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Hey yall, my name is Bill, live in central IL.  Have been making furniture for a while as a hobby, got a shop.  Then I got a 2x72... 

I'm on my dozenth or so knife.  So far I've mostly used 440C and a carbide bit.  The things you learn if you just read around.  How foolish was I.  

I'm now mostly working with O1, and it isn't terrible on my bits.  

My first eight or so were stock removal knives, and now I'm really getting into the forging life.  Mostly been using some old Picard tongs and an old 3lb cross pein I found laying around (I am living in my old house now, working in my dad's old shop.  Pretty neat to keep using these tools, but):

I'd like to hear some thoughts on best general purpose blacksmithing hammer and tongs, and any other stuff you might think would help.  

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Welcome, Bill! 

 

This forum has a ton of info on it. It's been going for years, so you can find nearly anything you're interested in.

 

However, the search engine built into this thing stinks. So here's the trick. Go to google and type

 

site:bladesmithsforum.com "the thing you're looking for"

 

That way Google will search the site for you. Way better results.  


Omit the quotation marks if you don't want to look for the exact phrase.

 

Luck in the quest!

 

Dave

 

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Welcome to the madness......and welcome to what I call a little slice of Paradise in the interweb maze of bad knifemaking forums. There are tons of pinned posts here that contain all sorts of great info on how to do just about everything in this art. There are tutorials on tong making here. Tutorials on making hammers too. 

 

13 hours ago, Bill F. said:

I'd like to hear some thoughts on best general purpose blacksmithing hammer and tongs, and any other stuff you might think would help.  

This opens up a huge can of worms. You ask about general blacksmithing on a Bladesmith forum. These are different trades with different objectives and tools. Although many of us have a foot in both worlds. It gets more precise when you start delving into things like axes and other oddities in the bladed tool world

 

Hammers are very personal and everyone seems to like a different hammer style, even the blacksmiths I know all like something different. Preferences also seem to follow the typical starting stock you are using and what your focus is. For general blacksmith work, a couple of rounding hammers in different weights are popular. These have a flat face on one end and a domed face on the other. A solid cross-peen in the 1-1/2-3 pound range is also very common. Ask two blade smiths what hammer to get and you will get six answers. Dog's heads are common as are Swedish pattern (my current fave). I know a lot of smiths just made their own hammers because, we;;, that's kind of a blacksmith tradition.....

 

You can never have too many types of tongs......These are also largly dependent on what you are making and what your starting stock is. For general blacksmith work you need a variety of tongs that will grip square stock, round stock, flat stock, and those weird little bits that are difficult to handle.......... Bladesmith work almost requires a pair of tongs that can grip the work piece from the opposing edges. These are sometimes offset tongs, other times they are just tongs with two opposing U shapes at the business end.

 

Welcome aboard! Post some pics of your setup and let's talk shop talk.

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Welcome, I find it's hard to have too many hammers.  Oblong, square, and round faces all move steel slightly differently.   You will also possibly want a cross peen and a straight peen hammer.  As far as tongs go I'm very fond of chain/bolt makers tongs.  I find wolf jaw tongs next to useless.  I also like to use a welders glove on my tong hand but nothing on my hammer hand for better control of the hammer.

 

Doug

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What Doug said, except I prefer semi-box jaw tongs (one box, one plain or V-shaped that fits in the box).  The gloves I prefer are the thin Tillman TIG gloves with a long cuff.  Thick stick-welding gloves will hurt you if you grip, and any glove on your hammer hand will cause strain.  I do wear one when welding, though.

 

These: https://jtillman.com/product/25b/ .  

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On 8/31/2021 at 9:18 PM, Dave Stephens said:

 

 

site:bladesmithsforum.com "the thing you're looking for"

 

That way Google will search the site for you. Way better results.  


Omit the quotation marks if you don't want to look for the exact phrase.

 

 

 

Absolute game-changer.  Thank you!

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14 hours ago, Joshua States said:

This opens up a huge can of worms. You ask about general blacksmithing on a Bladesmith forum. These are different trades with different objectives and tools. Although many of us have a foot in both worlds. It gets more precise when you start delving into things like axes and other oddities in the bladed tool world

I had not thought about this, a very good point.

I guess it's more of a "I have my first forge and am doing my first bit of sooty bladesmithing, what's the desert island hammer to get?"

However, that's probably about as open-ended, if not more.  In most of my hobbies, a lot more thought goes into things once I'm restricted -- ie, I could pick two desert island guitars in a second.  Picking one?  Take me all afternoon.

