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Caleb Harris

Book I'm Writing; To Other Beginning Smiths

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I'm writing a small E-book for beginning smiths (specifically in the teen range. People who can have the knowledge, but don't have much money) on getting together the general tools, feedback and general advice on the essential tools needed to start bladesmithing. While I was in the "Scrounging for tools" stage, one of the best things that would've helped (besides this forum) would be a simple E-book like this. It's focusing on the beginning stage, so it wouldn't deal with the power hammers, heat treating furnaces etc. of the master smiths, and basically puts all the knowledge I've picked up into a cheap (either free or 99 cents at most), simple, straightforward E-book.

So anyway, this topic is just where I'll post little bits from it and ask for clarification, ask for permission to use crediting names (such as people I got the tips from) etc. I've only begun the rough draft, so it'll be a while 'till I release much. So all I ask is that a few people follow the topic so I can ask such questions.

 

Thanks,

 

-Caleb.

 

Oh, by the way, I don't have an official title yet, but so for I'm calling it the Broke Bladesmith.

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Well, I don't know about anyone else, but I am more than willing to help if I can. A resource that you and any other beginner should get ahold of is the "$50 Knife Shop" by Wayne Goddard. It is a welth of info and wisdom that you can glean, as well as recomend for others through the E-book. Good luck and look forward to seeing it.

 

P.S. Don't be afraid to make a little capital on this project to help fund your own ambitions and especially get more of the tools and supplies you need or want. i wish I had thought of that sooner.

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Thanks for the effort. I would find this most useful. ...Teddy

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Gold smithy Welcome to BSF! by the way I never did get the meteorite you were going to send ?

 

Sam

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Ok, here is my first chapter (other than the introduction of course); on finding a workshop. Don't bother letting me know about grammar or spelling mistakes, as this is the first draft. All I want is tips or advice that you would personally add, or correct facts that may be incorrect. Thanks guys!

 

 

 

All craftsmen need a place to work, the bladesmith especially. If you live in a city/closely packed houses, you will probably find it pretty hard finding a location, but hey, that’s part of the reason you’re reading this book. The most common place, professionals and beginners alike, is in the garage. The floor is usually cement, all the tools are kept in there, and you can just open the garage to give you some air. Yes, you do get used to the smell of burned propane after a while, but still it’s nice to get some fresh air. If you end up using a coal forge (which I strongly advise against: you’ll see why in chapter 5), you will definitely want, and need, a way to vent the smoke. Now, if you happen to live in a house that has a shed in the back, you will use that. Until equipment quantity and size pushes you out, a shed is the best choice. Why? Chances are, if you are a young smith, there’ll be siblings running around, and moms in general don’t like the idea of kids grabbing red hot steel with their hands. A shed is small enough so you can “claim” it for your own shop, so no danger of other people getting in the way. Also its much easier to convince your parents to let you forge if, in the chance of a fire, the house has little possibility of going up in flames. The possibility of fire is very minute if you build the forge well, but all the same it makes parents feel a lot more comfortable. A large barn would work equally well to a shed, but doesn’t have the familiar “cosiness” of a small space.

The next best option would be a garage. Almost all garages have concrete floors, so less chance of fire there, and if your dad was/is the building type, there is a good chance he’s installed shelves and has a lot of tools there. If he’s got a workbench there too, great! Just keep in mind that if it’s wood, you’ll have to figure out a good way to keep the heat from burning it. Also, you’ll have to talk with your parents (if you live with them, of course) about moving around the car, placements of the washing machine, etc. Tell your mom that once you’re good, you’ll make her a knife ;).


The last possibility would be an open-air shop. This could be difficult, especially in accordance to rain. If you have to do an open-air, the best place is the backyard. When you plan on the location, keep in mind you’ll have to move things around according to rain or snow. You probably won’t have to worry about the cold (you’re banging red hot steel for goodness sakes!!), but rain in your forge, whether gas or coal, will put it out pretty quick, or at least damage it a lot. If you have some sort of overhang, like a balcony, forge there. You get the fresh air and shelter from the rain.


