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I Forge Iron

You know you have been hammering too long...


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Got a funny story to tell you.

Today i was doing some finishing work on a basement stair project, and needed to cut some more 2x4s. I picked one up and set it down on my sawhorses. The 2x4 wiggled. I picked the wood up, looked at it,and saw a good warp twist on it. I said outloud to myself "meh, thats ok. I can put it in the forge and then hammer it flat." I picked the 2x4 up, took a step towards my shop and then reality hit me "wait a minute! You cant hammer wood flat! This aint steel"
Yes, i smacked myself upside the head

 

Hope you got a chuckle out of this

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Dew,

I find that I often think of metal techniques when working with wood.  I'm sure that people who have come to the craft from wood working often think of wood working techniques when planning something in metal.  At least cold working techniques can transfer.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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The fact that you know methods of straightening boards tells a bit about your woodworking background.

I tell people that you can often tell what path people took to get to smithing by how they handle the metal.  Welding: they think of taking pieces of stock and  sticking them together at joints often trying for Fab work look.  Carpentry also leads them to think of chopping and nailing or "glueing" steel. Pottery leads them to treat steel as a plastic medium changing the cross section and shape of a piece over it's length.  You can add more or cut off stuff; but the fluidness of designs tends to show.

Another way of thinking of it is that welders often do "Brutalist Architecture" in steel where potters go for Art Nouveau.

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I have a master machinist friend who absolutely cannot stand woodworking:  It just drives him crazy.  He's so fixated on the fact that he can machine things down to .0001" that the fact that wood does what it wants and you need to work with the material's foibles just files in the face of his daily grind.  He just can't wrap his head around it.

It's kind of weird to see because he's brilliant and very highly skilled--making anything less than perfection a frustrating course in his head.

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I've met folks trying for machinist tolerances in wood; just changes in humidity during the day would throw them off more than their vaunted tolerances. The precision woodworkers I knew would "split a pencil line" with their saw kerfs and that was good enough.

I tell folks that approach blacksmithing wanting "tenths" that they should go for machining instead where high precision was a needed and valued skillset.

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2 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

I tell people that you can often tell what path people took to get to smithing by how they handle the metal.

During WWII, raw materials were very scarce. Every scrap pile was conscripted.  The County Blacksmith taught his sons to innovate - no material or method was inappropriate to keep the farms going.  One of his sons passed that discipline down to me.  Dumpster Diving can certainly be in the spirit of *.*Smithing, as a component of vision and creativity.  Hopefully Human Society will one day mine the landfills at a profit......

That wood came out of a 1905 Kimball upright piano.

56 minutes ago, Kozzy said:

It's kind of weird to see because he's brilliant and very highly skilled

I have struggled with being over-meticulous most of my career - the flying public will probably forgive  me.

As a tool and cutter grinder, working routinely in tenths, and then hand working under the microscope, it was very stressful, and drove me (back) to smithing and woodworking. I did plane those sticks to within .040" of one another......

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Good Morning,

I was having a fun conversation with a close friend, who is a Carpenter (kind of). He told me his outlook; "You Machinists are allowed to be within 2 ten thousand's of an inch. Us Carpenters have to be Right On".

Yes, there were a couple wobbly pop's involved.

Measure with a yard stick, Cut it with an Axe, Heat it and Beat it, until it fits perfectly. the Blacksmith Poem.

Neil

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Measure with a micrometer, marked with a piece of chalk and cut with an ax. I'm actually pretty precise with a torch. . . Well, was before my sight started going. <sigh>

Wood generally smells better than steel and I LIKE the smell of steel.

I was talking with my Father about repairing drills fabricating . . . stuff for them once and said it was funny only having to work to a tenth. He used to work to mil at times but said, "A tenth is pretty close." The look on his face when I clarified, "A tenth of an INCH Dad, not ten thousandths." He just blinked a few times and worked his mouth a little before he could reply. It was a Kodak moment. Part of what threw him was me talking about how the other drillers were always just slopping things together and made fun of me because I worked too close.

I had a heck of a time building the house and not holding closer than 1/64". 

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 5 months later...

