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Greetings from a new enthusiast


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Greeting to all of you that decide to grace this topic with your presence!

 

I've just recently engaged myself in serious study of bladesmithing, and quickly come to the conclusion that I would enjoy doing it myself. I've been looking for something artistic to use my hands for, but drawing and painting just isn't my thing. I've always had a fascination with blades (who hasn't?) so I am looking to get started on a small workshop within the next month or two. I will say that I have little money, though I am willing to invest in good tools. I never buy something cheap just to save money, even if I have to save for awhile first I want to always purchase well-made items. (Or, for that matter, be able to make them)

 

I've been reading up on a lot of websites, and forums. I really like the atmosphere presented in this forum because there are so few "flamebait" posts, or negative responses.

 

My biggest questions that I would like answered are these:

 

I already know I want to forge, but I'm not exactly sure where to get started. I have been looking at a few forges (handmade) on eBay, by a "Poor boy blacksmith" store there. Does anyone know if these are good? Will they get up to a good forging temperature? Should I wait a bit and invest in something like a Chile Habanero? I also know that I will need to go with a gas forge. My neighbors would hate me for having coal.

 

I've been looking at a few hammers on different sites that say they sell blacksmith tools and such. I can't figure out what king of a hammer I should be looking for. I just read about a guy that bought a sledge, cut off one end, and shortened the handle... this seems like an economical enough way to do it, but I just want to be sure that it doesn't have sever negative traits before I try that.

 

I have no idea of what I could use for an anvil. Is there something I could look for in a scrap yard or something?

 

Files: I read the beginners post that is stickied, but it doesn't say much about files. I know there are three different types, something about a smooth file, and crosscut, and a bastard I think? What are their uses respectively?

 

What books would you recommend reading?

 

Last question for now: Does anyone have skype, or Yahoo Instant Messenger, or a MSN messenger that they would be willing to just talk over and explain the processes of things involved in forging, quenching, heat-treating, tools, sharpening, shaping, hehe ... practically everything?

 

 

Thanks in advance for the advice.

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Welcome Scott first off you should at least let us know where you are there could be someone close to you willing to help. Going to a smiths shop watching and asking questions will shorten the learning curve considerably.

 

Bob

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Welcome Scott first off you should at least let us know where you are there could be someone close to you willing to help. Going to a smiths shop watching and asking questions will shorten the learning curve considerably.

 

Bob

 

Haha! How braindead of me.

 

I am currently at College, in Dunbar Wisconsin

 

But I live in Oscoda, Michigan. Close to Alpena (about 50 miles away)

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If money is short, and you want quality control, you should build your own forge.

 

If they have a materials/metals corse on campus they probibly have a welder and a bandsaw and other such lovely items, and (with a little bit of freindly conversation) I bet you can get access to the tools so you can do it yourself. If you dont trust your welding skills, you can always call in a favor or two from the guys that know what they are doing.

 

I personally bought a 6 lbs sledge and cut one of the faces off and shortened the handle. It works very well for almost every task I put it to. A smaller cross-pein might be a good hammer to start out with (say 2 lbs) untill you get into "the swing of things"... sorry...

 

As for an anvil, my first was a 4x6x10" brick of mild steel, and it worked very well. I just threw some 2x4s around it and screwed it all to a log. If you trace back some of my posts and look at the pics, you can see what I am talking about.

 

I beleive Mr. Fogg has some pictures of a stake anvil on his site, that might be an option.

 

I would personally suggest that you buy a few different files from Sears hardware/department store. Get the Craftsman files with the lifetime deal thing that they have. I bring back my files every few months and just exchange them. It is a bit pricey up front, but i think that it works its self out in the long run. The bigger the file, the better, in terms of length and width. Get a fine and a coarse file, also get their set of needle files. And if you can find a chainsaw file with the lifetime deal on it, get that.

 

A good hand drill is a handy thing to have. most people have one about the house somewhere. Buy one that plugs in, not the battery type.

