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I Forge Iron

Monster swege

Jon Kerr

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I managed to aquire this for the bargain price of £50.

No markings, seems ancient.

Very strange proportions, anyone ever seen one this size/shape and have any info on the style?

Happy is an understatement!

Cleaned it gently with a hand wire brush and oiled with WD40 and 3in1 mix.





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Very nice.  It is 2 to 3 times as deep as I have usually seen.  One thing that I like about it is that is that some of the triangular grooves are true 60 degree equilateral triangles rather than 90 degree right triangles.  Both have their uses but the equilateral ones are uncommon.  I recently filed one into my swage block.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand." 

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Thanks George,

Thanks for the info! I did notice there were 2 types of angles there.

Any tips/examples for uses for the 60degree grooves?

Could the 90 degree ones be used as an easy way to perform an exactly 90degree bend in flat stock for something like a shelf bracket?

Ive been making brackets recently and bending in my vice and they always come our skewed to one side due to the slope on the vice jaws.

Would I need a corresponding 90 degree top tool for this job?

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You can use the 60 degree grooves for making stiletto blades or bodkin arrow heads.  Three edges pierce easier than 4.  

Yes, you can use the 90 degree grooves for making true right angle bends by using a 90 degree top tool (a square piece of stock will work).  However, you can do the same on the edge of the anvil by upsetting the sides of the bend a bit and then sort of pushing metal out towards the bend. from the main piece of stock.  I know that's not a good description but I am sure there are you tube video demonstrating the technique.

I am sure that there are lots of techniques and ways to use a swage block of which I am unfamiliar.  I'm sure there are instructions on the use of swage blocks in older smithing books and, again, on you tube. 

I do think that some of the larger swage blocks are over sized for the usual 1 person shop.  They are hard to move around and were of more use in industrial settings 100-150 years ago for repairing steam locomotives and other large machinery.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand." 

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Thanks- I'll have to have a dig through the old books as I'd love to find new ways to get the most out of this tool.

For the most part I'll be using it to drift hammers and axes without ruining the cheeks, or for bearded style axes.


Thanks for the tips for the 90degree bends. It probably seems like an odd request but its because my anvil isnt deep enough (its a block anvil sitting into a wooden frame) to bend the brackets on the edge of the anvil... hence previously using the vice. I imagine using the swage block grooves might be quicker too!

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"Usual one person shop" is a modern conceit.  Historically there would have been at least a handful of folks working in a shop.  Those old shop photos that Gill Farenwald used in his calendars show that nicely---small shops in rural towns with 3-5 workers clearly visible.  The rise of electrification and small electric motors powering grinders, powerhammers, hacksaws nibbled away at the number of people needed in a commercial shop as the rise of easily sourced factory goods impacted the need for the local smith.  And then the automobile started becoming a commodity rather than a luxury!

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