Friday, December 26, 2014

Centaur Forge Bolt Tong Review

On my birthday, I was kindly gifted a beautiful pair of Centaur Forge Bolt Tongs from my parents. I had been yearning for a pair of bolt tongs, and since I have been working a lot of heavier steel lately (1/2" and 5/8" - I know, not truly 'heavy steel'. But, for a weakling like me, its what I call heavy steel!), I knew that this would work perfectly!

I want to  give my honest and unabashed opinion of this piece of merchandise.
First of all, the bolt tongs are made from 8560 steel, a steel which I have found only one reference to in my search on google. It appears to be a pretty standard oil quench medium carbon steel, as far as I can tell. It makes me a little leary that the company wouldn't at least put out a specification sheet for the steel. But, that is how the cookie crumbles, I suppose. My other pair of Centaur Wolf Jaw Tongs have gotten sizzling hot (never showing color) and quenched in water with no ill effects.

They were well forged when I received them, although the machining was rather rough. The forging was cleanly done, and it was nicely painted a matte black.
Here is a photo of it prior to use, as well as a photo of the inside of the jaws.

I found that the jaws comfortably hold 1/8" plate, 3/8" round, 1/2" square and round and 5/8" square. They hold Railroad Spikes with no problems in the clearance, since the area between the jaw and the boss area are bowed out so much. This, however, does not affect the gripping abilities. 

Overall, these tongs are approximately 15 1/2" long. They have the customary Centaur ball-end reins, which do make holding the steel securing much easier. The rivet is smooth and tight, and there is almost no play in the two sides. 

These tongs are well made. They are versatile, durable, comfortable and strong. They have great gripping strength, yet are lightweight enough to not tire out the worker. I would wholeheartedly recommend these tongs to anyone I meet, and I will hopefully be purchasing more tongs from Centaur Forge in the future. These are now my go-to tongs for most applications. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Anvil Stand

Since I've been moving into my new shop, I've been pretty busy trying to get everything up and running again. over the summer I was using charcoal in the side blast forge, which worked alright, although it was certainly far from ideal. The heat was too inconsistent for me to be able to do anything truly worthwhile. As the Christmas Season is upon us, I received four commissions for a Dutch Oven Cook Set. So, yesterday I went out and purchased 400# of coal and 140 linear feet of steel. It was a hefty sum, but I am now well stocked for quite some time.

Part of moving into my new shop is a new anvil stand. Previously I had my anvil perched on top of a tulip tree stump, just resting on top of the ground. Now, since I am in it to win it, I wanted a securely anchored anvil stand. I had a few 6x6's lying around, so I chopped one of them in half and bolted and screwed it together side by side for a 6x12 post. Then, I dug a deep pit, put some gravel at the bottom and sunk the post in.

That's a deep hole! It was a bear to get out of the tangle of roots and clay soil.

Set and leveled.


An assortment of fasteners.

Now a quick tour of my shop for kicks and giggles. It is a lean to of dimensions 10x12. At the peak it is 12' tall, going at a sharp angle to about 6 1/2' towards the end of the slant. My dad built the majority of it, and I was able to help him. It has a galvanized steel roofing. 
The shop as a whole!

Coal bin opened, containing 200 lbs of coal.

Closed. All made from scrap lumber.

Already, without even having worked in my shop, I have made a mess. 

And in this corner, weighing in at 25#, general flotsam and jetsaaaam!

The shop, from the side. 

The vise is seen in the foreground, still unmoved from the original outdoor location.

Here is the olde log cabin style forge in the foreground.Compare with the following photo of what it used to look like. 
Quite a change, huh? This was back when I made a Stake Anvil

I will be keeping the forge in the foreground, as a memorial, as well as a cooking hob. 

Clutter... I need shelving!

I lit a small fore to keep me warm! 

It began to rain. I need to put up a small tarp on the doesn't hang over well enough.

I am looking forward to the days ahead, the days where I will be forging long, hard hours of work. You can expect a greater output of work posted here in the next few months! 

