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I Forge Iron

Most Helpful Hint/Trick...

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What do you think is the most helpful piece of knowledge. hint, or trick that you do or could pass along to a fellow smith or a beginner. This could be anything from fire management, shop layout, technique, hammers, drawing out, square to round. Anything you feel is an important halmark you want to, or do pass on to others....


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Things I say to new students:

Stop *before* you make that last hit that messes everything up....

Don't work WI too cold or high carbon steel too hot or too cold.

You don't have to have the fanciest most expensive tools to do good work.

Don't expect to make a pattern welded great sword the first time you fire up the forge.

Hit it where it's *hot* not where it's *not*!

You hold the *cold* end and hit the *hot* end---please get it right next time.

If the ground wants to look at your piece it is considered *very* rude to try to stop it.

I'ts far more dangerous to over react to dropping a piece than to under react.

Wearing artificial fibers in a forge area is grounds for a darwinian intervention--I'll wear hearing protectors to the ER so I won't have to listen to them pulling the melted plastic out of your burns...

and a quote from my teacher on forge welding: "Don't look at it *HIT* *IT*!


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Learn Hammer Control ie; to hit where you are looking with accuracy.

Learn to let the hammer do the work, not your arm.

Learn to NOT use a DEATH GRIP on the Hammer, just enough to keep it from flying outa your hand and DON'T wear a glove on your Hammer Hand.

Learn not to chock up on a Hammer, learn to hit with enough or less force to do the job with whatever Hammer you are using.

Learn to use measured blows, machine gun light blows will wear you out.

Learn your capabilities and constantly try to improve them.


DON'T try to bull your way thru, ask questions if in doubt.

Always practice SAFETY FIRST.

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1. Wear eye protection!
2. Remove ALL burrs!
3. Get it very hot if you need to move it.
4. Do the work cold if it doesn't harm the finished product.
5. Make a tool every time you go to the shop. In a year, you'll have a bunch of tools.
6. Don't worry the piece like a dog on a bone - forge and finish the work in a minimum number of heats. This doesn't imply taking shortcuts - but the work should be completed in the most economical way possible.
7. Drill holes unless punching is necessary for a desired look or function - they will be more precise when it comes to assembly time.
8. Warm up your arm, elbow, wrist and shoulder before hammering.
9. Rotate tasks - don't stand at the anvil and hammer for 8 hours straight.
10. Enjoy yourself.

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Here's another gem that was pointed out to me recently:

Don't use a "pushing" motion on the hammer, as in pushing with each blow from the elbow. It'll blow your elbow and shoulder out.

Learn to use gravity and to control the motion and full arc of the hammer's motion. Less wear on the joints.

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Just have fun and enjoy what you do.
Charge a reasonable price for what you do / if it takes twice as long for you to make something as the next guy you cant charge twice as much.
Keep in mind that what we do is kind of neat but not really that special.
There are probally more people practicing this trade now than ever before in history.
Beware of the self proclaimed Masters and personal horn tooters for they abound in any trade and you should endeavor to never become either.
Let your work do ALL of the talking and let others decide how good you are.

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Candle scones

Be creative, inventive and resourceful! Use what you have. When I first started on my own I was forging sconces in my wood stove with charcoal and had a thick piece of plate steel as an anvil. Oh how I miss that old Jotul. Open all the dampers and crack the door just a bit...She would roar!
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  • 1 month later...

Use a half face respirator, wear safety glasses, wear cotton long sleeve shirts, use a leather apron and oh yeah have fun. I wear all this safety equipment and still have fun. The half face is difficult to wear all day because it is uncomfortable but I find that when I wear it I feel good after work. I have worked with young guys in a fabrication shop that have refused to wear a respirator and I noticed that they were sick more often. Also I like to do alot of tac welding by just closing my eyes and pulling the trigger. I do this because I get in a hurry and dont use the mask to cover my face.This is not good for you either. cover your face. I have also experienced metal fused to the cornea. Very uncomfortable and expensive to remove. That experience cost me a trip to the hospital and 600+ plus dollars. Wear safety glasses, it makes you look like a professional. And oh yeah, have fun and create what you love!

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At the end of each day ask yourself 'What did I learn?"

If you think a project is too difficult for you it is a project well worth doing.

The final 5% of a project is the most important. This is the point where a lot of folks drop the ball.

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