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Beginner Smithy Tool Projects

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I've been looking through the lessons on IFI for some projects to work on. I'm interested in simple, beginner items that will be useful in the workshop. Maybe hardie tools, chisels, forge pokers, etc. Any suggestions? I have a lot of RR spikes at my disposal, and the local scrap yard has loads of leaf springs and the like.

On another note, where do you guys go for new metal? I was reading about making tongs from pieces of flat bar and am thinking about give that a try. I know that TSC has some stuff in the welding section, but other than that what kinds of local shops would sell metal? And what number should I ask for other than mild steel?


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There are two or three steels supplier near me that I can go to depending on the type and quality of steel I want. Take a look on line for your area or in the yellow pages for steel suppliers or welding shops. For specialty / tool grade steel there are a number of online suppliers who charge by the inch or foot.

Also you will come to find that dumpster diving, trash picking, junk yard surfing and friends and family or a good supply of scrap metal that can be turned into all sorts of things. Do a search in the forums about scrap steel and you will find lots of help.

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Leo, Welcome to IFI. To find a place where you can obtain dimensional steel stock in your area do a google search of steel suppliers.
Likely you will find a "Metal Supermarket" near you. This is a national chain of franchises. You will probably find a few steel suppliers near you but some don't cater to the little guy. Metal Supermarket sells in small quantities and also has drops, all sorts of odds & ends and will sell you one or a thousand.
If you can get a 5 ft piece of 1/2" square stock at TSC for $10 you can get a 20 ft piece at the Metal Supermarket for that. TSC is not the place to go.
Also, being a member of an A.B.A.N.A. affiliate here where I live a few of the local suppliers offer a 15% discount to members, so look up your local blacksmithing group here on IFI and join them.
Once you find these guys and join the group you'll have your hands full with those little projects you're looking for AND expert guidance. Good luck, Dan.:)

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You can buy short lengths of steel at some of the big box stores however I found I could buy a 20' length of steel from a place that sells steel for the cost of a 3' chunk from HD.

The yellow pages is your friend.

My local supplier is a Windmill construction and repair place that sells steel on the side as the bigger their orders are the better break they get when buying steel.

Down by my parents I go to a pipe and steel supply company.

Up in the big city there is a steel supply company that gives discounts to members of our ABANA affiliate.

I used to be given steel drops from a local medium sized ornamental iron fab shop---always made them something from it too.

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RR spikes make good tongs but there's a lot of work involved drawing the reins down. This isn't a bad thing when you're getting started though.

They also make fine hold fasts though once again there's a lot of drawing down to do.

Finding steel's been pretty well covered but keeping your eyes open is indispensable. The stuff is everywhere once you know what to look for.

The rule of thumb is draw square, then round it up. The process is commonly called SOR Square, Octagon, Round. If you try drawing it down in the round you can cause cold shuts in the center of the bar you won't know about till it breaks.



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If you have a scrap metal yard near you then you are made. Redimensioning stock is one of the basic skills you will need to master so initially I would find some mild steel and forge up some fire pokers, rakes and shovels. Remember to work it hot (yellow) and keep it hot.

As for hardies, etc old springs are good for these. Bit different to handle to the mild steel. Don't heat is as much, up to bright red, and definitely don't beat it when it is cold as you could crack it. When working this metal the anvil can actually have a hardening effect on it as it cools the metal quickly, a bit like a quench. If you keep beating it then it can crack easily.

Above all else, have fun and learn :)

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