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Dennis McDonaugh
11-04-2005, 11:10 PM
Anyone see the History Channel program on Swords, Axes and Knives? Making things with fire, how cool is that? After watching it I really want to give blacksmithing a try. Problem is I don't know how to approach SWMBO about another hobby. Any ideas?

Greg Heppeard
11-04-2005, 11:21 PM
You could always find a way to incorporate it into your woodworking

Dev Emch
11-05-2005, 5:05 AM
First of all, you need to realize that blacksmithing is a hot and dirty job. Anytime you work with black iron, your going to get super dirty. But is a great deal of fun. I have done more welding and welding fabrication work than actual black smithing but its something I may wish to try to some day.

First of all, I would HIGHLY RECCOMMEND you get the book called "Tool Making for Woodworkers" by Ray Larsen. It is published by the cambium press and its down right awsome! ISBN 0-9643999-4-6.

In this book, Ray Larsen goes into the depth of black smithing as it relates to a beginner pursueing woodworking tools. He covers basic setup, sources for various types of steel, basic tools, selecting an anvil and then he goes into techniques. You have Drawing, Cutting, Bending, Punching and Upsetting. Lastly he shows how to make several woodworking tools including a carvers skew chisel, a hollowing adze, a lathe hook tool and a real heavy duty mortising chisel. Even if you never repeat any of this, its worth the read.

Much of this art has disolved into other trades we know today. For example, quite a bit of your standard black smith work is now called steel fabrication. For example, if you make an ornate entry gate or a set of bars for your shop window. Guys who still shoe horses are called farriers and one of the main black smithing catalogs actually caters to these guys more than any other profession. You can buy hammers and forges but you can also flip through page after page of horse shoe blanks and horse shoe files (rasps) etc.

Your biggest obstacle will be getting an anvil and a forge. Often, the forge can be built. But you need a blower on it to heat up the coal and you may need a ventilation blower if your working inside. Often, you start out with coal instead of coke. You work the coal into the main portion of the flame and turn it into coke and then burn this coke in the center of the flame. Larson covers this coal to coke to heating process. An anvil is a big hunk of metal and one would think that such a boat anchor should be relativly cheap. WRONG! I was blown away at the cost of a good anvil and many are typical old world iron from the turn of the century.

And any discusion of anvils would not be complete without a side trip into anvil shooting. This is crazy! I did not believe it myself until I saw it done in PA. You take a big old heavy anvil and turn it upside down. You now fill the cavity in the base plumb full of black powder and lay in a fuse. Then using a clay like glue putty, run a bead around the perimeter of the anvil base. Then attach the second anvil to the bottom of the first such that the two anvils are butt to butt with each other. When dry, light the fuse and run. The second anvil will be launched into the air by at least 50 to 100 feet. Then you guys can dig the anvil out of the ground when it returns to the ground.

One thing that fascinates me is the art of forge welding. Here, one takes two hunks of metal and heats them up to a red white heat and then pounds them together to make a single, continous hunk of metal. The joint is an actual weld joint.

Why is this important to woodworking? Well, the japanese chisels are made this way. A layer of high quality tool steel type alloy is forge welded onto say a substrate of plain jane structural steel. Now as some of you may know, if I heat treat this sandwich with a forge weld, the outcome will not be the same for both metals. The substrate does not contain the carbon or moly and vanadium content to form carbides and hence remains pretty soft. That is why you cannot heat treat mild steel. But the blade section is now harder than the dickens. Typical hardness may be Rc-60 or better.

You now have a tool with a killer sharpe blade that retains its sharpness but does not fracture in use because the softer substrate is backing up the brittle blade steel. This is very cool indeed.

So good luck with your pounding steel excercise....

Karl Laustrup
11-05-2005, 7:26 AM
Thanks for asking about blacksmithing, Dennis.

Dev, you have yet again amazed me with your knowledge. I so enjoy reading your explanations of the various items you comment about. :)

I have a hard time understanding how you have become so knowledgeable, without being about 100 Y.O., and still have time for projects such as rebuilding old iron and actually woodworking, metalworking, etc. For me, gaining this knowledge would be a full time occupation with no time left for implementation.:o

Thanks again for your dissertations. :) I have yet to pass one up. At least not on purpose. Please continue as I look forward to reading and learning.

