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Thread: Blacksmithing tools

  1. #2326
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    I see so many people cobble things together, I sometimes wonder if there's some kind of competition for world's worst anvil hold-downs. It's to the point now that when I see an example of someone taking things to the next level, it really stands out.

    90 corners with split-and-drift slots, and a couple of tapered wedges and gib keys thrown in for good measure? That's fantastic!

    When you see something like this, it speaks volumes about the craftsman not just because of the skill involved, but that the guy would invest the time and energy to make something like this when he could have gone with something far easier -- like cursed all-thread and some flat bar. When you see a guy doing a demonstration with a knock-down stand like this, you feel confident in hiring him for job.

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    Think outside the box and try something new. If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.

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  2. #2327
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by VaughnT View Post
    When you see a guy doing a demonstration with a knock-down stand like this, you feel confident in hiring him for job.
    Reminds me of something I heard Roy Underhill (of The Woodwright Shop) say about cabinet maker's toolboxes - that they made them as though they were fine pieces of furniture - to show off their skills to potential customers.

    Joe

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  4. #2328
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by AlabamaJoe View Post
    ...that they made them as though they were fine pieces of furniture - to show off their skills to potential customers.
    That's it, exactly, Joe.

    I could go on for days and days about how the little details really make a difference. I'm like one of those golf coaches Tiger Woods uses, great at pointing out the little things... but not a world champ, myself. It's weird, I know, but after studying this stuff for decades, I've seen it in practice enough times to know there's truth to it.

    Aside from getting customers, I think a lot of us suffer from the same problem -- getting a bit too comfortable with things.

    If we don't make up excuses to practice stuff, we won't develop the skills and knowledge needed for when we do get an order that has some weird element in it. I know a lot of people will just waste material and fuel to practice making 90 corners, but here's an example of how to get in some practice and make something that's functional for your operation. It kills three birds with one stone, so to speak. There's nothing inherently bad about burning through a steel bar to get in your practice, but it always frustrates me when I try to do that because... it's just so very wasteful. Probably why I'm not a success, but I don't know how to get out of that mindset after living a life of poverty where you just didn't waste things.

    I always opt to either do nothing or take the easy route. If I need the anvil held down, I'll use some bolts because I want the job done right now. While that works, it also doesn't really showcase the talents of the blacksmith and it's not my anvil stands aren't being bragged about all around the internet.

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  6. #2329
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    I guess I'm kind of lucky right now - I'm so new to all this that pretty much each thing I do, is the first time I've ever tried it. I mean, every hammer hit and bend and twist reveals something unexpected, exactly what I wanted, or a complete disaster. I'm hoping I get to a point someday where I feel like at least some of my stuff looks "polished" or finished well. I don't think it's a patience thing. Just kind of hard still to manage the short amount of time each heat gives me to try and steer the metal into something.

    After I finish the totem pole I am going back to more singular abstract projects to get my quality up a little. I have been tasked with making 3 Christmas gifts for the missus' family - so I'm challenging myself to focus, think every step through, and re-do mistakes as much as needed to get to something refined. I do feel like in the past year I have gotten my workshop better squared away and organized. I clean up during and at the end of each day with the thought of - "if someone walked in here to see what I do, they wouldn't feel like running for safety in the other direction" lol.
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  8. #2330
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    I'd say you're doing pretty good, Shootr.

    One thing I see far too much of is people using their newness as an excuse for shoddy work. It's like when they stick "rustic" on the piece to somehow convince themselves that the crap they produced is okay.

