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Thread: Blacksmithing tools

  1. #2726
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by Shootr View Post
    Question - it's probably (certainly) my lack of skill - but has anyone put a spring in their tongs to push them open automatically? Old age has also done a number on my dexterity - I fumble a lot getting my tongs open and/or usable with one hand. The joints are just right - no stiffness and no slop. It seems that if I had a little spring, just enough to help open them up in use - it'd help out a bit when one-handing them. I'm probably going to try it one of these days - just wondering if anyone has considered this.
    No reason it wouldn't work.

    I'd go with something like you see on post vises, though. The spring you're looking for doesn't need much strength, but you also don't want something so small that there's a chance it could lose temper if you're not paying attention. The springs on a post vise is usually just mild steel. Because it's just giving a little nudge, you don't need some fancy alloy and crazy heat treat.

    Plus, I think it would look dead sexy.

    Maybe use something like a worn hacksaw blade with the teeth ground off. Give the end nearest the rivet a nice curl. Bind the distal end flat to the grip portion at the very end, past where your hand normally holds. The mass of the blade would be more than enough to absorb heat without changing temper, but you wouldn't need it to be tempered at all.

    Another option would be to put a pound weight on the lower tong rein. Pinch the upper rein with your thumb, and let gravity pull the lower rein down. You'd certainly never forget which side was which!

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  3. #2727
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by VaughnT View Post
    No reason it wouldn't work.

    I'd go with something like you see on post vises, though. The spring you're looking for doesn't need much strength, but you also don't want something so small that there's a chance it could lose temper if you're not paying attention. The springs on a post vise is usually just mild steel. Because it's just giving a little nudge, you don't need some fancy alloy and crazy heat treat.

    Plus, I think it would look dead sexy.

    Maybe use something like a worn hacksaw blade with the teeth ground off. Give the end nearest the rivet a nice curl. Bind the distal end flat to the grip portion at the very end, past where your hand normally holds. The mass of the blade would be more than enough to absorb heat without changing temper, but you wouldn't need it to be tempered at all.

    Another option would be to put a pound weight on the lower tong rein. Pinch the upper rein with your thumb, and let gravity pull the lower rein down. You'd certainly never forget which side was which!
    It's good to know I think (sometimes) like the real knowledgeable . I was thinking just a simple leaf spring attached to one rein so it only engages when the other rein is one-handed distance from the other.
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  5. #2728
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    The weight of the apparatus would be more than enough to pop the tongs open.

    Tongs, generally, don't take much to open, so adding just a thin bar to the lower rein would be more than enough to make it fall open as you relax your hand.

    You could even play on this by drawing out the end of the lower rein and then curling it in to a nice tight scroll. This would give you the extra weight while also making it patently obvious which side is supposed to be on the lower position in the hand.

    Gotta be careful with what ever you try because you don't want to kill the balance and "feel" of the tongs. If they're too heavy, you won't like using them. Even a little spring could make the tongs a pain in the butt to hold closed for prolonged periods as your hand is always fighting against the pressure. Maybe not, but it's something to think about.

    A small weight at the very end of the rein, as far from the fulcrum as you can get, would apply those pesky physics things a lot better than a large spring close in to the fulcrum.

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  7. #2729
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    I am attending a class today on heat treating and tool making at the local blacksmith guild with Randy McDaniel.




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  8. #2730
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    I spy a power hammer in the far right back corner.
    Lincoln, ESAB, Thermal Dynamics, Victor, Miller, Dewalt, Makita, Kalamzoo. Hand tools, power tools, welding and cutting tools.

  9. #2731
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Dang!

    That's a great opportunity, Pat, and I hope you'll share your learning with us.

    Not sure I've ever seen a blacksmith shop that looked like a laboratory. Very interesting!

  10. #2732
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    That is inside their blacksmith guild. It was an old school the county is turning into an arts and vocation center.
    This portion is great.
    There are seven students and we are making a slitting chisel.

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  11. #2733
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by psacustomcreations View Post
    That is inside their blacksmith guild. It was an old school the county is turning into an arts and vocation center.
    This portion is great.
    There are seven students and we are making a slitting chisel.

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    * six students making a chisel. One student on his phoneÖ..


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  13. #2734
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    I've heard about the school but never been able to attend.

    Neat to finally see a shop cleaner than some of the Canuck's around here are running!

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  15. #2735
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    The results of the class today.
    Somehow I was able to put my phone down long enough to make this.



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  17. #2736
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    That shop is ENTIRELY too clean! Someone needs to get a bag of coal dust and scale, maybe a few chunks of coal to boot, and scatter it around so that it looks real. Maybe toss a few pieces of scrap metal on the floor as well...

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  19. #2737
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    I sold this belt grinder and cart a few weeks ago.







    The buyer is a Hakido master and also makes swords. He phoned me tonight to say how happy he is with it.


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  20. #2738
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    If I want to draw out/lengthen a flat bar of steel, would a cross pein work the same as those rounded dies in a press? Give it more length and thin it without also making it wider?
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  22. #2739
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    A cross pien or a straight pien would work. It all depends on how you orient or hold the material. Hold it the most comfortable way and use the tool that fits.
    You will still probably get some widening. Just rotate the stock onto its side and move the metal back.

