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Wood/Charcoal Blacksmithing Tips, Tricks, And Advice.  RSS feed

 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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I recently found a few How-To's on building a home-made charcoal blacksmithing setup. All in total, it has cost me about 20-25$USD to get set up, 35-40$ if you count the dimmer-switch for controlling my blower speed (Not recommended!). My setup consists of:
An old cast-iron sink (5$ from scrap yard), lined with home-made refractory (1/2 wood-ash, free, and 1/2 "Lincoln Fire Clay Powder" 3$ for 6 dry Lbs from pottery artist);
A 20Lb steel I-beam (6$ from scrap yard),
"Electric forge blower" (120V Plastic blower salvaged from a broken natural-gas furnace, 5$ from scrap yard);
A free broken vacuum (for flexy hoses and power cord for blower, snagged from dump);
A 2Lb "Engineer's Hammer" head (1$ from scrap yard, home-made handle from fruit tree branch);
About 2 feet total misc. steel/iron pipe/fittings (free from demo/bathroom renovation job);
A handful of assorted screws/pins.
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Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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I started out using home-made processed, crunched, and screened charcoal (1/16th" to 3/4" cubes) that I had originally made for my Gary Gilmore Simple-Fire charcoal gasifer. Unfortunately, I had started with a supply of 10 gallons of that and ended up using 8 gallons of high-end processed charcoal in my first day of forging. DOH!

Now I use raw wood fuel and make the charcoal in the forge. For the most part, I use a mixture of seasoned Maple, Fir, and Alder split to kindling and snapped into 4-6" lengths. I just build a dense wood fire, blow it hot with the blower (alternating between blowing up from the bottom nozzle and down from the top) for a minute or so and then cap it with a stray plowing disc for a few minutes while I get the rest of my stuff set up. By the time I'm done with that, the heat has really built up in the forge, at least partailly charing all the wood, and I can bring up the temperature with the blower (again alternating top and bottom).

Once it's all charred and roaring, I'll turn down the blower to about 30% of full speed and leave it blowing into the bottom nozzle. It's time to stir the coals (with a "coal rake" I made out of a side 1/2 of a piece of 1" BSP, seen in lower portion of 2nd picture, first post) and add my stock.

Most of my stock has been strips of 1/8" plate (mild steel), bits of rebar (also Mild steel), or long cuts of an old leaf-spring out of a pickup truck suspension (5/8", High-Carbon Spring Steel). Mild steel is good for semi-structural and decorative pieces, the spring steel (once normalized throughout, cherry red glow = ~1,200F HEAT COLOR CHART HERE

I have just been "water-quenching" my pieces to temper and heat-treat them, though I know many types of tool-/high carbon-steel prefer to be "oil-quenched". Does anyone have any experience on what sorts of oils are usable for this? Could I expect decent results from something like used motor oil and/or fryer oil?

If anyone else has experience with wood charcoal blacksmithing and would like to give any tips, tricks, and/or advice, feel free to speak up.
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Mike Cantrell
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Location: Mid-Michigan
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Re: oils, vegetable oil will harden most high-carbon steels adequately. Transmission fluid will do a slightly better job, but is much less pleasant to work with.

Down the road, as you improve your shop setup, you might consider a pail of quenching oil. It's a tool like a hammer, blower, hardy, or fuller. Right now, you're pulling yourself up by your bootstraps for just as little cash as possible. Later on, you may have made enough tools/fixtures/jigs and trained enough skills to produce some saleable work.

When the endeavor returns you some money, you may think, "how can I improve what I'm producing?" For producing sharp things, real quench oil will yield better results. (It's around $25/gal from the popular tool supplier McMaster-Carr.) In the meantime, vegetable oil will do.

Good luck! Show us what you make!

Mike
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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Today I did some more smithing, this time I used some of the high-carbon spring-steel from a truck leaf-spring and also some high-carbon tool-steel from an old bent lawnmower blade.

The spring-steel is 3/8ths inch (9.5mm) thick and I'd previously used my grinder and cut-off discs to cut it length-wise into 3/8ths wide tines for a broad-fork. I had 3*6" (15cm) long pieces but I had one drop down my sink-forge drain. DOH! >_< I'm hoping to make a set of small wood-carving knives for my roomate who does lots of wood work. I got one forged into a straight-chisel which I sharpened on the bench grinder but needs some fine-stone time to really shine. The other started as the first piece of steel in my forge which had that nice bend in it so I forged that into a side-pull gouge. That is going to need more work to get sharpened... Also, I have to agree that a Canola oil filled soup-can did the trick on quenching these carvers better than water could have. Thanks, Mike!

