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First project attempt that was out of your league


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What was the first project that you have ever attempted that turned out to either take way too long or became way more complicated than you thought? Give details! 
 

example: after watching forging videos on YouTube for 5 years I attempted tongs on a steel ASO as a first project. 1 1/4” x 1/4” steel stock as material and a harbor freight 2.5 lb hammer with a 7” handle. The video took 40 minutes to watch. I spent 4 days on them and they sucked sooooo bad. I have them hidden in my garage to this day. 

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My first pair of tongs were horrible. After learning from my mistakes I rewatched the video and noted my mistakes and how to improve and turned out a second pair of tongs from rr spikes that I use frequently to this day. They aren't great but very functional and I haven't felt a need to replace them. The first pair hang behind my forge hood as a reminder. 

There are many of project that at first or even after messed up. You go back to the drawing board, learn what you did wrong, then try again. Even on the second take you might not get it right. If we were perfect and got it all right the first time every time it wouldnt be fun. 

I know of a lot of first projects that didn't turn out or were over my skill level. Try again and eventually you'll get it. 

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One day I’ll do the same and hang my first tongs. Like you my second set is ok and I use them. I struggled with the rivet and it’s way nasty. It will break one day I’m sure of it. Lol. I kept the first set because it was the first steel I moved. I’ll always admire it a little. But it was too ambitious for a guy that’s never even fired a forge before that day. I’m still only about a year into the hobby and don’t get to practice as much as I’d like. I went back to leaves and S hooks. Once a get decent at separating mass and half faced blows I think they are called for the tip of the leaf I’ll try something harder. Still learning terminology. 

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Nothing is perfect the first time.  It is good as a learning tool in order to make the next one better, and so on and so on, until you have enough practice and knowledge to make one that you like.  Use that one for a while and then make improvements. 

I followed the instruction on how to make a guillotine fuller exactly.  Two weeks of light use and it was unusable, as in destroyed.  Knowing where the weak points were in the design, and knowing how the things was used, version #2 was built and 3 days later it was on to version #3.  Much stronger (read overkill strong) and with modifications that would allow interchangeable dies (working surfaces) and ways to use the frame for other things.  It is still in use today.

Do not be afraid to build another one and build it better.  No every modification or improvement will be an improvement, some will make things worse.  It is just part of learning and making the next one better.

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The first serious project I did was for school, a paper mache Hoover dam. With the lake Mead, penstocks and water. Ambitious? Hah, I think I was 10, what's too ambitious for a 10 year old? I barely got started in I don't know how long, a couple weeks easy. I was lost, so the folks lent a hand. (Took over) I helped but it was so far over my head I would've been better off making a popsicle stick beaver dam. 

It turned out great, was the talk of the science show and I mixed the flour and water and stayed out of the way. 

Uh my first blacksmith project that was out of my league? I honestly don't know, by time I was making advanced stuff I'd been smithing for a while. I think maybe the springs, I tried making a pair of springs like watch springs as part of a suspension system. After 5-6 tries I got the heat treat right, the springs worked and were pretty even. It took me a while to get collars too and I still have to work at them. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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13 hours ago, Bud D. said:

What was the first project that you have ever attempted that turned out to either take way too long or became way more complicated than you thought?

LIFE!

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If it's steel; its unlikely to be an "ASO"; more likely to be an "Improvised Anvil"!  I see a lot of people get that wrong lately on YT and other places; but as we coined that we know the correct definition!

First project out of my skills?  First project at the forge!  No YT back in 1981, I was not aware of ABANA, Never heard of Frank Turley's school, etc.  I started with "The Modern Blacksmith" and no support whatsoever.  Built my first forge out of a dry sink and creek clay and made and used my own charcoal for fuel.  The next big leap of faith was making a knife before I knew the basics---I still have my curved blade "Watermelon" knife buried in a back drawer.

I have internalized that blacksmithing is an iterative process and no longer expect my first go at something to be *perfect*.  Instead, when it's something new, I expect the first go will show what materials, tools and shop set up  I need to make the second go faster and easier and better!  I also hold by the "it takes around 6 of doing something new to get it down "into my hands".  The learning ones I give away or use in the shop.

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What is an ASO on here? I’m sure I have it wrong. I have a large hunk of steel that I used. So improvised sounds about right. 
 

I love the stories you guys have told. The springs would be nuts. I have never thought to try that. The dam is really ambitious. Love hearing them! 

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ASO is short for "Anvil-Shaped Object" -- that is, something that looks like an anvil but doesn't perform like an anvil.

I believe the term was originally coined here on IFI to refer to cast iron anvils that aren't good for anything besides door stops and boat anchors. Unfortunately, it got picked up and popularized (especially in a video by popular YouTuber blacksmith Trenton Tye) to refer to what we here call an "improvised anvil".

In other words, the original (and correct) meaning is literal and precise: a thing that's shaped like an anvil.

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"Anvil Shaped Object" was coined to refer to the cast iron "anvil shaped objects" that places like HF were selling.  They are made of such low grade grey cast iron that they would dent under hot metal being hammered and so the face would fairly quickly resemble a wasteland.  An improvised anvil is a piece of steel, large enough and with a surface that you can hammer hot steel on.  They are anvils; just not a London Pattern Anvil---which has only been around for about 10% of the time people have been forging, where a hunk of metal that is not cast iron has been used for around 3000 years!

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I never knew that stuff!! I don’t want to drag you guys off topic because I love the stories but is there a section on here about YouTube videos and who on there may be beneficial to a new hobbyist? But please everyone keep the tales coming. I’m a person that learns from mistakes. My uncle who I believe was the smartest and most brilliant man alive used to have jet black hair except for his chin hairs. They were white. Once gave me a great answer to a question I asked him. I asked uncle John how did you get so smart? You can fix anything. He laughed and said all smart old men were once real dumb boys. (Credit: John Dudley)< in case you folks like it?Which is exactly what I happened to be at the time. He then later in life jokingly of course said men that have to learn the hard way every time end up with white on their chin before they go white on their head. I’m not sure if that’s scientific but I have a brown beard and hair but my chin hair is white as the snow. Lol. He passed some years back but I think of him when I get to looking at my chin hair sometimes. Lol. So stories with warnings or failures that lead to success help me the most. 

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My first serious attempt at something other than some practice pieces out of rebar was a lift arm for my 1950 Ferguson tractor. The original arm had been broken several times and a lot of backyard welding in an attempt to fix it failed. I thought I can make a better one than that. Ha, I started with a truck axle shaft. Thought forge down one end, punch a hole for the pin to hook it  to the upper arm. Then cut it to length on the hot cut hardy tool, the end with the flange. Up to then everything seemed to be going well. The bottom end had to be upset and split to go over the lower arm. Three days later I still hadn't been able to upset it enough and used about 3 coal buckets full of coal in the process.

I finally had enough of it upset to split it into the part that went over the lower arm. I punched the hole through both sides prior to opening it enough to fit over the arm. So far so good and I was proud of the accomplishment. I finally got it all hooked up and it looked good. The first time I tried to lift my grader box blade the lower end failed (broke clean off). I put the old ugly welded up arm that was reinforced with rebar welded to the sides back on and it was still there when I traded that old Ferguson for a newer 1970 Ford 4000 that had live brakes. The Ferguson had mechanical breaks and wouldn't stop going down hill.

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That’s a funny one. Oh I’d be so upset after all that work!! I’ve had thoughts like that for my father in laws tractor. Not huge parts but maybe make some of those flip or spring pins? But I worry about them breaking. Still would be a fun project. I’m not sure if the pins would be hardened or left soft to allow bending? 

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