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What did you do in the shop today?


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Nails were the first thing I did in class. They had us practice several before moving onto leaves and other goodies.

If you have a bolster for the head and a good hot cut, they aren't too rough. I struggled with keeping the heads even. 

 

Haven't fired the forge in 2 weeks, hoping this weekend works out. Provided work doesn't run long tomorrow, and the weather holds.

 

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Don't be intimidated..  Nails are super easy and fun..  they are a great warm up before full on forging fun and personally I like to play games when making nails..  

I try to make them the same exact length, or shank size or both if I have a paying job with a certain dimension of wood.  

Nails are not difficult at all.. if they seem to be you might be watching the wrong videos.. 
 

 

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Thanks JLPSERVICEINC for the information and encouragement.  I have to learn how to forge them. Its the only way I can improve as a newbie. Those skull nails are really cool. 

CTG, I have a bunch of whitney punch dies, I think I might be able to turn one of them into a nail header. Ill have to look this weekend.

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Don't be intimidated by nails. They're good practice and really just drawing out a taper on thin stock a nick and peening the head.  Pretty heads are still a little tricky for me.  I wore my nail header out practicing, but it was super thin bar stock to begin with. Repetition is the key. Truthfully I thought that making the header was more difficult than the nails themselves. What seemed to help me the most was getting into a rhythm and doing everything exactly the same every time. The first few I make are always wonky but they get better as I keep going. I have the same trouble with pancakes. I'd try to do more than just five or six at a time though. I'm just getting warmed up by the fourth or fifth one. Keep practicing, I know I'm going to. I'm having forge withdrawal, I can't wait to get back to it. 

Pnut

7 minutes ago, JHCC said:

Making nails is great way to improve,

I have to agree. It's great practice for tapering thin stock. I like books that show a skill that is used in a project then they introduce another skill to add to it for the next project and so on.  Savage 11 have you seen this video. It covers all eight basic skills. There's sub-sets of these skills but you can basically do about any project with s combination of these eight processes. https://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/49180-the-big-8-blacksmithing-techniques/

 

Pnut

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The video made it clear to me that instead of looking at a project as complicated and confusing it's only a combination of those few techniques. It took some of the intimidation away. When I first started I was practicing techniques instead of projects and I found it boring in pretty short order. Drawing a taper then cutting it off and doing it again was a good way to learn the technique but it was boring. That's when I started looking for books that progressively teaches skills and then incorporates them into an actual project. Like drawing a taper and bending a drive hook. Then drawing a taper bending a hook and punching a hole to make J hook to screw into a wal etc. One skill and project builds up to the next. I've been at it for a year and still think everything I make is horrible. The people I give the stuff to seems to actually like it but that could just be them being polite. It takes a long time to get proficient at smithing. Find a group to join if possible. The few times I've gotten to go to someone else's shop and work I've progressed more in an afternoon with them than a month on my own. 

Pnut

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39 minutes ago, pnut said:

The few times I've gotten to go to someone else's shop and work I've progressed more in an afternoon with them than a month on my own. 

 

I'm ultra-green, and the handful of times I've gotten to go hang out with/ strike for littleblacksmith or with the gentlemen at Steep Hollow, it's been extraordinarily enlightening. 

My first time forging was at the aforementioned class at Steep Hollow Forgeworks. Jeff and Alan's direction and guidance was worth 10x what I paid for the class. It's also the reason I'm saving up for a 3-day class with LBS. 

If you can find an intro class from a good smith near you, it'll help to talk to them about your goals and needs and likely take the class. 

 

I went from only having bent hot metal to fab something for work to making nails, hooks, leaves, bottle openers, and a fire poker in 8 hours with the help of experienced smiths.

 

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I'm vehicularly challenged at the moment. There's a shop about an hour and fifteen minutes away where the Cincinnati blacksmiths guild meets. My vehicle died right after I found out about it so I haven't been able to go. There's a couple smiths close that I've visited their shops a few times and have an open invitation to come back but I don't like to make a nuisance of myself. The closest guy calls sometimes if he needs some help and I go over but if I don't run into him in town or if he doesn't contact me I don't like to bother him even though he says call anytime. I try not to be a bother. You're definitely correct. Working with a more experienced smith makes you progress much quicker than trial and error. When I get a vehicle I'll be able to attend the closest ABANA affiliates meetings at the CBG.   Thanks 

Pnut

 

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Work on the square taper first. Use the horn of the anvil as a fuller to move the metal. Or weld a piece of round bar to a hardie post or you can even use a piece of pipe as a fuller.  Compare this to using the face of the anvil. Use what works best for you.

