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What would I need (in terms of equipment) in my shop?


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See title. I plan to build a shop one day. I'll be living near a river, and that river has a particular variety of clay that (I've heard) is very good in terms of being able to handle heat, so my plan is to use it to build my own forge. I am unsure of what fuel it will use, although I'll live in an area where wood/charcoal would be easy to come by, and I could possibly obtain coal but it'd be much harder.

I don't know anything about anvils, hammers, or tongs, so what should I look for?

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Welcome aboard BugNugg3t, glad to have you. If you put your general location in the header you'll have a much better chance of hooking up with members living within visiting distance. You'll learn in a couple hours with an experienced smith than you will in days or weeks on your own.

Do  you have a name, nickname, handle, etc. we may use to address you? Your login is too cumbersome to use in conversation.

Frosty The Lucky.

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2 hours ago, Frosty said:

Do  you have a name, nickname, handle, etc. we may use to address you? Your login is too cumbersome to use in conversation.

In terms of nicknames, typically people use "Bug" or "Nugget".

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So I need to buy a vehicle; do I need one that seats 15 people or do I need a dump truck or do I need a boat?  Hard to tell without knowing the details isn't it!  I've forged with everything from a hole in the ground to NA propane forges and even knew a guy that used an electric induction forge.  They all worked for what the smith needed.

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Good Morning Bug,

Your question is too amBIGuous. To start, you want something to do. Something to heat with, something to hold hot TAMALLES, Something to hit with, something to hit on, a notion what it is to end up like. Ambition is a big help, getoffyourDUFF is mandatory. Eye and Ear protection is an absolute, thinking ahead is also mandatory.

Other that that, it is a Kacke Walkke. You put your right foot in.....................................................................and then you are done.

Neil

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17 hours ago, BugNugg3t said:

I don't know anything about anvils, hammers, or tongs, so what should I look for?

My standard answer for someone starting out is that you can hit the metal with a cheap hammer from the hardware store or a flea market, you can heat the metal in a hole in the ground or in a box of dirt, you can use a chunk of steel or even the right kind of rock as an anvil, but if you can't HOLD the metal, you can't hit it. Most people get all fussed about getting just the right hammer or anvil or forge, but the smart ones (that is to say, the ones who listen to my advice ;)) invest in professionally made blacksmith tongs right off the bat.

The second piece of advice is that you will learn best in person. One hour with an experienced smith is worth ten trying to figure it out on your own or twenty watching videos online. You don't say where you are in the world (you should add that to your profile), but you should try to find someone local who can show you the basics or at least let you watch and ask questions. Not everyone advertises, so start by asking everyone you know. One of my best students so far came to me by way of the local college rabbi to whom she'd been bemoaning the lack of smithing opportunities; I can't remember how he found out about me, but I'd done some pro-bono welding for him to repair a broken outdoor menorah.

So, welcome! 

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roy/frf

hi bug

it sounds like you are a total beginner. thank you for your interest in the trade. my advice as professional blacksmith is as follows: find a local smith with a good reputation and volunteer as helper. first it will tell you if this is for you and second you will learn a lot. figuring this out by yourself is a waste of time and money. once you have determined that this trade is in fact for you, things will fall into place. find a/several mentors. invest time with them as much as you can, it will pay back big time. i learned this the hard way in my beekeeping endeavors. blacksmithing is a two man team effort and a lot of smiths here in north america unfortunately work alone. my guess is that a lot of them would welcome a dedicated helper with open arms. i know i would, but i am very lucky to have a very talented and dedicated apprentice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewHWxv6cLb4&t=196s

after you are born, you have to learn how to crawl before you walk and then run. a lot of people try and do this process in reverse when they want to learn blacksmithing. you need patience. there are no instant reward scenarios in this. blacksmithing is the real world. you cannot fake it. and that is the beauty of it. it is real. ama. roy/frf

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Roy:  I think this is the 3rd. time you've posted the same video inserted in the post. Iforge has some 50,000 members in something like 150 countries around the world a lot of them do not have broad band connections and pay for data so we like to try to hold bandwidth usage down out of consideration. Posting links lets the viewer chose how much data to download.

