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I Forge Iron

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


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Probably would be, but if I worked at a little less glacial pace, this thread probably wouldn’t have strayed away from the primary topic as much. 

Thanks for finding that thread. Looks interesting. 

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On 4/3/2021 at 4:09 PM, ThomasPowers said:

I see that we have differing definitions with "traditional" being a style or look for you and not necessarily involving methods, materials, etc.

This should be another thread, but ,,, traditionally,,, I'm not much at starting threads.  ;)

If I created that intrepetation, then my bad. It's just not that cut and dried. Perhaps word examples will do better.

I like Art Nouveau, so, let's say a customer commissions a Goya piece and If I'm successful, it will be a historical recreation. However if I am strongly influenced by Art Nouveau and do my own unique design that shows this influence, then what I now have is an original piece done in the traditional Art Nouveau style, a style that began in the 1880's or so and continues til today.

Technique: let's continue with joining a light piece to a heavy piece. As a traditional smith, I would choose how I wanted to forgewelds it. There may be more than one traditional way. As long as I hit it with something, place it on some sort of anvil, heat it with whatever is handy and I pull it off, then I have done it as a traditional smith. If I use a mig, weld it, grind it, and paint it, I have done it as a "traditional" fabricator, a way that has been "traditional" since say the '20's. But it is not traditional smithing.

Historical chooses a point in time and defines it physically such as garb, anvil style, type of fuel, etc. The important deal is it existed at that point in time, and no longer. 

Traditional on the other hand started "some time ago" and is still being done today. It is not a point in time, it is part of a continuum. 

Goya no longer forges iron, yet Art Nouveau is alive and well. Goya is a historical point in time whilst Art Nouveau continues on


JHCC, I read that thread. Lol, I remember following it, but have no idea why I didn't add to it. Sounds like you and I are on the same track, Thomas is still thinking in his traditional matter,  :) the rest seem to be using a variation on a theme.

Any debate or discussion needs to start off with acceptable definitions for those in the debate, not "some people think,,,".  That's what I'm trying to do, for my own self, come up with some sort of working definition of " historical"  and "Traditional".

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  • 3 months later...
On 3/20/2021 at 4:34 PM, jlpservicesinc said:
If It were I, I might try to weld it back together after an acid soak..

Just noticed the acid soak part of your comment. I’ve begun working on both hammers again. The smaller one is not taking well around the edges of the faces. I believe I will give it a soak. 

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I soaked the smaller, misshapen one. It really makes the errors pop. I knew I had squished the edges of the leaf spring down over the sides, but didn’t realize it was so severe. 

I drew red lines in the approximate spots where I plan to trim the leaf spring. 

One thing I did not expect about the WI was one bar was a bit different than the rest even though all came from the same window bars. I also didn’t expect the pattern to be so randomly twisted and smushed.  





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The crushing of the wrought iron is kinda normal..    I had this conversation with someone not long ago about taking a good heat on the bar and let the outside cool a bit then upset it.. 

the idea is to have the center of the bar hotter then the outside layer..  this will upset the inside and bulge the outside layer evenly if done well. 

Nice job on the etch..   You might want to shelve this one and start a new 1.. 

In a few of the books I have read, they suggest making the steel piece about 1/16" smaller on all sides. 

I  don't like to do it that way.. I like to make it exact..  

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It is too small to be much of anything. Maybe a small fuller or set hammer. I took both to a SCABA member’s shop and he and another member showed me how to use an induction forge and power hammer.

The large piece they mainly worked. Gerald Franklin showed me how to get it to roughly square edges and draw out the taper. Then I worked it until I felt it was close enough to the shape I wanted that I could easily finish it at my forge and anvil, as well as hopefully get a major delam I have been trying to fix for the past two or three short sessions at home welded back solid.  The small one was mainly me except for squaring it up.

One thing I learned was it is WAY easy to go from “about there” to “You’ve taken it to a mangled mess.”  It is just so cool seeing the metal moving so fast and easy that you can forget to stop the hammer.  On the smaller piece I also relearned something I already knew.  If you hit WI in the direction of the grain once the temp has dropped too much, it will split.

At home I was largely able to get the delam welded, but some of it I will just have to grind or file off.

