. 

I have somehow injured by back so not sure if I will be forging this weekend either. I did a similar thing to the other side of my back a few months back and it suddenly got a lot worse and had me unable to move for a week so probably shouldn't push it.... sucks as tomorrow will be the first day of my holiday (teacher) :( 

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So, unfortunately I didn't get chance to do any forging this weekend (depsite the bank holiday!). Too many other DIY/house projects to finish.

As such, I'm living vicariously through the users of this forum....!

In terms of a plan for my future projects (with a mind towards training, and building my set of tools) , I wonder what you guys think of this?

1. Hooks..... following advice found on this forum, I want to make a load of hooks. This will give me practice with the forge/fire itself, drawing out, tapering, etc.

2. Tongs..... I've actually now been given a pair of tongs (lucky!), but I'd like to make a flat pair also. I'll probably make these from rebar as I have it lying around.

3. Pizza oven bits.... I'd like to try making some door handles, a door hook-and-eye, a long ash-rake, fire poker, and some heavy duty log tongs/grabbers.

4. Bottle openers. I'll need to buy some square material, but I'd like to make some bottler openers for my gamer friends, and try a dice twist!

5. Knife...... I'd then like to have a go at a kitchen knife again, probably starting with a pandrol clip. Probably to soon to start bladesmithing but I'm going to try anyway.....

Any thoughts on the above? Any recommended training ideas or tools to make first?

 

Also, I have some random questions.

1. Do we say "smithing", or is that a phrase used by gamers and not really a word used by blacksmiths? Is "Forging" the proper word?

2. How long do I need to wait before attempting Forge Welding? Sounds like an incredibly useful skill.

3. Just how limited are you without a power hammer? So many videos I watch use the power hammer, especially for blades, axes, and forging hammers. Can this be done by hand? Without strikers? Is it just a case of determination?!

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3 The traditional smithy always had a number of people working in it and providing striking as needed.  If you have access to strikers then you can do quite large work by hand. If you want to work by yourself---very a-historical in blacksmithing history you find that you are setting yourself up for RSI.

2 When to start attempting to forge weld?  Day 1 is possible but don't expect to get a good weld for a long time---especially if doing it without coaching from an experience forge welder.

1 I use the terms interchangeably.

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1. "Smithing" comes from the same root as the verb "to smite" -- that is, to hit. "Forging" comes from the Latin "fabricare" by way of the Old French "forgier", to make. Both have long histories in English -- early 13th and late 14th centuries, respectively -- and they are, as ThomasPowers notes, essentially interchangeable. (It should be noted, however, that some modern smiths use "forge" to denote actual deformation of the cross-section of the metal, as opposed to bending or twisting.)

2. What ThomasPowers said. If you have a chance to get yourself some classes, DO IT. If they teach forge welding, so much the better. Forge welding is one of those things that is easy to mess up, and having an experienced smith who can see your mistakes and help you correct them is well worth the investment in time and cash.

3. You are limited to what you can forge with your particular degree of skill and muscle. Exceeding either will cause you an injury. If you're not getting a power hammer and you don't have access to a striker, consider either building yourself a treadle hammer or figuring out some way to hold your work while you yourself use a sledgehammer on it.

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Here’s some pictures of my aforementioned car boot sale haul... (before and after cleaning)... total cost was £2.75. I also got some shears (not pictured) that a might be able to twist into tongs. Hoping I can dress the hammers, and possibly modify the sledge head into a small hofi-ish/german style? Will probably be 1.75lbs in the end so not sure its worth it? Please see my other thread in the “Hammers” section regarding modifying the sledges.

Also pictured are my first 3 handmade tools. Terrible, admittedly, but its a start. I’ve not tried them to see if they work yet.

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Don't forget you can forge ballpeen hammers into handled tools too so keep getting them cheap!

If you decide to grind down the drilling hammers I would move you suggest grind lines closer to the current surface so you have less grinding.

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I finally made a little progress this weekend.... 

I fitted the modified sledge to a new handle, awaiting wedge. Before that, the handle needs sanding down to a nice shape and size (I'll be copying the hofi style handles a bit).

I fired up the JABOD again this weekend. I'm still struggling a little with fire management but I feel like I learned a lot. The only easy-to-find Lumpwood Charcoal around here is "easy light" stuff, which comes in individual paper firelighter bags. I've been cutting the bags open and using the lumpwood charcoal inside. My fire tends to "spit" burning hot bits for quite a while until the coals start to turn white, which leads me to think the charcoal has some sort of coating or such. I'm going to try and find an alternative (I think a friend of mine knows where to get some).

The problem is, once the spitting and smoking has stopped, the level of the fire has dropped so I never get the "volcano pile" I'm looking for, with the "hot centre" of the fire at dirt-level. As such, putting my steel horizontal in the fire never seems to be an option and I end up getting frustrated and shoving it deeper into the fire just to get something hot so I can hit some metal! I guess I just need to REALLY keep piling it up till the middle of the fire is higher up? I put approx 3kg of coal onto the fire before trying to forge and the fire was still low in the pit.

I made a hook, which was absolutely rubbish. The steel cracked and crumbled a lot when tapering, and when flatting the other end. Any suggestions as to why? Did I burn the steel? Or just bad steel? It was very old and rusty scrap steel.

I found a good solution for a pritchel for my railroad anvil, using a piece of equal angle which I found that already had a nice machined hole. It worked pretty well.

The anvil worked great when I was hitting the thinner stock to make the hook. Later, I tried to draw out a big railway screw, and I was surprised to find I could really feel the "bounce" in the anvil and that my blows were losing significant power. I'll be getting a second chunk of rail to add on end as you have all suggested, for heavier work. It will also allow me to grind a built in fuller and hot cut.

The new hammers were great. The dressed sledge was much easier to use than the ball peen for most jobs. Once I have the handle finished on the modified cross pein I'm hoping that will be even better.

I attempted to modify my "new" tongs. The jaws were pinching at the tips of the jaw, so I followed what I'd seen on youtube, warmed up the jaws to red hot, clamped them around a piece of stock and hit them on the anvil. Immediately I felt the handles come closer together, and I seemed to have made very little impression on the jaws. Now, the tongs don't close properly as I've alterned the angle of the bend instead of the jaws. Not sure why it went so wrong, and I now have some work to do next time to fix the tongs again....!

The fire issue is frustrating and stopping me from getting on, really. I spend approx 2 hours at the forge on Sunday, less than 10mins of which I was actually hitting metal.....

All in all, not a good session, which is a shame as I'd been looking forward to it all week.

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Did you learn anything? Yes? Then it was a good session.

Your hammer handle is much too thick. Thinning it down will make it much easier and more comfortable to use. Remember: too thick = death grip.

Do you have a picture of the hook? It may have been wrought iron, in which case it needs to be worked at a very high temperature.

Regarding your charcoal, ditch the easy-light. Make yourself a separate fire with scrap wood and transfer the burning coals to the forge as needed.

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