Volodymyr

Parallelogram problem

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Hi everyone!

another rookie question here, that has probably been asked, but I have found very little on 'parallelogram, rhombus' etc. keywords, and that haven't really solved my problem. Please read it to the end to see what I have already tried. I strongly believe that hammering technique is of utmost importance to learn early, and only a good practice makes it perfect, not just any practice.

I am a 'youtube-learning' blacksmith (I don't think that nowadays anyone is really 'self-tought'), and have no one nearby to ask.

My problem is with a cross section turning into a parallelogram, instead of rectangular, when flattening a square bar, when working in classic standard position - piece of work is closer to parallel to the body (90 degrees to the sight direction). 

At first I thought the problem is easy, and I have only to tilt the hammer, put the anvil higher, etc. But all that did not help. The parralelogramish shape is more or less there, no matter what I do.

If I tilt the hammer so the heel is closer to the anvil when landing the hammer (or 'anvil higher' position), I get what is on pictures (it's a cold-splashed square bar but it is the same with hot). If I try to land it as much parallel on the surface as I can, it's just a parralelogram, and when the tip of the hammer face is closer to the anvil ('low anvil' position), the parallelogram is even worse. The piece is flat on the face of the anvil, so there is no angle that could cause the problem.

I think there is an inevitable lateral move of the hammer towards myself, due to the arc nature of the swing. And this move causes top layer of metal to move, creating such a shape.  I tried to compensate it by moving the hammer from myself in the end of the move, with little or no effect, not to mention it looks weird.

And the question is - how do you prevent such a situation? What technique do you use to land the hammer ideal flat on the stock? Any compensattion moves? I know how to fix the parallelogram and that's what I am doing now, but I believe there must be a technique to prevent it in the first place.

I get more or less even metal spread only in 2 cases:

- when I put a piece 90 degrees to the body, i.e. alongside the sight direction, and hammer it so the hammer handle is parallel to the stock.This is quite awkward position;

- when I land something ridiculously heavy on the stock, like 12-lb sledge, without swinging it i.e. there is no 'arc' part of move; this was just for experiment, of course.

 

Any help or suggestion is highly appreciated, I am already desperate to find the answer myself. Thanks!

parallel-1.PNG

parallel-2.PNG

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The problem manifests itself more or less, but always in the same direction. I could not even deliberately make the parallelogram the other way, except when swinging the hammer with my left hand :)

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When your workpiece starts to turn into a parallelogram, turn it on one of the sharp corners and hammer that edge back into the mass of the bar. Then turn it on edge and square that up. 

Sadly, this is the kind of thing that can only be fixed with lots of practice. Pay attention to hitting straight up-and-down and flat to the anvil. Look at how your piece is being shaped. Adjust frequently! As the great Alexander Weygers said, "Always little corrections. With the little corrections, we avoid the big corrections."

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thanks!

looking at youtube videos, it creates a sense that it is possible to do right just by moving it right, rather then doing corrections. Having said that, I understand that those ppl have years of practice.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, volodymyr.metlyakov said:

how do you prevent such a situation?

Yes, you probably just need pracfice. It does not take years. However, just to get the basics out of the way: Are you right or left handed, and which side is the round horn of your anvil pointing?

What style is your anvil, two horn north german?

Old anvils were often resurfaced, to extend industrial use. However, they were not always resurfaced parallel to the base. I think this was done to prevent digging in to the round horn. So, if old, measure height on both ends of your anvil (to the table/stand it is on), to see if anything is off.

Edited by Cedar Crest Forge
typo

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Many things with forging take a lot of practice, and eventually you notice that suddenly you just got it, or have that Ah hah moment. Keep forging stock out. Make tapers, make square round or round square. S hooks are great starting projects. There are many other beginner projects listed on the forums here.

Like John mentioned, correct as you go. You'll eventually get a"feel" for it. Forge in a comfortable position for you.

It's not all about what your hammer hand is doing but Also the hand Holding the stock. How you hold and turn. Angles and dlight turns of the wrist.

Also keeping the stock at good working temperatures. 

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You might want to pick up "the skills of a blacksmith" by Mark Aspery. He's a bit more directive on the true fundamentals of moving metal than YouTube is.

Tldr; no one teaches begginers to reduce square stock square. The order is square, octagon, round, square. Then you move to square octagon, square if you're sneaky.

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I generally teach people to draw out square. Only going octagon to round if round is the desired end. Drawing out in general is square, almost always. For my beginning students the only exception is when I teach them to forge a slightly tapered hex on the end of their hot work tools. That way they have a visual reference when it is a hot work tool, get the struck end taper in, and learn to forge hex all at once.

 

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Thanks everyone for help.

I filmed the process and it looks like the hammer handle is not always fully parallel to the anvil surface during landing, tilted, even though the anvil is a bit higher than knuckles-height. I will try to set the anvil even a bit higher and see what it changes.

I've already done a few dozen of hooks, s-hooks, fire pokers, and some other small beginners projects, and developed some sort of feeling of hot metal and hammering technique. But that's only the beginning and I want to have the technique right on early stages, so wrong moves are not learned and later difficult to change.

