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I Forge Iron

Noob here with an annealing question


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I recently found a few old hatchet, axe blades in the garage of a house I bought 7 years ago. There are not OLD, but a little rusty and no handles. I have enjoyed  metal working over the years. More so than woodworking and I need a new Zen hobby. Anyway, I want to try my hand at shaping, engraving and salt water etching with these things. I have seen some examples on youtube that are pretty nice. I took a file to them and they are definitely hardened. What would be the easiest way to anneal these heads so that they are easier to cut/engrave? They will be wall hangers if I am even lucky enough to get one of them there. I have a small outdoor firepit, but I just don`t know if I need forge level heat or what. How do I soften these bad boys up?

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They need to get up to glowing and buried in a thick heap of wood ash and left over night or so.  Do you have an air supply you can use with your firepit to turn it into a forge?  (Or a real big bonfire you can toss them in and let burn down overnight.)

If you like, stop by and we can throw them into one of my forges to heat and as we use a woodstove when our thermonuclear heater is off there is plenty of ashes to bury them in!

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