I also took another piece of Mild-steel 1/8th inch plate, about 2" by 4" and used my cold chisel to split it 2/3rds of the way up. I then pounded the "legs" into round rods and curled them into a double coat hook.

I was going to make the lawnmower blade into a FROE but the middle of the blade has a crease/crimp to strengthen it and I can't get my heat to the right area to flatten those out. Maybe I'll use a wider piece of leaf-spring to make my Froe...

I had far better results using chunked wood instead of kindling sticks. First I spent about a solid hour splitting mixed Fir/Alder firewood down to roughly 2"x2" square logs and another hour cross cutting them into 2" cubes on my tablesaw.

As I'd mentioned to a blacksmith friend, my sink-forge previously wanted to make a pear-shaped zone of forging heat about 3" across by up to 5" deep, if I have enough charbed, but the zone is wedged against the back wall where it is hard to get access to with longer stock. If I constantly stirred and turned the charbed, I could make that heat zone about twice as wide but not as hot, only "Apple Red"=1,300F=700C, instead of an orangy=1,700F=925C.

Using chunked wood, I can get a "mushroom" shaped zone about 6" wide by 6" deep zone of easy high-oranges=2,000F=1090C and a core of yellows=2,300F=1,260C.

Once again, I was working on that stuff until well after dark and forgot to take picture when I had good light. Hopefully I'll remember to take pictures tomorrow.
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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I smithed 1.5 Froes/bush knives out of some of my spring steel today. These 3 pictures are just angle grinder sharpened (sanding flap disc) and the final shaping.
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Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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After my hand/stone sharpening though it could use more. This is really hard steel so it will be interesting to see how long it holds the edge.
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Peter Mckinlay
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Hello Brian,

A 44 gallon drum of sump oil if your into hardening. Its not the oil but its volume that does the trick.

I'm an old double action bellows man. Don't leave your blower running when your not forging, its pure waste of no purpose.
 
Brian Hamalainen
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Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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Peter: Thanks for the tip on volume!

I really need to make myself a manually controlled throttle/restrictor to go upstream of the blower. I am using a lamp dimmer switch to control the speed of my blower and it is FAR from ideal. As it stands, my blower at 100% power is way too much and it just "volcanos" (I can see why Volcan was the God of the Forge!) and showers me in burning char fines and ash. 0-80% or so on the dimmer switch dial won't provide enough juice to keep the rotor spinning and so it slowly spins down to a stop and then just hums. About 83-100% dimmer switch the blower will slowly pickup speed until it goes full out and volcanos again. Finding the sweet spot for my current char bed conditions usually takes about 30 seconds of dailing it in. Even once I get the right settings, a small bump can jar it out of the sweet-spot into either too low (spin down to stop) or too high (take off for volcano mode). It's really annoying. Also, because the lamp dimmer wasn't made as a motor speed regulator and the blower motor wasn't made to run at any speed other than full, the motor gets a bit toasty running at a slow speed.

As I said, I need to fab a throttle plate/body to go between the blower and the forge. That way I could just set the blower to full speed but have the throttle keep the airflow to just barely high enough to keep the fire going if I leave it alone for a few minutes to process wood or whatnot. When I want to do forging, I can just hit some throttle and get a good draft to get things toasty enough to work.

I'm also working on making myself a hand-crank blower out of a dead leaf blower that I yanked from the dump. After I pulled the seized engine and cut off most to the rotor shaft, I could twirl the rotor with my fingers to a get a draft near that of my electric blower on it's "idle" setting (which it won't maintain anyways). I'm thinking that a set of bicycle gears and a flywheel should give me enough control and consistant draft with less work than this current setup uses. I think that having a hand-controlled/powered draft would also give me more of a feel for what is going on. I currently feel a bit disconnected from the forge because I primarily deal with the dimmer switch, listen to the hum of the blower, and only watch the forge to confirm that I have the blower running stable at the correct speed. As a side plus, I could use that system without power, say at a Ren Faire or in a grid-down disaster.
 