Like you said, it's in many details that makes the final shape right or wrong. But sometimes frustrating when you don''t know what exactly is wrong, and therefore cannot fix it.

2 hours ago, shrike said:

You might want to pick up "the skills of a blacksmith" by Mark Aspery. He's a bit more directive on the true fundamentals of moving metal than YouTube is.

Tldr; no one teaches begginers to reduce square stock square. The order is square, octagon, round, square. Then you move to square octagon, square if you're sneaky.

that's exactly what I am going to do - make myself a present and buy Mark Asprey's books.

the problem is not exactly with reducing square stock square - I didn't do that often - it's just an example. I noticed this when making shoulders (half-faced blows at the near edge of the anvil), and the reduced part was unevenly spread. Further analysing showed that the problem is more general and shows up in more situations, and I was just correcting it instead of making the move right from the beginning.

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15 hours ago, volodymyr.metlyakov said:

think there is an inevitable lateral move of the hammer towards myself, due to the arc nature of the swing

this is your problem. your hammer should not be defining an arc, it should be striking the anvil in the vertical. 

meaning your blow should be straight up and down. thus, all things considered, the force is applied equally 360 degrees.

swinging in an arc means you are pulling your blows the steel creates a parallelogram.

make your blows vertical and practice

 

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Thanks for the reply.

Does this mean I have to exclude my wrist from the end of the move? I tried so with some big sledge, but I feel like I am imitating a power hammer, and excluding the wrist, lose an impact and blow energy. With smaller hammer it was quite ineffective.

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No, a full body movement is  critical to keeping healthy and prevent tennis elbow. 

Check your anvil height. A general rule is knuckle height with your arm along your side. Another way to check is put a piece of plywood on your anvil and hit it with your hammer. When the depression is the flat face of your hammer, you are good. 

Like a power hammer? Well sort of. End your blow with the hammer face parallel with the hammer face, for sure, and strike the same place on the anvil with each blow. Move your iron under the hammer. Dont move your hammer to where the iron is.

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46 minutes ago, Glenn said:

that's a great way to find out the height, thanks

 

1 hour ago, anvil said:

Check your anvil height. A general rule is knuckle height with your arm along your side. Another way to check is put a piece of plywood on your anvil and hit it with your hammer. When the depression is the flat face of your hammer, you are good. 

like suggested in another thread from the link above, I find it comfortable a bit higher, more like a wrist high. I will try a plywood method to find out if its true.

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The hammer hitting flat on the metal is comfortable as you no longer have to fight with the hammer (adjust) with each hammer blow.

There is no right anvil height, only what works for you and the project you are working on at the time. Small stock wants to anvil to be higher, large stock and strikers want the anvil to be lower.  Finding a happy height in between is nice if you are going to permanently anchor the anvil to the stump, and is a compromise.  For production runs, the ability to raise or lower the anvil with shims to match the work is nice. Just slide a 1/2 inch piece of plywood, 3/4 inch sheeting, or a piece of 2x6 or 2x8 inch lumber in or out under the anvil and be happy.  Not much difference for 15 minutes work but at the end of the day (8-10 hours) it can make a difference.  

The other option is to raise the anvil by putting it on a wooden platform. To lower the anvil raise your height by you standing on the platform. When using the platform method be very careful of the platform becoming a trip hazard. If you find the platform is a trip hazard, then shim the anvil instead. 

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also, its pretty simple

1:  be comfortable

2: hit square

If you are comfortable and not hitting square, then do as stated above, then learn to be comfortable.  easy peasy. just because you are comfortable as a novice has nothing to do with swinging yer hammer\setting your anvil correctly. experience will make you comfortable.   

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Another cause is pulling or pushing the hammer on impact. Keep your elbows indexed on your hips, no matter how high you lift the hammer your elbows need to be in the same position on impact ad your hips are the perfect landmark. I know I said elbowS and yes I mean both. You need to strike in one place consistently so your tongs must stay put. It's natural for beginners to chase the work all over than anvil because their tong hand is moving. It's imperative to keep the work still unless you MUST move it. Rotating it 90* is NOT the kind of movement I'm referring to. Yes?

As said above correct constantly if you catch it when it starts it's easy to correct. That goes for any time the steel starts wandering from what you want it to do.

Frosty The Lucky.

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18 hours ago, Frosty said:

 

Thanks, I will pay more attention to elbows movement. Didn't think about them before

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You're welcome, most people don't think about it, especially once they have enough experience they don't have to try to keep their arms close. You won't either once you've developed good hammer control.

Just remember to pass the trick along when you're showing new folks the craft. Once you do start teaching you'll have to explain WHY you do a thing THIS way. That's harder than you think, it'll make you examine why things work for you and you'll learn more than you teach.

If that makes sense.

Frosty The Lucky.

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13 hours ago, Frosty said:

 

Good point!

My 10y.o. son is showing interest in blacksmithing, so it's a perfect timing for me to develop my skills and teach him how to do it right from the beginnig, especially if his interest is sustainable. 

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