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Thread: entry level forging

  1. #1

    entry level forging

    If you respond to this please keep in mind that i am completely in the dark about forging or how most things work. Do not worry about talking down to me.

    I read in a book Restoring Antique tools by Michael Dunbar that it is possible to anneal, harden and temper tool steel with a small plumber's torch. I was wondering if it is possible to shape steel as well with such a concentrated heat source? The first thing i want to do is cut up a plane blade to use for marking knives in marking gauges. I thought I could get it soft to cut with a hacksaw. Would I cut it hot or let it cool to an annealed state? Do smiths cut things by folding them as well? would that be possible with tool steel? Would you bend back and forth over a crease? Once i get the rectangle i want, is the knife shape typically pounded or ground?

    I have also read that part of what makes old cast steel take a better edge is that it has been pounded and folded over on itself improving the grain structure. You can not buy modern steels like O1 and A2 that have been worked like this, correct? Would they benefit from such treatment? Would this be possible with just a torch? Maybe I was wrong about the smiths of old folding a piece of steel over and over? I imagine it would have to be pretty hot for the faces folded together to fuse? And i think I read in another forum here that when temps get too high steel loses carbon?

    Another thing i'd like to do is make some woodworking chisels out of those blue cold chisels as i have heard the steel in them is fine and they are a fraction of the cost of woodworking chisels. I do not know if shaping something like that is better done with a hammer or grinder. Like shaping a tang.

    I would also like to try and shape when of those cold chisels or a cheaper wood chisel into a lock mortise chisel if possible.

    thank you

  2. #2
    You can harden SMALL pieces of tool steel with a plumbers torch. A hot wood fire will work for annealing, just put the steel in the fire; once it gets red hot, cover it with ashes and leave it there until the fire burns out and cools. Cutting the annealed steel with a hacksaw will work fine. A small knife can be shaped with files, won't need much grinding and no pounding.

    Your other questions go beyond entry level and would require equipment and skills.
    _______________________________________
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  3. #3
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    Just this week there was a DIY on Instructables about making your own forge with a plumber's torch... nothing more than a couple of firebricks carefully hollowed out, but it could do knife-sized pieces without issue.
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  4. #4
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    This my second attempt at a reply - the first timed out. You can work small (and I mean small) with a propane torch. For larger, you need more equipment and better skills.

    The first thing I want to impress upon you is safety. Hot iron is unforgiving. Hearing protection - the ring of hammer on anvil coan damage your hearing quickly. Earmuffs and a magnet on the horn of the anvil to keep the ring down. Eyes you need safety goggles with IR protection. It is easy to damage your retinas by looking at hot iron or a forge. Hot iron that is hammered or bent can send hot little bits of metal indiscriminantly. Boots, welders' chaps, gloves, etc... You'll move pretty quickly when a hot cinder goes down your boot (DAMHIKT). Respiration keep clear of breathing the gasses of forge and iron. There can be some less desirable things coming off either. You really don't want to scar your lungs.

    Working metal can be done either way. Brute force - saw, grinder and files. You can cut, thin, true iron this way. It is slow and wasteful; you'll likely not enjoy it. Forging you can cut, refine, bend, thin, thicken, etc.. You'll likey use some sawing and filing to refine but it is much less than the brute force method.

    Annealing, tempering, hardening are all things you can try without significant skills, equipment and / or risk. As to forge welding, no offense intended, you are not ready yet. Forge welding is the technique where laminations of metals a welded on the anvil with a hammer. It requires equipment to get the billet appropriately hot and skill to quickly work the metal. By the nature of your questions, you are not ready for this. Could you get there? -absolutely. You can be taught by someone or you can teach yourself. If you want to teach yourself this technique, get a foundation of forge work first. Fullering, upsetting, bending, use of hardie tools, etc... The first thing a smith does is make his tools. This develops the skills.

    You might try the local community colleges or similar to get a bit of hands on guidance. If your were closer, I'd have you over.
    Shawn

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  5. #5
    I found this interesting, perhaps you'll find a use for it in your work if you build one.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBVa2bw3r_k

    Mac

  6. #6
    Thanks for the info. I think I'll just try softening and cold working to get my feet wet. I do not think my neighbors would enjoy the noise of me hammering. Any reading material recommendations?

