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I Forge Iron

Making a coal shovel

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After three weeks, I finally got some time on the anvil. Last year when I was working at the state fair smithy, one of the old-time smiths said that we needed a new coal shovel for the forge. Well I talked to that same smith at the last chapter meeting and he said that nobody has made one yet. So I thought I would give it a try.

I have developed a fondness for "tying" knots, so I put a reef knot on this one - I only hope there are no other tools with the same there. The pan, a little bigger than my hand, is from a piece of 3/32 stainless, so hopefully it shouldn't rust. the handle probably will first, as it's only 3/8 round. If you look in the first picture, you will see that I have a small supply of the round :)
coal_shovel_for_fair_smithy_2.JPG fair_shovel_handle.JPG fair_shovel_pan_bottom.JPG

My rivets are two on the bottom and one at the back, and yes I should have laid out the holes and centered them. I just got impatient.

The thing is, I use a gasser and don't "need" a shovel, yet. I also don't have any kind of swage, so the pan was formed over a small trailer hitch ball I found at the welding class scrap bin.

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What part do you wanna try? I could work out a blueprint for future posting. For tying the knot, though, I found a really easy expedient that works better than clay. Since most of my source metal is 3/8 round, I have a piece of common 14g romex wiring a few feet long. it is stiff enough that I have to work the bends, but it lets me "work out" the bends.

Mr. CivilWar, fyi, I had to untie the knot two times because I made the tail too short to curl:o. Because my forge is only about 4-5 inches in diameter, I have to work the curves quickly and correctly or it won't fit back in to reheat (again:o)

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Using scrap sheet metal that I had on hand, I cut out a shape that included the rear and sides. I marked out where I wanted the bends to be made (on mine, the sides taper from 5/8 inch at the end to 1 inch at the rear, with the rear being drawn as an arc using the bottom of a coffee can) using a magic marker.

I then put the blank in my vice, on the line of one of the side lines and cold beat the sheet metal to a mostly square edge from front to rear. I did the same on the other side, resulting in a trapezoidal piece of C-channel - sort of.

I pushed the blank into my forge rear-end first, to get the back side hot. for the radius die, I have a 2-inch trailer hitch ball that has a two-inch long 1 inch diameter shank that fits nicely into the hardy hole on one of my anvils. As it's a round shaping tool, I am not worried if it rotates.

once the blank is hot, using a combination of the horn and the ball, I just forged the back end to a nice curvy shovel pan without folding anything.

Oh yeah, two other little things, I also found a little tiny one-inch tow hitch ball that was probably for a cement mixer trailer or something off the back of a 4-wheeler or something - that helped shrink the corners of the shovel. Also, the tail of my trusty russian submarine-shaped harbor frieght anvil is tapered just the right amount for a shovel. That really helped me size and flatten the bottom and sides.

Hope this helps a little and is clearer than mud.

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Thanks John. I felt funny about the name of the knot, but had seen it in a sailing magazine.
I never had the chance to make it past first class but that was many seasons ago. I remembered from sailing merit badge work that we called it a "stopper knot", but always called a square a square.


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