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I Forge Iron

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After many years of wanting to forge stuff, I am finally giving it a go. Just started a month ago by getting a crappy anvil from Harbor Freight (it's crap, but does work). Started with trying a camp fire in the back yard, that took too long to get hot enough, so I bought a single burner propane forge. Boy, it heats up quick! First project was making a pair of tongs out of 1/4" rebar. It went fairly well, but one of the reins cracked on me and had to do another. Learning experience! They are ugly and pretty thin, but functional. I then ordered a Rapid Tongs Bundle Set from Ken's Custom Iron Store. Great purchase, highly recommend them if you are in need. I forged out the flat jaw tongs and they work great. Current project is a kitchen knife from a fireplace rack that I had laying around. It is turning out pretty nice, however it seems to be a mild steel, I couldn't get it very hard after 3 heat treats. I'll see how well it holds up after it's done.

Grateful for such a great place to learn this craft. Thank you all in advance! And before anyone asks, I have read the "Read This First" topic.

Link to my setup and projects https://photos.app.goo.gl/jDtMkbGbgHbVADBB9

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Welcome aboard! Glad to see you're up and running!

Tongs are a pretty tough project starting out, heck they're pretty tough in general, but those look about as nice as my first pair and I still use those every once in a while. I'm glad your HF anvil is working for you, but if you have some time I recommend stopping by a scrapyard or somewhere like that to find a suitable chunk of steel for hammering on. I think you'll find the material moves a lot faster when the force is applied to your piece from both sides rather than just the one. Still, use what works for you, just keep an eye out and give an improvised anvil a try when you can. 

That tear in your boss is pretty common from rebar, especially the thinner diameter stuff. I used to use it, but found it likes to shear and tear itself apart when you don't expect it to. Very inconvenient, especially with tongs. 

In general, when working with mystery steel, it's a good idea to use a few smaller test pieces forged to about the same cross section you plan to heat treat at, and to try quenching in oil and, if necessary, water then breaking it to see how the grain structure/hardness looks before spending the time forging a knife out of it. Thinking about the previous application of whatever piece of steel you have  can help narrow down the search. Coil springs and ball bearings for example always undergo some sort of heat treatment, while structural steel, fireplace racks etc. don't require any heat treatment and so are generally mild steel.

Anyway, I'm glad you got going, and remember there is no substitute for time at the anvil (preferably with someone experienced enough to give you some tips looking over your shoulder) when it comes to learning.

P.s. Nice bike (and mirror finish ha!)

P.P.S. If you haven't already, check out the "Read This First" tab in the banner at the top of every page to help you get the most out of the site.

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Nice another Missouri smith!

I'd recommend getting a 4inX36in Belt/6in Disc sander   commercial link removed  from harbor freight it's great to start off with I've never had an issue but obviously if you can afford a 2X72 grinder those work better.

Edited by Mod30
Remove commercial link per TOS
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Howdy welcome to the madness!  In general manufacturers do NOT use high carbon blade worthy steels where they don't absolutely have to based on needs of the item.  Hi C is more expensive to buy, work and requires heat treat so telling your boss "lets spend more to buy it, spend more to work it and spend more to heat treat it to make something that doesn't require it and that our competitors can do for less money with a low C steel"; anyway it tends to be a career limiting discussion.

Now if you want a fairly easy to find, work and heat treat steel that makes good blades: 5160 often found in car coil and leaf springs abounds in the scrap stream.  Note you DON'T want to use the piece of broken spring off the side of the road as it's generally has hidden fatigue cracks in it. Best are nearly new springs; places that do lifts and lowers often throw away tons of such springs when they redo the suspensions for folks wanting their new car to be jacked up or low riding. (I found a couple of unused leaves at the scrapyard a couple of weeks ago---still had the paper stickers on them!)

You will find that HC steels are harder to work and easier to mess up with.

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