This isn't a rule and I'm just an IFI member, I'm just suggesting good PR. Post the above inserted link once and go to straight links for repeats is just common courtesy for our less well connected members.

Frosty The Lucky.

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If you paste a YouTube link into an IFI comment, you get a preview like this: 

 

However, if you click the little chain-link icon in the edit bar, you can add just a link itself, like this: https://youtu.be/DhRfDVHicx. You can also edit that link, so that it shows the video title (e.g., Splitting S7 tool steel with the treadle hammer) or even some other text LIKE THIS.

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Roy, did you mean to post links to two different videos? Those both go to the same nailmaking video. (Quick tip: you can edit your post for an hour or so after you first post it; just click the ellipsis (three little dots, like this: "...") in the upper right corner of your comment, and then click on "Edit".)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Bug,

     In reference to your OP, here are my humble and wholly inexperienced suggestions:

1. A Forge. Take some of that clay, slap it into a box/tub/sink and stick an air tube in it; fill with charcoal and mess around till it does what you want. Apparently side-blast with a water tuyere is the best for charcoal (Google is good friend).

2. An Anvil. Don't bother with Harbor Freight, Rail, Ibeams, etc... just get the hardened Chinese one, works fine and you can actually get it Here it the one that I have:

 Remove commercial link to Amazon per TOS search for Happybuy Single Horn Anvil 66Lbs Cast Steel Anvil Blacksmith

3. Tongs. Just get the kit, cheaper and you'll need the experience (also on amazon) I used channel lock pliers for the first tongs (I am not Tubal Cain, I cannot hold hot steel in my bear hands!).

4. An enormous bucket of water - 30 gal drum with the top cut off works fine for me.

5. A grinder. I got the $1,300.00 2x82 Happibuy belt grinder from Amazon - works fine, sounds like a fighter-jet. 

6. A Hammer. Harbor Freight is your friend here - or blow your budget on Picard (Star Trek reference!) :)

7. A vise. Biggest, meanest one you can find and afford.

8. A large, heavy, strong flat place (bench).

9. A floor. This sounds weird, but a FLAT plane is the source and basis of all "precision" and measurement. If you can get a solid, flat concrete floor - it is the best tool of convenience in the world. Yes, a good floor is a tool, actually it would be the most used tool in the shop.

10. Every book on smithing that you can find and afford - as well as the Machinery's Handbook. "Practical Blacksmithing" is good too.

From this point, you can make everything else - or at least pretend to, until you simply throw more money at ebay and amazon (don't worry, they'll tell you what else you need).

 

Finally, as you have a river, I strongly suggest a water-wheel because... you don't need a reason. :D

 

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Well with 41 years of smithing experience I would modify those with:

Try to get a heavier anvil, same brand is OK. (My lightest travel anvil is 91 pounds and I sure can tell when I'm back using my 165# shop anvil!)

I have a dirt floored shop and my feet and joints sure like it over a concrete floor!

Water is in a lidded container in my shop; I learned long ago that a high carbon steel piece will do multiple ricochets just to be able to shatter in an open water bucket.  If all you are doing is mild steel not nearly the danger!.

You can work without tongs using longer stock or even welding a handle onto a work piece.  Good to get some experience before trying to forge a set even with good blanks!

Vise, a huge chipping vise is ok but most machinist vises are cast iron and will break in use in a smithy---a postvise on the other hand is designed to be pounded on!  I like to have both a large one and a small one on my workbench as you can do certain things on one that you cannot do on another.

Hammers: cheaper and often better at fleamarkets and garage sales and scrapyards than HF.  Learn to dress them properly! Learn how to rehandle them properly!

Almost nobody I know uses a water cooled tuyere.

A couple of additions:  SHADE   either a good tree or a roof! Ventilation!!!!!!!

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And not to forget your safety equipment! no synthetic clothes, I like to wear toe protected boots, saved me once from a 15 kg piece of steel I dropped. Also good safety glasses and ear protection, I use those foam plugs, cheap, and they work well. Furthermore if you use a coal forge, I can recommend a good respirator, you need one anyway for grinding, and if you have bad lungs (like I do) you really do feel a significant difference the day after forging if you used a respirator. I use P3 filters. Also no black boogers! IF you do use a respirator I'd get larger safety glasses so you can use them together with the respirator without a creating a big gap. I have an automatic welding hood which i can turn off that it use when I'm doing long heavy grinding.