 

Read anything by Jim Hrisoulas. He produces good books.

 

Good luck.

 

Mike Lambiase

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Oh goodie, another northerner. This'll tip the country back into balance a little better... :D

 

Ric Furrer is close to you but you have to get across the water into Door County first. Peter Martin is further south. There are too many to name (meaning I can't remember em all). If you want to overdose on knives, come to the Janesville Badger Knife Show at the end of March next year.

 

Check out http://www.umbaonline.org/ this is the main smithing group comprising Wisconsin. Lots of stuff to see and do. These are the fellows to connect with for equipment and just practicing or watching for basic skills. There are a good number of folks all over your area who are very knowledgeable and will get you off to a good start.

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I agree with Mike Lambiase. Build your own forge. It's not really that hard. It is a HELL of a lot cheaper. I bought everything I needed from Darrin Ellis http://refractory.elliscustomknifeworks.com/ , omitting the pipe for a shell which I got a the local scrap yard for $5. I recently decided to buy a burner from Rex Price http://www.hybridburners.com/ . I can't wait for it to get here. Both Darrin and Rex are super guys. I will always go back to those guys for my forge building needs, yeah they really are that awesome. But if you don't want to buy your burner you could always build your own. I got my first burner from the plans of Merle Rush http://www.rushknives.com/ (another super fellow there) and Indian George (yet another suer guy) http://www.indiangeorgesknives.com/ who has a forge building tutorial on his web site. Welcome and I wish you the best.

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If money is short, and you want quality control, you should build your own forge.

 

If they have a materials/metals corse on campus they probibly have a welder and a bandsaw and other such lovely items, and (with a little bit of freindly conversation) I bet you can get access to the tools so you can do it yourself. If you dont trust your welding skills, you can always call in a favor or two from the guys that know what they are doing.

 

I personally bought a 6 lbs sledge and cut one of the faces off and shortened the handle. It works very well for almost every task I put it to. A smaller cross-pein might be a good hammer to start out with (say 2 lbs) untill you get into "the swing of things"... sorry...

 

As for an anvil, my first was a 4x6x10" brick of mild steel, and it worked very well. I just threw some 2x4s around it and screwed it all to a log. If you trace back some of my posts and look at the pics, you can see what I am talking about.

 

I beleive Mr. Fogg has some pictures of a stake anvil on his site, that might be an option.

 

I would personally suggest that you buy a few different files from Sears hardware/department store. Get the Craftsman files with the lifetime deal thing that they have. I bring back my files every few months and just exchange them. It is a bit pricey up front, but i think that it works its self out in the long run. The bigger the file, the better, in terms of length and width. Get a fine and a coarse file, also get their set of needle files. And if you can find a chainsaw file with the lifetime deal on it, get that.

 

A good hand drill is a handy thing to have. most people have one about the house somewhere. Buy one that plugs in, not the battery type.

 

Read anything by Jim Hrisoulas. He produces good books.

 

Good luck.

 

Mike Lambiase

 

 

Sadly, there is not a metal course on campus. It's a Christian college, so it's focus is not so much on that. However, there might be some tools I can use around here. Where would I be able to purchase firebrick and things of that sort to make my own? I know there are a few different plans floating around on here, so I'd most likely use one of them ... any special one to recommend?

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I agree with Mike Lambiase. Build your own forge. It's not really that hard. It is a HELL of a lot cheaper. I bought everything I needed from Darrin Ellis http://refractory.elliscustomknifeworks.com/ , omitting the pipe for a shell which I got a the local scrap yard for $5. I recently decided to buy a burner from Rex Price http://www.hybridburners.com/ . I can't wait for it to get here. Both Darrin and Rex are super guys. I will always go back to those guys for my forge building needs, yeah they really are that awesome. But if you don't want to buy your burner you could always build your own. I got my first burner from the plans of Merle Rush http://www.rushknives.com/ (another super fellow there) and Indian George (yet another suer guy) http://www.indiangeorgesknives.com/ who has a forge building tutorial on his web site. Welcome and I wish you the best.