Brian Hamalainen
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Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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I bulked up my smithing anvil so I can work heavier stock easier. I also added a more evenly rounded horn face for making smooth curves. I think my total mass of the anvil is around 40 lbs now. It also sort of looks like a starship or something... Flat workface is a 12"L x 5"IW (6"Upper width) x 3" T U-channel upside down and welded to the I-Beam. The rounded workface is 1/3 of 4" long piece of 4"ID x 7/8" thick pipe.
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Mike Cantrell
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Location: Mid-Michigan
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Brian Ham wrote: I think my total mass of the anvil is around 40 lbs now.


What's it mounted to? To some extent, one your hardened anvil face is in place, the rest of the mass (the more mass, the better, almost to infinity) can come from other things. A popular style with knifemakers is a 6"x6" bar, as long as possible, stuck in a container of concrete. The container may or may not be in the ground or fastened to the ground.
 
Brian Hamalainen
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Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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Mike Cantrell wrote:What's it mounted to?
I used 3* 5" long 3/8"D spikes of rebar to spike it into a 100-150lb round of Mulberry Tree wood which is between Oak and Mahogony as far as hardness and density go. I had originally planned on 6 spikes but my cordless drill went on the fritz after the first 3. Of course, I was "smart" and forgot to make it so I could access the spike holes when I added the U-channel so I only have 1 spike installed right now. I'll cut notches for the spikes soon. We are under a few inches of snow now though.
 
Devon Olsen
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i must subscribe to this thread, love how you made your own anvil!
 
Brian Hamalainen
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Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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Glad to share my improv knowledge.
 
Robert Ray
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I use an old flex shaft pedal rheostat on my electric blower. As previously stated you can waste a lot of fuel with constant air. Once I turn from forge to anvil my foot leaves the pedal. I still have a way for bypassing the foot feed if I am heating/working several pieces at a time. Personally I am just used to coal and haven't been able to get a good weld with charcoal, should probably fiddle with it a bit more.
Take a peek at ABANA and the Blacksmith Journal that still has back issues available for brain fodder
 
Brian Hamalainen
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Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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Robert Ray wrote:I haven't been able to get a good weld with charcoal, should probably fiddle with it a bit more.
I haven't been able to get a good weld either, but I figured it was my inexperience and not-quite-adequate forge/tools. A blacksmith friend said that if I could pre-heat the incoming air (he used an old hairdrier of his wife's) then I could get higher and more even temps without the char getting blown all over (volcanoing). I'm thinking for my V-Valley forge that I'm making, which would allow me to make longer straight piece, that I might run my air pipe back and forth though the forge body a few times to absorb and recycle heat that might be lost back into the air nozzles.
 
Robert Ray
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It hasn't been updated in awhile but here is a good site to snoop around in if you're just getting started. The Iforge and plan sections might be helpful.

http://www.anvilfire.com/index.htm
 
Brian Hamalainen
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My forge has been cold for too long. It hungers for the flesh and souls of the fallen (trees), but alas, my wood pile got uncovered by wind and got wet...
 
Brian Hamalainen
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Today I decided to make "Small Round Forge 2.0" ('SRF'. My "Sink-Forge"/"SRF 1.0" is OK but it has its major drawbacks... Namely, it is fairly narrow and deep with the air nozzle (drain) set up against the curved back wall which focuses the heat into a less than ideal locaion and working the middle of pieces longer than 6" next to impossible.

I still don't have access to enough fire-clay mix for my long "V-Trench Forge" so I went with a smaller, more managible project, AKA "SRF 2.0".

I started with a wide, bowl-shaped plowing disc ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disc_harrow ) that I picked up from the scrap yard for 2$. I welded a ring of 1-1/4" steel banding (free from Farm Supply store, they use it to bind bunks of fence posts) around the outside lip to give me some more depth the work with.

The hole in the center is roughly 1.5" ID. I wanted to give myself more of a proper nozzle than my previous "hole in the bottom" so I took a 1" pipe coupling, ground off the outer lip on one side, and pounded it through the hole. The fitting is made of cast-iron so it should be much more heat tolerant. This will also allow me to use 1" BSP (Black Steel Pipe) as my air inlet.

First step after the metal was in place was to plaster several layers of wet paper (magazine) to the disc to physically remove the steel disc from the refractory liner which should give it some insulation. Next, I poured in a 1/4" thich layer of dry wood ash and sand as further thermal insulation and topped it with a single layer of wet paper. After this, I mixed up the last of my refractory roughly 40% fire clay mix, 40% wood ash, 8% fine sand, and 2% cement mix as a binder. I managed to get a 1/2" thick layer across the whole surface, plus a mound around the nozzle port.

