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I first tried my hand at smithing when I was a teen, and I was rather ignorant about it. I just heated up a metal rod and started pounding. I split the metal in several places and destroyed my moms smoker grill in the process. But here lately I've been doing quite a bit of research and I'm confident I can pull it off now. The only problem I have is funds. I've got kids, and kids aren't cheap. My wife and I work are butts off to provide and we just get by. So the idea I came up with is to build a small forge from scrap I have lying around. An old pan for the forge, a satellite dish mount for the air inlet, and the whole thing on bricks for a base. I know it's not the best but it's a start. What I plan on making is whatever I can sell. My stock is going to be any scrap steel/iron I can get. Steel tubing from chairs, railroad spikes, old pots and pans, you name it. Right now I have no real smithing tools to speak of, just a framing hammer and channel lock pliers(insert WTF comments here). My first project will be making a punch and drifter from railroad spikes. Next will be a decent hammer, then tongs. And from there I will start working on art and knives that I can (hopefully) sell. I will use any money I make at first to upgrade my workshop until I am happy with it and I can afford better materials. Like I said, I've done a lot of research into the art. But research is just that. It's not experience or practice. I know what I need to do overall but I'm still gonna need a lot of practice on technique and form and such. So if anyone out there has any good advice or comments please let me know. I am eager to learn and willing to take advice from experts. I am definitely open to suggestions on anything. Just keep in mind that for now my budget is about $0.17

 

Thank you,

Scrapsmith Steven

 

PS I will post pictures as I build.

Edited by Steven Spall

domum chalybs passio

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I would recommend that you save up your lunch money and by a book or two on the subject. My recommendation is The Master Bladesmith by Jim Hrisoulas. It has a lot of information that you need to know. Of the steels that you mention only the railroad spikes are going to have enough carbon in them to make a knife and that's just barely. If you are stuck recycling old steel leaf and coil springs are probably going to be your best source.

 

Doug

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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I am certainly not an expert, but there is my advice.

 

Check your local library for a copy of "Wayne Goddard's $50 Knife Shop". That book is great for starting knife making on the cheap. Lots of good ideas, better than most I can come up with.

 

As for materials, call up your local rail yard and ask if they have any old cut off pieces of railroad track. That stuff makes a good (albeit small) anvil. They might also have cast off steel from other stuff; huge bolts, railroad spikes, etc.

 

Check around your town to see if there is a place that repairs car and truck springs. See if they have any cast off that they are not using. Maybe they will let you have some. Spring steel will make a good knife.

 

I know you don't have much of a budget, but hit up your local swap meets. Last time I went, I found 2 steel punches, a 1 lb ball peen hammer(I use this hammer quite frequently), a bronze hammer, and an old pipe wrench(for making twists) for $20 bucks. You can also buy tons of old files for REAL cheap, and old files make good knives. You never know what else they may have.

Get on Craigslist and check the Free section (Here is the link for Springfield, Mo). You may find stuff you can use there. You may also find stuff that you could use for your family in general.

Edited by Wes Detrick

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."  -Albert Camus

http://www.krakenforge.net/

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Since you are starting up my recommendation for an intro book is "The Complete Modern Blacksmith by Alex Weygers" for real bootstrapping info. Get them via library inter library loan if not in house. So, that fits your budget. "the Edge of the Anvil by Jack Andrews" is also worth a look.

 

I have always had decent luck finding lawnmower blades that were hardenable and the repair shops will often give you bent or worn out ones. Bring the shop back a couple of knives and you will be set for life. I've scavenged pallets for handle material and used coat hanger wire or heavey copper wire for pins.

 

All the above advice is spot on. Not sure what you are doing for fuel in your forge, but I was real happy the day I swapped my coal forge for a gas forge. Probably added 10 years to my life and left me with more time for forging not fire fiddling. The are fairly cheap to build except for the insulation. Maybe someone has a way to get around that .

 

Make friends with the folks in the industrial arts program at the local Community College especially the folks in the welding program.

 

Good Hunting it is a great journey.

Edited by Mark Gottesman

Every pot got a lid.

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If you want to go cheap on a charcoal forge get a small galvanized tub, a 12" piece of 1" black pipe, a small bag of sand, some hay, and a bag of cheap clay cat litter. Drill a hole for the black pipe in the side of the tub just a little below the middle. Mix about 2 parts kitty litter to one part sand with a couple of good hand fulls of hay and add enough water to mix into a stiff paste. Line the inside of the tub with the mixture with the black pipe extending to just above the bottom of the resulting cavity. Allow this to dry for at least a week. This time of the year you will have to bring it inside to keep it from freezing up on you. When its dry, build a fire inside of it to bake the adobe solid. Use natural lump not brickette charcoal. Keep any left over material used to make the adobe because you will have to patch the forge from time to time. The adobe will also keep you from burning off the zinc in the galvanizing which might be a little problematic.

 

You air supply can be an old hair dryer. It's fine if the heating element is broken just as long as it blows air. One of those double action raft pumps will also work well. They can be had on Ebay, Amazon, or one of the local discount stores. An electric air mattress will probably also work. The books mentioned will tell you how to tend the fire and where to keep the steel for the best atmosphere.

 

Doug

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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thanks for all your input guys. I will definitely check out the books.