 

ooooooooo

 

good information :D

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As for burners, this site as a realy simple designe that seems to work reasonably well, some people on this forum have used it they might tell you more.

 

Link

 

Welcome

 

Mike

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Scott- forges are just a little hotter than some pottery kilns. You shouldn't have to much trouble sourcing the insulating blanket, refractory coatings and firebrick from a pottery supply place. If you're really not finding anything, SeattlePotterySupply.com can get you started.

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Don't ignore the possibility of using a charcoal forge. I built mine out of a charcoal grill. I layed a 1" diameter piece of blackpipe on the bottom, I drilled through the sides to insert the pipe, and lined it with a misture of cheap clay kitty litter, a little sand, and some straw. The heat of the fire will burn it into a ceramic. For a blower, you can use an old hair dryer, preferably with the heating coil burned out, or even a shop vac, run the hose off the exhaust. You will need a ball valve in the line to regulate the air flow. You will want about 4" of burning coals under the steel and about an inch over it. Use lump charcoal, not brickettes.

 

Get Wayne Goddard's book, "The $50 Knifeshop", it's a great book for a Newbie and it goes into some cheap alternatives of standard tools. Goddard's "The Wonder of Knifemaking" is also highly recommended. If you want to see a good video on what little you actually need to forge, go to Ron Hood's site at WWW.survival.com and look for his special edition DVD "Primative Knifemaking". It features two of the top primative knifesmiths in the country, Tim Lively and Tia Goo.

 

Stay away from cast iron anvils, they won't stand up to casting. They are frequently, but not affecionantly, known as ASO's on these boards, anvil shaped objects. A good bench anvil, even as light as 25lbs beats nothing. You can even use a chunk of steel set in a tub of concrete. That chunk of steel could even be the head of an old sledge hammer.

 

As far a hammers go. A large ball pean hammer, or a mechanic's hammer in the 2-4lb range can get you started. As you learn forging you will develope an idea of what you want to work with. I do have to respectfully but strongly disagree with the advise that you cut a 6lb sledge hammer down and using it. It evidently works for Mike but it is too heavy for the adverage smith. It will tire you out too quickly and be hard to control making it more difficult to learn smithing techniques. It can also lead to painful wrists and elbows.

 

You will need at least two tongs. I started with two wolf jaw tongs, but if I had to do it again I'd get one wolf jaw and one 1" V-bolt tong. Again this is something that you'll have to experiment with and see what works for you.

 

Get a good selection of files. Norton Magicut files are boss when it comes to hogging off steel. You might also want to get some 2nd cut and smooth cut files. Half round files are a good shape to have and a pilar file will help cut things like the plunge line. Pilar files have teeth on the flats and the edges are smooth. A good selection of needle files are useful for filing small opening such as the tange hole in the guards. Sand paper with sanding sticks can be used to give a smooth finish to a blade. Polishing stone, the oil type, are inexpensive when you compare them to the quantity of sand paper that is required to finish a knife. Water stones are great for hand polishing from what I've read but they can run from pricey to very pricey. I've just got in some abrasive membrane from 3M and I'm going to mount them on some polished marble tile and see how they go. I'll file a report after I work on a few knives with them.

 

An electric hand drill is very flexable. Besides drill, it can be mounted with a cutoff wheel or a polishing wheel or even a sanding drum. Dremel tools can be great in speeding things up with and I've read where smiths have used palm sanders to finish blades and handles with.

 

Take a look at what you already have. A lot of tools found around the house can be pressed into service, at least until better tools can be afforded. I have free-associated here for a while and I'm sure others will post back to you with advise. Do a little research before you start laying out money on any tools. I read 2-3 books and watched a couple of videos before I got anything. It might save you from waisting some of your hard earned cash.

 

Doug Lester

 

P.S. Poor Boys is a good place to do business. I've gotten a few things from him and haven't been disappointed the first time.

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