I wanted to spread my air flow, and thus my heat zone, out in a wide dish shape instead of the single large nozzle aiming straight up as SRF 1.0 had. To do so, I used ~1/4" diameter twigs pressed into the nozzle port mound, aiming outward like directions on a compass. These twigs will burn out on my first firing leaving air holes in their place. I also placed 4 of these twigs aiming diagonally upward with a 2"x2" chunk of fire brick in the middle. I'm hoping that the twig nozzles will allow a spread my air/hot zone to a nice large area without allowing much ash/char/small pieces of smithing stock to fall down into my air inlet, which was another problem I had with SRF 1.0.
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Brian Hamalainen
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Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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Nozzle port pictures
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Brian Hamalainen
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Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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Also, I completed the wood carving chisel set for my roommate. The "side shaving" thingy doesn't work very well because I couldn't get a rounded blade at the tip like I wanted, but it does scrape out wood. Handles are hand made: 2 are green plum branch wood and one is seasoned Adler branch wood.
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Brian Hamalainen
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Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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For Winter Holiday, I got the book "The Backyard Blacksmith" by Lorelei Sims from my roomate which has bucket loads of great info. I have figured out that the reason my attempted blacksmith welds didn't work out was because A. my steel wasn't hot enough, B. my steel had too much scale left on it, and C. I didn't use any Flux/Borax.
 
Bill Ramsey
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I'm enjoying your posts a lot because I've been thinking of trying the same thing. I've been making a lot of biochar for the garden lately and playing with all that charcoal, modifying the oxygen to adjust the burn just had me looking all over the Internet for info about blacksmithing. I haven't gotten to the point of DOING anything like building a forge or coming up with an affordable anvil since even rusty banged up artifacts seem terribly expensive so I'm liking what I see with your efforts to get it going. Keep posting!
 
Brian Hamalainen
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Bill R: If you are just starting out, don't bother getting a "real" anvil, since as you mentioned they are really expensive and never really lose value, due to their nature of being giant hunks of solid Steel/Iron. :p

Try to find a moderate, but managable chunk of I-Beam or Railroad Rail. My 20Lb (9kg) I-Beam was 6$ USD (.30 cents per pound of scrap Steel is the going rate for buyers) and did fine for my starting work. In the future, I would have made a different roll on the tip for a rounded "horn", but the basic I-Beam shape was a pretty good starting platform.

To find things like chunks of I-Beam/RR Rail, first you'd need to find a scrap yard that handles bulk steel. Either Google "Scrap Yard (Town/City)" or ask the folks at your local recycle center.
 
Brian Hamalainen
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Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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I finally got around to being able to play with SRF 2.0, and my improved air system the other day. I am definitely more happy with SRF 2.0 (Harrowing Disc) than I am with SRF 1.0 (cast iron sink). It still leaves a bit to be desired...

I tried a few methods of focusing/containing the heat: First was a round ring of 5 standard bricks with a gap for my stock; Second was a long narrow "U" of bricks, 2 bricks end to end on the sides and a 3"x4" chunk of firebrick at the middle end. Neither of those worked all that great... They had good heat but were either collapsing in due to round bowl and squared bricks not fitting or they were causing the flame to jet out towards me and burn my leg.

Finally, I tried to think like a camp fire which worked the best. I put 2* 5"Dx14"L firewood logs on each side making a trench with small stuff in the middle and banks of ash on the outside. The logs themselves held the heat in very nicely without being rickety and they were charing themselves which helped replenish the forge as they burned. Afterwards, I thought that maybe a "teepee fire" would also be good, though it would burn a lot more wood than the log trench did.

For my improved and better controlled air system, I set my blower on full power but back inside my shed. The flexible vaccuum hose I was using now feeds directly into a brass 1" Ball Valve for flow adjustment. This feeds into a 1.25" flexible high-temp radiator hose which feeds into a few pieces of 1" Black Steel Pipe fitted into the nozzle. The forge, and the last 2 feet of air pipe sit on/inside one of my steel buckets with a hole cut in the side. Being able to set the air flow to a stable level and fairly easily tweak it (somewhat) on-the-fly is damned helpful. I still don't have any thing set up for making a secondary throttle that only allows full air when I need the heat but returns to idle when my foot is off the controls or similar though.

