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I Forge Iron

Wrought Iron Hatchaxe Thing


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Jennifer called hers a hatchaxe, so I suppose I will too. I am shooting for something between a hatchet and a boy’s axe with a finished head weight of maybe 2 lbs and a handle about 24”. 
 

The wrought iron I purchased a couple of years ago from a guy in Petersburg, Virginia who was restoring an old building there. The back of the building had wrought iron bars over the windows. Most of what I bought was that, but there were a couple of larger pieces such as this one which was from a large hinge. 
 

The iron was produced in Richmond at the Tredegar Iron Works, which was the largest iron works in the South at the time. Knowing the history is cool, but also a little worrisome. Skilled labor became hard to find and the work force was supplemented with slave labor. Odds are probably good that all of the wrought iron I purchased was produced in large part by slaves. I am not sure how I feel about that. I am not selling anything I make using it, so I am exploiting no one, but someone in the past did. 
(It is not my intention to start a conversation about slavery, Lost Cause myths, or any such, and mods should feel free to snip it out if they find it necessary.)

The piece as it is weighs 3.74 lbs. 

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I was worried about cracking when I bent the wrought iron to form the eye, but I was able to get the hinge almost straightened without any cracking or splitting. It took me almost an hour to get the hinge to this point. I probably could have done this in less time, but it cools very quickly. I get maybe 7 or 8 strikes before I have to reheat it. Most of the work to open it was done by driving it onto the horn of my anvil. Once it was quite a bit open, I work it on the tail and side of my anvil. I will finish straightening it out and working it down to size later in the week.

I am not sure yet what I will use for the bit. Probably leaf spring, but maybe a rail anchor. None of the files I have are wide enough. I won’t really know what I will use until I get to that point. 

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This piece is large enough I may be able to get this hatchaxe thing and a much smaller hatchet out of it, but I am not hopeful. When trying to make hammers out of it, I found myself losing at least half of the initial mass of wrought iron to scale. 

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It was pretty rusty to start so the scale ate more. 

If you lose too much to scale on every heat you CAN flux it to prevent air contact with the hot iron. Be aware it WOLL be spitting molten borax at every blow so wear your PPE.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Nice piece of iron. Looks like its about 1\2"x2", give or take.

For future learnings, A scrolling wrench, bending forks, and a post vice work really well for this kind of stuff. A fork and a wrench are made as a pair and to a specific size. Make the opening slightly bigger than the stock you are making them for. The closer the better. 

The pic shows some of mine from "first made" to recent. I make all mine now with the ends tapered. That way you can get to the tight image.jpeg.6a5e96e73265c849b2e301f92d6f2f98.jpegplaces on a scroll or finial 

I make them all out of grader blade and the handle is forged to length. Then the working part is drilled, hack saw'd and filed, then normalized. Handle length depends on the size of stock and with about a 20" handle, you can tweak 1\2"x2 cold. Get it hot and you can bend the world,,,  ;). I do two different sizes on the bending fork. They are usually close in size, then, when needed I can reverse it in my post vice when bending tapers.

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Close but not yet. I had old guy things happen. Hip replacement and cataract surgery.  And the spring went dry. sheesh. The previous owner put bentonite in the small spring pond. So instead of the shop, I decided to "save the spring" last fall. The backhoe on my tractor was too small, so as winter approached last year, I had a friend dig it out. Man, It was filled with, well all i can say is stuff that in another 10,000 years might become peat. About a 5'x20'x7' deep dig. Then about 1000' of trench to get it to drain. But, most important, the spring is saved. Now to contain it and pipe it. I had a choice of doing nothing and losing the spring or taking a chance and digging it out. I picked up a set of forks for the tractor, so am back at both this last month or so.

