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I am a novice blacksmith I know I have to pay attention to the color of the metal bc I have a bad about of wanting to keep hammering even once the metal is to cold. Which brings me to my question. I have watched ALOT of smithing videos(more than 100) and I have noticed even if I heat the steel to a bright yellow the steel loses its heat really fast I mean abnormally fast. Any thoughts of why?

I use a coal forge and I take the steel out as soon as I see the yellow I want work the steel I may get 5 swings in and I have to heat it back up.

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Welcome to IFI! If you haven't yet, please READ THIS FIRST!!!

In answer to your question, I can think of a few possible factors. The first is that as a novice, you don't yet have the skill and hammer technique to move the metal quickly and efficiently. You may find that as you keep practicing, your skills will improve, and you will get more work done per heat.

Another common novice problem is hesitating between taking out the workpiece and taking that first blow, as well as between blows. Strike while the iron is hot!

Additionally, your anvil acts as a heat sink, and you will find that it draws the heat out of your workpiece, especially with smaller pieces. Try to minimize contact between the workpiece and the anvil, except when actually hitting.

Finally, remember that video cameras are not great at showing the actual colors of glowing steel. If you're trying to match the colors you see in a video, you're probably getting it wrong. This is one more reason that in-person instruction with an experienced teacher is especially valuable.

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Don't forget that when you hammer metal it heats up some too.  So an experienced smith going batatatatatatatatatatatatabat with his hammer is extending the time it stays hot compared to a new person going tap....tap....tap. (Amount of force used in striking makes a difference too.)

So you are having the normal experience for someone starting out. If you are in a cold climate---we can't tell as you didn't add your location to your profile yet!---having cold tools: Anvil, Hammer, Tongs can make a difference and preheating them till they feel warm to the touch will help.

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What they said^ 

And what Kind of steel you are using determines the heat range you can work it. Mild steel has a longer work range where as higher carbon steels have a shorter heat work range. 

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Also, smaller pieces cool quicker.

So if you are making "s" hooks from 1/4" square, it will lose its heat faster than using 3/4" square for tongs.

So, the next lesson is to have more than one piece in the fire at a time. If using 1/4", have 4 pieces in the fire.

And the lesson is to learn "how many irons in the fire are too many?"  ;)

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What Thomas, Daswulf, and Anvil said. Also, the surface area of a piece relative to its mass will make a difference. For instance, a wide, flat, thin piece of metal will cool off faster than one with a round or square cross-section.

Al (Steamboat)

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Just now, Steamboat said:

What Thomas, Daswulf, and Anvil said.

Hey!

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Or the dreaded plea to the fire:  "put it back!"   Having a hand powered blower helps as the fire coasts between your taking stuff out and working it.  An electric blower profits from a foot switch  and a propane forge you can tune such that it doesn't damage your work.  (Folks will commonly say that a propane forge is not as hot as a coal forge.  Having MELTED a piece or two in mine all I can say is How Hot do you need it?)

Hay does not help keep the workpiece warm....

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20 minutes ago, anvil said:

And the lesson is to learn "how many irons in the fire are too many?" 

Seems I'm always learning that if I have more than one, I Might have one too many. :rolleyes: Using a solid fuel forge, placement of multiple pieces In the fire is another lesson. 

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It is. And gets better with practice. 

Part of my routine, being a lefty is to move all my irons from right to left. The newest and coldest is on the right, the hottest on the left. I use a coal forge with a 14" champion 400 blower. My blower really aids in not burning my iron.

Even with two pieces of half, it teaches you real quick to "generally" forging to just below a yellow will give you more time at the anvil without any dead time than forging to a red.

I can maintain 6-8 pieces of half square and say 3-5 pieces of 1" square in my centaur forge rectangular firepot.

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Maybe I need to start using the deadman foot switch with my electric blower when doing runs. It would probably help me Not have too many irons in the fire as often. :)

 

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An experienced smith doing a video probbably has a few hours of hot steel ore heating his/her anvil as well. A common tactic is to hold the stock off the anvil wile you contemplate it (sooner enugh a quick glance and back in the fire wile you contemplate your next move)

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You're not too far from the American Bladesmith Society school in Texarkana if you have sharp pointy inclinations...

(I'll be heading to Quad-State soon but only going through the NW corner of AR, (Born in Fayetteville, BS from UofA, First child born in Springdale, Step Daughter and SIL and twin grandkids in West Fork, I own 13 acres in Cedarville,...)

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6 hours ago, JHCC said:

Hey!

Yep... what you said.

My mentor would say to me "are you going to hit it or look at it". He taught me to contemplate where and how I was to hit it, while it was in the fire. On a thin piece you can loose half your heat in seconds, while looking at it.

7 hours ago, YaAqob's Hammer said:

I am a novice blacksmith

Have you looked into The Blacksmith Organization of Arkansas? There is a chapter near you.

https://www.iforgeiron.com/forum/187-blacksmith-organization-of-arkansas/

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Another thing to consider is the amazing quality of video editing some people display. If you're looking at, say, Alec Steele's videos he's come a long way in his video editing. You could easily be forgiven for thinking that a billet will stay at forging temperature for a long time just because the movement of the stock in and out of the fire may have been edited out to make more room for cool shots of power hammers hitting hot steel. There's nothing wrong with that and it makes for an entertaining video, but if you're trying to learn it isn't telling you the whole story.

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It's very important to have the bare minumum contact of workpiece with the anvil. Try to have as much of the red piece as you can, hanging in the air (beyond the anvil's edge), where it will lose less heat.

Also - lifting the piece between blows also reduces heat loss. So when you forge a square bar, it's a good practice to turn it every 1-2 blows. Not only for proper shaping, but you earn "air time".

As mentioned - fast strong blows introduce heat into the metal. But these come with experience.

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Something I've learned is that with thinner pieces it's best to forge them but not until they are past red heat.  I tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap and then right back in the fire.  The pieces heat really fast and you only lose a little heat.  If feels like almost constant forging this way vs. forging until it goes to black heat.  This was never more useful than when I forged a steel striker on Monday.  Putting it back in the fire at red heat allowed me to get it right back up to orange heat fairly quickly.  With something that thin I might only get 5-7 taps of the hammer before it hast to go back in the forge.  

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About the only thing that hasn't been mentioned is that solid fuel forges are capable of generating unique heating situations.  For example.  If your air supply is high speed and low volume, over a shallow fire, you can get superficial heating where the airblast is actually cooling things off.  If you have high speed and high volume air blast on a deep fire, you can get a blow-torch effect in the center of your airblast.  That one is particularly frustrating because everywhere but the center of the airblast is a weak fire, so you leave the metal in longer.  You check on it from time to time and it doesn't seem to get to yellow.  Then all of a sudden, you see sparks and the piece is burnt in two, right above the air blast!

Another thing that wasn't mentioned is that your stock can be it's own heat-sink.  If you have drawn the stock to a smaller size, try heating the larger section before heating the working area.  That way, the larger section will buy you more working time.

 

 

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On ‎9‎/‎5‎/‎2018 at 12:50 AM, ThomasPowers said:

  Having a hand powered blower helps as the fire coasts between your taking stuff out and working it. 

That is true. I never have more than one piece in the forge, as most of my forging time is demo time. I talk a lot. (Having spent 20 years teaching on radio I know how to talk!). A hand cranked blower is much safer than an electric blower in terms of melting the workpiece. However,  I do have a rule: Talk but don't turn; turn but don't talk!!

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ah you mean "Talk and turn your blade will burn" my exordium  to "If a good blade you would win, you must forge thick and grind thin"  (Moxon's Mechanicks Exercises)

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