So when I've been watching blacksmithing videos online, I have noticed that their work pieces will stay at a bright orange for up to 30 seconds before they have to return it to the fire. For a similar sized work piece, my oranges might last 5-10 seconds before cooling to a red. I'd guess that it probably has a lot to do with the fact that they are working inside garages/shops and my work is all outside in 25-40F degree breezy weather. If I were to set up proper ventilation and exhaust for my fires inside my shed and set my forge/anvil inside, should I expect to have significantly longer hot work times between reheats such as the video smiths? Is this something to do with them using coal and me using wood charcoal?

Sorry but I haven't been keeping up on taking pictures. :/
 
David Williams
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Awesome thread guys keep it going !!!
A few suggestions that you can use if you like
A) drop the dimmer switch and get a Pulse width modulator (PWM) $10 on ebay they are far superior for brushed motors (it's what i use with a Makita blower) for heavier gear, OR use a foot pedal/motor setup from a sewing machine with a drum fan (squirrel cage), easy to set up and stops when not in use
B) using a "hood" over your forge keeps fumes out of your face and a small portion can be use via venturii into your intake , to pre-warm the incoming air
C) I use a small graphite crucible and melt aluminium in it (old cans ect) and use it to sand cast items (using degasser's and flux)
D) Great little series of books called "Workshop Practice Series" , 44 books on basically everything any blacksmith, machinist to forger could wish for in easy to understand 100 page-ish books
E) Youtube has a lot of people doing things just like you guys are doing and can be a wealth of information (both successes and failures) and completely free
F) Make your own tools , anything from tongs to hammers can be made from easily salvaged goods
In my experience , There is no BETTER craft than blacksmithing or foundry work, It is the foundation of all trades within society
Even in your failures you will find success , learn from your mistakes and plow forward, It's the most time honored skills any human can possess !!!
 
Brian Hamalainen
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Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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I've been pretty bad about keeping this updated...

Let's see... I made a housing for my SRF 2.0 out of an old steel drum and a piece of stove pipe... I don't think I have any pictures of that yet. It's ugly. It's an upside-down 55 gal drum with a 1'x1' square hole cut in the side at forge height and a 4" round hole cut in the "top" with a flanged piece of stove pipe screwed to it.

I found an old cast iron hand-cranked grinding wheel at the scrap yard for 5$. It was missing it's handle and full of stiff dried gunk but I could tell the mechanism still worked. After taking it apart, cleaning out the rusty gunk, filling it with "bar-and-chain oil" (only heavy oil I had), putting new screws into the body, and fabbing a new handle. It actually works pretty well. It could use a new stone but otherwise is pretty much refurbished...
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Brian Hamalainen
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Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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I also converted the angle-iron stand that previously held Sink-Forge into an anvil stand. Basic drop-in bracketed steel plate, reinforced with welded bar stock and rebar, with 3/8" bolt holes that match my anvil foot spike holes.

The idea is that my current anvil mount is a 180 lb chunk of Mulberry wood. It is both too heavy for me to lift and far too low to comfortably forge on. This stand is mobile (it only weighs about 50 lbs by itself, and would fit in most 4-door cars) and also puts the anvil face right at the optimal height for standing forging.

Haven't used it yet beyond most basic of testing. Seems to hold quite steady but it is LOUD. The steel plate REALLY amplifies the clang/ring of the anvil. I plan on adding some heat resistant (SEE: "water soaked") sandbags to the stand surface, against the anvil foot, and on the stand legs to help absorb sound/vibrations, as well as add mass/stabilization.
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Tammy Whitlock
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Hi--You asked for tips/tricks for blacksmithing with regular wood fuel. We build a forge that is specially designed for this, and use it in our shop. Here are a few things that we've observed:
a. Uniform sized fuel really helps. If some pieces are big and some small, you end up with wood that isn't charcoal yet down where it should be hottest. Ideally, the part of your fire where you are heating your metal should be all charcoal, even if there is raw wood on top still baking. We cut up short firewood into pieces about 2x2x6" and find it works well--3x3x3" is pretty good too, but more work.
b. Give softwoods a chance. The hardwoods we have tried out have several drawbacks as raw wood fuels: they are denser and therefore become charcoal more slowly, making colder spots in your fire. Also, they have a higher mineral content and make a lot of heavier ash. This is messy and can block the air holes, requiring more frequent cleanout.
c. Deep fire. It won't do to just have fire under your work piece, you need a depth of fire over it as well, to a much greater extent than coal requires.
d. Our forge is lined with firebrick and kaowool. This insulation retains heat and keeps the fire hot even when you let it rest for a while--you can add a surprising amount of fuel without smoking when the bricks are hot. It also prevents precious heat from being lost on the sides.

