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Daniel W

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About Daniel W

  • Birthday 08/24/1982

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  • Location
    Pennsylvania USA
  • Interests
    Art, History, Mythology, Iron working and anything that deal with craftsmanship.
  1. Daniel W

    steel selection

    I realized after I posted this that I had asked this question before. My crafting has pretty much centered around making shapes and making tooling from whatever carbon steels are scrapped around. Therefore, I do not have a very good knowledge of the alloys. I do see some of my blade smithy friends select one grade of steel and stick with it, one used 1080 almost exclusively another uses 5160 or O1. I could have gotten the 4140 like right now if I wanted it, the shop I visit usually has a lot of it around. I worked out a few things today - and came up with a game plan that this axe will have to be punch and drifted mild steel with a good bit welded in. The customer asked me for something viking inspired but still around the cross section of what a standard axe would be. Cross section not profile thank goodness. I drew things out, and got an idea of the dimensions I need to forge, its a beast. I'm planning on convincing him of something more modest than a 4" bearded blade. The customer may also just go - holy crap forget it when they see my estimate too.
  2. Daniel W

    steel selection

    Hi guys, I'm pretty close to locking in another commission for my work shop to help bring in some gas money. I'm pretty excited as my order is for a belt/camp axe something I've been wanting to get into for a while. I just in the beginning stages of talking with the potential customer over want he's looking for. So I'm playing around with what method of construction to wrap and weld the axe, or punch and drift. Before I get into which method to use, I'm pondering what alloy steel should I use for the cutting edge? 4140 has been recommended to me by another axe making friend as it is rather tough material, and I can also get 4140 locally. What do you think is 4140 a good choice? I know HT comes into question - I would expect to temper the 4140 back to a blue temper.
  3. Daniel W

    Okay don't laugh at me too hard on this one...

    I believe you're well motivated into making this knife project, but if you don't have a good grip on your material its a set up for burns - or flying metal (as you found out). Continue to work on the knife - do your best to eliminate your cold shuts. Something to keep in mind is regardless of how you want to shape a bar, it needs to be worked rather evenly to prevent cold shuts. You don't want to grind out cold shuts, you don't want to make cold shuts period due to how far you may have made them into your material. Your latest picture - you can recover from the shut that is forming at the tip - weather you grind it or attempt to forge it. The set down you have at your tang - your very next heat there should be to flatten that out before it gets worse. Working flat stock is tricky in the idea of working it evenly to get the shape you want. I would recommend you take a day and work on tongs, their complicated forging and you will learn a lot from them. As you continue with your knife - maybe weld a holding stick on it until you have some tongs ready.
  4. Daniel W

    O for the love of axes!

    Hi Gerald, I do really suspect this was a cast something - parts of where the cracks are exposing some of the material under the surface looks like grains of salt. Just for the heck of it, I tossed it in some acid to blow of my notorious forge scale I've been making just to see what this is all cracked up to be. I could give it another spark test to remind myself of how unexciting it was the first time around once it comes out of the acid. This is one of those live and learn experiences, I've given it a try and . . . roughly forged a shape I was looking for (needs much tweaking still). If I get the time to fiddle with this, it's probably going to wind up as a wall hanger. Andy if your thinking about making a drift, be prepared if you think about using a mid or low carbon steel. That axle was 1 1/2 material. I hit it with my tinny arms and it barely budged - I would never have attempted this without access to a my local forge's mechanical hammer. Even if you choose to use 1in mild steel, it will be an effort to do by hand but is possible. In-fact, for the time and effort I put into making the drift, I could have bought one and had it shipped to me for less. This is something that I thought about time and experience vs, do I need that tool right away. To be honest I thought it was going to be a good learning experience while I had the guidance at the local forge to make another style of drift. Things are gradually changing - and with possible commissions coming in, its opening the opportunity to buy more tools without it digging into my normal income. Also to stop sourcing scarp material for projects!
  5. Daniel W

    O for the love of axes!

    Hi Steve, sorry but I've been away from the forum for quite some time finishing up a recent commission. This axe is currently in my pile of probable finishing projects, when I get the time to mess with it. I really don't like the fact that I drifted a cold shut right into the eye #1, and secondly all the surface crack concern me. However I have not given up on axe making and have been again continuing to tool up to make them. Recently I just finished forging to shape an oval drift which I should be able to use for both re-purposing hammers and mid sized axes. I also just finished welding up a broad spring fuller to help with spreading axe blades. My drift is again a truck axle - which when spark tested is not a 4140. I have some known 4140 and the spark pattern is much more sparky - it's more like the leaf spring I got laying around. I made this drift very beefy, I wanted to have a wide rage of hammer eyes to make from it. The striking handle was beveled and welded on. It's there mostly for gripping and working off the drift. It needs cleaned up but I'm pretty sure it will survive for a while. My spring fullers where shaped from a 1in grade 8 carriage bolt. It was something I cut apart about a year ago and thought to give it a go, should it fail, the next dies will be 4140. The tools need normalized and sanded smooth - but are ready just in time as I have a possible camp axe commission out there. The person interested just hasn't sat down with me and committed to a design nor budget yet.
  6. Daniel W

    Finally a sale! And another and other oppertunities!