Another factor that could be very annoying is the Sleepy Neighbors Syndrome. I know I sound a little negatory about this, but you do have to be aware of this. The neighbors, as well as the other inhabitants of the house (if any) need their sleep and their concentration. Really forging isn’t that loud, especially if you use little tricks to quiet the forging, but it can still be loud enough to get complaints. Plan accordingly.


The trick to planning the location of the workshop is just to be mindful of these factors.



Safety- regarding wood floors, flammable workbench, etc.


Rain and Snow- make sure you have some way to shelter your precious tools from the elements.


Sleepy Neighbor Syndrome- Find a place quiet enough that the neighbors, other house inhabitants etc. Don’t get bothered by the noise. Maybe you can buy them off with a knife.



Just as long as you keep in mind these things, you should be good to go! Remember, if you manage to get your own personal workspace, give it a name! “Village Blacksmith” “The Forger of Weapons Works Within” “Fire And Steel Meet” are all cool ones. Remember, local kids and siblings can get a kick out of seeing red steel forged into shape with a hammer and Anvil.

 

 

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Gold smithy Welcome to BSF! by the way I never did get the meteorite you were going to send ?

 

Sam

Hey Sam...I did send them. I was wondering why I never got a notice that you got them. If you can point me to the aprox. date, I will look through my mail receipts and file a loss notice with USPO. I wish you hadn't waited so long, even if they were free. ...Teddy

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Caleb, you really don't want to 'get used to' the smell of burned propane - in a properly tuned forge that is carbon monoxide (which is odourless, btw), and it will kill you faster than a bullet. fresh air is not just 'nice', it is an absolute necessity...

 

also, unless you're talking monsoon season, rain will have very little effect on a gas or coal forge in operation, but it will rust if exposed to the elements whilst not running - nothing a tarp won't fix, though...

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Caleb, you really don't want to 'get used to' the smell of burned propane - in a properly tuned forge that is carbon monoxide (which is odourless, btw), and it will kill you faster than a bullet. fresh air is not just 'nice', it is an absolute necessity...

 

also, unless you're talking monsoon season, rain will have very little effect on a gas or coal forge in operation, but it will rust if exposed to the elements whilst not running - nothing a tarp won't fix, though...

Hm, ok. Then what is that smell...?

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Unburned propane. Most propane forges aren't tuned very well. Especially home made ones or the ones you buy on the cheap. They'll still work, but efficient they are not. Some of the fuel escapes the forge and doesn't get cooked off. Either way, carbon monoxide is a very real risk. Better to always have a vented shop.

Also, my first shop was just a cheap 15-20lb anvil and small charcoal/coal forge that I used outside in the backyard. The few tools I had, 2 files, a hammer and a pair of channel locks for tongs; I used to keep them in a bucket in the garage until it was time to forge. It wasn't a bad way to start out, being outside in the backyard. The only hard part was that I live in the most northern part of western NY (I've had Canadian friends come down from the "deep north" for a visit and complain about the cold here) The fire helped a lot but when you're trying to do filing and finishing work as opposed to hot work you'll want to head in doors.

Very impressive project none the less, Caleb.

 

-Jon

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Ah, ok. I'll be sure to add a warning. My shop is very well ventilated too.

 

Yes, I actually do not have the temperature problem; snow is a rare occurence. I will add note about that.

Thanks guys!

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around August Smithy I just thought you got busy ,sorry did not mean to imply anything bad about you sending them ,Just did not know if something happened .

 

Sam

Edited by Samcro

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Man, what I would have given for a book like this back when I was a 13-year-old beginner smith! The "50 dollar knife shop" mentioned above is a similar concept, I'd suggest getting or borrowing a copy to check it out. Simple tools and techniques, but refined by a lot of experience, good stuff...

 

Just my opinion, but I love my charcoal forge...personally I think that if you're going to cover propane forge building you should do a chapter on solid fuel forges as well. For sheer cheapness, nothing beats a charcoal forge run on scrap wood...my "Lively"-style forge cost me about $100 to build (of which $75 is in my lovely old handcranked blower), fuel is free for a bit of work cutting it up, and I'm far from reaching the limitations of what it can do.

