Tomas W

Tom from Los Angeles

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Hello all

 as the title says. My name is Tom and I reside in the greater Los Angeles area. I am a machinist by trade. I am just now getting into Blacksmithing. 

I have been lurking for the better part of a year slowly gathering information and stuff needed for the craft. 

I have 2 anvils, 1 is a 50 lb Vulcan from the 50’s in very nice shape. The other is a BIC Omaha (Hay Budden) 124# from 1893 or 1894 full wrought. It has had a full life of work. 

I just finished refinishing a Blue Sierra Rivet forge with a hand pump mechanism. 

2 weeks ago I scored a 5-1/2 post vice ir really nice condition. I am on a very limited budget so it has taken a bit over a year to get these. 

I did some forging in High School 40 years ago. Then nothing until 8 months ago when I took an introductory Blacksmithing class. I just signed up for a tong making class for the end of this month. As I plan on making all of my own tools, I figured this is a good place to start.

here are a few pictures of my stuff  I will be setting it all up outside  

Tom

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Welcome to IFI... looks like you off & running. Your HB looks to be in good condition to me, a wire wheel for the rust and hot steel on the hardened face and she will shine.

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Thanks for the welcome. Yes the HB has about 1/16” of sway and well used edges. The face is solid and has about 80% rebound. 

I will take a light wire wheel to it. Do not fear. I will not grind on the face!  That I read about in the “read me first” section. 

All I need now is to source some coal. Being in LA that most likely will require buying on line. When I take my class in a few weeks, I will hit them up for coal leads. 

 I will experiment with charcoal too. I can get 25 lb bags of mesquite for $10. 

 

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Mesquite charcoal is one of the worst "real charcoals" as it is seldom fully charred so you can get the mesquite flavour when grilling.  So it also has resin pockets that throw off sparks and produces more smoke than a fully charred charcoal does.  I like to just build a wood fire in my raised firepit  and transfer coals from it to the forge which can be upwind and out of the thermal load area of the wood fire---or in it if it's cold out!

I built a shovel to use; it allows me to shake out any ash or small pieces and just transfer over the good sized coals: made from scraps and a poor picture---feel free to make a better one and show it off!

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Also they have been forging with charcoal over 1000 years longer than they have been forging with coal...

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Thanks for the tip on the Mesquite. I will not do that then. I guess I will go chop down some of my neighbors trees at night and make my own. 

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You can use it; it's just not the best.  Any access to pallets?  The ones marked HT so not treated with pesticides cut up easily can make charcoal.

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Yes I can grab them from work. They just put them out and the pallet fairies come at night to take them away. 

Off to read up on making charcoal. 

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To make things weird: I am actually W Thomas.  Handy to have a first name you don't use. It shows up people who are trying to manipulate you. I particularly like the time someone called me "Bill"---if you don't know me well enough to know I don't use my first name you sure don't know me well enough to use it's diminutive!

As for pallet charcoal: softwood does work though the hardwood ones provide longer lasting coals.

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I make most of my charcoal from pallets. Their easy to cut up and pack tightly in a barrel. I use the barrel in a barrel method. Not sure what its actually called but it works. If you do have to buy some make sure to get the lump charcoal.

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All good advice above. I don't think anyone mentioned just using wood. Put some air to it and it's coals in minutes. Push new wood towards the middle as needed. I use ThomasPowers method of scooping coals from a fire pretty often. If you scoop the coals from a fire into an airtight can they go out and you have charcoal for the next time. The other way I make charcoal is in a ten gallon steel trash can with a lid with a hole In it. I put it in the burn barrel when the landlord burns wood and yard waste. I get all the decent wood put it in my can put the can in the barrel and put all the treated or painted wood and refuse around it and light it. When white smoke stops coming from the hole In my can I remove it and put dirt on the lid to seal the hole and the next morning I open up a can of charcoal. Easy peasy.