I picked up some tongs at Ken's Iron, looking forward to having more than just a plain set.  Got a pair that grip the rectangular end of a steel bar to accompany my general purpose pair.  

I'll get some pics of my shop tomorrow when light is better.

Thanks for the pointers!

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7 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

What Doug said, except I prefer semi-box jaw tongs 

Better surface area looks nice on this style.  Will have to pick up a pair of these, too.

 

Those Tillmans look nice.  I have been using Rapicca(sp?) brand mostly so far -- decent, but too boxy.  

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11 hours ago, Doug Lester said:

Welcome, I find it's hard to have too many hammers.  Oblong, square, and round faces all move steel slightly differently.   

One of my hammers is a cross, but I'm pretty lukewarm on it.  I've been using the ball peen the most.  

Question -- What do you mean by chain/bolt makers tongs?  Brand or style of tong?  

Small world, I'm in the 217.  

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They are a style of tong, something like a V jaw tong but they also have a V in them that is at right angles to the jaw.  If you grind down the cross peen to where it's not as narrow and more rounded you can  use it to draw out the blade width wise.  Another thing that will do the same is to forge the main face of a ball peen hammer down until it more of an oblong that is at a right angle to the handle.  I had one like that until someone walked off with most of my forging tools.  Now that it's cooled down around here I'm going to have to finish getting my forge set back up.

 

I like to wear a somewhat loose fitting glove on my tong hand because they will get hot holding the work in the forge and sometimes you will want to get the glove off real fast and stick your hand in the slack tub (a bucket of water).  A slack tub is also good to have to cool off tongs that are getting a little too hot to handle.  Also, if you're overheating you can pour the water over your head.

 

Doug

Edited by Doug Lester
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Will look into tongs like that, too.  Going to dress the hammers I have later since I haven't done that.

Haha, that's true about both the heat and having water around.  The first time I fired up the forge a week ago it was 93 where I was before tuning it on.

Cooling off is already a blessing.   

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Ball peen (or rounding hammer) vs. Straight peen or cross peen.

Every time your hammer hits hot steel, you are trying to "move" some steel in a particular direction. The hammer face moves steel in the same way that an object dropped in a mud puddle moves mud. Drop a bowling ball in a mud puddle or drop a log in a mud puddle. The mud moves in different ways. Angle a flat hammer head in one direction and only hit with more of the edge, it moves in a different direction. 

 

Learning the mechanics of moving steel is the foundation of all forging. Some of this is intellectual knowledge, or understanding the concept and visualizing the hit and the intended result. Most of learning this, is body knowledge. The body learns how to move without any serious concious thought.

 

BTW- the in-site search engine can be quite effective. See this thread for pointers on using the new and improved search engine.

Using the site search engine - Beginners Place - Bladesmith's Forum Board (bladesmithsforum.com)

 

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29 minutes ago, Joshua States said:

Learning the mechanics of moving steel is the foundation of all forging. Some of this is intellectual knowledge, or understanding the concept and visualizing the hit and the intended result. Most of learning this, is body knowledge. The body learns how to move without any serious concious thought.

To add on to this:  I had a bit of a gap in my time forging due to a couple moves.  When I got back to it I was amazed at how much better (cleaner) my forging was.  This all came down to improved focus and hand eye coordination.  I had developed more control over my body in general.  Combined with my intellectual knowledge of how the hammer moves metal, and I was able to be a much better smith.  Keeping in mind that "better" is a very relative term.  

 

Also +1 to the newer search engine on the site working way better than the old one.  

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20 hours ago, Jerrod Miller said:

Also +1 to the newer search engine on the site working way better than the old one.  

Thanks for that link as well!  Also very helpful.  

I think a big part is that early on I hadn't dressed my hammers well enough so I was getting weirder movement than I wanted.  Having done so now, it is much cleaner, and I was say categorically better.  

As a reader first and a kinesthetic learner second, I'm finding control is everything and I don't need the weight I thought I did in my hammers.  

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1 hour ago, Bill F. said:

don't need the weight I thought I did i did

 

This takes most people a long time to learn.  My main knife and sword hammer is 800 grams. My tomahawk hammer is 40 ounces, and my "big" hammer is a hair under four pounds and is rarely used.

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Once you understand the basics physics behind force/mass/motion relationship:

F(u)=1/2MV2

 

You learn that a lighter hammer, moving faster, delivers more force than a heavier hammer, moving slower.

