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bliziak

Just another newbie: needs your help!

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To all you Brave talented educated Smiths out there, need a little bit of help. I recently decided to brave the oh so wonderful dangers of forging. Made myself is simple yet small coffee can forge. Tried to use a weed torch, realized that might be too strong. So I went ahead and purchased a brass blow torch tip, with an adapter that allows me to plug it to a 20 lb tank. Upon doing so, and then touch firing there is obviously either too much gas or not enough air. Because all I'm getting is Bellows and Bellows of orange flame. There is no regulator and I'm wondering if I could just maybe use a hair dryer at the back of the forge? Or should I nix the 20lb tank and use a 1lb tank like the torch top was intended. It's my understanding that it doesn't matter what size tank I use, because the gas comes out the same. But I can't seem to get a very hot(blue) flame... In need of some educated advise...

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Can you give a picture of your forge and tell us what it's lined with?   Some liners produce a lot of colour in the flames.

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I Will work on photos, but it does not matter if torch is firing in or out of forge. (It's a simple coffee can forge) the flames coming from the torch are large and yellow. So big in fact, that I'm not confident firing torch in the shop(indoors).

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STOP! DON'T FIRE IT UP AGAIN.

As you described it- A brass torch tip adapted to fit a 20lb tank is - you're  right- totally unregulated gas pressure.

There's a large difference between a propane or MAPP torch can style tank- and a 20lb tank. Higher pressures, higher flow, and bigger tanks require external regulation.

Good way to get hurt. There's  alot of information here about forges, setting them up, building burners, insulation and refractory and how to use them.

Do some research for a bit here, it's hard sometimes to find. But it's there. This is a dangerous hobby to play with. Like any danger, it can be mitigated with knowledge.

Take the time to research. And keep asking questions, there's many people here with knowledge and skill to learn from. I'm a relative newbie to smithing... I did.

With a small coffee can forge- a small t style burner should provide plenty of heat and control without an air source. But you need a regulator to adjust gas flow.

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I'll let the Burner gurus discuss burners; NOW WHAT IS YOUR FORGE LINED WITH?  Rather than wait on running things serially; lets work on things in parallel.

I'm asking because about 80% of the "simple coffee can forges" I have seen have been built totally wrong to use as a forge. Especially ones built off of YouTube videos...

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Welcome aboard Bliziak, glad to have you. If you'll put your general location in the header you might discover how many  members live within visiting distance. A lot of questions and answers have a strong location component. 

Ditto the warnings. Do NOT light it again!:o  

Besides needing pics of the torch thingy you're using we need to see what you have for a forge. So you  know, different places around the world sell different mixtures of LPG as "propane". Like gasoline of diesel fuel, propane is refined out of oil or gas from different places. It's not all the same stuff, at all. 

Also as Thomas says what you made your bean can forge from can not only be ineffective but down right dangerous. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Well now I just feel STUPID!!!!!

many, many, many, MANY thanx to you, Frosty. As well as to EVERYONE ELSE who gave me warning. Thank you ALL for responding so quickly, for I might have gotten hurt, or lord forbid... Hurt someone else! So again... Thank you all... Now, I'll start with you, Frosty. I built my beam can put of plaster of Paris, and play sand. It's just shy of 3" thick all the way around. But something tells me that you are about to warn me about using this method of refractory. I was hoping to start small. Using a pencil flame torch, and a 1lb can of gas. But even when I screw the torch head to the 1lb tank, it's like Drogun out there.(the fire breathing dragon from Game of Thrones). So I, of course atopped what I was doing, because there were obviously too many variables for my sake.

20200729_173855_Film1.jpg

20200729_173807_Film1.jpg

Here's the photos gentleman. The torch is a brass, pencil flame torch head. And the forge is plaster of Paris, that I let dry in the Nevada heat for just over 8 days before I attempted a test fire. Amd if you havent guessed, I am in Nevada. South western corner of the state (Nye County) to be more precise... Listen everyone... I can't convey how truly grateful I am for your warnings gentlemen. Thank you once again. And I look very forward to more advise, because the last thing I want to do here is give this up! It brings me so much joy! And in not even good at it! HehHeh!

