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Bjorn makes sharp things. My beginners log book


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Here I was having no idea what an Irish stand down was. Am I correct in assuming that's a bare knuckle fight with a tree? Well I'd be happy enough to walk after that too.

Here's today's haul bytheway. A bloke was retiring and selling everything in his workshop. Couldn't believe all the people that showed up to the garage sale. Got what I wanted though plus change. A big steel cylinder / my new anvil. I don't know what grade steel it is. I forgot to ask. Might dress it and then try to harden the face of it. If mild, should I try to forge weld a piece of leaf spring to the face? Can my forge even heat that thing up to temp... Any suggestions? No idea what I'm doing with this one, so I'm all ears.

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Just smooth one face and dress the edges to remove the sharpness. Use it until you find specific issues that you understand through your use how you would like to change it. 

If it is too soft, it will be easy to dress again when needed. It will still be harder than hot steel! 

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The tree almost won. I was pretty busted up, sort of crushed right foot and broken ribs on my right side, broke most if not all my ribs on the left and punctured my left lung in two places, broken neck and multiple skull fractures. Major TBI, a week to 10 days in a medically induced coma and strapped to the bed for a good 3 weeks until I became sort of aware. They sent me home after almost 3 months in the hospital. 

It'll be 11 years this Sept. 28th and I'm still recovering. "The Lucky," part of my signature is in reference to still being alive. There are a lot of other members of the "Lucky to be alive" club on Iforge. Avoid joining the club is you will please, it's less fun than it seems from outside.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Chris: Surface area wise it is only slightly larger and roughly the same shape as my current ALO, so I know (at least some of) the issue that I will face and can dress it appropriately beforehand. Rebound wise... Well it's quite similar to my current sledge hammer head, despite significantly more mass under the hammer, which is why I am considering hardening the face. Or am I wrong in assuming Rebound is a good indication of force transferred to the workpiece?

 

Frosty: That was a lot more injury than I had imagined. I am glad you were able to walk away from that with your life. I'd imagine most people wouldn't, and the epitaph is certainly fitting. It sounds like your injury was around the end of my service. I'd love to have helped, but I don't know how helpful I would have been. We were taught to drive to avoid trees to make our approach unnoticed (as unnoticed as you could expect from a 1500 HP diesel engine anyway), despite that I earned the nickname "the tree killer", so I guess my driving mightn't have been up to par. I hope your injury bothers you as little as possible.

I hope to avoid the club as long as possible. Though perhaps I am already in it. I'm sure I was more reckless at some point, though with less injuries for the effort. A knee that perpetually aches I can't complain too much about. A little older and a little more fatherly, I seem to have grown more worried about everything.

 

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I've had several friends now that experienced "life changing injuries" cutting trees down.  I might have ended up one of them but out here in a desert 10' tall is a good sized tree.  Of course they have thorns too.  Also my wife buys the wood for the woodstove, a cord will last us about 2 winters.

I remember Frosty on IFI before and after and it took quite a bit of after before he was somewhat like before!

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11 hours ago, Bonnskij said:

Or am I wrong in assuming Rebound is a good indication of force transferred to the workpiece?

I used to think that. I've seen some thoughtful discussions on the subject lately and I'm not so sure anymore. I also have a William Foster anvil with deformed (rather than broken) edges and chisel marks on the face that has clearly been softened at some point and that has pitiful rebound, but it forges just fine. I bet it would be improved by hardening (and other restoration), but at what effort? I may get around to it as a project some day, but not from necessity. 

I'm sure someone will come behind me to explain what I've missed, but I currently think that an anvil needs to do two things: resist movement, and resist deformation or breakage. You get the first one with mass and rigid mounting and the second one with enough but not too much hardness.

Use it for a while. If you aren't denting it, you probably won't see appreciable value from hardening it. 

Edited by Chris Williams
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I can't imagine you'd walk away from an accident like that and be the same as before. At least not after a long time. Took quite a while after my dad had a couple of accidents before he was the same again too, and one of them was without injury.