Always good to see that people are giving renewable fuels a chance!

Whitlox Homestead Wood-Fired Forges
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
5
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I fired up the Forge today. It felt good. A friend had a pickaxe head and a handle that were no longer attached to eachother and needed reuniting. I didn't want to buy a spline and I didn't have any premade so it was a good excuse to burn some s&@t.

After I Smithed out a quick rebar spline, I found some of my cuts of a 1/4" leaf-spring and decided to make a new chisel.

First attempts went poorly... I got the shape roughed out and then the end 2" just broke clean off even though the steel was at a high Red-Orange heat. It wasn't even directly under the hammer where it broke. Never had that happen before. I ground off about 3/4" off the end and put it back in the forge, make sure I gave it plenty time at Yellow-Orange to "Normalize". Again, I got the shape roughed out, this time I got an in-line Forging crack while working the steel at a high Orange heat. Again, never had that happen before. I'm hoping it was just some sort of flaw in that part of the steel.

Third attempt, which is actually when the first picture was taken (one can see the remains of the second attempt closest to the camera), worked MUCH better. I did have some Inclusions (bits of Scale/impurities that got hammered back into the metal) on the back side of the chisel, though not enough/close enough to the edge to really affect performance. After roughing out the shape/design by hammer, I hot-filed the tip, which is such a cool process to watch once the steel gets into the Tempering heats range (surface oxides produce lots of blues/purples/oranges tintings).

Now that I had the profile, I cool-filed it to an edge, and then spent a good 30-40 minutes on the oil-stone to get a fine honed edge. I cut it off at about 6" long (using an angle grinder with a cut-off wheel) and gave the shaft a bit of Octogonal (helps resist bending). Testing on a piece of White Oak pallet board was made me quite happy with the results, especially considering I hadn't done any real Forging in 5 months.
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The Forge LIVES! It feasts on the souls of the "Fallen(trees)"!
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Refurbing a friend's pickaxe.
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
5
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More pictures!
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Before filing the edges, the tip was 0.783" wide and slightly off-set. First filing attempt brought it to exactly 0.750" or 3/4"
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Shaving the edge of a soda bottle. Also, edge profile.
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Shinyyyyy...
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5858
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
346
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this is really an impressive thread, Brian! thanks for sharing. My husband is always dropping something off at one of our local blacksmiths to fix something or for a particular tool to be made......it must be satisfying work, moving metal........
 
Ben San
Posts: 5
Location: Potomac, MD
chicken hugelkultur tiny house
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So I started smithing last year with a homemade setup that I produced for around $30. I got drum brake housing off a big SUV. This was my first mistake, in retrospect I should have got a disc brake and something like a riding lawnmower deck to make the firepot more shallow, this would reduce waste and allow longer items to have access to the heat. I also got a 4' section of railroad track for my anvil and let me tell you that it is AMAZING. I stood it up vertically in a hole so that it is the perfect height for my swing (the height of your knuckles when your arm is hanging flat by your side). This removes almost all vibration and ring. The thing couldn't be budged. I also cut a hot cut and a small horn into the top of what once was the base of the track. The best thing about this setup is that, being a beginner, if I ding up the face, I can just grind it down a little bit. If I do this too many times I can just pull the anvil out of the ground a wee bit and get it right back to prime striking height. I also used coal as my fuel. It's cheap, I can get it shipped to me, and it lasts ages. The one tool I would advise people just getting into smithing go spend some money on would be a good pair of tongs for whatever size stock you can get your hands on to make more tongs, and then some more tongs and more after that.
 
Mike Jay
Posts: 610
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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A good source for tongs can be antique stores.  They think they're pretty and rustic and belong on the wall.  I think they should go back into the smithy and get to work.
 
I want my playground back. Here, I'll give you this tiny ad for it:
Rocket Canner Fryer and Forge - Draft Plans
https://permies.com/t/64465/Rocket-Canner-Fryer-Forge-Draft
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