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I Forge Iron

I believe I will try to make a steel faced WI hammer


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I have a scar on my hand that is much more impressive that it needed to be.  Had a hidden piece of a zinc fitting in a coil spring melt and squirt onto my hand.  Not bad but work said it was done on my own time so they would not put me on a job to let it heal.  I could take time off on my own dime or get back to work!   So it tore open every shift for several weeks before it settled down enough to heal adding another scar to my catalog. (I spend dull meetings cataloging the scars on my hands...160# dog, bow saw x n, chisel, molten zinc, Oxygen bottle, license plate, hot pipe---neat semi-lunar scar on my wrist, etc---I can still count to ten base 10 though!)

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I have several little scars from burns. Mostly scale landing somewhere. Including on the back of my neck. I thought it was a mosquito until it kept getting more intense. The best one however, is on my upper thigh. It is the perfect outline of the boss and rivet from a pair of tongs... I don't suggest wearing jeans with holes in them while forging 

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Now I'm going to have to ask Tommie for a pic of your upper thigh Chellie. 

Cauterizing temp is a little high for a soldering copper isn't it? Might work to solder wounds though. Hmmmm. I wonder if solder is antiseptic.

Frosty The Lucky.

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While I was forging my last hawk I dropped some stock on the ground behind a piece of equipment.  Bent down to pick it up and forgot that I still had my hoop tongs in my left hand.  Black, but still awful hot, and now I have a pair of parallel V shaped burns on my right forearm to testify to same...  Looks like I've been branded.

Best cut and auto cauterize I got is on the joint of my right thumb.  Got sliced by a piece of hot glass while I was teaching a very young student to remove the punty connection from the bottom of her first blown piece.  As usual for beginners she had bonded it far too firmly.  I asked her to stop trying to remove it while I chilled the joint, and she just had to hit it one more time.  Of course then it decided to pop off and sliced my thumb almost down to the bone.  Because it cauterized as well it healed strangely, so I still have a scar some 35 years later.

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My semi lunar pipe brand on the inside of my wrist  can be covered by a wide  watchband.  I tell folks it's the emblem of a secret society I am a member in.

Latticino; I'll send over a couple of hands from the "double V ranch" to stop by and round you up.   I had a friend , new to smithing, that was having some experienced folks help him forge some tools for his kit.  A lot of hot work was being done in the postvise.  Then he leans his forearm on the vise and he belonged to the double bar ranch for a goodly while.  Did learn the addendum to "the workpiece is hot " that all tools touching it *MAY* be hot as well.  Good lesson, especially if you are using high alloy tooling that isn't quenched but allowed to cool on it's own.

I get folks asking me about making them ornamental branding irons from time to time, often copies of historic old ones.  I have to ask them: "Are you the registered owner of that brand?"   Old mining and ranching law can be quite rough and some is still on the books!  (Though the Hanging Tree off the old town square is gone now...) Don't get caught with a running iron!  Frank Turley shared some tricks on making good branding irons with me once, there is more to making a good one than people generally know---like using tapered stock so the edge is fairly small but there is a heat reservoir behind it and *NEVER* close a section as that tends to kill the blood supply and rot.

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I knew that about closed sections, but not the tapering. Dad stopped branding his cattle when I was about 10 or 11.  He has no cattle at all now.

I went out again this evening. One of the neighbors was having a party, so I didn’t stay out long.  I worked just long enough to get another piece drawn out a few more inches and ready to weld on to the block.

My wife is still fairly mad because I didn’t go get a couple stitches. Yes, I should have. It is going to take much longer to heal since I didn’t.

The scar I will have doesn’t bother me much. What I worry about is possible infection. The area around the cut was a little inflamed when I came back in the house, but other than that it seems fine. It is weeping a little, but that isn’t necessarily bad. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Decided I wanted the block to be a little wider, so I took one of the to square and then folded it back over itself and tried to weld it. Both ends stuck together reasonably well. About a two inch long section in the middle did not. I tried reheating it till it was just below burning three or four times and still couldn’t to get it to close up. Each time the piece would get longer and thinner. I am going to split that section open to remove the slag I can see inside the slit and then fold it back over and forge weld it again. By the time anyone responds, I will have already done this, but I would like to know what if anything people here may think of my plan?  
 

What I think is the poorly welded spot is running from front to back and would be on the outside and not likely to cause a problem. That and the fact I will lose so much mass to slag trying to forge well the faces on, doing this is probably just waste of time and material and off no practical benefit to me except for the additional practice with forge welding it will afford me. 
 

Thanks,

Don

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Total mistake. As I was cutting I noticed the slit was not full thickness, but I kept cutting. 
 

Then after folding I could not get the two halves of the bar to stick. Will try again today using flux and a totally new fire. 
 

But in the spirit of finding victories where you can, I managed to do all of this without injuring myself. So there’s that...

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This is where I’ve landed so far. I forge welded another thin drip to the side. 
 

The top pick has my favorite. Stamped 2.5 lb, but feels lighter. It is 5” from face to peen. Sort of square. Bottom of head to top is  1.5”. Peen starts at 3” from face. Face is 1.5”x1.5”. Center of the handle is at 2.125” from face. Hole for handle from top side is 2 1/8” parallel to the direction of the face and 7/8” side to side. 
 