-bliziak

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Don't feel stupid! Asking for help is NOT an action of the stupid. You can lighten up, we know we're awesome, like knights riding to the rescue and all that but we're really hoping for some new expressions of undying gratitude.:rolleyes: Say a good start on a pun thread. 

Okay, joking aside, please do lighten up a little common courtesy is the most any of us ask. 

First tip. Forget building most anything based on Youtube videos until you know what you're doing yourself it's hard to sift the wheat from the chaff and some things you see are downright DANGEROUS. 

Doesn't matter how long you let plaster of Paris (POP) sit in the desert sun, it is NOT a refractory. POP and sand or perlite is a common lousy bad forge liner myth perpetuated by online videos. POP at forging temps degrades if you're lucky crumbles it usually doesn't spall throwing HOT chips but it's been  known to happen.

You want to use a proper forge refractory, a rigidized layer of 8lb. ceramic blanket refractory and  a flame face of a hard water setting refractory. In a small forge like this Plistex will work nicely though it's usually used as a "kiln wash" a final layer of armor between flame and the ceramic blanket insulation. Rigidizing is important, first because ceramic fiber blanket can release particles are B A D for your lungs and like the term says it makes the blanket more rigid so it's stronger in the forge.

That's all pretty well covered in Forges 101 subforum of IFI.

The problem with your burner is obvious from here. The pipe you are using for a mount is blocking it's combustion air so it CAN NOT operate properly. It'd be like wrapping the air cleaner on your car in a plastic bag and wanting it to run. 

Is that fuel tank: butane, propane, Mapp gas, or? There are BIG differences. 

There are other alternatives to build on a similar scale and recently developed high temperature soft insulating firebrick has made them economical and easy. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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 its mapp gas. But it seems like no matter what yes I use, nor what size tank, I keep getting these large yellow billos of flame. Then I will say having read some of the literature on this site, as well as others. I am planning on going the, ceramic insulation + rigidizer + refractory, route. I even have an old propane tank to use. That or an old scuba tank. Not sure yet what im going to use. I am waiting on the delivery of a welder to start those projects. After what ive been told here, I imagine that I will start working on this forge a bit sooner than I had planned. I just wanted to be able to keep working/learning(keep hitting hot steel) while all this played out. I do wish I could just apprentice somewhere. Everything I've ever gotten good at, I was always able to watch someone do right in front of me. Oh well... If you could answer one more question for me.  is there a less expensive alternative to buying rigidizer and refractory. I read some nonsense online about refractory mortar being thinned out and then painted on to double as a rigidizer. This cannot be true. Can it?

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My wife, who is a scuba diver, tells me that there are 2 types of scuba tanks, steel and aluminum.  Do not use the Al type because even with insulation you would be at risk of melting your forge.  If you have an old steel tank I think it would be better than a propane tank because they hold a higher pressure and probably have a thicker wall.  That is assuming the diameter is large enough for your projected use.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Love that quote George N.M. It is NOT in fact a scuba tank. I only said as much because when I saw It in the junk yard, thats what it looked like to me. Upon further inspection I came to see that there are very few words visible on the tank, except for " non-flammable" gas. The best I can tell is that it is a carbon dioxide tank? So to tell if it is Steel or Al, I'm not sure. Does aluminum spark at all? Even in the slightest? Because if not I could try a spark test. No? 

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Hi Bliziak, and welcome to the site.

From the looks of things, with the angle of the torch port in your Bean-can forge, when you place the torch in the port, does your MAPP can sit horizontally?