    It's been a while since I've been posting on the forum, and I thought to add to this post since I closed up my very first commissioned work. It's odd to think that of the things I've been wanting to build/craft that those things are slowly coming my way. Before I took this little break from the forum, a gent in my local town through word of mouth sought me out to do a medium sized work for him. Luckily I knew this guy from a previous employment I had in town and trusted him enough to take on this job. Live edge tables seem to be pretty hot right now - and I've been wanting to make one for a while. Although I don't care for the wood working I'd rather forge, my customer brought to me a live edge 'river' table which I've come to find out recently is really hot. He was making it for himself and he was debating what kind of legs to put on the table. I convinced him forged legs is the way to go, and that I would make it recognizable as one of a kind work. He asked me to keep the design simple, nothing elaborate or ornate. Together we came up with a simple design with some structural work for function. I hit him with an estimate (which I had no idea of what to ask really) and he immediately agreed. I thought of a number that I thought the finished product would be worth at my skill level - and what was going to get me through to upgrade the forge a little this winter. I've also never kept track of how long some of the things are taking me to make so this was going to be my first exercise in keeping a record or everything, fuel time, material. I decided to make these legs from 1 1/2 x 3/8 flat stock, and to taper them in both planes, I purposely put heavy hammer texture into the work. Without hammer texture it just looked so plain that you wouldn't be able to tell someone did this by hand. The stretchers are 3/8 round with a twist with forged tenons riveted over for a traditional look. The center of the stretchers is the only welded section of the work where two washer overlap each other (with a lock washer spacer) and are riveted down. Of course the table top is the best part. Before I put the legs on, this is a pretty good picture of the amount of hammer texture is on the legs. A detail of that welded section. I do wish I thought of something different here, but it works. After I worked out the hours on this (16) I know I could have cut it down to 10 easily. I did the 1 1/2 inch to 1 inch taper by hand at my anvil - and that was seriously dumb, had I waited until I had access to my local forge's little power hammer it would have taken me 2hr or less. This is the first project I've undertaken where I finally saw the benefits of propane power. Had I had access to power hammer and propane power at the same time, I think I could have flew through this. What I've gained from this job is two things, #1 I have a costumer who intends to return for other work in the future knowing that my rate will be a little different. #2 Something equally important, while I was working the little hammer at my local club, the guy who runs that little shop invited me to his shop, and possible access to his hammer when I need it. I could feel him watching me as I was working the hammer there, and he's mentioned before that I seem to be a very careful and painfully tedious smithy. Now that this job is out of the way, I was supersized that someone is interested in having a camp axe made. I haven't locked in this little job yet, but I've been preparing to make axes for a while. Overall I'm happy that despite the opportunities I've past up at actual businesses to do this, its still happening for me. I may not be making 900 scrolls to fit into someones stair case - or being a part of a really big work, but this works for me. A little at a time maybe something like that will come my way.
  7. Daniel W

    symetrical axe wrap

    I'm still hoping that as my desire to continue to learn the craft grows, that I'll travel around a little. Going to SOFA is a definite priority next year as I didn't get plans together to go this year. I lost most of my summer to a house repair that just could not wait any longer. On the positive side of not moving around this summer, I have the ball ever so slightly moving in the right direction to sell off some things. Word of mouth is getting around a little and I've had my first commission walk in last week. As well as some groups really looking for me to join. I never doubt the advise I get here. All of you are practicing the craft much more than what I've been able to. I am going to continue with the project with the steel I've got on hand. It's a 'for me' project pushing my skills if it fails - there's nothing lost accept time as I'll be working this along side a commissioned work. If it succeeds and holds up to my standards along with if there is interest from local buyers, then I'll go after exact materials. Maybe 1018 or 1008 does weld better or hold tighter, I never really looked into what steel I was welding at the time, I just knew it as mild steel.
  8. Daniel W

