Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Forging Again!

Remember that scene in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark where Jones is walking through the Aztec temple, and there are big honkin' tarantulas everywhere?
Well, let me relate to you a story. Yesterday, as I was finally out forging again (felt great after a 8 month hiatus), and as I got my bags of coal out of the shed, I noticed two spiders hibernating on the side of the bags. I brushed them off and buried them in the snow. Good riddance. (Arachnophobic man, right here.) Later, I had been holding the bag, pouring coal onto my forge. Evidently there was still one lil' guy (and by lil' guy I actually mean huge sucker.) on the side of the bag. I did not realize this, however, until a few minutes went by. I was messing with something, and movement caught my eye, just over my right shoulder.
 I turned my head, and there was a 2-3" long spider, crawling lazily across my shoulder.
I panicked, brushed it off, but didn't see where it landed! I took off my coat, and there he was, still on the back. I brushed him onto the forge, and he woke up fast! I pushed him into the sweet spot of the fire, and in a puff of smoke and flame, he was dead.
Good riddance.
Anyways! I finally got the ole' champion 400 back out, mounted proudly on her stump:

And lit a smart little fire up in the whirlwind firepot on my 'new' forge:
Then, I got my anvil all set up, got the hammers out, brushed away the rust, and set everything up:

Yesterday I forged a hook, attempted a poker, and tried out my V slot punch. I figured some things out while I was forging:
First, I was way out of practice. I still am, actually. 8 months doesn't just go away in a heartbeat. I started too ambitiously, wanted to get back into the swing of things (pun intended), and got carried away. Here was the first hook that I forged, poorly at best:
 The first one is on the left. I flattened it out too much, and it deformed much too much.
 The curve was all made freehand. My bending forks are underneath the snow, somewhere. I suppose I'll make a second pair.

The twist was too tight, and too cold. It began splitting. I think the steel was a little burnt, too. Altogether NOT my best work.

Next I wanted a proper fire rake. I have a poker, but realized that I needed a good rake for the coal. Really is an essential part of the kit. So, I grabbed some spare 1/2" rebar, and got to work. Rebar forges funny. Its so inconsistent, and also transfers heat much more than other steel. I make the flattened end, and then bent it in the vice. It was looking good. To make the handle, I quenched the hot end in the snow, and then stuck the other end in the fire. The second blow on the handle end sent vibrations down the shaft, which cracked the flat rake part, right at the bend.

Don't quench. That's a good rule to live by. I suppose I hardened it just enough to sheer off with one blow. My slot punching experience taught me a few things: Make sure the punch is almost if not absolutely symmetrical, and that it tapers continually from the tip to the end, so that if the piece shrinks around it, the punch will not have to be knocked out at an orange heat.(I made that mistake....)
Also, punch from one side until you feel resistance, then from the SAME place on the other side, so as to not tear the metal and create a gross rag.
It worked, though. That was a happy thing! I greatly enjoyed using a slot punch, and now need to forge another one....
Today's forging is best described in the language of pixels and colorful images!
The plug from punching a square hole. It is a thin >1/8th plate that is sheared out of the hole.

The glowing fire warming up a hook, hole and all!


There is the barest hint of a dark red in there!

An oxidizing fire makes all that scale.... Try to keep your metal from doing that.

I just like glowing steel.

A little rat tail!

After wire brushing, here is how it looks!

This twist annoyed me. You need to have a length of square that is roughly the same thickness, and not tapered like this was. That's why the twist is uneven.
All in all, a good time getting back to basics and restarting, after a long hiatus!
~Ridgeway Forge Blacksmith Co.~

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