Heres a few pics. If all goes well, I'll start my own thread on my shop. I'm still nervous. Just too many false starts these last bunch of years. These are 100 yr old hand hewn and mortise and tenon join'd barn timbers. All new joinery used the old joinery, but not necessarily the same pairs. Mainly because of my hip i had a friend, Kurt, help me with this part. A good and patient man to work with me and learn the "Blacksmith way". Meaning all measurements come from centerlines, not an edge. When hand hewn and 100 years old, there are no straight edges. I'm going to continue on my own.

the first is a stuck bobcat while digging out the drainage. Sheesh a story for another time

Second is Kirt and the facade going together.

Third is part of it put together and a piece of iron that I will fit when all is up. The iron was for my old place and never went up. Now it finally, like me, has a new home.

fourth a detail of the iron and the matching right angle corners in both the timbers and my iron. 

And finally a sneak preview of the posts in place on the shop. Basically I'm down to drilled holes in the 2" tubing and matched in the timbers for the rear of the shop. My tools are in place and working but not permanent. At least I have a working shop,,, when their is no wind. Lots of fasteners and brackets as well. Decorative bolts like you showed in your other post. A square nut forge welded to either a lag with the hex head removed or a piece of all thread. They are a long time staple in my shop. 

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Brackets small.jpg

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Brackets small_1.jpg

Brackets small_5.jpg

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Ayup, that Bobcat looks pretty stuck but nothing a pickup and tow chain to keep the wheels on the ground wouldn't fix. Much better than a call I got from a friend, some years ago, to come pull the stuck, rental Skidsteer out. When I got there, there was maybe 10" of the top of the counterweight visible sticking out of a peat bog. 

You're going a heck of a job of work Anvil, it's going to be SWEET once you get it ready to rumble. It'll never be done, they never are.

How's the hip? How does tomorrow's weather feel?

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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No adobe, but I will do river rock when I do the front. The next detail is to mill my own 1" rough cut siding. Instead of covering up the timbers, I'm going to notch out the outside corners and inset the 1" into the notch. Think a 1-1/2" deep notch filled with 1" of siding. That gives me a 1/2"x6" reveal of the timbers. No more details until I do my own "My Shop" topic. I came to a conclusion when I started this and that is that Time does not matter,,, NO Deadlines,,, Its the journey that matters.

Frosty, I'm not a heavy equipment guy, but I do know how to move heavy objects no matter their shape, safely. We couldn't get anything but a snatch block or a chain and come a long behind him because of the terrain.  He couldnt start it and said it was a safety feature when at this angle. I found out later this was bogus. He was out of diesel, air in the jets, dead battery, and locked in gear. Before this pic his back tires were just below the crest. So he chained up low by the axles and was trying to drag it deadweight out of the ditch with two come a longs and no safety chain!. sheesh. I put a stop to that BS and asked him to let me get him out. I had RR ties for cribbing and knew I could do it in a few hours. I safety chained him with my 3\8" chain and attached the 2 come a longs to the safety cage at the top. In an hour or so I had the front end and bucket nearly level, but no cribbing. Everything was secure and safe, so we broke for the evening. He and I went to town the next morning and got 20 RR ties. I needed two or so, but why drive empty? He didn't want to help move the ties and they are too big now for me to manhandle so we broke for lunch. I told him not to do anything unless I was there. Well,He brought back a helper who had been driving my tractor/backhoe  and didn't tell me he was here. I drove down and he came up out of the valley rather fast and said nothing. The kid came up with my atv and said the 'cat was back in the ditch and he broke my 3/8" chain and come a long. Water and ground were now froze and off and on snow. My project was done. 5 daze later they returned and I spent another 4 daze watching them snag and drag that deadweight 2"-3" at a time. Havent seen him since, nor my chain or come a long. I call it prime cheep entertainment and a bargain price to get him gone.

Actually my hip surgery is great! I'm back better than normal but I'm having problems with the cataract deal. 

Weather,, I've lived most of my life in a valley. but my shop is on the prow of my own mini-mesa. The wind never stops! When this end is done, it will break the wind and my shop will be workable. Hopefully by the end of summer.

 

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Ayup, that sounds like the acquaintance who sank the Skidstear alright. Rigging safely takes time and thought. I'll be watching for your shop build thread. I have virtually zero experience building that way. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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