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Hello, I wanted to introduce myself to your forum.  Just finished adding a hood and anvil to a 10 year old agricultural building.  It is round with reciprocal roof with fire pit in center.  Added tuyere to pit and aluminum hood covered in rock with exhaust pipe. 9” centrifugal fan 200cfm for air. Gotten metal bright orange so far.  Made tongs; now pounding leaf spring into some sort of machete.  Learning how to move metal.  Trying to facilitate better conversion of wood to charcoal to get hotter yellow.  I like working barefoot and was ostracized on IFI for it.  This forum will hopefully suit me better.  Have been reading Sauder’s bloomery research articles.  Most skills involve carpentry so new to pounding hot metal.


 

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Welcome aboard!  Getting banned from IFI is a rite of passage, it's happened to most of us. :lol:

 

Plenty of reading material here, and good people. 

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Posted (edited)

Look forward to your reading material; read some yesterday and liked what I read; a large bloomery reading area, nice.  I am still up at IFI.  I just stopped logging in.  They humiliated me and I decided to take the high ground and not take their bait, just logged out for good.  Go read if you like under "williams keep", some good pics of my forge area.  The 4' diameter firepit has been inside the drumhut for 10 years. Just recently took perforated alluminum satellite dish and sawed in half to make the form for hood, then covered in thin metal flashing, added old smoker as transition to 14" diameter pipe out top center hole in reciprocal roof.  Cut 3 arches and covered in rock and cement.  Upgraded 100cfm fan to 200cfm with larger centrifugal force.  Only get to forge once a week on days off work.  Did make a knife 30 years ago with bandsaw blade and put a deer antler handle on but and old timer did most of work.  Have not tried to make one since.  Really enjoy hammering metal; I think the bright luminous glow is fascinating and it activates ancestral memories. 

 

Edited by William Johnson
used inches instead of feet
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Kinda glad I'm not the only one who... left the IFI forumn. They have a hang up on their way is the only way... I learned alot, don't get me wrong. But, there's a few who don't seem to share in the understanding that forging is a seemingly dying art, and learning how to share that knowledge thru newer ways is the only way to keep it alive.

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Welcome, William.  Let us know how to help you.  If you want to forge bare foot then that's up to you.   You might change your mind if you keep getting your toes burned by the hot stuff the flakes off your work (can't think of the word that I want) but you'll figure it out.

 

Doug

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I am quoting Mr. Shearer from 2012,

I forgebarefoot  for most forging and have never burned my feet (badly). I usually am able to keep the steel on the anvil, but even when I do drop it, it rarely hits my feet. Even if it does, I don't let the metal stay on my feet long . Like you said, the dance, then the slack tub, and I'm fine .... 
 
Mr. Shearer, I was reading your above post from 2012.  Do you still forge barefoot?  
 
 
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I haven't seen Luke around for a while, but yeah, it's your business what you want to wear or not while forging.  

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2 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

but yeah, it's your business what you want to wear or not while forging.  

That being said, as a rule this forum does encourage safe practices.  We have a whole sub-forum dedicated to safety.  Everyone knows that forging without shoes increases risks substantially.  You won't get harassed here for it, though if you post pictures of yourself doing something others see as dangerous then it will likely get pointed out that you shouldn't do that thing (not just forging barefoot; this could also be grinding without safety glasses, or arc welding without a hood, or something similar).  This would be brought up out of concern for your safety, not to belittle anyone.  

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Mr. Miller, thanks for your advice.  I understand.  I always, always wear eye protection no matter chain sawing, grinding, forging; in the dry desert I live in the wind constantly blows dust; my eyes do not grow back.  I am extremely hot natured and overheat easily especially in the hot summers; usually the first to wear shorts, no shirt and run in sandals.  I was wearing gloves while forging but one time the glove got so hot that I barely removed it without a burn, then read about folks not wearing gloves.  I have not worn gloves since and get a good early warning system with bear skin from extreme heat.  I will wear gloves grinding or cutting cold metal or moving firewood.  So I was thinking down the same lines as the hands with the feet.  If you are wearing shorts and a hot piece of slag gets into your shoe, then wow, the coal is trapped and the burn extremeness is determined by how fast you can remove the shoe or how fast you can dunk in bucket.  I did read about he dangers of synthetic clothing and synthetic shoes and how they melt and burn causing worse burns.  I read some old threads where several people on this forum expressed an passion for barefoot forging, and I was curious if they are still doing it and how it has been going for them?  Wearing long pants in winter with boots is no problem but when it gets hot people start wearing shorts which opens up the shoe area to hot stuff getting trapped.  So tight fitting leather shoes that slag cant get into and leather/wool clothing sounds good.  When I hammered  last week some slag hit my feet but since I was barefoot I could quickly move and suffered no burns.  I saw several primitive 3rd world forges/bloomeries where the folks were barefoot; Africa and Asia.  My forge floor is dirt and my forge is a ground wood forge, have not gotten the yellow/white temperatures where huge chunks of slag are flying everywhere.  I also have a large hood over my fire pit forge for foul gasses.  Tight fitting moccasins without socks might be a good choice for me.  For now I will try barefoot.