    symetrical axe wrap

    I noticed when I tried my last axe wrap that with the poll forged in, the eye wants to almost naturally make a 'D-shaped' eye. Looks like I'm going to be needing to make a 'D' patterned drift, just for truing up the eye. My only successful wrapped axe, once it was forged the final drifting pass was done while the cheeks where held in the vise to minimize splitting the weld. And I did think about wrapping the axe just to forge out the shape before welding it up. As long as I work both parts of the stock equally, it should work. Thanks for the article! I've seen the video of this but having it all down on paper always helps! I got through reading Mark's third book this past winter and kick myself at not taking a class with him last year when he came through the craft school I usually attend. This was the first summer that I did not see him having a class at the facility, as I've been working my way up to have a class with him and Tom Latena one day. No unfortunately, I do not know the exact steel this is. This was a fresh cut off from my smithy friend and supplier it just happened to sit in the bed of my truck for a few days to get that nice weathering look to it. As most of my work is, the making of hooks flowers and other general stuff, I have not looked into that and did not think it would be a factor. The other material I've gotten from the guy has forged welded for me before, but I have not attempted something this size. In the next few weeks I've got a small job lined up so I'll be meeting with him and ask him what steel he's been getting.
  9. Daniel W

    symetrical axe wrap

    I did think that maybe my order of steps might be backward for this step. Normally isolating mass before doing something to it seems to work better. I am thinking that maybe by picture #5 to attempt to fold and weld. I am a little worried about breaking my weld in the final steps of forging. If I can get it to successfully stick after the carbon steel bit is in, I might just leave it be and cut the Baltic spur out or just leave it alone. If the weld does break, at heat, it breaks from some reason of my process not being correct. My last folded axe broke at heat several times I just could not get a good solid mass of material. Although it is stuck together, if I used that axe, I'm pretty sure it would split apart. I can forge weld, I don't do it very often but give it a go every once in while. Some of my last welds in mild steel held together pretty solidly, but they where a nick fold and weld without continual forging. The axe here will be a pretty large surface area to stick together on top of that will need some light forging to get the final shape. I got a job lined up so I may be able to start on this pretty soon.
  10. Daniel W

    symetrical axe wrap

    I'm moving away from my ball peen axe to finally attempt an axe shape I've been chasing for a while. My starting material that I've selected is 2 x 9 1/2 x 1/2 mild steel. As I worked out an idea of steps to make a symmetrical axe, as asymmetrical is pushing the material too thin, I'm wondering, where to start from. Work from the center out or make the cheeks and blade first? Secondly, since I'm going to forge a poll in this eye, make a 'D' shaped drift, or oval? I worked out the steps to make the cheeks and blade today - and this might give the idea of the design and concept I've got rolling around. I've settled on a bearded axe design, with intended use behind it as a medium camp axe. I'm not trying to stick strictly to a historical shape or perimeters, but the shape is rooted in history. I'm borrowing from my artistic side of smithing for this, using a tool that should be in all out tool boxes, modeling clay. I'm thinking a lot about forging the per-form of the material - to get the final result. This is my starting material, and I'm working with 1/2 of it for the blade and cheek since I'll have to make it twice anyway. This are my first passes to get the preform of the blade and cheek. The material is upset with the cross pein but trued back to 1/2 an inch flat. Took several passes to make this happen, I should have kept track and it might give me a reasonable number of heats needed. The next step was to make a healthy fullering job to isolate the mass for the blade. After this trial I realized I could have fuller-ed down a little further back, and it would give me more material for the blade. Again keeping everything true to 1/2 and inch. Here I feel like the preform is complete. My cross pein marks did not show up very well here, but I've got the attempt to draw that blade down. Trying to stretch down to almost 4inches. For every cross pein path, I seemed to need to do another upsetting pass on the face of the blade just to seem to keep material where I wanted it. The material is probably just about 5/16 at the edge here, and I choose to attempt to put in that little Baltic spur. Just a little refining to the blade as the spur is forged in. I drew back the cheek a little and I felt like I didn't need to. Its just to give me an idea of how far I can stretch out the cheeks. The cross section I was left with, tapered nicely from 1/2in to about a 1/8 at the blade edge. More than enough material for a decent weld, and two together will give me quite a stout little axe. Now to try it in steel.
  11. Daniel W