    I got into something of a tiff over on one of the knife-maker forums because they were constantly congratulating this kid for the knives he was making even though they were crap. Making a knife might be "hard" in the sense that you need to get the heat-treat right, but the fit and finish of all the components is brain dead easy. The only reason to not get the lines straight is because the kid was rushing through, desperate for the accolades he was sure to get when he posted pictures. One day, he put up a picture of his most recent knife and you could see that the blade took a hard right turn in the quench.... so me being the curmudgeon that I am and knowing that none of the "master" blade smiths were going to call him out on it.... well, it didn't go well. Got quite a few "I think what Vaughn meant to say..." and I was like, "Oh, *@(! no! Vaughn said exactly what Vaughn meant to say and you should be ashamed for not saying it earlier!" Ever want to get on my bad side, that's a good way to do it. I don't really mind saying what I mean to say even though it pretty much always gets me in trouble. Life would have been a lot better for me if I had been born with one of those filters between what my brain thinks and my mouth says! I don't mind being a knife snob and not much gets under my skin quite like everyone thinking they can just jump on the bandwagon and churn out knives left and right, with never a thought to earning their stripes. And when you do finally produce a knife, I better not see a single line out of place. Get's my blood pressure right on up there!

    The thing to remember is that your work shows your abilities to everyone who sees it.

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  10. #2331
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    It's the direction this world is going in - participation awards for all instead of rewards for the victors and back to basics for the vanquished. I've lost a lot of blood from biting my tongue over the years. Sometimes I'll get fed up, like you, when people are heaping praise on a piece of ****. I'll ask point blank - "What's the purpose of that gap between the guard and the handle?" The usual response is crickets...

    I hope I don't come across as "look at this magnificence!" for the stuff I've been doing. I do get excited about my overall progress, but until I get fit and finish skills somewhere in the ballpark of Pat, I won't ever claim excellence. That is why I come up with the prices I do - as the maker I see endless flaws and mistakes that 99.9% of others do not. Hard for me to justify perfection prices with inferior products. I like and welcome constructive criticism - how the hell am I supposed to improve if my feet aren't held to the fire (so to speak lol). Now some of them cats from the early days on here weren't exactly providing the "constructive" part and that I will take issue with. But suggestions, alternate ideas, and scrutiny is the only way forward. Might sting sometimes, but growth usually does.

    I look forward to your posts here - they always come with wisdom that strikes home to me. Gives me goals to shoot for. Makes me pause and think bigger picture.
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  11. #2332
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    No worries, Shootr. You're work is great because everyone can see that you're trying and learning and having fun. And, truth be told, there's a whole different standard when you're doing something like you do... where there really can't be an example of excellence to measure your work by. Or, I haven't run across this "master steel totem pole builder" guy.

    I'm certainly learning a lot from your experience and it's fun to live vicariously through you.

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  13. #2333
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by VaughnT View Post

    When you see something like this, it speaks volumes about the craftsman not just because of the skill involved, but that the guy would invest the time and energy to make something like this when he could have gone with something far easier -- like cursed all-thread and some flat bar. When you see a guy doing a demonstration with a knock-down stand like this, you feel confident in hiring him for job.
    Damn.... note to self..... ditch the all-thread......
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  15. #2334
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by whtbaron View Post
    .... ditch the all-thread......


    Yeah, I'll admit that I've used it in the past because it was the quick and simple solution. Then someone pointed out that I hadn't used my taps and dies very much and I got to thinking about how I hadn't actually used my taps and dies very much. Every time I needed something, I grabbed a section of all-thread and got the job done. The more I pondered it, the more I started wondering why we should even do this blacksmithing thing at all if we're always going to fall back on the most simplistic, mass-produced goods out there.

    It's a lot like tying knots, another something that I really like. Everyone uses parachute cord or ratchet straps, so everyone's forgotten a ton of the basic knots and something like the Ashley Book of Knots seems crazy when you first crack open the tome. Parachute cord will never look as good laid up in some fancy knot work just like all-thread will never look as good as a bar purposefully cut to length and threaded on the ends. Ratchet straps will never look as good, or stow as easily, as proper three-ply line that's festooned with all manner of splices, whippings, and servings. In the end, I decided that all-thread and ratchet straps were leaving my life literally and metaphorically. If you want to keep the skills alive, you have to make a concerted effort to practice the skills.

    I'll cut threads on a piece of round bar and lash things down with some good three-ply line not because it is easy, but because it is hard. It keeps things alive in your mind. And, more often than not, at least threading your own bar actually makes a better looking end product.