 

Another useful chapter might be on using scrap steel, including the material-testing info that's needed to ID what you have and figure out the appropiate heat-treatment, the potiential problems one might find, and so on. A few years back I wrote up a kind of rambling essay on the subject, you can feel free to use any of this if you'd like: http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/39069/Scrap-Steel-Testing#.Uoej5-K_nFo

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Man, what I would have given for a book like this back when I was a 13-year-old beginner smith! The "50 dollar knife shop" mentioned above is a similar concept, I'd suggest getting or borrowing a copy to check it out. Simple tools and techniques, but refined by a lot of experience, good stuff...

 

Just my opinion, but I love my charcoal forge...personally I think that if you're going to cover propane forge building you should do a chapter on solid fuel forges as well. For sheer cheapness, nothing beats a charcoal forge run on scrap wood...my "Lively"-style forge cost me about $100 to build (of which $75 is in my lovely old handcranked blower), fuel is free for a bit of work cutting it up, and I'm far from reaching the limitations of what it can do.

 

Another useful chapter might be on using scrap steel, including the material-testing info that's needed to ID what you have and figure out the appropiate heat-treatment, the potiential problems one might find, and so on. A few years back I wrote up a kind of rambling essay on the subject, you can feel free to use any of this if you'd like: http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/39069/Scrap-Steel-Testing#.Uoej5-K_nFo

Yes, I'm splitting the chapter on forges in half, coal and propane.

I think I'll do that; thanks!

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Caleb, I would recommend Putting a chapter before this one talking about safety and Personal Protection Equipment. I say put it first because we craftsmen have a tendency to get a little too comfortable and complacent already, and if we haven't gotten into the habit of using safety equipment, we may not use it at all, usually to the detriment of at least one minor appendage or optical center (fingers or eyes). Really drill home that we are working with very hard, hot, or poisonous objects and substances that are perfectly safe when respected, but very dangerous if not. YOu won't be able to cover everything in the chapter, and you will probably need to put a little bit of precaution when talking about sme materials later, but I would deffinitely cover the basics as the first chapter.

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Caleb, I would recommend Putting a chapter before this one talking about safety and Personal Protection Equipment. I say put it first because we craftsmen have a tendency to get a little too comfortable and complacent already, and if we haven't gotten into the habit of using safety equipment, we may not use it at all, usually to the detriment of at least one minor appendage or optical center (fingers or eyes). Really drill home that we are working with very hard, hot, or poisonous objects and substances that are perfectly safe when respected, but very dangerous if not. YOu won't be able to cover everything in the chapter, and you will probably need to put a little bit of precaution when talking about sme materials later, but I would deffinitely cover the basics as the first chapter.

Ok, I am planning to have a safety chapter, but I will put it first. Thanks!

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After safety, I would list patience, perseverance and imagination as the next most important things a beginning smith needs to have. Imagination allows someone to see the potential in an object - much like not seeing an anvil in a sledge hammer and demanding that only a london-pattern anvil will suffice. Patience and perseverance allow the beginner to make a truly wonderful piece with minimal tooling because they aren't in a rush to get it done. The greeks built incredible temples with tools far worse than the steel and iron anyone can find at the local flea market. Why? They weren't in a rush to get it done. Better to take a week to do one step than to turn out a shoddy piece.

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After safety, I would list patience, perseverance and imagination as the next most important things a beginning smith needs to have. Imagination allows someone to see the potential in an object - much like not seeing an anvil in a sledge hammer and demanding that only a london-pattern anvil will suffice. Patience and perseverance allow the beginner to make a truly wonderful piece with minimal tooling because they aren't in a rush to get it done. The greeks built incredible temples with tools far worse than the steel and iron anyone can find at the local flea market. Why? They weren't in a rush to get it done. Better to take a week to do one step than to turn out a shoddy piece.