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44 minutes ago, William Johnson said:

Mr. Miller

We're all on a first name basis here, because we're all friends by way of love for the craft.  

 

I work in an iron and steel foundry in Spokane.  Not 5 minutes ago I was a couple feet away from 2000 pounds of liquid steel.  I've been in foundries where I was a few feet away from 50 tons of liquid steel.  That is to say I am pretty familiar with the hazards of hot metal, and the heat of eastern Washington.  I'd be far less picky about what people wear around my shop than OSHA (WISHA) would allow for the foundry.  That being said, shorts are a very hard no-go in my shop when metal working, and no shoes would be even more so.  I personally find the idea reckless to the point of anyone that is OK with forging (or any serious metal work) barefoot in their own shop is not welcome to work in my shop, even if they are wearing shoes.  To me that is a serious lapse in judgement and I will not trust them in my shop for all the other things that can happen there.  But everyone can do whatever they want in their own shop.  

 

54 minutes ago, William Johnson said:

I saw several primitive 3rd world forges/bloomeries where the folks were barefoot; Africa and Asia. 

That doesn't make it a good idea.  I know there are people there that are arc welding and plasma cutting in nothing but shorts, no eye protection whatsoever.  They are going to have vision problems sooner rather than later.  And when they can no longer work someone else is going to come take their place doing the same thing for the same low pay.  We in the US are very fortunate that we have protections from that being the norm.  But the fact that little to no safety gear was purchased for those people, and they are compensated for injuries they receive doing the work is a very big factor to why goods from those countries is so much cheaper than US made items.  The price difference is paid by the workers' bodies.  I've been lucky to not have to go visit those places and seen the work being done first hand, but have had several colleagues and bosses that have.  The pictures, videos, and stories I have heard from the people that have gone there are awful.  It is definitely not something to aspire to.  

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Yes, I once saw a video of a man forging nails using his bare hand instead of tongs.  That doesn't mean that I'm going to do it or recommend it to others.

 

Doug

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William,hello,good to see anyone getting into the craft.

 

I didn't look at actual photos of your set-up,but by your description it sounds cool,right on.

 

In a very general sense,as someone who works with charcoal(exclusively,anymore),i'd like to say a few things that you may find helpful:

 

Simultaneous conversion wood to charcoal can be done(there was a biggish machinist operation some ways from where i live 100+years ago that stacked birch blocks behind the forge-fire kinda using the waste-heat of the forge to prep the fuel used consequitively,apparently they were successful,and worked some sizeable stuff,dredge rigging et c.).but really for a small forge it's nice to get the flames/smoke/sparks(fines) and a few other inconveniences out of your way in a separate charcoaling process.

 

With charcoal,it's very easy to over-blow your fire.

You can actually diminish the amount of BTu's imparted to your steel by giving it too much blast.

Of course,yet other detriments are excessive scaling,deeper de-carburization of the surface of your steel(since you're getting into cutlery it's a factor),and if/when you'd attempt forge-welding the resulting Oxidizing Atm. is also very detrimental.

 

Frankly,i failed to dial up the right amount of air with using an electric blower in my set-up,and have happily reverted to y old hand-crank.

 

Another thing about charcoal is that it may Max out at somewhat lower temps than gas or metallurgical mineral coal.

Sometimes i feel like i'm having a hard time getting the very high heat out of it.

 

But it's nice stuff,and better for you as far as breathing it in close proximity,and(especially with manual blast)qwuiter and gives one a better chance to think and concentrate on task at hand.

 

All the best in your endeavors.

