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hikerjohnson

New Swage Block Pattern

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Hey folks,

I have an opportunity to do some grey iron casting, and would like to try a short run (5-ish) of swage blocks.  The pattern I've worked out so far is attached, but I'd like to reach out to the hive mind to see if there are any other through-holes or shapes I should consider. 

The blocks will be cast of grey iron using the lost foam in sand process, which gives a pretty nice surface right out of the mold, and doesnt require draft on the pattern.

I'm not too worried about bowls or spoon depressions, as those swage blocks are plentiful and currently available on the market, and also a nice (free) stump works too.

Any ideas or suggestions?  The block is currently 12x12", and will be either 3 or 4" thick.

 

**Edit: All sharp corners will get radiused at least 1/8" if not more on the final pattern.

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I see that you've arranged things to have the maximum amount of material between holes, and that's good. However, if there's some way to do it so that things are a bit more intuitively laid out, that will save the end user a bit of hunting for the right hole (even if it's visually scanning for the one they know is there). When the iron is cooling, every second counts.

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All of those are through holes/shapes on edges so the other side will be the mirror of that one...

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I like it pretty good but it looks a little busy for a 1 foot square. I think if you upped the size a couple inches it would give you the room to better arrange the holes into a more user friendly pattern. 

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Fewer and smaller round holes would suit modern hobby smiths better.  I'd personally like to see more rectangular slots as I think they support bars being punched or drifted for architectural metalwork better than a big round hole.  

3 hours ago, JHCC said:

However, if there's some way to do it so that things are a bit more intuitively laid out, that will save the end user a bit of hunting for the right hole

If you use a tool or a few or tens of hours your brain is perfectly capable of remembering forever where the round peg goes.  I'd be more interested in a block that didn't align the stress risers.  Looks like the current design has taken that into account.  

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Thanks for the input folks; here is a slightly revised pattern (I love arts and crafts, don't you?)

I can't do much for arranging the holes by size - this aligns stress risers too neatly for my taste.  Adding to the square dimension takes me out of what I can pour in one go at the furnace I'm working at.

@Judson Yaggy, did I take your comments corrctly in my revisions?

I added a 7/8" cored hole (I think this is about as small as I can core safely, I need to talk to the founder about this.)

I took out the 2" hole, and marked that space out for a 3" pouring riser (in yellow), to be cut away after casting.  This leaves a blank face that can be drilled through for smaller diameter holes (pink) that go from 1/4" to 3/4" in 1/8" increments.  Also, if someone desired, an upsetting dimple or a bowl could be ground/machined in there.

I also took the 3/4 x 1.5" slot and lengthened it to 2.5" with fully radiused corners.  This should be decent for drifting axe-heads, I think. 

This brings the weights to just under 100 and 130 lbs, for 3" and 4" thick models, respectively.  About 12 pounds goes onto the riser, though I may have to up that amount after talking to the founder.

Further thoughts?  I definitely welcome comments prior to making patterns or pouring iron...

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I now own 4 different swage blocks, from 6" x 6", up to 18" x 18", and use them as regularly as any other specialized tool. For some things they are indispensable, they rest of the time they are a hazard to foot traffic.

I see this design as still crowding the corners with arrowhead shapes, making them prone to breaking. Both from mis-handling and heavy hammering.

Personally, I would like to see just six half rounds in 1/4" jumps starting at 1" up to 2", then 3" & 4", and a large arch, either simple or increased gradient like a french curve. More hex shapes on the edges, and more square and rectangular thru holes replacing rounds.

My two pennys worth, you decide if they are silver, copper, or zinc. 

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I see the justification in dropping the sub-1" half rounds, they can be handled on small anvil hardies.  Gone.

Dropping the half-circle frequency to 1/4" reduces the number to 7, and frees up a whole edge for a french curve.  Doesn't give enough room to add a 4" half round or more hexes though.

Rectangles: I'm amenable to more, what should I drop, and what should I add?

Took out the 1/4" drilled hole; that's just silly, though, as it's just drilled later, folks could do whatever they wanted to.

How's it look now?

 

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The pouring riser is only on one side, yes? If that's the case, could you cast in some little dimples on the opposite side, to help locate the bits for drilling out the four additional holes?

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I probably could without much trouble, yes.  I think I might be inclined just to leave the face completely blank, and modify as needs arise.

 

I may also move the casting riser to the center to get a better feed to the mold, not sure yet.

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Well, I've started to meander in a different direction a bit; taking out some relatively useless features as mentioned above, and simplifying.  Feedback from some longtime smiths indicated that shallow arcs are fairly useful, as are shallow vees.  Overall dimensions have shifted from 12x12" to 8x18"; still planned to be 3" thick.

You can see I have some real estate on the right that is unoccupied, I am trying to determine the most useful shapes to core out there.  I'm all ears.

The placement scheme I used in this iteration was to assume a 3x3" square - I centered it over each through-hole (or at each end for the long ones), and made sure I had no significant interference from other features inside that square.  Not having a lot of experience, this seems like enough real estate for any given feature that your work won't get tangled up in another feature.

This is still about a 100# block which is as large as I care to go, from both a technical manufacturing standpoint, as well as for handling concerns.