  7. #7
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    I made a gas brick forge a few months ago. Made a few nail yesterday. If your thinking about blacksmithing here is a great book.
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Backyard-B.../dp/0785825673


    3nail.jpg

  8. #8
    Thanks for the link. I hope to check it out.

    (^_^)

  9. #9
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    Just as there are woodworking organizations and woodworking forums on the net, there are blacksmithing organizations and blacksmithing forums on the net. I recommend you seek them out even if you do nothing but lurk for a while.

    I'll add another positive vote for the Lorelei Sims book.

    Finally, look around in your area for a teaching forge. They're more common than you might think. In the greater Boston area, I've taken a few lessons at Prospect Hill Forge. It's a blast!

  10. #10
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    Anyone interested in learning the basics of forging should locate their local blacksmithing group. As John mentioned they are more common that you might think.

    The Arist-Blacksmith's Association Of North America, ABANA, has chapters all over the US and several international chapters. There are also several other organizations in Europe, the UK and down under.

    http://abana.org/

    On the ABANA website hover over "Affiliates" in the menu bar. A drop down menu will appear. Click on "Affiliate map" and "affiliate list" to find a group near you and their contact information. Most chapters allow newcomers to attend their first meetings free of charge after which you may have to join to continue. If you are interesting in forging I highly recommend you do join. There are also several forges around the country which offer classes/beginner courses. The John C. Campbell Folkschool in Brasstown North Carolina is IMHO the very best. Those classes can be pricey and of course you must have the time to attend and travel there. By joining your local ABANA affiliate you will meet smiths who know what they are doing and teach you proper techniques, etc. and get you started without the headaches of attempting to go it all on your own through books. They also know where to find the tooling to begin kitting out your own shop. Things like anvils, post vices, etc. can be difficult to find but these folks know where those elusive gems may be had and you'll likely get much better prices there than at the local antique fair or on Epay.

    Best regards, Daniel.
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  11. #11
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    talk to Mike Siemsen at his school of woodworking in Chisago City, MN. A couple years back he led his woodworking club in making a bunch of chisels from O1.

  12. #12
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    It has been many years,but if that Dunbar book is the one I'm thinking of,TOSS it. If you see recommendations to make your fire 2 feet DEEP,that's the book. The book I'm thinking of was written by a lawyer,based upon heresay that he got who knows where.

    It is a horrible book to be relied upon for accurate information.

    If this book tells you to make a gun barrel by welding two halves together,THATS THE BOOK!!! NO ONE makes rifle barrels like that. Not if they don't want it to blow up in their faces. And,NO ONE makes hammer heads by stacking up a bunch of thin slabs,and trying to weld them. And,NO one finds it necessary to FOLD cast steel. That was done in the earlier 18th. C. to SHEAR STEEL,a more primitive type of steel made by case hardening wrought iron. Cast steel is homogenous,and no folding is necessary,or WANTED.

    Look for these things in your book. If they are there,that's the abomination I recall. Get a better book. Go to blacksmith fora for advice on better books.

  13. #13
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    [QUOTE=george wilson;2307972]

    If this book tells you to make a gun barrel by welding two halves together,THATS THE BOOK!!! NO ONE makes rifle barrels like that. Not if they don't want it to blow up in their faces.

    I think that this method of making a gun barrel could shoot around corners IF IT did not blown up, maybe the shooter could load the gun with just enough powder to push the bullet out of the barrel OR LOAD the gun with blank bullet then the amount of powder could be as low as the amount of powder in a cap pistol cap

  14. #14
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    Ray,the correct way to shoot that kind of rifle is to gently push down a ball,then BLOW into the nipple real hard.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by george wilson View Post
    Ray,the correct way to shoot that kind of rifle is to gently push down a ball,then BLOW into the nipple real hard.

    This lend a new meaning to the Word "blow gun ", instead of blowing into the nipple , I will remove the barrel and then I can blow the barrel UP

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