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