The hammer is largely finished. It isn’t quite as out of square as it looks in the photo. Pretty much everything is close enough to where it needs to be that it can be finished at the grinder. I still have to weld in the piece for the peen, as well as punch and drift the eye, so it is still quite possible I can screw it up. 

I etched the small piece so I could better see where the faces ended and the WI began. I didn’t oil it after, so it is rusted. I will etch it for a longer period and then try to fix that large split and etch it again and coat it with oil. I may use it as a paperweight at work. 

Now that I knew where the steel transitions to WI, I may take a chainsaw file and round out the grooves I cut and forge the grooves out. 

Almost forgot, do I punch the hole and then weld in the peen, or do I do the peen first? I think it should be peen then hole, but Gerald said I should do the hole first?


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It becomes user preference as to hole or peen.. It really depends on the design of the hammer.

Wrought iron being as soft as it is when hot can deform a bunch when working on the peen or punching the eye..  This can be a problem when the eye gets off center or skewed as it is hard to shift it back. 

Many want to see the eye in first to know if they should even continue.. (wrought iron can delam or shear ) so many want to see what will happen when the punch is driven in. 

I personally choose what to do next when the time comes..  Do I have a lot of work on the peen end and can isolate it from the eye.. Or is the eye going to be a problem where it gets moved around a lot..  If the cheeks of the eye gets moved a lot it can just start a stress fracture and will just fall apart from these cracks.  Its a terror because the cracks get bigger and bigger even though you are no where near them with each hammer blow. 

So, ideally it is what ever is going to be left alone after the operation is done.. 

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I going peen then hole. IIRC that was something you seemed to regret on one of your WI hammer videos.  You did the hole first and then getting it drifted back the way it needed to be cause you to have to do extra work. I should know later this evening how the peen weld went. I think it will be easier than the face. At least I hope so. 

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To prevent those cold shuts on the edge try this.

Slightly dome both the hammer face and the steel. Heat the steel and drive up some rags. Bring the hammer body up to a light welding heat. Set the cold steel onto the hammer body via the rags. put back into the fire. Dont put it in face down. The heat from the hammer and that of your fire will get the steel to a proper welding heat very quickly. Start your forgeweld in the center and work outwards. The slight doming acts like a scarf and that plus starting your forgeweld in the middle prevents slag inclusions. You should be able to get a pretty good weld between both including your edges on your first heat. If you need another forgeweld, put your hammer back into the fire before you drop below a yellow and dress your forging. Here I quickly forge the edges of the steel on the diagional to secure my edges, then, forge down the crown enough to dress the face and forge any bulging of the sides, not just the edges to what you want. 

I wouldnt keep the outside cooler than the center for any reason. The edges are the hardest to weld without getting coldshuts, and they cool faster than the rest of what you are welding. This cooling of the edges is one of the causes of coldshuts. Keep your edges hot. 

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I believe this may have been a mistake. Rather than have the carbon steel shaped like a T, I should have had it angled. With the face down and hammering on the peen to set the weld, everything seems fine. Then when laying the head over to draw the peen out more, the weld fails. The steel actually fell out twice after I thought the weld was good. 

Would cutting the steel and WI as shown by the red lines below allow me to recover from this?


It seems as if the WI pushes against the steel when I try to draw the peen out thinner and pops the steel out. 

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The secret is to not over forge it..  Ideally get it to near shape and then weld on the steel.. 

If you go in this direction you can see how it smears over the harder steel. 

So ideally the peen can be done 2 ways..   One is like when putting the steel into an axe or hatchet with a burr and pound it into the scarf that forms when the sides are forged down to start the peen shape..  This will create the correct shaped fish mouth..  Then at an orange or yellow heat you pound in the steel wedge that is cold and this will lock it into place.. 

the other method uses a round rod of steel and when the peen is forged down you pay attention to how it is forming the trough..  (fish mouth).. 

As you approach the correct round shape, you mark the steel with the correct width and cut it nearly through being sure to leave enough to support it on the end of the bar in the fire.. 

When the hammer and the steel come up to welding temp you hold the hammer up, insert the steel into the round and weld it.. 

The 3rd method is over steel and not as much a fan of it, but it can be easier.. 

Basically you take a short piece of steel and forge a very short nail on each end of it off to 1 side.. 

Then you bend them 90degrees and bend this over the peen of the hammer..   

