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"Old" Blacksmith... "New" Machinist

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  • "Old" Blacksmith... "New" Machinist

    Greetings all form NW Arkansas,

    I specialize in making Armor from the Middle Ages. I use mainly 16ga mild and stainless steel. However, I do vary to other thichness' and even alloys (i.e. Titanium) when I need to.

    Recently turning 40 and not wanting to hammer for the next 25 years... I have constructed a large Hydraulic Press, a Kinyon style Air Hammer, and I'm working on a couple of other machines to save me time and effort.

    I wanted to give you this background so you'd know why I'm becoming a "New" Machinist. I bought an old 9" South Bend with a 4ft bed/30" or so between centers. From the serial number and a website I found... it appears to have left the factory in Jan. of 1944! The reason for the Lathe is to help me with creating dies for the hammer and press.

    So, I'm learning... I have a couple of old manuals on the way via ebay purchases. However, I'd like to ask advice on textbooks with projects designed to teach the new machinist. What would you suggest?

    Thanks for your consideration and time. Back out to the shop for me...


  • #2

    I went to a mideval festival and watched the blacksmiths in awe.

    I got guy lautards books when I started with my lathe, not much bad stuff in them.

    I would not stop with just a lathe, you can get a milling attachment for it and make it even more versatile. A lathe is one tool that can totally build another lathe. English wheel anvils are another nice to have around item. Check out the "tips" post of a month or so back.

    Share, post some pictures. We can't all be experts at everything, I like to look.

    I try to hammer out metal here too. Bought a 50 ton Ibeam type press after I had built the open frame HSM press. Dies are the next hot project around here. I build custom harley parts. I have been working on "this" project now for over a year.


    • #3
      Aye, I'm watching for a Milling attachment... but I've seen a website with plans for one for the 9" lathe. Thinking hard about that.

      I also have been working on drawings for toolholders/setupd that will let me do the concave and convex surfaces of specific arcs on my 2in round stock dies.

      Let me see about pictures... here's a .gif of the gauntlets I've made wayyyyy too many of. (Need to take pictures of shop equipment sometime soon.)

      Thanks for the Author... will look it up.

      Back to it...



      • #4
        There are a hundred designs to cut concave or round items.

        I built a tool holder to go onto a 4" rotary indexer, I removed the compound tool post slide off my lathe. I then put a small compound slide I bought off ebay on the indexer. By sliding the compound back and forward you can adjust the radius. by cranking the small (too small) handle on the indexer you can circle the cutter on the stock. creep the infeed in over and over and soon you have a round cut fully around it. I have forearms like Popeye now. (before too)

        Manual cutting of arcs on a lathe suck. but is much easier than paying someone with a cnc.

        I built this to make some more anvils for my english wheel.

        David Cofer, Of:
        Tunnel Hill, North Georgia


        • #5
          Gee, with gauntlets like that I could be the envy of the biker bar. Maybe weld a few spikes on the knuckles.. HA..

          In the 70's I kept 3/8" thick x forearm length leather arm bands on each arm. Usually under the "blousy" shirts that was in style then. I had knife cuts on both armbands when I gave them away. Sure was a lot better than stitches.

          I don't live like that now. Much happier and easier to get along with. All my mean friends are dead now. Someone "scared" killed them one problem at a time. A scared person is a lot more dangerous than a mean one.

          What does a pair of gauntlets likes that go for? (I got this old 5' sword hanging on the wall too..)

          David Cofer, Of:
          Tunnel Hill, North Georgia


          • #6

            Maybe you can use a few ideas from the milling attachment I made for my SB9.

            Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


            • #7
              Greetings M'Lord!
              So...I not the only greying armourer learning to do things in the mundane world! HUBAH! I lived in the village for many years and found a halberd and flail to be the most effective means of protecting the keep.(Those people were quite used to guns...)My persona was a 14th century Scot and I became known as "that crazy ba$*%^d in the skirt with the big axe!
              Had to forge some rings for the tractor using a wood fire and a rock for an anvil.The wife's son was interested in the fire but went inside whilst I rang steel.Poor soul...I have to keep my few remaning arms locked up.Dressing Goth and appropriate/safe display of edged weapons are two very different things.
              There are many fine Masters here and the best of luck to you,Sir.
              Alway in your service,
              FKA Eric Breadlebane of Kearsey
              If I got it right first time,everytime....I\'d have a real job!


              • #8
                Nice work Andy! Keep an eye open for a high school machine shop theory textbook. Try to find an older one that doesn't have the computer machines in it. These books are more in depth on the manual operations. They sometimes contain simple projects to get warmed up on.

                As Bugs Bunny once said, "And who so art thou, in thy cast i-ron tuxedo?"


                [This message has been edited by PolskiFran (edited 09-07-2004).]


                • #9
                  I am a blacksmith and over 50. I have a simple air hammer styled after the ABANA plans.

                  In the last few weeks I have made dies to hammer curves for my hammer. I used my mill to create these dies, but the hammer makes the curves and such in the sheet metal.