If it does, then I think the reason for your billowing yellow flames is because the exit port on your MAPP tank will be below the level of liquid MAPP, so you will be spraying out liquid MAPP instead of gas MAPP!  I've done the same with weed burners, where I've turned the gas cylinder upside-down for a moment and the liquid gas has momentarily sprayed out like a big yellow flame thrower!  Does your MAPP burner behave itself when the cylinder is vertical, outside the forge?

Also there are various approaches to building a forge, based on what you want to do, be a hobbyist or professional, and what materials you can get hold of.

One of the main issues when starting out is using materials that can take the heat but are also insulating. This is very important. There seem to be a large number of new smiths who have built their forge using high temperature NON-insulating heavy fire bricks, who arrive here and ask why their forge cannot reach a useful temperature, or why it empties a gas tank in minutes.

The simplest thing to start out with is a few Insulating Fire Bricks (IFBs). These are very light (and fairly fragile) but are very good insulators, are easy to cut and drill, and can just be clamped together with pieces of angle-iron and threaded rod, to form a very effective forge. IFBs are not very long lasting when in direct flame contact, but a coating like Plistex will give some protection and increase the life of an IFB forge.

Here is a link to my first IFB forge:

 

Once you decide to make your next forge (you will, we can't help ourselves!), the recommended method is to line a steel cylinder with 2 layers of 1 inch thick high temperature ceramic blanket (2 x 1inch layers is easier to form into a cylinder without creasing, than a single 2inch thick blanket is). Don't build an enormous 2 foot long forge that you could fit a boat anchor into, as it will drink gas, and wont work well for 95% of the typical jobs you want to do. For making knives and blades, etc. you typically don't want to heat more that 6 inches of your metal to forging temperature, as that is pretty much all you can work in a single heat. Repeatedly overheating all your steel is a recipe for burning out the carbon in the outer layer of your steel and ruining it.  Calculate the inner volume of your forge before you start to build it, to ensure your burner can bring it to the working temperature you want. A typical calculation used on here is an efficient and well tuned 3/4 inch propane burner will bring a forge with an internal volume of ~350 cubic inches easily up to forge-welding temperatures. There are tables for other burner sizes and volumes in the Forges-101 and Burners-101 threads.

You will want to rigidise the ceramic blanket after installation. You can but ready-mixed rigidiser, or you can by Fumed/Colloidal Silica powder online (often used as a thickener with fiberglass resins), and mix some with water and a drop of food dye in a hand spray bottle. Shake well and spray all over the inside surface of your ceramic blanket (the food colouring ensures you don't miss a spot). Then with a gas torch gradually heat up the inside of the forge to drive off the water as steam.

Keep the torch moving all over the surface, until  the water has evaporated, and continue until the surface of the blanket starts to glow a dull orange. Keep the torch moving until you have had a dull orange glow over every part of the surface (you don't need to get the whole surface glowing orange at the same time at this stage).  Then allow to cool. Once cold, you should be able to lightly press your finger against the surface of the blanket and feel that it is now stiff and rigidised.

Next is the flame face. If you can get it, the best insulating refractory coating you can buy seems to be Kastolite30. It seems to be easy to get in the States, but not so easy in Europe or the UK.  A 1/2 to 3/4 inch layer of Kastolite30 seems to be the preferred thickness, and gives you a very tough and pretty good insulating flame face for your forge. You can add a kiln wash such as Plistex to increase the efficiency I believe.

I have to say I would have gone down the Kastolite30 route if it was easy for me to find in the UK. As it wasn't, I tried an alternative coating approach as suggested by D.Rotblatt on this site. He has been metal casting for decades, and has been using a casting slurry mix for coating his rigidised ceramic blanket, and has been getting good results. The coating is not as tough as Kastolite30, but it is very easy to patch or recoat any dinks in the blanket, and it heats up very fast, which makes it more efficient and less of a gas hog, which as a hobby smith is what I was looking for. His coating really works well for me.

You can find more info about how I got on in this thread:

Sorry for the long post, I just got into a flow.