These nail projections are driven into the very hot wrought iron and the staple closed up.. 

The barbs will lock it into place.. 

Not my favorite because the steel won't last as long before it cracks.. 

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I’ve not tried this myself, but I did just run into this interesting idea:



(Harries, David, and Bernhard Heer. Basic Blacksmithing: An Introduction to Toolmaking. London, Intermediate Technology Publications, 1993, pp 72-74)

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3 hours ago, jlpservicesinc said:
Like said before.. Wish you were closer..  We'd get one done in no time.  

At the rate I am going, you can show me at the Dallas ABANA conference. :huh: I am abandoning the T and going to my first plan, which was just copy what you did in your video.  Method one in your post above.

I had considered that, John, but hadn’t thought of coil spring.  Jeez!  I must have at least three different sizes of coil springs, four or five if you count the smaller diameters like those from basketball goals.

I would have tried it, but didn’t think I could get a piece of leaf spring to true round. Why it didn’t occur to me to just use a piece of coil is more than a little “doh!!!” On my next one, I may try this method. 

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I'm not a fan of that method..  It does work but it creates a weak spot right where the hammer needs to be the strongest. 

You can see the wear on older or well used anvils that have 3 or more faceplates welded on..  The decarb line (scarf) is there no matter what.. 

Wrought iron faced hammers suffer the same problems wrought iron bodied anvils face..  

The faces will get sunken and when the faces fail which they do, they break out in usually 3 pieces.. 

The old designs were designed to be refaced easily..  The modern designs when the face gives up are throw away. 

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Hands on always gives a great lesson. 

You need to know this basic thing about forge welding. You just must consider this for every forgeweld. It gets thinner where you hit it. No matter what, one way or another you have to deal with this,, not loss of material, but this movement of material. If you end up too thin, This is called a wasp waste. There are many ways to deal with this, upsetting before forgewelding is pretty basic and it works for many situations. So

upset the end of your bar along the edge you are going to slit. It doesnt have to be much. Forge the end to a diamond, but leave the edge to be cut flat so you can start your slit. Now you have a quick and dirty scarf on both edges. ~ half the upset on each side with a thinner outer edge to easily blend into the tool steel.  

Forge a wedge out of the tool steel. Sorta match the tapers, and make it as long as needed. At the sharp edge of the wedge, with a slitting chisel, cut and twist the edge. This makes a few rags. If you have a long enough piece of tool steel, use a long enough piece so that you dont need tongs.  

Let the tool steel cool and bring up the body to or  near a light forgewelding temp. On the anvil, tap the sorta cold tool steel into the vee with your hammer.. Flux and put it back into the fire and your tool steel will quickly reach its slightly cooler FW temp( compared to the body). The rags will hold the two parts together without a problem. Bring it over to your anvil and give it a quick wirebrush and bring the whole bottom edge to your anvil face with a quick rap. This drives out slag at the bottom of the vee in FW area and lightly welds the bottom edges together. Now lay it flat aand lightly and starting at the thick end lightly tap it along the bottom length of the FW and work up to the top edge. At this point, depending on your skill level your forgeweld might be done. You might need one or two more forgewelds. Thats no big deal as long as you dont burn the tool steel.How big of a scarf? A larger scarf means you have enough material to follow rule one above with as many forgewelds as needed. Fewer forgewelds saves time and protects the tool steel from burn.

Why do you heat the two pieces separate? Generally tool steels forgeweld at cooler temps than either mild steel or wrought iron. It takes about as much time to do either way, depending on your skill level, but you have better control over overheating that steel tip and minimize the time the tool steel is in the fire when you apply the tool steel to the very hot body.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Started punching the hole today. Two passes through, started with a thin round punch about 3/8” at the widest point. Then moves to on just a little thicker. Tomorrow I will go thicker still. That dark spot of delamintate I will likely just grind off. It isn’t thick and I have been fighting it from the beginning. 


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Keep punching up and before you get to full size lift that up a little and throw some flux in it..  Trick is to take a full welding heat and hit it quick and fast with the lightest hammer you can swing accurately..  

I find this usually welds them back in..    Wrought iron is a wonderful experience.. Just different.. 

I try to always weld then back  in as each time material is removed it gets smaller/lighter..  


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