                  Both of my elbows have been redone, because of repetitive motion damage. One elbow is still healing, but for all of the machinery and tools that my shop, I still end up hammering the steel to make something my machines can't do.

                  Other things, I send out.



                  • #10
                    Glad to see more metalshapers here. Makes me feel not so alone when trying to explain making planishing hammer or Pullmax dies. I thought my 1 1/2 dies were big. Good gosh man, 2" dies and 16ga! That's gotta be one big honking hammer!

                    Most of my stuff is automotive stock. 18ga. is about as thick I work in panels. Some 14 or 10ga. brackets on the press. More than that and I'm rolling out the "MIG Former".

                    I think there's a couple of us E-Wheelers here too. Eh Dave?


                    • #11
                      As my original training was in sheet metal I have done my share of hand beating. Especially when making parts for aircraft usin heat treated aluminum alloy. You only have one go at it as it can't be heat treated to soften it again and only a few hours to do the job. Made a number of stiffener rings for the fuel bladder insertion and inspection holes for a ferry fuel tank on a helicopter. Also made some mounting rings for the areial cameras for the BC goverment Cessna Citation jets used for mapping the province. Built a Can-Am race car chassis with quite a bit of hand forming. I like hand metal forming but my hands are no longer up to the task. Sigh...

                      [This message has been edited by Evan (edited 09-08-2004).]
                      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


                      • #12

                        Don't feel like the lone ranger. My body keeps telling me I ain't no youngin.

                        I was working on a compressed air/propane cylinder and hammer setup.. Proximity fired w limit switch and coil.. The noise was deafening.. it sure hammered..

                        It'd be simple to replicate, just take a dirt bike cylinder and piston / head.. Could be a new fad among the "jessie who" crowd..

                        David Cofer, Of:
                        Tunnel Hill, North Georgia


                        • #13
                          Thanks a lot for the responses all.

                          Aye, I'm feeling a bit of my age now at 40. I looke back at what I could once do without pain... and don't see a long future as a blacksmith if I continue doing everything by hand. Yes, those 16ga SS gauntlets have all been done by hand... cold... (takes less time to hammer them out could than to polish the discoloration off.)

                          Anyway, My goal is to make the shop to the point I can continue when I'm 65. But... wanting a decent quality of life between here and there... I want to do the majority of that changeover ~before~ the end of this year.

                          For those SCA (Society for Creative Anachronsims, Inc.) people out there... I'm known as Sir Andrew Ward from Calontir. Feel free to drop me a line at any point.

                          Gauntlet prices... 16ga mild steel $80 a pair. 16ga Stainless Steel are $110 a pr. And 16 Titanium (yes I heat it a lot) start at $250 a pair. None of the gauntlets are padded or strapped for use. Everyone's hands are different and people like different methods of doing it. (I use hot glue and rubberized foam padding and leather straps... no gloves.)

                          On books... I've found a couple on ebay... and ordered the cheap CD compilations of books in PDF format. I'm also currently making the rounds of the local used bookstores. On yet another subject... the personal library is growing.

                          I've also got a line on stuff from Kennametal. My oldest brother is an Industrial Electrical Engineer... and I did the One-Line drawings for his company on the Rogers, AR Kennametal buildings. Seems as they make a few things I will want a supply of. Hopefully the "good ole' boy" network will be able to get me a few bucks off on the cost.

                          On the milling attachment... very cool... ya, I think i will be building one. Any plans out there for one on a 9" lathe? (South Bend... seems it came off the line back in Jan of 1944.)

                          And... at the risk of sounding like Tim Allen once again... Dang! I'm having fun!



                          • #14
                            Andy, that one I gave you the link to is on a nine inch South bend. Plans? It's too simple to need plans, it only has about 6 parts not including fasteners. Just have a close look at how the compound is held in the cross slide and duplicate the method. You need to give some thought to where the compound will be located in relation to the spindle to make best use of the limited travel. Also, the underside of the flat stock that mounts on the cross slide needs a small area relieved to clear the slightly protruding brass cross slide nut attachment. The attachment holes are already provided by the factory in the top of the cross slide hidden under the compound. No reason it couldn't be made from steel but aluminum is easier to machine.
                            Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


                            • #15
                              My 10K SBL came with a Palmgren milling attachment. If I had not since bought a mill (Clausing vertical), I would make a copy of Evan's design to use instead. It looks to be a **lot** more rigid & therefore useful than the Palmgren.

                              Having acquired a bunch of new, old, and reprint machining books, I have to agree with Frank. The best intro book of the lot is an old HS text. If you can find one, it'll be cheap, too....

                              You might want to try a Scotch-Brite wheel for cleanup instead of, or prior to polishing. 6" or greater diameter, EXL-2S-FN. The smaller ones are only good for brush finish, not power sanding, and the more commonly available harder Scotch-Brites (higher #s than the 2) I've used are too much like a grinding wheel -- won't conform well to curved surfaces. Haven't used emery on a hammer face since I've discovered these things, and hardly ever use sanding sticks on silver or gold anymore, either.

                              Liked the animated GIF, good idea.