I'm not sure i would like to moved down by a ten foot cactus either though. I've heard New Mexico can get surprsingly chilly winters. A lot of people will start complaining around here when the mercury drops below 20 degrees celcius. I'm quite happy in shorts and a t-shirt year round. Then again everyone will have to deal with my whinging at summer time so...

 

Alright fellas. You have me convinced. I've dressed the cylinder and started drilling holes in a stump i found. Otherwise I'll leave the surface as is. I've been trying to do some research on what rebound, mass, hardness and things mean for an anvil, but it seems to be something to the old adage, that you ask a hundred blacksmiths and get 101 different answers (or however it goes). I wish there was some standardised test or research on what the properties of an anvil means for its efficiency in moving metal (if there is, I cannot find it) though now I'll have the opportunit to do my own test and compare a softer face, but higher mass stake anvil to my harder face, but lower mass sledgehammer head. Seems most smiths agree on mass being the most important, and work hardening is at least a principle I can understand somewhat!

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Not cactus; mesquite trees.  Saguaro's are in Arizona and parts of CA! (Big stink when they paid an artist a goodly amount of money for a custom Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Poster design and it came back with lots of Saguaros on it...)

Temperature in NM is usually a function of altitude.  You can go from Las Cruces where a 1/4" of snow is a big thing to ski resorts in Ruidoso and Taos. Or it can be 104 degF at my house and if I drive up to the MRO, which I can see from my front porch, it will be in the 70's (it is of course about a mile higher than my place.)

You are right that there is a whole lot of wild discussion on anvils: mass, hardness, rebound, etc and not a lot of good accurate experimental data.  I could design some experiments that would provide such data: (Falling weight, from exactly the same height;  impacting "anvils" of differing hardness but exactly the same weight and configuration. Place a steel coupon of known size and heated to the same temp and impact say 10 times, reheating between impacts to exact temp again and then measure the change in size of the coupon.  You could then repeat with different sized "anvils" to see the effect of mass on the results.

However anecdotally I can state that I feel that my larger harder faced anvils get more work done as I don't feel as tired when I spend the day working on the 469# Fisher as I do on a 112# PW.

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Aha. Clearly my Knowledge falls short here. I know nothing of mesquite trees, other than that they're great for smoking pork.

Anecdotal evidence can absolutely be useful. I can get a bit too hung up on numbers sometimes. I like the experiment though. Maybe do some analysis of variance and see if there is a significant effect on efficiency from the hardness and mass in combination. That's probably enough for an experiment, but would be interesting to know how much energy is lost if the anvil is not securely mounted. I've seen a lot of youtube videos where the anvil goes for a walk. At least my hammer head does not move an inch from where it's placed.

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You wouldn't need to use anvils to test mass vs hardness in anvil effectiveness. The test isn't about it's anvilness it's about the properties of the materials and the effects. 

Your test anvils could be various lengths or diameters of given alloys, heat treated to various hardness. Test coupons as described. Hammer drop mechanism as described. Different lengths of anvil of given hardness would test for depth of rebound.

It'd be interesting to say the least to have scientific data for many things blacksmitherly but the craft is so visceral and tactile specific data could only apply in general ways and probably not in the same way for different people. 

Anecdotally I have two main anvils on nearly identical steel tripod stands on the same 6" concrete slab floor. One a 206lb. Trenton, the other a 126lb. Soderfors Sorceress #5. The Trenton is as hard as to be expected and is a good solid workhorse anvil. The Soderfors on the other hand almost makes a new sharp file skate on her face. From my years using both the Soderfors moves steel, hot or cold much more effectively. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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That's exactly it. I would even argue that it's probably better to use just blocks of steel, as that would eliminate any uncertainty around anvil shape, composition and manufacturing process of the anvil and other things I may not be thinking of.

But also as you say, the results could only be applied in general ways. A spherical anvil in a vacuum sort of situation, although that would be useful to cut through a lot of the confusion.

From your anecdotal data I can gather that anvil hardness is in fact quite important for its efficiency in moving metal. How tall are your anvils?

I should be able to add my own anecdotes to the list pretty soon with a tall but soft faced block vs a short but hard faced sledge head (although the slightly domed face of the sledghammer will obfuscate things somewhat).