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The problem I see with the square one is the sprue location, and trying to fill the farthest points as it is chilling the iron. I would look at a more central location with vents at the corners to avoid air pockets. Also, make the sprue a nice cone shape that can be cleaned up and used as a mandrel later.

Can these be poured on edge?

The maker of Holland Anvils is one here, and he may have some better insight as to gating, and pouring than me. It was 1993 when i was working in a small foundry, and we did investment castings with nonferrous alloys. 

With a swage block it gets down to what kind of work will you be doing.... I have one and have yet to use it.

With the edge shapes will you be making the matching struck tools to match?

I can see the half rounds and matching holes being used for making tenons. A square to hold hardy and bottom tools.

 

 

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A couple thoughts from a guy who hasn't poured molten metal in . . . (not sayin ^_^)

There really isn't a need to put the sprue in the face of the block if you gate it on a corner and put a riser kitty corner it will flow more evenly. It's easier to clean up a corner than a face, a saw and a little grinding takes care of it. I remember this trick from high school shop class. It isn't always the way to gate a casting but works when it is.

Second thought, there are no stress risers with round through holes, line them up leaving the radius of the smaller hole between them and the block will be as strong as if it were solid. This pattern is what you see in structural components that have been lightened by making holes.

I think not putting sharp inside angles near corners is the point John was making. The bottom right corner is (I THINK) an example. It'd be easy to bump the hexes closer to the center and maybe swap the 11/16" hex for the 1 1/2" half round.

I don't know about the 120" radius, I've never used one that large for sinking anything but there are so many things I've never done my opinion is pure speculation. 

Heck, I've never used a spoon, bowl, shove. swage, I do that kind of forming into a round or square through hole or a large round swage. I'll take my tape measure to mine today and see what I used for sinking shapes in sheet.

I REALLY like the rounded corners, it's nice to have nice heavy fullers. I think it's a desirable feature. Speculation again but . . .

Frosty The Lucky.

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i have to think that lower right corner is a stress point waiting to break off under hard use

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Of course I'd be hard using a small round---tenon making---a lot more than a small hex.  Might factor in probably use  as well as shape in choosing locations.

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Taking in commentary, here is a slightly revised edge profile - Steve, if you crack off that lower corner, you are just gonna have to get a smaller hammer. The short path is about 1-5/8" for a crack with this re-jiggered layout. 

The 10' circle is primarily recommended for straightening things - think of it like a sway-backed anvil.  A fellow I'm talking to says its one of the most-used edges on his Yater swages, and worthy of copying.

I'm hanging out with the foundry guys tomorrow, so I will learn about size limitations, and what my options are for gating and risers.

By the way, the square hole sizes were chosen to be homes for standard hardie tool sizes, so I can use this like a secondary anvil for small operations like bending or tenon butchering with my smoosh-a-matic.

Still taking opinions on useful cores for the right-hand side of the block.

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How about a conical tapered groove on one face? Looks like you could fit in a 4" long trough coming straight down from the Ø120" surface, longer if you move the two larger squares off toward the right side.

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How about adding 7/8" and 3/4" square through holes since some anvils have those size hardy holes.

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JME1149, do you mean like on the Yater block?  I am considering something like that, but don't know what you'd use it for.  On the Yater blocks, I think there is a reason that they all seem to have the original yellow mailing address from Wally still in those areas...  What do you have in mind for a use scenario?

I did deliberately leave the small 2" flat on one edge so that a smith could file in something like that, but on a small scale, for forming a bottom die to do a reinforcing rib, like you see under spatula ends and such.  Possibly also a little veining type die could be filed/ground in for doing collar stock with roping/beading.  I don't think I can cast something that fine that wouldn't get obliterated in further finishing.

DasWulf, holes added.

Room for one more....

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Alright, this is what's coming with me to the foundry tonight to chat with the professionals:

I added another half hex, another hole, an oval, and re-arranged everything in the block one more time, just for fun.  The hex sizes changed at someone's recommendation to correspond to sensible sizes across the flats for tuning up bolt heads if desired.  The oval I added just because I could, thinking it might be useful, but I really have no idea other than for drifting open quite large things.

I'm still happy to take suggestions for cores.

 

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If you use poster board with the graph, 3/4" I think printed on and draw the outline. Then take cut outs of the shapes with you to the caster it'll be really fast showing you what works best in the mold.  Sure you can do it all on a lap top but there's something to be said for having a full scale representation you can manipulate and get a hands/eyes on feel for it. Too late with the thought i suppose, maybe next time.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Well, it’s been awhile, but that’s how it goes, no?  Here’s where I’ve gotten so far:

Made some test cores and showed them to the foundry – they gave them the thumbs up, so that’s a positive thing for sure.  I still need to make some more core boxes, but it’s not too hard. 

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Below is the test pattern I’m going to try at the foundry – no edge features, just cores.  This will help us learn about gating and fill, as well as whether our cores are sturdy enough.

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I’ve also gone and simplified the final pattern somewhat, and it may still not be done yet.  Major changes include the omission of some smaller edge features, and the incorporation of a tapered socket for a Pexto stake – a popular request from a number of folks.  The elliptical core went away, as no-one could figure out what it would be good for, and I chopped a few of the smallest round cores, as they can be easily enough drilled at a later date.

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