Then practice on forming the nail head, just the head.  Much like a rivet head you will need to hold the stock and round  the end to form the head. Rule of thumb is 1-1/2 time the length of the diameter of the parent stock. If it is not enough material, then use 2 times the length of the diameter of the parent stock.  Find out what works for you with the duvet head you are making.

Now that you have both parts of the nail, combine them into one project.

Want 3 or 4 nails that match, Simple.  Make 25 nails, lay them on the table and choose the 3 -4 that match.  

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Today was the IBA state hammer in and there was a great group of smiths there. After the demo was over (fantastic display of power hammer tooling and techniques), I was able to use the host’s 125# Williams and White power hammer to transform 4” of 2” diameter 1045 in to a bolster for hammer eye drifting. (To support the round cheeks at final drifting/refining) I may need to take some material off of the ends, but I have to try if out first.

David

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Pnut to avoid those forging withdrawals when you get you a mode of transportation you're more than welcome to come to my shop anytime. I'm usually out there in the evenings and on the weekends. I believe we started into this around the same time last year so I wont be a good one to learn anything from but I would enjoy the company. This forum is the only place were I get to talk with others that have the same interests as myself. 

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Not so KY, a couple beginners figuring things out advance at the square of one guy. If you and pnut hook up you'll both benefit if for nothing else than coming up with some new problem for us to ponder. ;) 

I much prefer showing 2 beginners what I know of the craft than one, everybody gains.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thanks. That's mighty nice of you. I will take you up on that offer soon I hope. I found a couple of other smiths but  they have busy lives and family going on so I don't ever contact them. I wait for them to contact me. The one guy is older and definitely grumpy but he's the one who calls me most to help him if he needs a hand in the shop. 

Yeah I'll definitely come for a visit soon.

I always say two heads are better than one. Especially if one of the heads is mine:o just kidding, but really two brains usually are better than one. 

Pnut

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Tried my hand at making a nail header. Did not have time to get the hole punched and finished. But hey that gives me something to do tomorrow. Started life as a RR spike. 

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Made a few more nails also, about the same so no pic. 

As a side note i was reading today that HUD estimates that in a house there is aprox. 40,000 nails. If a smith can make 1 nail a minute it would take almost 3 months of 10 hour days to make enough nails for 1 house. When you think about the old days the lumber was cut and hewn on site, smiths making nails and the like, stone masons making a foundation and fireplace, that is a really impressive amount of work going into 1 single home. 

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31 minutes ago, pnut said:

I always say two heads are better than one. Especially if one of the heads is mine:o

Maybe both our heads together would equal one then:D

Love the nail header Billybones and good to see the mouse is still around to approve your work.

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that is a good start on the header.. 

 Nail making was a cottage industry and many nails were made by woman and children as they sat around the fire in winter.. 

There was a Nail Monger (seller) that would lease the equipment and sell the stock to the family..  The family would work for about a month and on the next trip thru the area the Nail monger would stop to pick up the finished nails and pay the people..   He would than take his cut for the lease of the equipment and for the cost of the stock and drop off more stock.  

I had read about this and was shocked.. No i don't know where the article is anymore..  but was an interesting read.. 

by the way, they made thousands of different nails..   All finely finished..  If you can go over and look up the Maxim machine gun 1885 or look at early blowback firearms..  

The sophistication of items was amazing..  it bothers me that today we think they were behind the times..  In the nail making video I made 5 different types but there were 1000's of different types. 

We are not that modern..  VNT turbines were about 1887..  VNT turbines today are used in automobiles with literally no design changes other than size and bearing sizes and such. 

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27 minutes ago, BillyBones said:

If a smith can make 1 nail a minute

Have you ever watched the video of the Swedish nailmaker from 1923? He’s cranking out medium-size nails in about 10-12 seconds each. Even if that’s a relic of the film speed and he’s actually taking 20-30 seconds each, that’s still 2-3 nails per minute.

40,000 nails divided by 2(3) nails per minute is 20,000(13,333) minutes of work; 20,000(13,333) minutes divided by sixty minutes per hour is 333.33(222.22) hours.  Assuming ten hours of work per day, that’s 33(22) work days; assuming a six-day work week and allowing some extra time, that's about six(five) weeks’ work for 40,000, even without accounting for the differences in construction methods.

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