~Jobtiel

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If you need a respirator in order to use coal as a forging fuel, you should look into how to avoid producing smoke with BOTH good fire maintenance and a chimney to remove the smoke from the work area.

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It's not the smoke that's getting me, I have a good set up in that regard, but not inhaling coal dust is pretty good too in my opinion.

~Jobtiel

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Sift the fuel through a screen to remove the coal dust.  You can then add water to the coal dust to make a paste that can be used in the forge.

breeze 2.jpg

breeze / coal dust 1.jpg

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23 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Well with 41 years of smithing experience I would modify

Your Kung Fu is far superior to mine. 

Regarding the floor - I most certainly understand the knees, and the best smiths ever to live probably had dirt, or at best some slaty-type floor. I has, despite these very real issues, been my experience that a good, solid, and FLAT floor does things for work that no other tool really can - and this is why I suggested as much.

As for hammers - very much the antique/pawn, and had I some hickory, I might repair my bodger's bench (rather, finish it properly) and go to town with re-hafting the various discarded rust-tools that I've collected.

I suppose my suggestions were all towards a "Just get to beatin' hot steel" perspective.

Last - the water tuyere - in my examinations (preliminary to my new solid-fuel forge build) - there has been some mention of American V European (British) Smiths. Americans seem to prefer the up-blast, and the Brits the side-blast. The former does not lend to a water tue, while the latter seems best suited. I mention because OP stated CHARcoal, and I intend to use that because I can make it (no andesite at the local stores in CO that I know, and my drive for solid-fuel is based on supply-chain logistics of what I can make for myself) - somebody here said up-blast with charcoal is "like forging in a mini volcano" - which sounds really cool, but I'm not in my 20's anymore and I'm tired of burns that can be avoided :)

What are your thoughts on the American V British : Up v Side : Coal V Char six-tellema herein described?

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10 minutes ago, MerlincMan said:

the best smiths ever to live probably had dirt, or at best some slaty-type floor.

Samuel Yellin's workshop had a wooden floor.

11 minutes ago, MerlincMan said:

What are your thoughts on the American V British : Up v Side : Coal V Char

I first trained on a bottom-tuyere forge, and that was all I used until a few years ago. Problems with clinker led me to build a side-blast, which I like a lot. Although I now forge primarily with gas, I do like both coal and charcoal. If I were still doing solid fuel primarily, I would give serious thought to charcoal as my primary fuel, simply because of the better availability and the possibility of making it myself if necessary.

16 minutes ago, MerlincMan said:

six-tellema

I think you mean "hexalemma".

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Hexalemma :D

 

The charcoal - to make one's self - strikes me as entirely reasonable. Many pallets (OH NO! HE SAID PALLETS!) are hardwood well-weathered and tend to splinter to nothing, making chunks easier than otherwise (Plus, the savvy smith could use the nails, no?); and cabinet-shops have LOTS of checked-ends to toss (I used to do that sort of work) that are usually hardwood.

A PROPERLY VENTED (lest it become explosive) locking can-o-steel filled with that free stuff will make gas, tar, and excellent charcoal when properly heated. The gas and tar can both be ducted right back to the fire doing the heating - or collected and refined for other... nefarious purposes :ph34r:.

Or a mound of dirt (OP has clay - he should use clay). That's the old way. Good, old, wonderful dirt. I like dirt. :wub:

I understand that charcoal making is a whole 'nother alchemy all its own - but its only cost is time and, if we were worried about that particular price, we really ought not be into hand-forging (or machining, or woodworking, ceramics, etc...)

Andesite, NG, Propane all cost taxed dollars. They haven't figured a good way to tax time itself yet so.... "free" charcoal seems most reasonable to me! ("free" meaning, work - not dollars).

 

My brother lives in Ohio. He's a jerk, and my tools are so much cooler than his!

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