WI blank is 1 3/8” top and bottom of the front of the face. The sides are both 1 3/16”. 
 

The peen end is 1 1/16“ on both top and bottom. The sides are 1 1/16 “

The WI block is exactly 6” long now. 
 

On to scales in the AP lab, the block weighs 2.5 lbs. 

I like the length of the store bought hammer. I am not totally pleased with its weight. I plan to forge weld another thin piece to either the top or the side to both add weight and get it to square. I will lose quite a bit of mass disrupting the bar down 2” if I can actually get it to move that far. My spring steel for the faces are about 1/2” thick. That should leave me with a hammer which is just shy of 3 lb and about 5” face to face.

I am not sure yet if I want an angled peen or one side flatish and the other shaped to be a rounding face  

Beyond the obvious, I am a newb, anyone see any concerns or have any advice?

 

The bottom photo is my second favorite hammer  at 3.5 lb it is both two heavy and too light. 3.75 lb or even 4 lb might have been better. It is store bought. To make it I would need to enlarge the blank.  

Thanks,

Don

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes. I got a bit carried away with the rasps. The handle is a bit thin at the butt end though, so I won’t be upset when it breaks. I am still looking for a shape I like. 
 

I have tried a few different shapes. The first was sort of a backward D shape, kind of like a guitar neck.  It made it easy to tell where the face was without looking. It was Ok, but not great. When this one breaks, I will probably go with something like a U. 
 

The one part of the handles I expect to stick with is the type of wood. Bois d’arc is great. A bit heavy, but not excessively so. Rather tough. I haven’t broken one yet. I’ve broken two oak handles, but that may have been because they were made from pallet would. That wood is taken to a very high heat to kill any bugs. It could have made it brittle. Even more so than the physical qualities of bois d’arc, the color is what I really like. At first it is bright yellow, but with use and exposure to light, it turns a very nice golden brown. 

The handle in this wrought iron hammer will be totally impractical: flame maple. Probably one of the worst choices possible for a hammer handle. Looks great on a Les Paul, tomahawk, or rifle, but is likely going to break if heavily used. 

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This is the profile I prefer. I just wish it were a little thicker. 
 

I didn’t make the head. It is just an old and rusty, garage sale find. The handle is bois d’arc. No stain applied. It just darkens naturally from the BLO, bee’s wax, and grime as you use it. 
 

The odd knob on the end was once different, but I split it in half when knocking it on concrete to set the head. I smoothed it up and it looked like a phallus (If I can say that.  Please edit if I cannot.). So I worked it some more to try as best as I could to make it not. That was the last time I set a head with concrete. I use a rubber mallet now. 

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  • 1 month later...

I’ve been working slowly.  I now have the blank at 8” long x 1 3/4” wide and 1 1/2” thick  

My plan now, after I forge weld the last bit of flattened wrought iron to the blank is to use a fuller some what like the Black Bear Forge guy did to make two hammers from one blank.  I hope to be able to fuller it in the middle so the hammers are diagonal peens  

first I have to fabricate the fullers.  I am thinking angle iron with bits of other steel welded inside the V’s to add mass to them? Would a better method to make the fullers be better?

Should I fuller the blank with the blank at an angle?  Should I just fuller them as cross peen and twist the peen into position using a vise and a bending tool?

Would de-lamination be a problem with either method or less with one than the other?

   

 

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I'm not a fan of diagonal peens. If I were to make one I would forge the diagonal peen, not twist it.

I've not seen the vid you mention. Your fuller sounds complex to make. I'd make it in one of three ways, depending on use.

Hand held, handled, or as a hardy tool. 

If you need a top and bottom combo, then you need a handled one and a hardy one, or a spring fuller.

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This is where I have taken it so far. I need to work it some more to remove all the sloppy hammer marks and true it up.

 

The flat bar is 3/8” x 1.5 inch I am trying to draw out wider and flatter without increasing the length. Not such a success so far. I will need to practice with JLP’s video’s on directional movement to practice with again. It is tending to split, but that is likely poor heat control.  Eventually it and another piece riveted to it will form a busIness card holder. 
 

The second picture is after I cut the end off the hammer blank to remove the tack welds. It appears mostly solid with only a couple of places with a small bit of slag. With the face welded on I don’t think they should hurt it much. 
 

The bottom picture is a standard store bought hammer I am going to copy. I figure I may can cut the blank in half and add an inch of 5150 to each end of one face and the same to the other face and make a flat face and a rounding face. Or diagonal peen if I am feeling up to it. Likely not. 
 

The copy will get a 1” 5160 face and a 5160 insert in the middle of the peen. I may or may not try to fuller the sides to make it look more like the one JLP did. 
 

Question: the hole for the handle. Punch and drift that after or before forge welding the faces on?
 

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I would forge weld the faces on before drifting the eye, especially since it's wrought. Less risk of deforming or splitting the eye while hammering on it vertically.

At least that's what I did with my tiny WI hammer with steeled faces. Of course that was nothing compared to yours. Still, I think the same general approach would apply.

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