Pnut

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If the pallets are good I would sell them. They go for $3-$5 each in Las Vegas.

For scrap wood I use construction debris-all the ends of 2x4's etc, broken pallets, and larger tree limbs.  Another source could be a truss manufacturer. The one I passed in Las Vegas had a 40 yard dumpster full of nice little blocks of wood that would make perfect charcoal chunks. You may be able to get a truckload, as it is all going to a recycler. Tree trimming companies are another good source. Here where not a lot of firewood is used it goes to the dump, so if you can head it off. They use a lot of mesquite, and pines for roadway landscaping along with Palo Verde. Home wise there are olives (now banned due to pollen counts), cottonwoods, desert willows, and more. Those trash tree palms don't produce lumber, but I tell ya the fronds from a fan palm burn like crazy when dry.

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It's been discussed in other threads but I'll mention it here also. Dry feed corn works pretty good. It burns a lot like bituminous.  It forms a cave and "cokes" up similar to bituminous.  It burns much quicker than  coal but only costs about six bucks retail for fifty pounds in my area. There's a video posted in the solid fuel section about using it. I tried it and can vouch for it. I still prefer charcoal though.

Pnut

 

 

 

 

 

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My neighbors will hate me making charcoal. But I need to see what I prefer to forge with. Charcoal or coal, depending on availability. If all else fails I will go with a propane forge. 

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Haha Salsa music! I will hear that on the weekends. Also with a propane I could make room in the garage for my smithy. First things first. I need to get some anvil time on what I have. I can get hardwood charcoal from Home Depot 18 lb bags for $15. I will pick a few bags up this weekend. 

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Welcome aboard tom, glad to have you. Where in the greater LA area are you? I grew up in Sylmar, can you imagine banning olives in Sylmar?

Be aware that propane forges produce prodigious amounts of CO so I discourage using it an a garage attached to the house. The stuff is insidious and gets everywhere. 

If your neighbors don't like coaling wood, just wait till you light up a coal fire. Before long they'll probably help pack the drum and sit with you while if pyrolizes. Chips, salsa, beer, music and friends makes a nice evening. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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In my 38 years of smithing I recollect only 2 neighbors who didn't object to bituminous coal smoke. One  was a retired lady who grew up in Pittsburgh PA with a coal fired furnace when she was a child and told me that the smell reminded her of those days.  The other was another hobby blacksmith!

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Small world, I live in Burbank. Very familiar with Sylmar, my Grandmother lived there for many years. 

 

My garage is detached. So I can mess it up even more. 

My one neighbor always has parties to all hours. He will not be a problem. My other side that house is going on the market. So unsure about the future neighbors there. 

 

I will Need to get some skills and make them stuff. 

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Lots of Angelinos on the forum. I used to work about half a block from the intersection of Victory, Hollywood way and Burbank Blvd. Ate lunch from the Coney Dog or Santoro's Submarines.

My sister in Law Julie lives maybe half a mile from there and took me to Santoro's for a sub summer before last. Some things have changed some haven't at all. Santoro's used to be little more than an alley that'd been closed in to make a restaurant, it was maybe 12' wide and 50'+ long. a Deli counter down one wall a couple SMALL tables on the other and standing room between. Single file to the back of the counter and make your way up the deli counter ordering your sandwich as you went, pay on the way out. BEST subs I've ever eaten. It's more of a regular deli restaurant now. <sigh>

Julie took me to Alvera street too, Mother and I went there when we first moved from Portland Ore. where we ate or very first tacos. 

If they ban olives in Sylmar would they have to change the name to Mar? 

Frosty The Lucky.

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I live 4 blocks from Santoro’s I am right off of Burbank Blvd. 

There is not that many Olive trees left  Sylmar still has the Olive festival every year at El Carrizo park. I used to play Disc Golf there in the 80’s

I hope to make a few connections when I take my Tong class in a few weeks. I will see if they have meet ups some place. 

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