    The Birth of a Workshop

    In regards to my local forge - a lot of their layout trouble in my opinion is that they just don't have the space for what it's become in the past 2 years I've gone there. There are 4 open forges (two back to back) with about 6 anvils and 3 vises in a 25x40 space shared with power tools and a 50LB hammer which is basically facing a wall and partitioned off. When I go there which is pretty much for the hammer, I feel like I have to walk around the entire building to get to it. The power tool area doesn't bother me as I don't use it, but it has in a way pushed everyone into the last 2/3rds of the building. The organization is doing all they can with the space to accommodate people who do come in, which can be up to 30 people a night wanting to hit some metal. Imagine, 30 people being 30 tools that you didn't expect to accumulate each one having its own needs, but knowing that you do need it. On the other hand, the craft school I go to, has 12 forges back to back, layout table in the center and both power hammers are off to the sides of it. This building is large, and if they put out more anvils would easily accommodate 24-30 people. There are 4 treadle hammers, so much is just so easy to get to. Even when workshops are considered full at 12 people - I've never felt crammed. My craft school is just the opposite of the local forge. Not enough people and it's sad for the facility that's put together there. I haven't been to Peters Valley although the thought crosses my mind, as it's one of the most heard of places. My local school is just too close to justify going over there for the cost. The architectural smiths I've visited with, although their building rival the size of my local school, are just more personalized. Their forging areas are usually the forge somewhat centered in the shop or at least in the middle of the floor the anvil and vise pretty close by, along with their hammer (yes they all have a hammer). Layout tables seem to occupy a space of their own away from this area, but they normally have a floor space equal to their layout table open close to their forging area. Mostly to toss all their big stuff once it's gone though the forging process. The rest of their space is just dominated by other toys depending on how they do their work. Fabricating or whatever else. Architectural smiths are tool junkies! and if they don't have 2 of everything then they usually don't have 1. everything, literally, everything . . . . . . finding these guys has been like finding a vein of gold.
  12. Daniel W

    The Birth of a Workshop

    I've also been wondering around my area looking at both big and small shops. Everything from knife makers to very large architectural work shops. But I tend to fall back on a layout from my local craft school I learn at either because It's just what I'm used to or that so many people have come through there and made the place what it is. With that I would say give yourself more space than what you think you need. When I go off to my local open forge (smaller facility) and either work or just help out - for a one person shop the space would work, but it also gives you this feeling of being crammed due to people, tools everywhere and then it becomes hard to work comfortably. So plan for a little extra space to keep that crammed feeling away, because more tools will come. A lot of your building layout, should come from the majority of work you expect to do. I am not 'established' or yet considering myself a 'professional' although I'm really attempting to take my hobby that way to a degree. I just have some likewise experience in getting involved with getting into some workshops and seeing what kind of layouts they have. From the majority of what I have seen so far. Guys that are just producing knives or just tools in general like hammers can have smaller shops, people with architectural or even just consider themselves artist tend to have big shops. Like an entire barn plus the need for another one. In regards to electrical having a phase converter is a good idea for just about any business facility as so many old and even new motors run on three phase. But maybe look into that when that tool comes in that you need it for. Ultimately building code, will dictate a lot of things if your going to be doing this by the book.
  13. Daniel W

    O for the love of axes!

    hmmm, I do like the idea of the 5160. I still have so much spring laying around that I feel like it needs used. I got it to HT well with the little knife I made a few months back so I do feel pretty confident working with it. I've got good bit of planing to see if the piece of 2"x8"x1/2" mild will give me the right size body and blade I'm looking for. I'm still going to shoot for a 3 1/2in blade so that might be pushing it too thin. I should see if I can get my hands on at least at 3" section, or see if I can bend this into an 'L' shape. That will not be fun. In the mean time, I know enough guys that might have a cut off of new 5160 or a 1080 that I might be able to get off them. It's time to get out the clay and see what will work!
  14. Daniel W

    This is why I'm always recommending files to people

    One of my first classes was making a pipe hawk, and if you want some filing experience, it's a prefect project to get some. About 10% of the class was forging, the rest was all file working. To me, there is no better way to get a true flat surface other than to draw file it. Angle grinders cup the surface, so just like Alan I was taught to just use them for your initial removal, then trust your files. I've actually come to enjoy draw filing vs grinding as #1 there isn't a ton of dust in the air, and #2 if you make a mistake with a file, its a little more forgiving. I've make my pipe hawks from actual pipes, but you also don't need a lathe to get nice rounded surfaces. I normally lay out all my lines with a 3 corner file. Once I get a line on a round surface, I found that if you do your cutting stroke (push stroke) with an extreme arch rocking away from to the work, it creates a pretty evenly round surface. Your in a way minimizing the contact surface that the file meets the rounded surface in the way it would in a lathe.
  15. Daniel W


    I can assure you, that most of the smiths I've worked with that have made their own drifts have not hardened them. In fact, most smiths I know that went through the experience of making them have only made them out of mild steel. Others that are dedicated hammer makers, usually they work with a tool steel drift. If your just drifting, I don't see it being too much of a concern. Your struck end will mushroom out and will need reforge or redressed from time to time. As long as your forming the eye around the drift and not forging on the drift mild steel will be good enough to get the job done. I made a drift for tomahawks last year during a class from a truck axle, which could be 1045 (from what I read) or just mild steel - the point is if I did harden this tool, the drift sometimes rests or gets stuck in the work long enough that it draws out the temper so it's pretty pointless. Another point on making a drift, is to make sure you make it oversized. When the metal cools it shrinks, and you will be supersized at how much a drifted hole shrinks when you attempt to hang your hammer.