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Start Blacksmithing

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In this Instructable I will show you how to start up a foundry of your own. Now I am in no means saying this is the only way to do it, I am just showing you how I did it. So, let's get started!!!
 
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Step 1: Forge

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Now, before you even start thinking about getting an anvil or hammers, I suggest you start looking for a nice forge. This will probably be the most expensive thing you will have to buy if you are getting a gas forge, so this will really decide wither or not you really want to get into blacksmithing. Now you have two choices: coal or gas. There are benefits to both.

With a gas forge it's a lot cleaner and easier to use. They are also more portable. But they have less control over temperature and can get very pricey for gas and the initial cost of the forge.

With a coal forge it's a lot cheaper (next to nothing) to buy/make and you can control the temperature better. But coal is also very messy and depending on where you live you might not have a source of coal nearby.

The choice is up to you. I went with a gas forge because it fit my needs better, but do some research to see which one is best for you.
billbillt3 days ago

great

hammerfist2 months ago
I "do" suggest wearing gloves, mine forge is an open coal forge. The fire can burn the hairs of yer hand and arm pretty quick. I use a leather glove on my hammer hand and a welder's glove on my tong hand. Make sure they fit!the leather glove is to protect against blisters from swingin the hammer all day. The welder's glove is so I can rout around my forge a little more and from the occasional "firebugs" (how I explained sparks to my kids) that jumps off when I strike.
Good instructional though.
Boomer13 months ago

I've known a few guys that hobby forge knives and farm implements. Most use old time portable farriers forges. Charcoal is one of the things that they all need. I was told by a friend that he puts chord wood in a 55 gallon drum, puts a lid on it and lights a fire under it. Make sure there is a vent hole or the gasses will turn it into a 55 gallon bomb. a 1/2"-1" hole is plenty. I watched him actually light the wood gas coming out of the pipe.

Many good books on this subject, good youtube videos as well. I like Foxfire 5.

If you go to the trouble of making your own charcoal, capture the gas from the exhaust. Its "Wood Gas" . Some people have used that exact gas to bypass carburetors and power a gas engine. It is extremely flammable and a "free" fuel source.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_gas_generator

Buddy here at work made his own charcoal the same way....

rcfreak23 months ago
im going to make a katana do you know how to get that bend in it
joey99 (author)  rcfreak23 months ago
I would not know, I am not nearly that skilled yet
waldosan joey993 months ago
the bend is due to the tempering process that japanese blacksmiths would use at the final heat. they would first make it straight with the edge on one side then they would pack the other side with clay . the difference in heat would cause the blade to bend, the clay made sure that the back of the blade was not tempered while the blade itself was heated to tempering temperatures, the combination of the two caused the sword to be more flexible.

this was important as japanese steel has much more impurities and thus is naturally more brittle than european or american steels which are entirely different stories altogether. there's lots of literature on this subject and you would not lose anything to read some of it here and there.
przemek waldosan3 months ago

You have to be careful about details. The back of the blade is partly covered with clay, with the edge exposed. The whole thing is heated above the hardening temperature. Both the blade and clay get really hot and then dunked into a cooling medium (water, but other steels could be oil-hardened). The edge chills instantly and hardens to a high degree; the back, covered by clay cools much slower and ends up only partly hardened---the slow cooling tempers it, reducing hardness but also giving it more plasticity and toughness, i.e. less brittleness.

The hardened part is actually a different phase of iron, and a little less dense, so it pushes back against the rest of the blade and gives it the bend. The phase boundary is actually visible when polished and slightly etched; the shape of the interface is called a 'hamon' and can be shaped into waves and patterns by pinching and shaping the edge of the clay:

http://www.masamune-store.com/site/medias/hamon.jpg

rcfreak2 waldosan3 months ago
i heard that they coat the back of the blade in refractive clay before the final firing is that true?
Metalyc3 months ago
I use small chunks of dry wood in my forge (due to no coal or charcoal source... yet), and although I am sure it doesn't get as hot as charcoal or coal, it seems to get the job done. Just don't expect to forge weld anything I suppose.
The Japanese steels were actually far superior, and contained minimal amounts of impurities. Watch Secrets of the Samarai Sword. It's a pbs Nova special all about there superior sword technology
Cueball213 months ago
Nice Instructable.

Thank you!
snoopindaweb3 months ago
A servesable 17 pound anvil can be had from Northern Tool in the $ 30.00 range with shipping. I had to sand Mine off to clean the strikeing surfaces to keep projects clean. Only a bit of cleaning with a Palm Sander.
waldosan3 months ago
i'd like to point out here how dangerous dealing with galvanized metal is to both blacksmiths and welders. zinc and chrome which are the most common galvanizing metals are easily burned off long before the steel starts glowing, the smoke that is generated is either chrome or zinc oxide obviously. breathing this in will kill you in a week, painfully, unless you are getting paid well i wouldn't even bother with it.
That's why you cook it off, and/or only use forges with galvanized parts outdoors...but he's right, lots of ventilation and no enclosed spaces if you have to use galvanized parts. My forge has galvanized pipe in it, it's not a problem once you have burned it off, but initially it can kill you.
joey99 (author) 3 months ago
Thanks for all the advice, I will be sure to add on soon
JimsShip3 months ago
I hope this sparks some interest in Blacksmithing, but there is SO much more information you need to put out there.
If you are serious, I would highly recommend going to www.iforgeiron.com and start reading all the pinned threads. There is information there on everything you could ever need and is a valuable resource for both new and old smiths.
You could build a coal forge for under 50 bucks, using a brake rotor drum for your forge (The complete how-to is on the site) and the members there are always willing to help out with a question or two.
bigfoot032423 months ago
If the anvil don't ring don't buy it.
madenairy3 months ago
if u fancy doing an internet search i'd recommend looking for COSIRA it was a correspondence course launched in the 50's (i beleive) and its a complete blacksmithing course - i found it on the university of cardiff's websight free to download, amongst the starter projects is how to make a set of forge tongs
Microbe3 months ago
Nice free anvil is a piece of I beam from a construction site.
mothman923 months ago
I would suggest that you make the chisels and punches rather than buying ad you will need to regularely harden and temper them anyways. Tongs can be substituted by a decent set of pliers in the short term until you get skilled enough to pound a proper set out of rebar :)
joey99 (author)  mothman923 months ago
Ya, i might try to make some. I bought the chisels because they were on sale for real cheap.
filtercages3 months ago
I would point out that it's not a foundry - it's a smithy, as you're not doing any casting (foundry work).
joey99 (author)  filtercages3 months ago
Haha, true, but i thought it would get the point across. I have never heard of it being called a smithy before.
There are anvils and ASOs (Anvil Shaped Objects). the cheaper anvils like the one harbor freight sell are made of cast iron, It is soft and will break easily. You want Cast Steel if you really want an Anvil. I love my railroad chuck they are great for shaping.
karlmadigan3 months ago
Thank you your instructable was informative. I have always wanted to try blacksmithing and this gives me a way forward
joey99 (author) 3 months ago
If you could vote for me in the Manly Crafts contest I would really appreciate it.
joey99 (author) 3 months ago
Thanks rimar2000. I haven't tried any of that yet, I will make sure I do though!
rimar20003 months ago
Stems of old car shock absorbers has good steel to make tools. Also ball/roll bearings, piston pins, old suspension springs/blades, etc.

Good instructable.

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