    Is that the right way for everyone? Likely not. But I would point to the anvil hold-downs above as an example of how what we do tends to echo in the internet if not eternity. We're sitting here sharing pictures of amazing craftsmanship, of the work of a blacksmith who took the time to do things the hard way. He could have opted for all-thread and plain bar with some galvanized nuts from the hardware store. He didn't, and here we are.

    The Brazeale brothers are renowned for their work... and I think they got some of that fame in large part because they took the time to practice their craft in a lot of little ways. They didn't just go for the all-thread and ratchet strap approach like I do all too often.

  16. #2335
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    I flunked knots in Cub Scouts.... that's why I bought a welder...
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  18. #2336
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    So did I.

    Looking back on it now, I think the scouts and other such groups failed in showing how knots and rope can be used all around, and not just for pitching a tent or making a raft. Of course, it's also up to the adults to make sure that kids have that stuff to use. I'd bet I was 20 before I bought my own pulleys and thin rope for some project. Prior to that, the only time I ever thought about rope was when deer hunting and I hoped/prayed I'd need a few feet of line to drag the trophy buck out of the woods. Folks that grow up in a saling/boating community get a bit more exposure to the stuff.

    Nowadays, you have to go out of your way to actually get the stuff in your life. If you don't do decorative work to dress up some tool handles or make a beer sleeve, you'll never get into the groove.

    I like Mikko's channel because he creates neat things that can be used around the house all the time. That keychain marlin spike looks like it's be a real fun project for the lathe:

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  20. #2337
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    It's funny how we can learn things when we really want to. I was probably about the 2nd worst artist in art class in school, but by the time I was 20 I was repairing van murals. I wouldn't want to design one from scratch or attempt something like photo finish person, but I got pretty good at duplicating portions of what was there...
    Last edited by whtbaron; 07-31-2021 at 11:42 AM.
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  21. #2338
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Question on tongs (or managing the heat on my hands) - how long should a reasonable set of tongs be to work with my gas forge without burning up my hands?

    Currently, even with only one burner at 25psi and a 50% opening in the rear of the chamber, I still have a heck of a time getting in and out before my knuckles really feel it. Like 5 seconds or less. Wearing those leather red Lincoln welding gloves.

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    My tongs are in the 14"-16" range and apparently that is waaaay too short, or the gloves are the wrong tool for the job...

    Just doing these monkey fingers was tearing me up.

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    Do I need longer tongs, different gloves, quicker reflexes, man up???



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    Share your thoughts if you feel so inclined lol.
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  22. #2339
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Man up lol. Jk
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  24. #2340
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Shootr, about the shortest tongs that folks use with gas forges is around 18". Some opt for 20"-24". The gloves look like they would work, but thick, heavy gloves can be awkward and clumsy to work with. Just don't keep the tongs in the dragon's breath either except for short times to get your stuff out of the forge. It's hard to buy store-bought tongs in lengths longer than 18", so you might have to make some. You can always weld extensions on the longest tongs you have, which a lot of guys do.

    Now, when forging with solid fuel like coal, coke and charcoal, it always amazes me how people forge wearing gloves on their tong hand (and glove hand)!!! Is the tong rein that hot? Is the hammer handle that hot? DUH... The tongs are used for a purpose...to stay far from the heat...why the h*ll would one want to add gloves to the mix?? If you have to wear gloves while holding tongs, I guess it's a fear of heat factor. If the tong handles are getting hot, that's because one is either (1) keeping the tong jaws and boss in the fire and sure the heat will eventually move up the reins (don't leave your tongs in the fire!), or (2) holding red to white hot metal for a LONG time without cooling off the reins. In any event if a person feels the reins getting warm, just cool them off in the slack tub....DUH.

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  26. #2341
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Are you leaving the tongs in the fire Shootr ?


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  28. #2342
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Oh no, I don't leave them in the forge. What heats up is the back of my hand/fingers when reaching to pull stuff out. The reins do get warm/hot but that's easy to cool off in the sink.