As for my forging lately. My axe/ Norse hawk(?) is taking shape. To the surprise of probably nobody (including me) though, the welds aren't great.

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The Soderfors is a little below mid line between my knuckles and wrist. The Trenton is just bellow wrist height. 

It sometimes makes me shake my head, I have the larger, heavier anvil mounted at a level for finish work and the smaller, lighter, dead flat smooth anvil at striker height.  Might've been the boots I was wearing when I built the stands and there's just enough difference in the bases I can't exchange stand. 

In my experience a hard anvil is more effective as is a smooth hammer face. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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I like that idea Thomas. A set of shipbuilders tools is high on my wishlist. I would particularly like some traditional Norse tools, but some of the axes they used are much too daunting a project for me yet. Will a wrapped eye adze work well?

Interesting info Frosty. I can't do much about my anvils at the moment, but it sounds like I have some hammer faces to dress.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The family and I have been outback hunting for fossils. Fun times! Now back to real life (and the shop).

Made a handle for my axe. Was going to use spotted gum, but had a piece of silky oak laying around that I thought would look nice though it might not make the best handle. Should've gone with spotted gum as the handle broke on the final fitting...

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2 hours ago, Bonnskij said:

The family and I have been outback hunting for fossils.

Ohhhh? What kind?

Yeah, eucalyptus is tough wood, where I grew up in S. California blue gum is everywhere. Why it was imported is another story. We had to take a few down in the back yard and it was a royal PITA to fell and buck, could hardly draw a saw through it. It's like tightly bundled wire it's so fibrous.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Marine fossils from what was previously the Eromanga sea. Didn't find anything spectacular, but a couple of fish skulls and bones.

 

And here's a part of a jaw with a tooth still attached. I thought that was really neat!

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Yep, those eucalypts are certainly tough. Spotted gum has very similar physical properties to hickory, so it makes a great wood for handles. As a bonus it's pretty cheap.

Assuming the blue gum was imported as a plantation timber? I imagine the climate in southern California is quite similar to large parts of australia, so would grow pretty well.

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The story I remember blue gum was imported to make RR ties and when they discovered it ate saw mills they switched to different timber. For a while cabinet makers and others tried using it then it was just ignored. Now it is, or was, allowed to live as wind breaks but I haven't lived in S. California in almost 50 years. Last time I visited it was still every darned where. 

I LIKE fossil hunting or did when I was more mobile. I'm not much of a rock face scrambler anymore.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I see;  as one approaches being a fossil; one grows to dislike 'depositional situ'....   I sure don't bounce, (or heal), like I used to.  On the other hand I make a great campsite/campfire watcher these days!

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Makes sense that they're used for railroad ties. Gumtrees are used for that here too, but then again, that's the most abundant kind of timber here. Very heavy and very gnarly timbers. Unpredictable grain directions I find, so I often get a fair bit of tearout when planing. Haven't worked with blue gum specifically though. Wonder if it's one of the timber species that has high silica content so it wears edges quickly.

Fossil hunting is great fun! Surprisingly few places in Queensland you're legally allowed to do it though. I am not a huge fan of the amount of rules and regulations regarding land around here.

What sort of fossils have you found Frosty?

As for work done lately: decided I'd fix up the axe haft instead of making a new one. Epoxy and Tassie oak dowel. It'll be a light usage hatchet, so hopefully it'll hold up. (Those are neither really small balloons attached to the dowel or a really big dowel. It's merely an optical illusion).

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And for my third round of forge welding: Some chain Damascus. I'm really enjoying this forge welding thing!

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Not many fossils lately, I know where there are some marine beds mostly clams, some chorals there are: various leaves, ferns, branches, and rare insects, etc where I've looked in the coal beds close by. 

I used to do a lot more before moving to Alaska but Dad had all sorts of fossil, agate, petrified wood, etc, etc locations mapped. The gem and mineral clubs weren't interested in fossils unless they had interesting replacement minerals. Coprolites are often agate and he had some stunning pyrite  fern fossils but those were "secret" sites. He never took me to one of his trilobite beds either. <sigh>

Frosty The Lucky.

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