Jump to content
I Forge Iron

New to blacksmithing...Cool Hand needs refinement!

Recommended Posts

The road to where I am has been a lot of fun. I started this thinking that I would learn some basics and add a few touches to a pull behind grill I am working on.

I started off needing to learn how to weld, got the basics of stick welding done. Then wanted to learn how to cut and braze with an Acetylene torch.

As things started to come along I realized there was a lot I didn't know about metalurgy (including how to spell it!).

I figured out the difference between drawing out, quenching, and tempering long before I knew they were associated to blacksmithing.

One day I was asking the local Ace Hardware guy about a certain metal gate latch and he said, "awww boy ain't nobody got nuthin' like at, you gonna hafta forge it!"

I have been hooked ever since.

I built a lean to on the side of my shed, flattened out the floor, and started adding "stuff".

My first thing was a a leg vice I found for $20 at the local flea market. The next was a 24 inch eye beam mounted to a stump that I dug out of a local dumpster.

I then proceded to build a forge from scratch. I got my hands on an old heavy duty trailer brake hub, a clutch/flywheel, a few odd pieces of angle iron and some 2 inch pipe pieces. I put it all together and had myself what amounted to a free forge. It does a fantastic job if I am not hoping to heat more than one iron at a time.

The only thing that cost me anything on the forge was the hairdryer I am using as a blower ($2).

As the I beam has no round spots, so I did what a lot of newbies did and bought a 70 pound HF ASO POS. I should have just kept pounding on the I beam and waited till I found a real anvil. I found that it is tough to get the paint off your steel and there is no such thing as an edge because every time you bang on it chips of metal come flying off (i think I even see concrete?).

I did find a lot of great sources for steel though. I take my diesel truck to a local Mack repair shop and noticed that he has a "scrap iron" bin in the back. He lets me get what I can stuff in the back when I bring the truck in.

I now look to create realtionships with those needing relief from all that scrap steel.

In addition, I setup my own charcoal making bins and they work fine (after a few setbacks) and I have the ability to quench using water, oil, or a bucket of warm coals.

I have lots of hammers, lots of pliers, plenty of storage, the ability to put out a fire if it happens, and a willingness to try just about anything blacksmith related.

I guess I could say I don't know much about anvils, but I definitely need to find a good one somewhere here in North georgia.

Also, I have no idea what a tuyere even looks like (haven't needed one yet), should I figure out how to get one?.

There are volumes written on what I don't know, but I guess what I am asking for is help in identifying any weakpoints in what I am doing so that I can more efficiently use the time that I have to bang on hot steel.

I have two little boys and a beautiful wife that all need a lot of attention.

I appreciate your input.

Cool Hand...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the things about being a blacksmith you might be relieved to know is refinement is for other crafts. Oh our work can be as refined as it gets but we're generally happy with the mythos of the BIG soot covered gentle giant in comfortably worn and singed clothes.

Your prospects of finding an anvil are far better in your neighborhood than in mine but there are a number of tricks you can use. Tell everyone and I mean EVERYONE, tell them often enough and they'll find you an anvil to get you to shut up. It's the blacksmith's version of delegation.

While you're looking for a "proper" anvil any piece of reasonably or unreasonably HEAVY steel will work just fine. Horns are fairly recent additions to western anvils, most of humanity's smithing has been done on rectangular blocks of iron and stones.

A piece of RR rail makes a perfectly serviceable anvil. If it's long enough bury it on end or cast it on end in a bucket of concrete. The end is larger than the hammer face and if you think about it you don't really need more anvil than that. The web and flanges can be shaped sharpened and rounded for cutting and radiusing. You can straighten long pieces vertically on the flange just like you can use the natural curve to the rail as a horn you just have to learn to swing horizontally.

The area where rail and web come together makes a decent swage for those who can swing a hammer horizontally.

You don't need a "real" horn, any piece of steel shafting will do the trick and you can get different diameters to make things easier. When you aren't using them you can store them out of the way. Best of all you won't be walking into the pointy part of the anvil and bruising your leg or . . . Other things! :o

A hardy hole is as simple as welding a 1" impact socket into the space where web and flange meet or some other handy location all together.

Then there are the other shapes of heavy steel you might come across, being cast isn't necessarily a bad thing. A former IFI member used a rail car coupler as a field expedient anvil, others have used dozer blades and virtually any piece of heavy steel. I've used a ripper from a dozer, a large axle I buried flange up in the sand on the banks of the Resurrection River here in AK. (You can find the story by searching IFI for "Resurrection River Forge" if you're interested)

Of all the pieces of heavy steel you could've found "I" beam is one of the worst. It may be plenty heavy but there's too much flex to efficiently move metal and it's really loud.

Still, it beats heck out of sitting around wishing you had a "real" anvil so you can start forging. Building a fire and beating metal is more important to learning the trade than any specific tool or piece of equipment. You're on the right track for sure.


Edited by Frosty
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Try to read everything on this site and elsewhere. Books, youtube, and of course, find a group of like minded smiths, they are out here, and watch. But most of all, do! The simple fact is, every blow with your hammer familiarizes you with moving metal, and of course, ask questions just as you have!! welcome to the addiction!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, I have no idea what a tuyere even looks like (haven't needed one yet), should I figure out how to get one?.

Its the actual hole (and whatever is containing it) connecting the air supply source to the fire, So I reckon you have got one in there somewhere, you just don't know you have one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's a piece of pipe that delivers the air to the fire, where you want it.

Across the pond it's generally a side blast air nozzle.

Here in the states where most of us use bottom blast forges it's a "T" shaped pipe. One leg goes up to the air grate (or whatever) the other leg aims down to an ash dump and the main length comes from the blower, bellows, etc.

My favorite home made version is made from exhaust pipe with a flapper type rain cap as an ash dump.

The other common, heck more common, home made tuyere is made from plumbing parts. Two shortish 2 or 3" nipples, say 4-6" long a 2 or 3" pipe "T" and a longer of 2 or 3" nipple, say 10-12". Use a pipe flange to attach to the fire pot, duck's nest, etc. and a cap on the other leg for an ash dump.

Use black iron pipe rather than galvy. Even though the tuyere isn't going to get near hot enough to burn the zinc off, a lot of people will have a conniption fit if they see galvy anywhere near a fire. Better safe than sorry anyhow.

The up side of using plumbing is you can screw it together while you have to do some welding with exhaust pipe.

Making a side blast tuyere is even easier if you don't mind replacing a sacrificial nipple now and then. If not you find yourself fabbing up a water cooled tuyere. Even then you tend to burn the ends off and have to replace them occasionally.

A side blast tuyere is basically a piece of pipe aimed into the fire just above the floor/table/etc. The pic is my using a side blast setup that consists of a Coleman Inflatall (equivalent 12v blowers are available at sporting goods stores for around $20 US.) and a length of pipe, maybe 1 1/4" I used for a cheater but maybe something else, this was in 97.



Edited by Frosty
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cool Hand it sounds like you are off to a good start. There have been a number of anvils recently on Craigslist.com in the Atlanta area. If you don't find one by May you should plan on going to the Madison, GA event. Southern Blacksmithing Conference 2009. The tailgating sales there should help you find a lot of equipment you might be looking for plus there will be a lot of great learning opportunities. Also check out the local guilds in GAOcmulgee Blacksmith Guild or Alex Bealer. I made my tuyere exactly as Frosty said with the black plumbing pipe. Pretty inexpensive, easy to do and it works great.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...