I have watched blacksmiths using a 1 pound rounding hammer and with a single heat get more movement in the steel than I could believe was possible.

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Yeah, it pretty quickly seemed that a lighter, more loving touch will serve me better than beating the ever-loving snot out of it.

Snapped a shot out of the shop!

https://imgur.com/a/lQPPGLJ

Not pictured: a close-up of the drill press station or the hand tool station.  

Really pleased with the modification kit on this Grizzly.  That 1x30 is practically a rite of passage, but I do not miss it.  

I believe tomorrow or early next week I have a bevel jig coming in I'm pretty excited about.  I've been getting pretty good grinds so far, but why not use a tool that'll help?  

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Good looking shop setup.

Jealous....lol.

 

I live in the country, but my house is single story- built into the ground with attached garage.

 

So, I have to be conscious of monoxide levels... forging in the garage is out for my comfort level.

 

Township codes and my yard- deny me the ability to put up a pole barn... so, What I play in.

20191018_073754.jpg

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16 hours ago, Welsh joel said:

So, I have to be conscious of monoxide levels..

Last winter when I was finalizing some stuff in the shop, and decided it was the point where it warranted upgrading some equipment I got a new smoke/CO detector.  I live in a pretty rural area, not as much as you, but I guess I never specified anything:

That's a far-angle shot of my woodshop.  There's a drill press station and a hand tool station that you can't see from those angles, but I forge outside.  

That's the basement of an old house, no forging down there.  I won't forget last winter when the smoke detector I had was wrong, but kept saying there was a dangerous level of CO PPM... and it was just a bad unit.  Haha.  Safe > sorry.  Always.  

I'm looking forward to it cooling off, since I hate the heat.  Still have some upper 80s days ahead here.  Forging without sweating immediately is gonna be awesome.  The little things.

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Another thing about using lighter hammers is that you can work longer with them and use better form in hammering.  I hate seeing pictures of someone that looks like they cut down the handle of a 5lb sledge hammer and choke up on the handle to almost the head.  I don't know that they think they are proving but they are wearing themselves out and cutting down on their work time.

 

Doug

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17 hours ago, Doug Lester said:

choke up on the handle to almost the head


I've seen some videos with a huge choke, and with a handleless eye punch.  With enough machismo you can forge kryptonite!  

Back when I was just woodworking and not bladesmithing, I was gifted one of the titanium hammers by stiletto after requesting one.  Much like my favorite 400g joinery hammer, that thing does a mighty good job, especially in the "transferring momentum vs weight dept," (and toughness vs stainless), and... it cuts air easier, too!  Seems analogous to using a lighter hammer.  Better dexterity, too.

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On 9/6/2021 at 12:06 PM, Bill F. said:


I've seen some videos with a huge choke, and with a handleless eye punch.  With enough machismo you can forge kryptonite!  

Back when I was just woodworking and not bladesmithing, I was gifted one of the titanium hammers by stiletto after requesting one.  Much like my favorite 400g joinery hammer, that thing does a mighty good job, especially in the "transferring momentum vs weight dept," (and toughness vs stainless), and... it cuts air easier, too!  Seems analogous to using a lighter hammer.  Better dexterity, too.

Hammer weight is one I have a bit of experience with from having spent most of my working life in the wood industry from joinery shops to building sights and furniture making I have used a fair assortment of hammers. Traditionally we all used 24 oz hammers but my father used a 20 oz although when I was in australia and working the hardwoods there I went to a 30 oz and it became my standard for all woodwork even when I returned to NZ with our softer woods although now at very close to 70 I have found that my fathers 24oz is used far more often. Leather washer Eastwings all the way.

For the small amount of forging work I do the 40 oz seems best with the heavier hammers almost never being picked up as the 40 oz is much easier on my  shoulder and hand (due to work habbits) and as mentioned is much quicker to move material with faster more accurate hits and less body stress.

 

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One thing to "beating the living snot" out of a blade is that it will give you deeper dints to grind out.  It could force you to grind the blade thinner than you wanted to.

 

Doug

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4 hours ago, Garry Keown said:

24 oz hammers

 Indeed.  Before the titanium hammer, I'd been using one of these.  

 

7 minutes ago, Doug Lester said:

will give you deeper dints to grind out.

I'm glad I figured this out when I did.

Also glad I figured out how to do multiple quotes in one response!

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20 hours ago, Garry Keown said:

Leather washer Eastwings all the way.

 

Amen!

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