Anyway, good luck with your forge building. Read through the Forges-101 and Burners-101 threads. They are very long but are packed with invaluable real-world advice about what really works. If you read these threads and then ask questions, people will know you have a good head-start.

Cheers,

Tink!

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Bliziak- like frosty said... don't feel stupid.

Feel safe. Feel stupid when waking up in a hospital wondering "what the heck just happened?". There's a few of us here with that particular experience under our belts. Trust me.

I have a younger brother that kinda pushed me into learning to forging metal, which I'd always wanted to do... but never did.

I just re-lined the small coffee can forge he'd built for him. He used perlite and sodium silicate to line it. Didn't survive long with minimal use. I did his with scrap pieces of ceramic wool and leftover refractory. I've used it a couple times now with decent results.

It's not really hard to do, there's just certain steps you don't take for granted. It's like driving a car- do you take your driver's training test in a Lamborghini?:D

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I know several people on this site who have managed to get fibrous refractory free by asking around at places that use it for scraps.  You can also buy it relatively cheaply from smiths who sell forge making stuff.  For example (Unsolicited Plug!)  https://www.iforgeiron.com/forum/254-gas-forge-refractories-and-supplies/

My forge uses  1 foot of 2' wide kaowool---not that expensive I save that in propane in just a couple of days forging and then it's essentially *free* compared to non-insulating refractories that you pay for forever in gas costs.

I kept harping on wanting to know how your forge was made just because there are a number of videos out there done by people who don't know squat about forges and forging; but lure in other people just getting started.  (There were some people on this forum who wanted a "like" button for posts; unfortunately a lot of "likes" doesn't mean "good info"; some really stupid videos have tons of likes because the people liking them don't know enough to evaluate them.)

Note that after you stand your torch upright it may take a short amount of time for the liquid gas in the burner to dissipate; so let it burn off and see if the burner starts to get a clean flame.

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Bliziak: When you build your next forge just mount your torch with the burner TIP just inside the fiber blanked refractory. The place on your burner nozzle where it widens after the narrow threaded section is PROBABLY the air intake. I say probably because I can't see it in person so it's an educated guess) 

Anyway, when you make the burner port in the forge the hole in the refractory needs to be treated just like the inside of the forge, rigidize, hard refractory and kiln wash.(maybe) The port can also act as a flared burner nozzle but that's more appropriate for when you start making your own burners. 

The burner port is the only part of your burner exposed to the heat of the flame. The burner being outside of the forge can breath properly. If you don't block the opening too much it'll work a treat. Burners can't fire into a closed volume, there MUST be a way for exhaust to escape. 

The above solution is dependent on your torch working properly outside the forge. Yes? 

One last tip, I mount burners to cylindrical forges by tack welding a piece of angle iron to the shell and clamping the burner in the angle iron. A good variation is to cut a short length, say 1/2" of angle iron, drill a hole in one flange, pop rivet or screw it to the can and use a hose clamp to secure your burner. Make sense?

When you make your burner port and mount you want the flame to impinge the inside tangentially to avoid more back pressure than necessary, it also improves temperature distribution in the chamber. The other thing that's really important with a bean can forge is to mount the burner so the gas can is as close to vertical as reasonably possible. Laying flat is a BADNESS thing. Think squirting flammable liquid that boils almost instantly into a cloud of flaming:oWHOOSH! Rather than a nice jet of vaporous gas. Hmmm?

You're doing fine. Check with the local HVAC or furnace service company about, offer to buy, Kaowool rems and trimmings. Most places in America it's illegal to use anything but new kaowool off a batt or roll. This means whatever they trim off to fit the furnace has to go in the dumpster by law. I have not bought any Kaowool in two decades. I stop in, shoot the breeze with the guys, believe me those guys LOVE to talk fire and I make really HOT fire so we chat a while. I haven't left in the last 10 years without having to say no more it won't all fit in the SUV. 

A company that services boilers and furnaces typically has at least 2 dumpsters full of Kaowool rems and trimmings along with what they tore out to replace. 