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  24. #2740
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    The cross pien will work fine, but you will have to flatten out the humps and grooves which may widen the bar some. Like psa said, turn it on edge and work it back to original.
    If you have access to an anvil, you can draw it out over a curved dressed edge with a flat hammer, or use the horn likewise.

  25. #2741
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by Shootr View Post
    If I want to draw out/lengthen a flat bar of steel, would a cross pein work the same as those rounded dies in a press?
    That's exactly what the peen is designed for, so..... yea.

    You'll have to make sure your peen is dressed properly because you don't want a sharp wedge profile like most of them come with nowadays.



    Flat-ish, but with a hair of a crown, and the corners eased so they don't create cold shuts if you're off a bit with your strike.




    The only time you want a sharper peen is if you're having to work in a tight V like when you're making a leaf, or you are doing body work and armoring where creases are part of the process. Even then, you want them to be smooth and rounded so they don't dig in to the steel and make you work harder when it comes to finishing the steel.

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  27. #2742
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    I received some tongs today as part of a Christmas present.
    All are Tom's Tongs from Blacksmith Supply.

    The spike tongs are a little disappointing. The back jaw is not close to being correct or straight. Nothing a grinder can't fix, but disappointing.





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  29. #2743
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    That stinks, Pat. I've always had good luck with TomTongs from BS, but I guess even they can screw the pooch at times.

    Hopefully, that's the worst luck you'll experience for the rest of the year!

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  31. #2744
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by VaughnT View Post
    That stinks, Pat. !

    The good news is that he knows how to, and is able to rectify.

    Or maybe those defective tongs should be marketed as a learning device for newbie smiths.


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  33. #2745
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Iím looking for some of your thoughts. Iíd like to make a ladle about 5Ē in diameter, in steel. Two piece, riveted construction. Shaping the bowl seems a little difficult. I did see one approach that used a number of hemispherical shapes as swage blocks; on YouTube making a copper ladle.

    I have a few things that seem like they could be useful. A half-ball anvil that is about 3-4Ē. A couple old gas cylinders I could cut apart that are 3-4Ē diameter. The larger one is flat on bottom but I thought the neck section might serve was a swage block. The smaller one has a rounded bottom and may work as a hammer (positive side tool) of sorts.

    I could also carve a wood swage block?

    I only want to make a handful of these, it wonít really be a regular thing. My plan was to start with blanks cut from sheet material, either 11ga or 14ga.

    I donít have a ton of experience, but Iíd like to give this a shot and see how it goes. I donít think the flat blank will fit in my forge so I may have to use a torch or work the blank cold at first. I figure you all may have some additional ideas for a swage block or other approach I shouldnít consider.

    Thanks.

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  35. #2746
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    J, you're pretty much on the right path.

    I prefer to sink my dishes into a form rather than trying to bang them out around a form. My personal tool of choice is the "steel puck of awesomeness" my father made for me. It just mimics the 15ļ angle of the plastic versions used for sheet metal, but is solid steel that'll stand up to the abuses of being forged on. Once you understand how the things operate, you can make bowls of many radii on the things.



    The bottom of a gas cylinder would work, but you create something similar just by putting a shallow V into a bar of steel that you can grab with the vise.



    As you can see, it's not that hard a tool to make, basically just a cross section of the depression smiths normally forge a bowl down into. It's a nice thing to have because while it'll let you shape a bowl, you can also use it to curl leaves around on themselves for a more natural look.

    If you're working in very thin steels, a forge isn't entirely necessary as you can anneal the metal with a simple propane torch.

    Just remember that the steel work-hardens so if you feel like it's not moving as easy as you'd think... anneal it. Even thin steel will change how it feels under the hammer as you're working it, so don't be afraid to apply some heat to it. I generally warm it up before I even start forming it because it'll have been work-hardened at the factory. You can set it in front of your forge's opening so it'll get the dragon's breath all over it. That might not bring it to a bright orange, but it'll get it heated a good bit and that'll soften the steel noticeably.

    At the very end, the very end, I highly recommend two things ---

    1 - Bring the dish to an orange heat and then quench it in water. This will form a steam jacket on the surface of the steel which loosens the scale that's built up on it. Loosening the scale will make it orders of magnitude easier to scrub up the inside with a flap disk. You don't want to remove too much steel since it's already thin stuff, but you do want to get rid of any loose scale that might come off later in your food. By quenching it from a nice orange, you're letting the magic of smithing do half the work for you.

    2 - Go around the entire outside with a light hammer to make uniform pattern of hammer marks.



    There's nothing worse, imo, than leaving the steel however it comes out when you're done with the shaping. 99% of the time, you see folks with a dish that's got one or two hammer marks every few inches, and the steel in between is just bare metal pockmarked by the heat of the forging process.

    You can't eliminate all of your hammering marks, so use that to your advantage. An even covering of facets adds beauty to the product, catching the light and adding a wonderfully tactile feel to it. People will want to run their hands over it.

