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Force and finesse


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I’ve heard it said that forging is “Force†and stock reduction is “Finesse“. .. nothing could be further from the truth.  :(
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you speak much truth Mr. Tai... i can vouch as i have only been attempting to make blades for about 6 months now and truly i need some more finess in my forging :(

 

btw, can anyone answer my only unanswered question about forging the bevels. Do you hit only the edge of the blade nearest you when beveling or do you also hit the edge of the blade that is away from you? Also, i noticed in pics people often have the blade laid across the width of the anvil resulting in very little of the blade on the anvil. Is there a reason for this?

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Smaller anvil face and smaller hammer face means more force applied to the steel in a smaller area = more movement in the forging per hammer blow.

 

I work both bevels, near and far at alternate times. I also turn the forgings over and try to work symmetrically. With pattern welded steel, if you do all the work from one side, an experienced eye can tell that from looking at the piece.

 

Working long ways on the anvil is a thing done for few good reasons. For bladesmithing, a pretty small face would be fine if the anvil was solidly mounted. Randal and I have had some interesting conversations about making stake anvils, though I don't believe either of us has done anything about it yet. :)

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I work on a stake anvil and I find it much preferable to an all perpose anvil ( I've got a big 400lbs blacksmith anvil too, but I don't use it for forging blades).  they have a medieval square anvil at the worsester armory that is pretty neat, it belonged to a swordsmith long ago...  I got my stake anvil from a guy in the southern states, can't remember his name, but he makes them out of missile casing and it really rocks;  it'll send a ballbearing back into your hand like someone threw it at ya.
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here's a picture of my anvil.  having two sqare edges instead of one really helps me keep things even.  I would say that polishing and finishing is the mindless force aspect of blade making.  I've really got to turn on my brain in order to forge, and you really notice if your mind starts to wander.  i've resently started working on a sword in L6 and I'm finding it very challenging  It's allot more resistant to forging than 1084.
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Wow!! What a blade! I have a round anvil very similar to that and have used some square that were nearly identical. They actually work better for blade smithing because of the symetry.

 

Grinding, sanding and polishing do seem more gruntly, huh?  :D

 

The "primal" aspects of forging are often misunderstood.

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thanks Tai. yeah,  I also find that people tend to discount the blade if you make a fancy handle,  i do allot of handle carving, but it's really just fluffy iceing compared to the forging.  I find forging uses a part of my brain that is much more complicarted to understand than say carving or finishing.  you can look carving and finishing in the eye, while you have to feal forging and then you see the results.
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wow jake, that blade looks beautiful... if only i had the skills to forge like that i would save some extreem time in the filing area(haha). Well, thx for the info. I've only been doing this for like 4 months now so all information is usefull and i only wish i had more time to practice between school and many other things. You guys are great, keep all the nice advice and tips coming.

 

David

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here's a picture of my anvil.  having two sqare edges instead of one really helps me keep things even.  I would say that polishing and finishing is the mindless force aspect of blade making.  I've really got to turn on my brain in order to forge, and you really notice if your mind starts to wander.

lol....  I also find the finishing and polishing to be really pretty mindless compared to the forging.  I swear my mind just about shuts down when cleaning up a knife.  Not so when forging...

 

I've been meaning to try to round up a square anvil such as you have.  It doesn't take long on a farrier anvil to really come to feel like you'd be better off working on a symmetrical smaller surface.  

 

I do find the longer surface on my anvil to be nice for final straightening work and such, though....

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The maker of the anvil Jake showed you is Chuck Robinson, Don has a link for him on his tool store page. I have one as well and it really makes forging the bevels much easier since you can switch from one side to the other very qiuckly. A shameless plug, but none the less true.
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Forging in the bevels on my little 50# cast iron anvil I have often found my mind pondering the advantages of a smaller anvil face.  Anyone have any thoughts about using one of these - Stump Anvil from Old World Anvils?  $20.00 just seems too cheap!  Could it really be that easy?

“All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible.” Kahlil Gibran

"It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them." - Alfred Adler

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Whoops.  Speaking of finesse that was a little off target.  Seems to me the opposite would be more accurate.  I think it takes far more finesse to shape the metal as you visualize than forcibly abrading away what is inconsistent with your design.

“All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible.” Kahlil Gibran

"It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them." - Alfred Adler

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I got one of the stump anvils from Old World and it is good for forming light materials. If you look at the dimensions on them they are quite small. Good for what they were made for however.

Don Fogg

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I think all you really need for blade work in particular is about 4 X 4 inches, or maybe 4 x 6, something like that... I use one little tiny spot across my anvil face and rarley if ever hit the blade in another spot on that face.  It's nice to have two opposing edges of the anvils close so you can quickly position a blade to do fine edge work without hitting the anvil too much.

 

I like having a couple of different anvils around for different stuff.

Randal

www.rhgraham.simpl.com

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Speaking of Square anvils:

 

I'm not sure how many people on this forum are ABS members, but I just got my copy of the latest American Bladesmith Journal in the mail and noticed an interesting picture.  If you go to the color section and look at the left hand page top row second picture from the left.  The picture has what appear to be 2 square cast anvils.  It seems that these are custom made for bladesmithing.  Anybody seen one of these in person or know who is making them?

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I adore my post anvil, also made by Chuck Robinson, it is the king of bladesmithing anvils as far as I'm concerned and it is so easy to work around.

 

I would still like to have a really large London pattern anvil in good shape for all other smithing chores to replace my grandfathers sad chipped up sway backed anvil. (Not that I'd get rid of my grandfathers anvil! It just deserves a badly needed rest!)

 

I am beginning to accumulate many hammers in various sizes and shapes but I'm still searching for the perfect blade forging hammer. I've yet to try one of the Japanese style hammers, perhaps that's what I'm looking for. (Or am I doomed to collect hammers for the rest of my life? :D )

Guy Thomas

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