As an FYI, "Kaowool" is a brand name of a high grade ceramic refractory blanket and it's becoming a common term. It's much easier to write one word than a short sentence. Don't let it confuse you when you talk to furnace service guys, they'll know what you mean. The thing to remember is to buy 1" thick, 8lb. refractory blanket. Or if they rate it by temperature, get the highest they have. 2,600f. seems to be about it without having to spend crazy money.

You can order small amounts of everything you need from IFI store, see the top of the page, blue section.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I just want to thank everyone for such sound information. I look forward to knowing that each step I take, from thos point forward, will be a well informed "step," granting me the confidence I need to proceed safely into this wonderful journey of learning.

Now that that is out of the way, I have decided to use either the old propane tank, or going the IFB and angle iron route, as my next forge. Honestly, whichever is cheaper. The propane tank, pretty sure it's an old 30 pounder. It's covered in rust and dirt, and I don't think I would be able to fill it anywhere. So my next step will be acquiring all the items I need, starting with the right amount of ceramic insulation (Kaowool). Which I know is a brand name, it's just easier to refer to it as such. Question. Could I just cut the top off of the tank and insulate the inside of it, would it be better to insulate the top and tac it back on? Or would it be better to go the IFB/angle iron route. Or what if I chose to use the hard fire brick and insulated it with refractory mortar... I imagine there are too many variables to get a definitive answer. Guess I've got some reading. to do. Thanx all!!!

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The tank- that part can be completely up to you. There's many a different forge design. I made mine from an old inline water pressure tank from an old farmhouse. I did pretty much what you're talking about- I cut one end off, leaving the back of the tube solid... and then insulated and lined it. I then later cut it in half, and added a couple flat pieces over the opening to help retain just a bit more heat. The problem with it is that ALL of my exhaust comes out the front.

This picture is before dropping down to one burner, and cutting my shell in half- between the burners.

20200730_230126.jpg

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I was in my shop earlier, hypothesizing(cleaning). A friend stopped by earlier, and dropped off a bunch of sheet metal. What it be ludicrous to make a forge shell out of this? I mean if I just cut it to the size I would like.(Somewhere in between the size of a coffee can and a propane tank, lengthwise and diameter wise) Is this too far fetched? I mean as long as the she'll is steel, and it lined and treated properly, would this not work?

-bliziak

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9 hours ago, bliziak said:

Or what if I chose to use the hard fire brick and insulated it with refractory mortar... I imagine there are too many variables to get a definitive answer.

Nah, a definitive answer is easy. The only variable is how you work. If you're cycling lots of parts through per session, say 50-100 then a hard firebrick liner insulated on the outside is a good choice. The greater thermal mass of the hard brick will maintain it's temperature better as cold steel is inserted. The down side is it's poor insulating properties. It'll require a lot more fuel to heat up and will radiate more out of the forge.

The kaowool insulated, double lined forge typically comes to forging temperature in under 10 minutes and welding temp in not much more. The lack of thermal mass means a slower recovery time if you're cycling a lot of parts. 

For what you want to do a hard brick forge is an expensive poor performer. Definitive enough?

Frosty The Lucky.

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Yes. I see now. I came to the conclusion you just explained to me after about 2 hours of a combination of readings (on this forum) as well as the internet version of window shopping, sprinkled with a little bit of arithmetic. After considering that no matter which type of forge I decide to build, it will be somewhat of a non-renewable resource, until I repair, and eventually re-build. It has to be about getting to most bang for my buck. And it seems that the ceramic insulation route, though a scoach confusing, really is the best bet.

But I always come back to wishing I could just apprentice, somewhere for someone. Having the ability to watch and learn, rather than this trial and error technique. I mean it can be a not tedious trying to decipher thru all the information out there. But that's what learning is all about I gather. 

BTW... Frosty, what do you think of taking some sheet metal and making a shell out of it. Than lining it with Kaowool, tearing it with rigidizer, and than the motar? Would that suffice? Or am I missing a couple steps...