I may do so, but I am focusing on assembling the tools, not the actual creating. I will add mention of this- thank you.

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After safety, I would list patience, perseverance and imagination as the next most important things a beginning smith needs to have. Imagination allows someone to see the potential in an object - much like not seeing an anvil in a sledge hammer and demanding that only a london-pattern anvil will suffice. Patience and perseverance allow the beginner to make a truly wonderful piece with minimal tooling because they aren't in a rush to get it done. The greeks built incredible temples with tools far worse than the steel and iron anyone can find at the local flea market. Why? They weren't in a rush to get it done. Better to take a week to do one step than to turn out a shoddy piece.

I am in total agreement.

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Man, what I would have given for a book like this back when I was a 13-year-old beginner smith! The "50 dollar knife shop" mentioned above is a similar concept, I'd suggest getting or borrowing a copy to check it out. Simple tools and techniques, but refined by a lot of experience, good stuff...

 

Just my opinion, but I love my charcoal forge...personally I think that if you're going to cover propane forge building you should do a chapter on solid fuel forges as well. For sheer cheapness, nothing beats a charcoal forge run on scrap wood...my "Lively"-style forge cost me about $100 to build (of which $75 is in my lovely old handcranked blower), fuel is free for a bit of work cutting it up, and I'm far from reaching the limitations of what it can do.

 

Another useful chapter might be on using scrap steel, including the material-testing info that's needed to ID what you have and figure out the appropiate heat-treatment, the potiential problems one might find, and so on. A few years back I wrote up a kind of rambling essay on the subject, you can feel free to use any of this if you'd like: http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/39069/Scrap-Steel-Testing#.Uoej5-K_nFo

do you mind if I use that photo on normalizing? I've looked all over for a good (free) photo, and have found nothing.

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Not my photo, I'm afraid...it is a good one! Here's the relevant thread: http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/47099/NormalizationGrain-Size-Control-Experiment-normalize#.UvbQj4VCrFo . If you register as a PaleoPlanet memeber you can PM the authors to ask permission...as they are nice guys ^_^ , I suspect they will be happy to allow reproduction of the pic.

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Not my photo, I'm afraid...it is a good one! Here's the relevant thread: http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/47099/NormalizationGrain-Size-Control-Experiment-normalize#.UvbQj4VCrFo . If you register as a PaleoPlanet memeber you can PM the authors to ask permission...as they are nice guys ^_^ , I suspect they will be happy to allow reproduction of the pic.

Thank you!

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I cant wait to read it..

how about" Bladesmithing for Dummies" or" I was a Teenage Bladesmith" or" Heat,Beat,Repeat."

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Another thought on the safety stuff is to spread it through the first few chapters rather than all at once in the beginning.

 

I know I can be guilty of skipping the chapter titled "Safety" to get to the one that is titled "The Cool Stuff is in Here". If you spread the safety lessons around a bit, they will read it before they realize what happened.

 

Sort of like putting the dog's medicine in a sausage.

 

Writing the material in a clear and coherent way is a big challenge. Getting people to read it is yet another. Sometime subterfuge is a good thing.

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Another thought on the safety stuff is to spread it through the first few chapters rather than all at once in the beginning.

 

I know I can be guilty of skipping the chapter titled "Safety" to get to the one that is titled "The Cool Stuff is in Here". If you spread the safety lessons around a bit, they will read it before they realize what happened.

 

Sort of like putting the dog's medicine in a sausage.

 

Writing the material in a clear and coherent way is a big challenge. Getting people to read it is yet another. Sometime subterfuge is a good thing.

I see, thanks

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As a young'un (ish) myself, I will be following this! It's exactly what iv been looking for!

 

Safety wise, yes spreading them out a bit might be worth doing. Or even, turn it on its head, instead of 'don't do x' write 'this is what happens if you DO x' -insert grousum story/picture-

I know when I was a teenager, grousum stuff grabbed my attention more than the standard safety listings. (And remember If it's someone who wants to play with fire,steel and hammers, they are unlikely to be put off by a little gore :)

 

Just my take on the matter :)

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