Part of the reason I got into blacksmithing was the (relative) lack of measuring. I'm a computer programmer, and even though there's a lot of interpretation and flexibility that can go into a program to achieve a desired result, most of the individual, day-to-day tasks are exceedingly exact: it either works, or it doesn't. Good or bad. Pass or fail. One or zero.

I got into woodworking first, but quickly found that I'm just not the type that likes to measure twice, cut once. I much prefer to eyeball the cut, and chisel / shave / sand to fit. I'm sure my methods would give most woodworkers an aneurism, but it's what I enjoy, and my end results still speak for themselves. I'm sure I waste a lot more material than most other woodworkers, but eh, that's a fair trade for me. I also much prefer starting from rough stock, picking a particularly nice wedge out of the firewood pile and turning it into something awesome. We have a lot of white oak and hard maple in the firewood this year, which has been a delight, plus a bunch of 3-4' white oak rounds that I'll get to some day...

I guess I'd make a terrible machinist.  ^_^

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We are on the same page with the decompression value of blacksmithing! My Father actively discouraged me from blacksmithing, his only response to anything blacksmithing was, "Learn a paying trade." . . . "Uh Dad, I don't want to do it for a living, I want it for a hobby." I strongly doubt he misunderstood the difference between hobby and job but he didn't change his response until I'd been out of the house for a couple decades. 

I got all the crazy tight tolerances and precision work I wanted on the job or in his shop, I needed something more tactile and eyeball. Fire, steel and hammer was perfect. Oh I still measure stuff but +/- 1/2" is usually plenty close. Occasionally a particular job requires precise say a hinge or latch but you get lots and LOTS of thousandths to wiggle with.;)

The thing working with wood I don't care for is it moves around after you measure cut sand and finish it. Is it: hot, cold, dry humid, ? What the hey, that fit yesterday!:angry:

I getcha ;).

Frosty The Lucky.

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Luckily if you avoid doing intricate work with wood, much of the shifting and swelling is non-consequential. I purposely avoid doing anything with dovetails or other tightly-fit joints in favor of cruder methods. I cut mortise and tenons oversized when possible, and pound them together so the last few shavings curl up under the joint. It's not infallible, of course, but it has worked for me so far. Of course, I'm not doing any large or high-dollar projects, so there's that. The type of wood you're working with also has a huge impact; softer woods generally tend to swell more, and many harder (or especially oily) woods are less affected.

Part of what got me into the less-precise mindset is one of my other hobbies, firearms. I'm a huge 1911 fan, and, like many others, have observed the consequences of the modern trend of making tolerances tighter. Tighter tolerances do increase accuracy, generally ensure proper fit and function, and have a higher quality feel, but it has drawbacks too. 1911s, being a 100+ year old design, came from a time where machining was expensive and labor was relatively cheap - the complete opposite of today. Consequently, parts were fitted by hand, which left some looseness and slop. While this did reportedly decrease accuracy, it meant the pistol could get dragged through mud or tumble down a hill, and it could be put back in action with a quick scraping or a flush of water from a canteen. I read somewhere that one of the requirements when the 1911 was adopted was for 10 pistols to be disassembled, their parts thrown in a bucket, shaken around, and then randomly  reassembled into 10 fully functional pistols, which they did. Using 10 commercially made 1911s today, you'd have better chances playing the lottery.

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1 hour ago, Curse The Sky said:

I'm a huge 1911 fan,

While I haven't fired one in a long time I think the regular sized ones are plenty for me. :rolleyes: Thank you for the straight line, you're cheering up my morning. 

How do you think one of the modern close tolerance 1911s would do clearing a trench after crawling 50 yards through mud and buffaloing the sentry? It wasn't intended to shoot close groups at 20 yards, it was intended to go through xxxx and effectively let the blood of the enemy. 

I bought a Beretta 92f right after it was designated the official Us military sidearm. Nice pistol IF you keep it pristine and in a case. Accurate sure but how many military personnel are buying their own sidearms? 

We aren't in disagreement at all. There's a good reason AKs are favored over US weapons in the 3rd. world. Using appropriate tolerances is a skill set and marketers rarely have practical skill sets.