    I'm just wondering if a well-reviewed $15 pair of reflective insulated gloves is a viable option vs. more expensive longer tongs. I'm pretty used to having a glove on my tong hand already. I like the idea of extending the existing reins too.
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  30. #2343
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Can't say I've ever worn gloves to get the metal in and out of the forge, and a lot of my tongs are the cheap-o imports from Blacksmith Depot. With 12" reins, I get plenty close to the fire and haven't had a problem with the heat. I'd expect someone living in Arizona to be used to heat, rattlesnakes and tarantulas.

    John Spitzer over at Black Bear Forge seems to think pretty highly of these mill gloves for when things get hot. About the only time I'd use them is when I'm working big iron that really throws off a lot of IR radiation. Nothing cooks me faster when I'm forging a dish -- especially since the curve of the dish seems to always focus the heat like the Deathstar focuses laser beams!

    The best part is that you can buy only a single glove. No sense if getting a glove for both hands when you'll be wearing out the tong-hand glove the most.


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  32. #2344
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by shortfuse View Post
    Now, when forging with solid fuel like coal, coke and charcoal, it always amazes me how people forge wearing gloves on their tong hand (and glove hand)!!! Is the tong rein that hot?
    TYPO!.....I meant to say ..."gloves on their tong hand (and hammer hand)!!!" Blame it on the new computer keyboard. LOL

  33. #2345
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by VaughnT View Post
    Can't say I've ever worn gloves to get the metal in and out of the forge, and a lot of my tongs are the cheap-o imports from Blacksmith Depot. With 12" reins, I get plenty close to the fire and haven't had a problem with the heat. I'd expect someone living in Arizona to be used to heat, rattlesnakes and tarantulas.


    Hey now!!! Tarantulas ain't sh!t, it's the damn scorpions that get people riled up. (I've been stung so many times I've built up a decent immunity - hurts for a few hours then good to go lol-same with black widows...).

    Maybe I'm blasting the burner too high - I like how quick it gets the metal ready but might need to turn it down a bit, and sit a little longer.
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  34. #2346
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by Shootr View Post
    Maybe I'm blasting the burner too high...
    25psi is full-blast welding heat. Yea, it warms the steel up faster, but it also burns a megaton of fuel and is likely causing a lot of scaling if you are having to go in and out of the heat a lot. My not-so-Majestic forge claims to hit forge-welding at 25psi, but I would never even think about running a forge that hot all the time.

    Normal, for me, is around 10psi. It gets the steel hot quick, but it's more economical and doesn't send out huge gouts of dragon's breath.

    I've got no sympathy for anyone who lives where there are spiders as big as your hand. Boiling heat, arid desert, rattle snakes, scorpions, and spiders as big as your hand.... how many signs from god do you need? It's like Australia only smaller. No thank you. I'll keep my but over here where we have trees and grass, big rivers and small creeks, mountains and valleys where a cool breeze can always be found. And no spiders as big as your hand.

  35. #2347
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Did ya notice - he don't like spiders?

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  37. #2348
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by cwby View Post
    Did ya notice - he don't like spiders?
    THAT's your take-away?

    I figured the long rant was because V was taking a break from the heat in Three Rivers Forge.


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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by Shootr View Post
    Hey now!!! Tarantulas ain't sh!t, it's the damn scorpions that get people riled up. (I've been stung so many times I've built up a decent immunity - hurts for a few hours then good to go lol-same with black widows...).

    Maybe I'm blasting the burner too high - I like how quick it gets the metal ready but might need to turn it down a bit, and sit a little longer.
    I was just going to suggest perhaps you can turn the flame way down when you remove material and put material back in the forge then once hands are safely away from the heat, crank it back up to kill.
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  39. #2350
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by N2 Welding View Post
    I was just going to suggest perhaps you can turn the flame way down when you remove material and put material back in the forge then once hands are safely away from the heat, crank it back up to kill.
    Or install a proximity sensor at the opening of the gas forge. When the beam is broken (workpiece being heated ) the forge is running hot. When the beam is restored the burner can "idle".


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