 

Doug, will grass clippings work instead of hay? Also i saw a recipe for fireclay that was 1:1:1:1: portland cement,sand,cat litter,perlite.. it was used in a waste oil foundry. would it be worth it to go with that or does the adobe work just as well/better?... also, my yard has alot of red clay soil. would that work instead of the cat litter?

 

and i will be making my own charcoal. a friend is going to get me some paint cans. i know a big barrel would be better and quicker but i can't acquire one just yet.

domum chalybs passio

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For that kind af forge all you need is ash, but your local clay mixed 1:1 with ash should do it. You'll be fixing cracks after every firing no matter what until it's fuly dried out, may as well stay cheap!

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I have a dead-end job and 3 boys, and I know how you feel. The little buggers are EXPENSIVE! I dread the day they turn into teenagers and start eating.

 

When I built my forge, I recycled my grandpa's old barbeque grill, which began life as a boiler lid. I scrounged our air mattress pump for a blower. I still use it. My anvil is still a foot-long piece of railroad track. Not as nice as a "real" anvil, but it works until I can afford one.For tools, I started with a ball-peen hammer and a pair of vise grips. While everyone here can probably give better advice on what to get than I can, I can suggest some places to look.

 

Brake drums: Can be turned into a small forge with the addition of some plumbing and a few nuts and bolts to make the legs. I get mine from the scrap bin of a local auto dealership. They're free. I've also seen them toss out some really nice 25 gallon drums, which might help your charcoal situation.

 

Tools: Thrift stores and pawn shops occasionally have some quasi-sorta-halfway decent tools. A broken hammer handle just needs replaced. A chipped or broken hammer head? Make it into something else, like a tomahawk or different type of hammer. If you make a 'hawk, sell it. When you get some cash, Harbor Freight has decent tools on the cheap.

 

Decent steel: salvage yards have leaf springs and torsion bars. Both are good steel. Old files (again from the thrift store) will make good blades. If you can get out in the country, a lot of farmers have what my Grandpa called a "Used Spare Parts Storage Area," i.e. "A big pile of junk out behind the shop." I got the steel for my first few blades this way. Old circular saw blades are also good steel, but people seem to think the big lumber mill kind are antiques, and therefore, overpriced for those of us who would turn them into something useful.

 

And like was suggested before, it's a worthwhile investment to give away a few blades, just to grow some goodwill (and they'll tell friends, who will ask what you charge... :))

 

How-To: Besides coming to this forum, I do a lot of research on YouTube. That way I can actually see what's being done. I also download some videos for reference later. The nice thing about bladesmithing is, Knowledge is more important than tools. You don't NEED a lot of high-end equipment to get started. I've seen a Youtube video of a primitive forge in Africa: a foot long pipe going into a pile of charcoal on the ground, and a little kid flapping a rag on the other end to force air into it (might give your youn'uns something to do if you can get them to stand still long enough). The guy had a teeny little ball-peen hammer and a rock for an anvil.

 

Scrounging cash for your forge: This bit is a little off topic, but still kind of relevant to your case.

 

When I was in college, I used to walk by the drive through windows of the local fast food joints and pick up the change on the ground. It's not much, but it adds up. I still finance parts of my smithing by selling plasma. It sucks, but the money is tax free. And if you can, go to Daveramsey.com. My brother and I tried his ideas and they actually work. It's no "get rich quick" thing, just common sense.

 

Hope some of that helps. I'm just starting out myself,

B)

 

Truth simply is. Whether you like that truth or not is totally irrelevant.

https://www.facebook.com/StormsForge">https://www.facebook.com/StormsForge

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I think you're getting caught up in what you "can't" do rather than seeing the world full of possibilities open before you.

 

There are videos all over the internet that show blacksmiths in third-world countries doing great work with very primitive setups. Why do you need a fire pot when thousands of smiths make great blades using a side-blast forge that's nothing more than a pile of burning charcoal next to the air pipe? Any flea market in the US will have the tools and materials needed equip a smithy that make those guys seriously jealous - and for less than a c-note.

 

As I get older, I'm thinking more and more about revamping my shop so that I can do everything from a sitting position. All of those third-world smiths are sitting or squatting so it's got to work, and I've got a very comfortable shop chair....

 

Selling stuff you make? Good luck with that. Simply put, you don't have the tools or the skills to turn out a reasonable product in a reasonable time.... and then you have to find a buyer. Hobby smithing is a money-pit of a hobby. Selling a hook every now and then won't offset the costs of making those hooks. There's no such thing as "free" metal. The time and fuel needed to hunt for that metal is often better spent building something out of new metal that you pay cash for. A lot will depend on local resources, but I have never found anything "free" that was cheaper/better than I could buy new.... especially if you factor in the time needed to process that found metal into a shape that I need. You can certainly make a lot of stuff out of soup cans (and I recommend that you do), but realize that you're going through some serious effort to do it when you could have bought some flat sheet at the local hardware store and had your project finished in the time it takes to flatten a can.

 

Biggest thing about making money as a smith is maximizing the return on your efforts. Why make a hammer when you can buy good ones for pennies at the salvation army store or yard sale? It takes a lot of time and fuel (that's money) to make a ball-peen hammer. Jigs allow you to make s-hooks quickly and easily, relatively, and that makes them more profitable than hammering them out one at a time and then fighting to get them all looking similar. Basically, you need to think in terms of mass-production because that's where the profit comes in.

When reason fails...

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