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OT? First week of blacksmithing

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  • OT? First week of blacksmithing

    Blacksmithing isn't machining, so this isn't exactly on topic, but I started taking a semester-long blacksmithing class from Will Bastas -- a famous (and very talented) blacksmith and artist.
    http://www.blackmetalstudio.com/

    Boy, what a contrast to machining! It's amazing how soft steel is when it first comes out of the forge -- it hammers something like old Play-Dough (if you have kids). But it quickly hardens, so you're working in ~ 10 - 30 second intervals.

    I learned the hard way -- that's where the expression "having too many irons in the fire" comes from: the size of the stock you're working determines how quickly it heats up, and therefore how many irons you can juggle while the others are heating up in the forge. When you've got too many irons in the fire, especially when it's a busy forge, you have near-misses with glowing iron pokers

    So far, we've learned super basic stuff: bending, drawing, tapering, scrolling, and punching. Some of the smaller items I was able to bring home and photograph:

    Tong clips (will be nice for my heat treat furnace):



    A knot forged from 1/4" round:



    A leaf:

    Last edited by lazlo; 06-20-2010, 02:01 PM.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

  • #2
    By the way, aside from being able to forge tools in the shop, another reason for my interest in blacksmithing is forging knives -- if there are any custom knife-makers in Austin or the surrounding area who'd be willing to show me some basic tips, please drop me a PM!
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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    • #3
      I've taken a few basic blacksmithing course and found them quite interesting, to the extent I built my own brake drum forge and am currently planning on building a small shed to house a larger forge. Forging provides an opportunity to do things with metal that would either be very time consuming or wasteful of materials by other means. I think it is a skill that is every bit as useful as welding for the general metal worker. It is also relatively cheap to tool up for.

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      • #4
        I've taken a couple of classes in blacksmithing... it's surprising how adding additional skills & capabilities changes one's design approaches sometimes...
        It's also a great way of introducing metal working to kids; they love the fire and sparks and getting that stiff piece of metal to change shape, and they can actually hope to do it at home with a bit of work.

        - Bart
        Bart Smaalders
        http://smaalders.net/barts

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        • #5
          Fantastic! Once I settle down somewhere I need to look into taking a class. Blacksmithing is actually how I got into machining, but I've sort of left it behind just because I haven't had the time/place for it.

          Nice work, Robert! I really like the knot - that's a neat piece to show off to the non-metal workers

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          • #6
            very nice Robert, i would love to do some work like that. close to being on topic for me.
            .

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            • #7
              A forge and small foundry setup is on my to do list.I find beating on stuff with a hammer is very therapeutic, take out all your aggression and feel great.

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              • #8
                Laslo, Are you using gas-fired forges or "traditional" coal-fired ones? I ask because it is difficult to obtain good quality smithing coal, and when you find it it is spendy. A smith near me drives to Montreal and buys it in 100lb bags, and I THINK it is over $20.00/bag. It is available from the mine in Pennsylvainia, I think, but not many businesses bring in a few pallets and stock it for small-time buyers. By the way, I hear the same moan from live steamers.
                Duffy, Gatineau, Quebec

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by lazlo
                  By the way, aside from being able to forge tools in the shop, another reason for my interest in blacksmithing is forging knives -- if there are any custom knife-makers in Austin or the surrounding area who'd be willing to show me some basic tips, please drop me a PM!
                  You should visit Blade Forums...Lots of maker and blade forgers on there...

                  I have a new knife, hand forged damascus by Zoe Crist..



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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cuemaker
                    You should visit Blade Forums..
                    Good suggestion. I'm a hobbyist knifemaker (stock removal) and frequent BF. My preferred haunt there is the Wilderness Skills and Survival forum. Beautiful knife by the way!

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                    • #11
                      Looking good so far Robert,Blacksmithing is fun,project #945 for me is a power hammer,arms are getting old you know.
                      I just need one more tool,just one!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Duffy
                        Laslo, Are you using gas-fired forges or "traditional" coal-fired ones?
                        It's a gas forge. There's bad ventilation in the ACC metalworking facility, and somewhere in the past students complained about the coal smoke.

                        You should visit Blade Forums...Lots of maker and blade forgers on there...
                        Thanks! Just signed up...

                        I have a new knife, hand forged damascus by Zoe Crist..
                        Wow, that's gorgeous. I've watched videos of traditional "damascus" and mosaic damascus, but I can't figure out how he made that pattern?

                        We're on to power hammer tonight, hopefully I can type tomorrow
                        "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by lazlo
                          We're on to power hammer tonight, hopefully I can type tomorrow
                          You lucky dog. The local antique tractor and steam show has a blacksmith area, and when they fire up the steam hammer it's always a crowd pleaser.

                          steam hammer

                          ME

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                          • #14
                            I've watched videos of traditional "damascus" and mosaic damascus, but I can't figure out how he made that pattern?
                            The pattern is a by-product of the way the Damascus steel is made - by folding two (or more) different steels repeatedly. That is, the steel is beaten to 1/2 the desired thickness, folded over on itself to produce the proper thickness while doubling the layers, and welded together with heat and hammer. This process is repeated many times.

                            The steel is finished with an acid that attacks the different steels differently and makes the pattern more visible.

                            While the pattern can be controlled, What you're seeing is the result of tiny tiny imperfections in the folding process.

                            There are a million variations.

                            One way to do this is to use cable. Apparently it's made of different steels.


                            Cable Damascus

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Tony Ennis
                              The pattern is a by-product of the way the Damascus steel is made - by folding two (or more) different steels repeatedly. That is, the steel is beaten to 1/2 the desired thickness, folded over on itself to produce the proper thickness while doubling the layers, and welded together with heat and hammer]
                              Modern pattern-welding (what we're calling "Damscus") isn't folded. They take alternating strips of contrasting color: often 1045 or 1095 and L6 or Nickel. Weld the ends (to keep the stack together), and forge it down it in the power hammer.

                              The strips are cooled, the scale ground-off, cut, stacked, re-welded, and the process is repeated.

                              The reason they don't fold the stack is because it's very easy to get a cold shut, which ruins the billet.

                              But my question about Zoe Crist's damascus is more specific: his pattern doesn't look like any of the three main style of pattern-welded damascus: twisted, ladder (where you grind slots into the billet and hammer it flat), or birds'-eye (where you drill holes in the billet and hammer it flat).

                              It also doesn't look like mosaic damascus, where you make a box with alternating square bars (how you make American flags and such) -- that style has a replicated square pattern. The latest trend is to EDM a specific shape, which you forge into the billet, and repeat the power hammering process. That's how you get patterns like these horses:

                              Last edited by lazlo; 06-21-2010, 03:21 PM.
                              "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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