Karl

Frank Pellow
11-05-2005, 8:53 AM
Dennis, we had a forge in the shop in my high scholl and, at that time, I enjoyed that more than any of the woodworking or metal working equipment that was also in the shop.

I have done no blacksmithing since I was in high school, but is is always in the back of my mind that I might get back to it some day. I even see a place where I could retrofit a forge into the shop that I just finished building. There is a good book at Lee Valley that i thumb through every now and then. Here is a link: http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&p=32963&cat=1,46096,46130

Dev, thanks for the information. Like Karl, I try to read everything that you write. You know so much about so much that I am constantly amazed.

Dennis McDonaugh
11-05-2005, 4:24 PM
Thanks for the replies. Hmmmm this looks more complicated than I thought, I'll have to check out the books and see what I can do.

Rick Thom
11-05-2005, 10:06 PM
A good friend of mine is an "aristic blacksmith" which has been a terrific outlet for his creative nature. He uses all forms of tools ranging from traditional coal-fired forges to modern propane etc.
I've included the link to their association site for those interested. They have a lot of members all over the world and regular conventions as well including many demonstrations of work and technique.
http://www.abana.org/
He wants to do some colaberative work with wood so we are trying to find interesting projects that work for both of us. Problem is he likes modern and I am drawn to period stuff. Got to find some middle ground.

Alan Turner
11-06-2005, 5:03 AM
Rick,
Rob Hare is an outstanding maker, whose work I have seen several times at the Philadelphia Furniture and Furnishings show.
http://www.robhare-furnituremaker.com/
He is both a blacksmith, and a very fine woodworker, with an excellent eye for design. His work is not 18th century-like. Maybe his web site will give you an idea or two.

Perry Holbrook
11-06-2005, 10:46 AM
One of the best ways to get a taste of blacksmithing (and many other things) is to attend a one week class at John C Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC, in western NC, about 2 hours from Atlanta.

Campbell has become one of the leading schools for blacksmithing with over 30 classes a year with a wide range of topics and instructors. Their newest catalog comes out next week. A week there is a wonderful experience, no matter what you study.

As for your wife, they have numerous classes that she may be interested in trying ranging from cooking, painting, fiber art, music, and a couple dozen more.

You can request a catalog at 1-800-folk-sch or look them up on the web.

Sorry if this sounds like a sales pitch for JCCFS, but I am very partial to the place. I took my first class ( in coppersmithing) there about 6 years ago and it changed my life, really. I also teach there from time to time.

Perry

Scott Parks
11-06-2005, 10:59 AM
Dennis,

Years ago, my Father-in-law was getting into knife making. He had a freind with a small forge, and they were pounding out knife blanks from old files, rasps, and buggy springs. THe woodworking aspect comes in when adapting the blade to wood handles. I never had access to a forge, but I wanted to get into it. For starters, I managed to soften an old file with an acetelyne torch, and ground it into a knife blade. But that is as far as I ever got.

Like you, I'll never convice LOML to let me take up another hobby.... Although, I would like to make some marking knives:D

Dennis McDonaugh
11-06-2005, 11:52 AM
Dennis,

Years ago, my Father-in-law was getting into knife making. He had a freind with a small forge, and they were pounding out knife blanks from old files, rasps, and buggy springs. THe woodworking aspect comes in when adapting the blade to wood handles. I never had access to a forge, but I wanted to get into it. For starters, I managed to soften an old file with an acetelyne torch, and ground it into a knife blade. But that is as far as I ever got.

Like you, I'll never convice LOML to let me take up another hobby.... Although, I would like to make some marking knives:D

Scott, that's going to be a tough row to hoe, but I have a plan We go to different fairs and things in the area and there are usually booths selling metal art and such. I'll do some research and bide my time until she sees something she really likes then "spring" my trap. Hopefully she'll like something that a novice can make.