Happy Hammering! 
Ridgeway Forge Blacksmith Company

Sunday, June 22, 2014

New Forge and a Few Projects

I am poor. This, I think, is clear if you have been reading my blog for any duration. Thus, having no more coal from last year's purchase, I am unable to buy more coal. What does this mean for me?

Time to build a new forge!!!!

I want to burn wood now, so the old coal firepot will not work, nor will the wooden frame of my old forge stand up to the radiant heat of the old forge. So, its time to build.

But, as I said, I am poor. So I had to use brute force and ingenuity to finagle a funky woodsman forge together. We had a downed lealand cypress tree, downed in the ice storms. I saw the straight wood and knew what I would do. I cut them to equal lengths, then build a log cabin out of them. This I filled with dirt, and then build a side blast forge on top of it. But, enough description, on to the photographic evidence!

The forge, fired by the ole' Champion 400. It goes from a 2 inch outlet to a 7/8" pipe, fed horizontally into the fire. I like the side blast better.

My heat shield so that my backside doesn't fry. This thing puts out HEAT! 

See what I mean? Hot hot HOT! On just Charcoal, too! 

I actually like it better than coal for a few reasons. Its hotter in my opinion, and easier to deal with. Plus, with this forge, no chance of cracking anything with over-watering a hot forge! 

This is as hot as it gets, which is welding and beyond. 

Now, to showcase my crude projects for the day. I want to brave the world of forge-welding, and so, in preparation for it, I made myself a flux spoon! It's not the most beautiful tool in the world, but for my first time hitting metal again, I think its pretty good. I'm glad to have scraps around.  

I then did some more delicate work, practicing my scroll work and punching. I made this door-pull for our chicken run. 

There's them cluckers in the background! Now we can open the gate with ease! 

Top detail

Bottom Detail

And, that's my hand. 

I thought I'd throw in a video of me hammering. Nothing special, just something to pass the time! 


Ah, its great to be forging once more! 

As always, Happy Hammering and God Bless! 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Der Schmied von Salzburg, Österreich

Ich war im Salzburg. Yes, you see, I studied abroad in Austria, and throughout my journey through history and culture, I experienced many unique things. Food, culture, music, distinctive garb- I experienced it all. And, to top off my four month adventure, my family came with me and we toured some of the smaller towns and villas of beautiful Austria. Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Ja, wir sprechen Deautsch schleckt.

Salzburg was our first major city we toured. We saw churches, monuments, fountains and more, beautifully crafted by centuries-old masters of all trades. Atop the crest of the hill adjacent, we trekked to the Festhung Hohensalzburg. This fortress is older than dirt, pretty much, and contains more history than you can shake a stick at. Anyone who has been up in it knows what I am talking about. From the top, you can glimpse the gorgeous alps. My main point of interest, however, was in the blacksmith shop.

This shop had very little information on it, but I could tell several things from the sight. First of all, the anvil stood proud, as a prime example of the German double horn church window styled anvils. A small cone stood in the hardie hole, telling of the chains forged here to contain prisoners.
This bad boy has certainly seen some age. Atop the anvil is a round punch, and at its base are many sledges for heavier work. 

The forges were interesting, for sure. There were two, it appeared. One against the window, and one at the mouth of this small round room. They were both fed by the same great bellows. The one by the window seems to have vented the smoke right out the side of the castle, while the one by the door had a hood overhead, made from stone. Many old tongs and hammers lay on top of these old masonry forges, and an assortment of tools hung from above. 
Hanging from above are a number of nail and bolt headers, as well as some obligatory horseshoes, to complete the atmosphere. The great bellows is seen in the background.

An up-close view of the tools on top of the table. Hammers, hot-cutters, tongs and more are strewn about, much like a busy day in any forge. Who needs organization anyways? 

And lastly,
The shop as a whole. The anvil stands proudly in the center, surrounded by the forge in the back, the one to the right side and the hammer rack to the left. Also seen is a block-and-tackle. Noticeably absent is a post-vise. This shop dates back from times before the widespread use of the vises. (actually, the vice of drinking was invented, but we'll save that for another day...) 

Truly a unique shop, all part of a beautiful trip to the salty city of Salzburg! 

Auf Wiedersehen, meine Freunde!