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I Forge Iron

Father and Son getting into blacksmithing

Solid Crystal

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Just thought I'd introduce myself so I've been lurking the last month and gathering up as much as I can.

I have soon to be 13 yr old who is good at self teaching himself whatever he wants if he put the time into it.  This past summer/fall we've taken to watching one of those knife making shows on TV and he is keen not so much on knife making but metal working in general and keeps wanting to use a backyard/campground fire as a excuse to heat something up and bend it to his will.  His father (me) has interested in blacksmithing since HS, but never pursued it due to lack of practicality or place to practice it.

So to give him to opportunity to see if this is something he wants to pursue he is getting a setup for his Bday at the end of Jan.  My plans at this point are:

Forge:  A JABOD based on Charles Steven's design.  I though about a gas burner, but my woodworking stuff already occupies my half of the two car garage so whatever it is needs to be outdoor friendly/portable.  Also my only real investment will be a bag of litter, some sch 40 pipe and $10 air pump.  If he is really into it we can always re-evaluate.

Fuel:  Charcoal.  Nearest coal supply is about a hour from here from what I can tell.   There is a historic house (Poplar Grove Plantation) in town that has a smith and a 4hr/$125 class, but from what I can tell they get their fuel from the same place that is a hour away.  I have access to all the pallet scraps I could possible use so using a 30 gal barrel I'm going to make a retort of some manner.

Anvil:  Local scrap yard has rail scraps.  I asked for a 4" thick drop but they didn't have any that thick.  Might see if they have something thinner.  Likely a rail mounted on end to start with

Safety:  Will be outside so ventilation is fine, probably getting a face shield as he wear glasses and protects more than just safety glasses, need a leather apron for both of us.  Gloves seem an open debate here. 

This leaves me with figuring out hammer(s)/tongs, books....

What am I missing and any thoughts on what my plans are?




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The things that you didn't mention and need are a "pounderand a "grabber," or a hammer and tongs. 

For most adults a hammer around 2 pounds is a good general weight but that could vary for an early adolescent, some 13 year olds are close to adult size and others are pretty small.  So, maybe a 1.5 pound one to start.  Hammer type/shape is open.  You can use any shape but a ball pein or what is often called and "engineer's hammer" (hammer face on one end, blunt wedge shape on the other) are probably the most useful configurations. Even cheap Harbor Freight versions are just fine for a beginner.  Also, check flea markets or 2d hand stores for used tools. 

For a "grabber" traditional blacksmith tongs are preferred but vise grips or even channel lock pliers will work too.  I used vice grips for years and still do sometimes.  Farrier hoof nippers can be modified into pretty decent tongs.

Also, you will need a slack tub to hold water for various uses.  A 2-3 gallon bucket will work.  A metal bucket is preferred over a plastic one because you don't have the risk of accidentally melting a hole in it with hot metal. 

Useful things to have are a vise of some sort and a way of cold cutting metal.  4.5 inch angle grinders are common cutting tools but if you don't want to get into power tools with a 13 year old (angle grinders can inflict some pretty gruesome injuries if not used carefully) a hacksaw will do just fine.

Welcome aboard and we hope that you and your son get bitten by the bug.  It has been a great outlet for me for over 40 years.  Let us know how things progress. 

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."  

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Some tongs that are ridiculously simple and will work just fine in the beginning are in the blueprint section. Here's a link. A twist a hole and a rivet or even a screw in a pinch is all it takes. 

https://www.iforgeiron.com/index2.html/blueprints/00-series/bp001 easy-to-make-tongs-r1099/

Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page after you click the link. 


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Thanks for the replies. 

1) I have a old ash bucket from when I lived in colder climes

2) Have plenty of vice grips and channel locks.  Really hoping to make my own tongs if that isn't too unrealistic.  Making my own tools seems like part of the goal here.

3) I have a angle grinder that doesn't see enough use so that's good, but after reading some highlights from the safety section I think I'll be making sure the Missus' car is not around when I use it

Sounds like it is time to do some hammer/apron shopping.

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Think of building your JABOD into a discarded propane grill so you can wheel it outside for use *and* it can actually stay outside and be protected from rain when not in use.  You may need to upgrade the wheels though. I bolted a metal axle and found some solid rubber ball bearing wheels for my forge cart made from a gas grill.

Don't forget hearing protectors and get ones he will use!  Hearing damage is cumulative so getting used to protecting it will help a lot over his lifetime!  I used to wear mine mowing the lawn  for instance--but not now when I just burn it instead of mowing it...(not wasting water on grass!)

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