    It also smooths out the inside, making it more uniform in appearance and easier to clean.

    A 2" trailer hitch ball works great as an anvil to support the dish from the inside while you facet the outside.

    Just give the bowl a very good scrubbing with the wire wheel on your bench grinder, removing all the scale and grime from both faces. Then a whole bunch of light taps all over the surface. A whole bunch!

    For shallow dishes that'll be sitting on the coffee table or nightstand where you'll see the inside more than the outside, I like to peen the inner surface because that's the part everyone sees.



    This isn't good on something you'll be cooking in, though, because you have to clean the cruddy food off that surface! Trying to get dried up food out of a billion little facets on the inside of a small bowl.... ugh! The chili might taste great, but cleaning up afterwards can be a real bugger.

    The outside, at least, is easy to reach and inspect. Make the inside as smooth as you can, and decorate the outside to increase strength and hide your errant hammer marks from early in the process. Voila!

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  37. #2747
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by VaughnT View Post
    I prefer to sink my dishes into a form rather than trying to bang them out around a form. My personal tool of choice is the "steel puck of awesomeness" my father made for me. It just mimics the 15ļ angle of the plastic versions used for sheet metal, but is solid steel that'll stand up to the abuses of being forged on. Once you understand how the things operate, you can make bowls of many radii on the things.
    Ö
    The bottom of a gas cylinder would work, but you create something similar just by putting a shallow V into a bar of steel that you can grab with the vise.
    Ö
    At the very end, the very end, I highly recommend two things ---
    Thank you so much. Thatís extremely helpful and encouraging. If I can find some material, Iíll make a steel puck like you show. Or, if I canít find a big piece of steel to use, Iíll try a V-style form. I appreciate your advise.

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  39. #2748
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    Quote Originally Posted by jwmelvin View Post
    If....
    I used to make the pucks for sale, but they never moved since everyone said the same thing....

    The V tool doesn't have to be anything special. If you have any leaf spring from a car, it's plenty thick enough and easy to bend into an angle. 1/2"x1" or 1/2"x3/4" mild steel will work plenty well, too.

    If you have any heavy-wall pipe about 2" in diameter, like what they use as the hinge pin on equipment trailers, that makes a great bowl swage as is. All you have to do is cut a short length of it, maybe 1-1/2", and weld it to a hardy stem for your anvil. Round over the edges and you've got everything you need to make some really nice bowls, and all for the cost of some scrap.

    Here's a very good video on how to make your cupping tool from a piece of pipe. As you can see, there really isn't much to it.



    All you are trying to do is come up with a way to support the edges while you knock the steel down in the middle where it isn't supported at all. Sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but this is one time when I don't want an anvil under my work.

    Hammering into the void between the support is what gives you your bend. Constantly rotating the piece as you hammer on it is what turns the bend in to a hemisphere.

    Pay attention to the size and radius of your ball pein hammer. The tighter the bend, the smaller the radii should be so it can reach down into the bottom of the bend rather than contacting the sides. Some hammers don't work because the pein portion is either too round or too close to the eye, preventing you from reaching deep into the vessel.

    Here's a video of using the pipe to make a dish. While CCI talks too much for my liking, he does a good job of showing how you need to hit down into the unsupported area

    If there was one thing I disapprove of, it's how he dressed his square-faced hammer to make the face more round.



    The world is full of ball pein hammers, so grinding on a square-faced hammer is a bit silly, imo. Worse, it leaves those corners there to pinch the work agains the mandrel.

    When it comes to working steel on the inside, you want your hammer to be smooth and round from all angles. You're planning on hitting with the very end, but there are times when it pays strike from the side, or you accidentally scrape on the way down to where you were planning to hit.

    Plus, how often do you really get to use the ball pein end of a ball pein hammer? For cryin' out loud, this is the perfect opportunity to use that side of the thing, and the guy goes and grinds on a square-faced hammer! Ugh!

    This is my favorite style of dishing hammer because it has the long neck that allows you to reach down into the work (or keep you away from the heat on big work), but is also balanced in a way that you don't see on your standard ball pein hammer.



    The two balls are different shapes, so they can get into the very bottom of the various curves you're working with, leaving different impressions if you're using them for final texturing.

    And when you have to do a lot of striking..... that balanced head is very nice! If the weight has to off to one side of the eye, you want something like a dog-head hammer that puts all the weight forward. Most ball pains, when you use the pein end, are top heavy and will want to constantly twist in your hand. Not a problem for something as quick and simple as peening over a rivet head, but real suckage when you have to put thousands of divots into a dish to give it a pretty appearance!

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  41. #2749
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    That hammer you show is pretty sweet. Iíll see if I can find one.

    This is going to be fun.

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  43. #2750
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    Re: Blacksmithing tools

    VaughnT has offered terrific forging advice for the ladle.

    I am in no position to help except to post these pics.

    This ladle was thrown in with a purchase of crusty old tongs I bought last year. It cleaned up nicely and sold for $50 on Facebook Marketplace








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