I've read some pretty horrible/crazy ideas for starting out (beating
on a rock "anvil" seems like pure suicide to me, even if you know your
rocks), so I'm just trying to glom some info from more experienced/
scarred types. I think I have it down to the basics: forge (likely gas
and purchased, I have not the time for a build job with unfamiliar
materials), hammer (more garage saling to be had; cross peens are hard
to find), tongs (Channel Lock pliers and a few vise grips) and an
anvil (rail). I'll pour any profits from pounding down scrap back into
getting better tools. Thanks for everyone's help!
By George, I think he's got it!
Just FYI: Doesn't _have_ to be a purchased forge. A fellow I know
started out heating his small work on his kitchen stove burners.
(Electric and gas both work for small stuff. What his wife said about
that is still unknown and he ain't sayin', but he's a respected
businessman in the reenactor community now.)
Some Africans use a 5,6-foot piece of clay or iron drain pipe 4" or
larger in diameter. They knock a hole in the side about a foot from one
end, rig a grate, hang the whole thing from a tree branch and light off
a charcoal fire. The draft you can get in one of those is impressive and
forging temperature doesn't take long to reach. (Tried it myself: It
Doesn't have to be a cross pein: Anything heavy you can swing and that
has a more or less flat striking surface is good. ( hand sledge,
drilling hammer, ball-pein, even a carpenter's hammer as has been
mentioned -- That pesky neighborhood mutt is right out though.)
Rail, old "I" beam, piece of more or less flat thick steel stock from a
junkyard, hunk of rock, if all else fails. (OK, the rock thing _is_ a
bit extreme, but it's been done and may still be being done someplace.)
The only thing you absolutely must have is safety glasses or goggles.
I may get flamed for this, but: avoid wearing gloves when you start out.
A long enough piece of iron will not get hot enough at the held end to
hurt you before you notice it. If it gets too warm, grab it with tongs
and cool the end in the slack tub. Shorter pieces will help you learn to
use and appreciate tongs quickly -- and encourage you to make some.
And always remember:
The Blacksmith's Mantra
It's only pain.
It's only pain.
It's only pain.
It's only pain.
When you react to someone telling you you're afire by telling them:
"Well, put me out, dammit, I'm busy!" you will have achieved Blacksmith
satori. (Or at least the same mild insanity that afflicts the rest of
Welcome to the craft!
Try this link
its simple and easy, you have all the tools needed - drill and angle
grinder - and the cost is minimal.
Replace the blower with an old hairdrier, cut a slot in the pipe
outside the forge(side of the pipe) and slip in a bit of tinplate cut
out of the side of the washtub, to use as an air gate, and your
running. the whole thing shouldn't take more than a couple of hours
to build, tops You could run charcoal, coke or coal in it, but coal
makes lots of smoke., cost should be very low to nill if you look
around for stuff.
one as a hammer, other is an anvil.
once you've got those, the rest is a matter of skill and time - only
thing I would recommend you buy is a post vice - a big bench vise is OK,
'til you shatter it with the big hammer (DAMHIKT), and they are very
difficult to make (the trick is to make a ratchet&cam tightener, not a
_any_ blacksmith tool can be made by hand eventually - even a power
hammer if you're so inclined.
A pair of tongs is 2 pieces of bar riveted (or bolted) together at the
hinge. heat the gripping end orange hot, put a piece of stock between
the ends, and hit them. You'll have a pair of tongs custom sized for
A fuller is a 1/2" bar - lay it cross ways on the hot stock, and hit.
Hot chisel? An old hatchet.
Flatter - lump hammer
Hack to size. Hammer to fit. Weld to join. Grind to shape. Paint to cover.
You really should have an absolute minimum of two tongs. One flat and
one curved for round stock. Trying to hold round stock in a flat tong
can allow the stock to swing around and -get- you. A bunch of flea
market vise grips can be modified as needed and will work pretty well.
The longer the vice grips the better for obvious reasons. Angle iron
welded to the jaws and ground to suit your needs will sometimes give
better results than anything you could buy. Railroad track will work
pretty well and can be shaped to your needs with a grinder. Even
after you get a regular anvil you may find yourself using the RR track
you modified for special jobs. It's more fun to make things with
tools you built yourself. But you probably won't want to spend -all-
of your time making tools (or maybe you will, it's fun) so you'll have
to decide what your time is worth and if it's better to make or buy.
My rule is "if it's cheap buy it, if it's expensive try to make it
Above all, have fun.
Gary Pewitt N9ZSV
Sturgeon's Law "Ninety percent of everything is crap"
as you grow and learn the blacksmithing trade you will find out that a
great deal of the time we blacksmiths work is in the making of tooling,
fixtures, jigs, etc. in short, a guy can do anything if he just rigs for
have fun, mark
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