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I Forge Iron

Kyle learns a new trade. (Pic heavy)


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I have decided to attempt to make/keep a log of my blacksmithing progression here. It will be nice to look back on, and also help me progress through feedback and criticism. I have been hammering or reading in my spare time for a couple months. Although I definitely don't seem to take as many photos as I want to be taking. 

I will just start with some photos of my first setup. Broke down and just bought a tiny anvil to start, and a big hammer. An odd sight but an effective combo nonetheless.


My first supply of charcoal, expensive and definitely needed some smashing. Was impossible to find the cheaper smaller stuff in the middle of summer. 


My first firepot dug out in Sand with fired rocks to hold the sand in shape. And my blower and first fire.


And my first fire rake/poker out of rebar, and some of the twisted flat bar tongs setup to hold 1/2" round. 


So much has been changed in just a few short months, but more of the story will come later. My phone needs to recharge and so do I. 

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If you have access to wood you don't need to buy charcoal! 

The shot with the blower running says too much air; divert a bunch of it!

I've done a lot of smithing with a 25# anvil based on historical examples.  Of course they were using real wrought iron working it at welding temps and so it was dead soft...

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Yes, I have totally gotten the fuel and air supplys under control now. That blower and funnel combo always had too much air or not enough, I could never find the sweet spot for blower placement and aim, then having it on a switch made that worse. Plus the headache from the sound, the blower was the first change. Built a box bellows with the remaining 6ft of plywood I had left after building the Jabod. Also moved the forge into a safer place, a larger clearing further away from the garage now that I didn't require the bench vise for the twist tongs.


And my first retort, hole low on one side of the bucket, placed close the side of the pit, (half a 55 drum sunk in the ground) and a fire burning on the other side, usually mostly covered with a steel lid. It was too inefficient and required way too big of a fire to get the gases burning, the pail only lasted 12 or so fires. I will have to get pics of my retort 2.0 tomorrow. It is much more efficient.20200906_185724.thumb.jpg.c0e0555836f9ae12bcbe5ca8c675d19f.jpg

Another change around the same time as the box bellows was some serious scavenging. I found an old burnt farmhouse and was able to safely retrieve a couple old clay fire bricks and some large granite pieces from the fireplace. They made a nicer fire trench than the small rocks.20200816_155622.thumb.jpg.29410cf037a53fc3e21e318dbc1d6d83.jpg20200812_141048.thumb.jpg.b5b6276fdfeaf77c6e07a345a9320f0c.jpg

And naturally thanks to Tpaaat, the day after I dressed part of one edge and the horn of my recently purchased anvil, this 85lb beauty was given to me, on the condition my father in law got 12 inches. But 24 inches of 85lb rail is still twice the weight of what I had. And it's a little more convenient on a stand than sunk in the ground. I started the cut with a 4.5" angle grinder, used about 5 discs before they wouldn't reach any where safely, about 1/3 cut, the it was a 10" 18tpi hacksaw for a good bit, then I threw it down onto a railway joint plate and it was a most satisfying crack when it popped apart. I can get pics of the cut side if anyone wants, the ones I had seem to be missing. 


and lastly a shot of some of my work from around that same time. (2nd and 3rd forge sessions) A set of bolt jaw tongs, I tried to make them so they would hold spikes and leave the most material possible to be hammered. They work alright, but could definitely be more secure. I also learned that 1/2" round isn't really enough material for a beginner to be able to get a good boss/hinge point with. Also my first meat turner j-hook from the 1/2" round, and a spike starting to be drawn out. I have gotten fairly good at drawing those out.20200812_185659.thumb.jpg.109d3b332d7b2d15a535baf90ba7f294.jpg


As a side note I have already used home made sofwood and hardwood charcoal and store bought charcoal of a couple brands, and with my albeit limited experience, if I were to be picky about it I would hands down be using only softwood charcoal. I don't need to pile as much fuel on to get desired heats, it has faster heat recovery after long forging sessions and stays hotter for longer on its own. Most if not all ash just gets blown away, It burns away better and won't eventually "plug" the fire pot with tiny unburnt fines as you are working. And as another plus, I find it to be faster to convert to charcoal. 

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