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Well back a decade or two back there was a discussion on apprenticeships WRT bladesmithing over across the street and the basic take on it is that an apprentice should expect to PAY for the 1 on 1 teaching as many shops don't have enough "scut work"  for an apprentice to do to pay in kind.  Especially as it was decided 10 hours of unsupervised scut work would equal 1 hour of 1 on 1 teaching by a master of the craft.  Of course the more skills you bring to the deal the better it gets for you.  So trained welders, or even jewelers skills for knifemaking; get a better deal than a "tabla rasa".

Generally folks find that it's cheaper to just pay for classes.

Anybody who considers unskilled labor time should equal highly trained and experienced teaching time is generally not someone I'd like in my shop!

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Oh believe you me, I agree. I just didn't happen to go into explainging the services that I would be able to offer in a hypothetical, master/protege type situation. With that being said, I know that I am grateful to have this forum at my fingertips, I was just voicing some wishful thinking I guess...

 

So I just want to make sure... Before I start spending money. Fumed silica, no matter what a seller might list the use for, as long as it's in powder form, will make rigidizer when mixed with water, correct?

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Heh, heh, heh. I make all my forge shells from sheet steel using my little gmaw welder though they can be screwed or riveted together with a little more time and effort. Just be VERY CAREFUL the sheet steel you have is NOT GALVANIZED!! You do NOT want to expose yourself to zinc oxide smoke it can be mildly sickening or fatal depending on your sensitivity and exposure. 

Plain steel GOOD.:wub: Plated steel B-A-D!:angry:

Forge liners are wear items, some last longer but they'll all wear out eventually.

Yes. Fumed silica is commonly available, it's used as a thickener for fiber glass resin among other things. I bought a can for maybe $8. I don't recall but it's super light, a lb. would be a silly large bag. Get "hydrophilic" silica so it mixes with water easily. a drop or two of "Jetdry in the water makes it even easier PLUS it'll wet the Kaowool better. A drop or two in the water you butter it with is a good thing too.

Once again. NO MORTAR!:angry: If you just want to waste materials buy them and throw them out, it'll save you the work.  

I get asked about apprenticeships all the time and believe me, Deb could find plenty of work to keep one busy but 10-1 is probably a fair exchange rate. Unfortunately most places in America apprenticeship programs are illegal now, some are grandfathered in and defended by powerful unions but for most of us they just aren't there in anything but name. Maybe if you willing to live in Europe for a couple years.

Iforge has a number of members in Nevada and probably not far off in California. Hooking up and working things out is on that trail. Were I interested in learning the craft, knowing what I do about the effort, now, I would've looked and sweet talked folk mighty hard. Being self taught isn't some kind of good thing, you have to make all the mistakes and figure out what went wrong, how to fix or better, avoid them in the future. I didn't even know there were books I just beat hot steel a lot.

I got pretty good but what a long road to not master even the basics, I didn't know what the basics were. Finally found "The Art of Blacksmithing," on a disposal cart in a local book store, they'd been ordered by mistake and after a year on the shelf they were eliminating them. There were 4 copies for $1. ea and when the nice lady at the counter saw I was interested gave them to me. "Where were they, I stop by regularly and never saw them?" . . . "In the crafts section." With: pottery, carving, macrame, quilting, sewing, etc." WHAT?!:o

Anyway, I suddenly had something to tell me what I was doing wrong, show me things to try and how. Better still, there was a list of other books and publications and I started growing my library. WooHOO!

Not good living in a vacuum. I wish the internet was available at the time, there were .lists and BBs already but I was out there swinging away. 

Those memories are a large part of why I hang out here so much. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Yes I always ask bookstore employees where the blacksmithing stuff is.  Seems often it's weirdly placed; one used bookstore has it in the materials science section and has a book on Farrier Work in the same section rather than the farm section that deals with horses.

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