Frosty The Lucky. (with the location space in the header!:))

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This thread has made me laugh a few times thinking about my paternal grandpa.  He was a machinist for 50 years and took his machinist thinking into his woodwork for sure.  We used to kid gramps that he coined the phrase " measure twice cut once", but we always added " measure twice, cut once 1/32 too long then spend two hours hand sanding to make it fit perfect"...

I remember in 2000 I purchased my first house.  I put a small 10x12 deck on the back of the house.  Gramps helped me grid out the post holes perfectly, he made sure all the holes were EXACTLY the measurement needed to pass inspection etc... 

A few days later I had the floor framed up and stringers installed.  Gramps came over and measured and determined it was off square by 1/4 inch or so.  He then proceeded to pull the entire thing apart, find where I messed up, and then reset everything back so it was perfect.  I just shook my head and kept saying " Gramps the decking will hide it".  His response " But I will know it is off". 

Miss him dearly.  He passed 8 years ago and not a week goes by that I wish I could call him on the phone and just talk.  Three weeks ago I went and picked up his 1952 Craftsman table saw that he bought brand new and used to cut every board of the house he lived in his entire life.  Used it this week to square up some knife handle blocks before cutting them into scales.  I am sure gramps was smiling.

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On 8/13/2020 at 11:39 AM, Kozzy said:

making anything less than perfection a frustrating course in his head.

That describes my wife to a T. I always attributed it to her background in pottery, fabric spinning and weaving on a loom. It would drive me crazy to see her pull yards of weft out because she saw something that bothered her, and trying to please her mother as the oldest daughter. I have to admit though, her knives, tongs, and other blacksmithing projects do look a lot better than mine.

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I served on an Abrams in the Army, being a tanker my side arm was the M1911A1. Once i learned how to shoot one i bacame convinced that it was the best pistol ever made, the reason i own a couple, but way to big and heavy for EDC. During my time in was when they phased out the M1911 to the M9 Berretta. Universally hated by us. Acurate yeah, but no stopping power. 1 round from my M1911 was way more effective that all 17 from that M9. There is a reason that the military has switched to the Sig. 

When they phased out the M1911 the military actually put them up for sale to the public. $400 each and that was in '93, if memory serves, however you are talking about a weapon that mine was almost 40 years old at the time, the only original part was the lower, and it had 1000's of rounds fired through and of course we all know how a GI treats their weapon. 

Frosty, when i was in you would be surprised at the number of people who did in fact own their own side arm. 

My post vice has been passed down father to son since my Great-granddad. When i was a kid i used to heat nails with a propane torch and make little knives by hammering them out on that same vice. Me and my gramps would use that same vice to hold the mold for making shot. It held the wood for the first bow me and him made together, wish i would have paid more attention there. Lots of memories in that old vice. My gramps was a carpenter by trade but could pretty much do anything he set his mind to, growing up on a poor dirt farm in a KY hollar does that to a person. He was also a tanker in WW2. My Granddad was and still is my hero. He passed in 84' and i still miss him dearly. I consider my self lucky if i am half the man that he was. Dont get me wrong my Dad comes in a very, very close second, and fortunately him and my mom live about 5 mins away. 

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Mr. B.B.,

As regards to the Berretta M9.  The slide  has/ had a bad habit of breaking. The alloy used for the slide was defective. Which is just lovely when you need it big time.

Regards,

SLAG.

 

 

 

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Also when the slide would break, it had a tendency to hit the shooter in the head, not good. Our department switched from revolvers to semi auto's choosing the Sig P220. It is a fine duty pistol, but now the officers have a choice between the Sig and 1911 customized by Wilson Combat or Nighthawk. I carried the Sig and when I retired the Department presented it to me. The individual officers got together and had Wilson Combat customize one for me with my name & rank engraved on it now I have 4 Sig P220 pistols, one of witch was produced by Browning and I converted it to 400 corbon caliber.

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Regarding perfection, this is a story I have related before but is relevant if someone missed it previously:  A medieval stone carver was making statues of saints to be placed high in the cathedral and was carving the backs, which would never be seen once they were placed, with as much care and detail as the fronts.  When asked why he was spending so much time and effort on something that would never be seen he replied, "God would know and I would know."

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand." 

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