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What did you do in the shop today?

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Finally got up the courage to cut the antlers a neighbor gave me several months ago. I left them about a half inch longer than I expected they would need to be in order to have some extra to play with when getting the angle right. I am not quite sure how far down in the antler the tang needs to be in order to be stable. 

In the first photo the red mark indicates roughly where I expect to start the cuts for the tangs. The yellow mark on the one on the right indicates about where I expect to remove material all down the length to remove most of the de-lamination and split WI. This one did not quite go as I had hoped it might. Unlike the one on the left, which was made from an old file sandwiched between two strips of WI the same size as the file, the one on the right is a file placed in the middle of a WI “taco”. I did not have the WI hot enough and it cracked and split. 

The bottom two photos are the top and bottom edges of the “blade” on the left. The photo in the middle shows a spot on the top edge which didn’t quite weld well. It I may try once more to get welded. The photo at the bottom is of what will eventually be the cutting edge. There is much more de-lamination on this side. I am hoping they will grind away when I put an edge on the blade. Attempting to weld them again would likely be a waste of time. I should have ground off the teeth of the file before trying to weld the pieces together. 

I probably should have tried making a blade from just steel alone first instead of trying to go straight to san mai first. 





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Hello everyone, been lurking on/off over the past years & now have something to show.

After many years of interest, i've finally taken my first step into metal working proper, finished my setup tested and did a first heat and session of bashing metal.

Note the orky improvised tongs, they do the job of holding things at a distance, though I have to keep them in a bucket of water between holds to prevent them catching fire.

Trying to draw out the piece of steel I have so I can make better tongs with them to replace the combi-wood/scrap ones.

Onwards & upwards.



First Heat 10.08.2021.png

Improv' tongs (don't ask).png

First bashing session.png

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First of all, Welcome to IFI!

Second (which really deserves to be first), that's the most frightening/creative pair of tongs I've ever seen! I can't believe I'm actually suggesting a way to improve them, but you might find them easier to hold if you move the pivot closer to the jaws.

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Despite being insanely busy recently, I got to get out to the forge for an afternoon and make my first knife that I’m really truly proud of. About 2” blade, 4.5” overall. Made from scrap hex shaft and quenched in water. Includes my first twist and my first try at file work on the spine.




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Thanks. I was frankly shocked by how well it turned out. Question is whether I can replicate it. There are a couple things I’d like to change on the next one- do a different twist style, make the choil much smaller (I didn’t have a needle file when I put it in), do a better finishing job, scroll the end of the handle, and try a more complex spine art. Then of course fit and finish. Overall though, I’m quite pleased. 

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Nice blacksmiths knife.  Looks good. 

Trimmed one of the blade forms and welded all the bad spots again on the small blade. I also began shaping the general profile. 

On the larger one I put it back in the forge and gave another go at welding up the de-laminations on the edges. It seemed to weld this time. No cracks. 

The red line beside the one is to indicate what looks like a split, but is not. It is actually the edge of the file sticking out past the edges of the WI taco. 


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I went on summer camp with the scouts last week, but before and after I spend some time making stuff, and adapting my forge with an electric blower! 

I've been busy with making a leather costrel, and today I finished the wooden cork, made from mahogany. I used some of my great grandfather's saws, as well as the drawknife I made to shape it. Too bad I haven't made a wood chisel yet, or I could've made the whole thing using heirloom/ homemade tools.


The costrel is currently drying after wet shaping it. Next to it the mahogany cork after some sunflower oil



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JHCC I'd love too, but those don't exist in the Netherlands, I have mailed the team responsible for the badges here if they wanted to add them, so far I haven't heard back. There is a yearly event at Easter called the HIT, where people that want to can organize workshops. I know a guy from another group that is heavy into woodwork, especially blade handles, so as soon as I have the equipment I'm planning to set up a HIT where they can forge and finish their own knife in a couple of days. Or at least forge something like a hook, leaf, or both and make a knife handle with premade knives, depending on the time we want to invest.


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JHCC, the blacksmith merit badge was dropped from the BSA program quite a while ago. I believe it was replaced with a more general metal working merit badge. My son would have gotten it, if it was available. After all, he’s the one who got me hooked on smithing.


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That's right; Blacksmithing as such was discontinued in 1952. The Metalworking badge includes blacksmithing as one of the four project options (along with sheet metal, silversmithing, and casting); here are the activity guidelines:


d. Option 4—Blacksmith
 1) Name and describe the use of a blacksmith’s
basic tools.
 2) Make a sketch of two objects to hot-forge. Include
each component’s dimensions on your sketch,
which need not be to scale.
 3) Using low-carbon steel at least 1⁄4 inch thick,
perform the following exercises:
 a) Draw out by forging a taper.
 b) Use the horn of the anvil by forging a
U-shaped bend.
 c) Form a decorative twist in a piece of square steel.
 d) Use the edge of the anvil to bend metal by forging
an L-shaped bend.
 4) Using low-carbon steel at least 1⁄4 inch thick, make
the two objects you sketched that require hot-forging.
Be sure you have your counselor’s approval before
you begin.
 a) Include a decorative twist on one object.
 b) Include a hammer-riveted joint in one object.
 c) Preserve your work from oxidation.

The requirements for the Blacksmithing badge at the time it was discontinued in 1952 were:

  1. Make an open link of 3/4-inch stock.
  2. Forge a chain hook out of 3/4 x 1/2-inch soft steel or 3/4-inch round iron.
  3. Make a bolt of 1/2-inch iron.
  4. Bend and weld three links and form them into a chain, these links to be fastened to the hook of Requirement 2 by a ring, and links and ring to be made out of 3/8-inch iron.
  5. Make a straight lap weld of 1/4 x 1-inch stock.
  6. Make a rock drill.
  7. Temper a rock drill.
  8. Explain how to harden and temper a cold chisel.

And the original (1911) requirements were:

  1. Upset and weld a one-inch iron rod.
  2. Make a horseshoe.
  3. Know how to tire a wheel, use a sledge-hammer and forge, shoe a horse correctly and roughshoe a horse.
  4. Be able to temper iron and steel.


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On 8/10/2021 at 2:16 AM, DHarris said:

I am not quite sure how far down in the antler the tang needs to be in order to be stable.

As a boy I made a few knives out of bought blades and antler tines. I used partial tang blades that extended anywhere between one and three inches into the antler and were set with two part epoxy. After a decent bit of abuse, they were all solid. Especially if you pin it, two inches should be fine, three or more excellent.

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