 

 

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Jake, thanks for your kind words.  Here is a pic of my fire pit forge hood.  Hood has front access and 3 smaller arch doors that have removable covers.  Can be used for entertainment or a forge.  Today took that spring steel piece (in upper pic) and continued to hammer into size to fit hardy hole and made hot cutoff.  Then grinded remnant diagonally  so rest of spring steel will make 2 knives.  Then drew out taper under anvil on one blade.  A couple times added fresh wood and fire started roaring suddenly breathing breath, cool but very hot.  Used tongs to pull out a little and then grabbed with vice grips.  Nice bright orange but not yellow. Left 200 cfm fan on lowest setting whole time.

 

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This is hands down the Coolest set-up i've ever seen!:)

 

Good for you,you're onto maybe the best source for creativity and learning-Playing!:)

 

Right on,man,roll with it,it'll get you wherever you'll wish to go!

 

 

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Speaking from experience, forging with Crocs is probably more "dangerous" than barefoot...........when that piece of scale gets trapped between you foot and the Croc :lol: 

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I hear you there Gerhard.  Even wearing socks with the Crocs doesn't get you anything other than a burnt sock and 1/4" diameter scar on the top of your foot! :D

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Welcome, William.  I hope to see you at some NWBA events in the near future, hopefully Swaptoberfest will be on this year.

 

On 3/24/2021 at 4:49 AM, Alan Longmire said:

Getting banned from IFI is a rite of passage, it's happened to most of us. 

Unfortunately, this is has too much truth to it.  Which is unfortunate, because there are a few knowledgeable and nice folks there.

 

William, are you familiar with the Whitlock Forge?  If not, there's a young lady (Corey Whitlock is her name, IIRC) from down here in Sandy OR, who was coming to the conferences  the last couple of years and was selling wood fuel forges.  You might want to contact them to see if they have any suggestions.

 

I'm not going to repeat what's been said on either side about forging in bare feet, but feel I should remind folks that burns aren't the only risks of not wearing shoes.  Don't forget about the pieces of sharp steel that you can step on and embed in your feet when doing the "avoid the scale" dance.  My R foot is just now, finally, recovering after 4 months of swelling and open sores on the 3 middle toes.  The initial cause is really unknown, but most likely a wire sliver that I picked up while stepping on the floor mat in the shop in socks when changing into my work shoes from sandals ~5 months ago.  

 

Good luck, have fun and stay safe!

 

 

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Took a seasoned maple stave (2” diameter) that I cut last fall to fashion into handle.  Used old drawknife (with only one handle) to carve off bark.  Then cut space for tang with electric chainsaw.  Fit nice, then the problems came.  Drilled 2 holes through handle and thick high carbon spring steel.  Was just going to use torque screw as pins; big mistake.  Didn’t predrill hole large enough and snapped screw heads off embedding broken screw in handle.  Aagggghhhah!  Was able to drill out one pin but other was stuck.  Wore out 3 drill bits trying to fix and made holes in handle too large in chaos.  Ended up splitting handle, so starting new handle with new piece of maple.  Frustrating, moved to yard work like cleaning chicken coop and piling brush.  Blade is forged tapered so ball peen marks are visible with minimal angle grinding.  Shooting for rustic look.  Will try nails for new pins.  Will post pic when done with amateur endeavor.  

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Started a new handle for hidden tang.  Used cordless drill to start hole; will finish hole with reciprocal saw blade clamped onto vice grip.  Got sidetracked because pregnant goat gave birth to two kids.  Only have few hours time after work to get stuff done.  Here is pic of “agricultural building” that houses the forge area.  I enjoy reading the “activity” every day on this forum. Thanks.image.jpeg

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  • 3 weeks later...

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My first knife was at 21 yrs old from old industrial bandsaw blade and deer horn handle.  Now, 30 years later this is my second.  Yea I know it is ugly but it is mine.  When hiking I found a 100 yr old leaf spring out of mining truck.  Hauled this 30 lb beast on my back 4 miles.  Spark test revealed high carbon steel.  Painstakingly cut with angle grinder.  Forge tapered with ball peen hammer.  Carved maple branch into handle.  Drilled out inside took reciprocal saw blade clipped to vice grips to rectangularize hole.  Inserted metal, drilled 2 holes through handle/metal and used copper pins.  Sharpened with hand file.  Greased up handle and done.  Purposely left primitive for effect.  Very sharp,  cut thump with light graze.  Sorry haven’t posted in a while been busy with irrigation, goats, and greenhouse.  Still have many future projects with leaf spring remnant.

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