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so i,m having a hard time deciding between a belt sander or a air hammer to flatten out the steel.

some opinions on which one i should get would be very helpful

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Whatcha making?

Those are two totally different tools for different uses. 

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well i'm planning on being a blacksmith and i'm trying to decide whether i'd rather do all the shaping by hand, or do all the grinding with a rotary tool.

both tools would save me a lot of time but i'm on a pretty tight budget.

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shape what, and grind what with what rotary tool?

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Blacksmithing usually is considered hammering hot steel. You use a grinder for finishing.

Pnut (Mike)

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shape out the metal to get it the size and dimensions i need.

grind out ruff areas and make the edge.

the rotary tool is a dremel 3000.

sorry if i'm not very specific.

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"the metal" is not telling us anything, and a dremel isnt doing anything for working on a cannon, but will be nice for cleaning up Chess pieces

so to answer your detailed question:  Get the thing to make the metal look like you want

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You need to do both. Hammer and grind. I thought you were asking about a belt grinder or air hammer. On a tight budget either might be out of reach. How much experience do you have with belt grinders or air hammers?

I'm not sure where Hart Co is but If you get up to Grant Co I'd be more than happy to help you out any way I can.

Pnut (Mike)

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thanks, pnut

i have a small amount of experience with belt grinders but have no experience using air hammers

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If you don't know what you're doing an air hammer can be dangerous. If you're just starting to get into smithing just focus on learning proper hand hammering technique. That's difficult enough without making it more complicated than need be.

I looked up Hart Co. I have a sister in Hardin Co by Ft. Knox. If I visit her anytime soon I'll let you know.

Pnut (Mike)

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Do you have Hand forging experience with hammer and anvil? Because a power hammer is just an extension of that for working larger stock or working stock faster. If you have no hand forging experience then there is a lot to learn and mistakes will happen faster and worse with a power hammer. 

 

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thank you 

i guess i should work on my hammering technique  ill get the belt grinder and it would be very educational to talk with someone with more experience 

well daswulf i have a little bit of hand forging experience but not much

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Look for a blacksmithing group or classes near you. You'll learn more and learn faster than trying to figure out on your own or by watching YouTube videos that might not be good info to begin with. Nothing beats in person face to face learning.

Pnut (Mike) 

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Dawson,

Blacksmithing shapes steel into everything from tools, to chandeliers,  to gates, to statues, to swords and knifes, to small delicate jewelry. 

And the tools required vary just as greatly..

If you were making gates and large pieces an air hammer would be helpful, knifes a grinder, statues a good welding rig. Ect. 

It's not possable to be specific in an answer for you without knowing which facet of the craft you are going to focus on.

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i'm making knives preferably but i may end up doing other things later down the road.

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IMHO the most helpful tool for knifemaking is a belt grinder, ideally a 2 x 72, so you are likely on the right path there.  Be prepared though, abrasives are expensive and to work efficiently you will need a lot.

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5 hours ago, Latticino said:

abrasives are expensive

Usually. I have some tricks to avoid the worst of that.

He sounds like he should just find a teacher ( learn in someone else's shop), until he figures out what he needs or wants. 

It is easy to spend 1000$ in a belt sander setup, and those box store belt sanders just don't cut it.

Actually, as a first electric tool, how about an angle grinder? Cheap, effective,  versatile. Cuts, flattens. I've even used it to bevel the cutting edges of two handed Halberds. Fun times.

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At this stage I would say: Neither; work on learning to forge and how to draw file blades.  Keep saving money and perhaps when you are at the stage to profit from them you can buy both!

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If you want to start making knives right now then go with the grinder and make knives solely by stock removal at first.  Buy known stock close to size and just grind away everything that isn't a knife. That will help you learn some of the skill sets needed to make a good knife.  In the meantime you can spend some time at the forge learning how hot steel moves under the hammer and how to get the shapes you want.   If you try to learn forging, grinding, heat treating, and finishing knives simultaneously you will probably experience a fair amount of failures which can be discouraging.  

If you are willing to take your time and perhaps not produce a good finished blade for a few months or more then I would agree with Thomas as well.

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Good Morning, Dawson

Start by learning how to Forge by hand Hammer. If you start with a Power Hammer, you are going to have a huge pile of RUBBISH. A Power hammer does'nt teach you how to control what you are doing. To get the benefit from a Power Hammer, you need to know how/what Hand Control is first. To start, you need to get to 1st base first!!!

Blades come later, after learning how to Forge, first.

Neil

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If you really want to flatten the steel with precision, as a professional knifemaker, use a surface grinder. You can buy an old industrial one, to save money. To take it to the next level, you can replace the grinding wheel with a 2x 72 belt design, so you can mix and match belts to your 2 x 72 belt sander. As a hobbiest, you don't need any of that to get started.

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Of course having a proper stop block on a powerhammer can help a lot too; or getting good at adjusting your rolling mill.

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