Saturday, May 31, 2008

First Forging

An ancient blog post under Blog.
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I recently took up blacksmithing as a hobby. Being into typewriters and fountain pens and The Good Old Days, such a classic and dying craft was only natural progression.

I spent about three weekends puttering about trying to get everything hunky dory. I made a makeshift anvil by bolting steel angle to a sawhorse. I made a forge out of a shallow wok, with plumbing pipes leading to an 18v hairdryer fan.

But as I tried to forge things, I noticed great deficiencies. The ‘anvil’ was absorbing all the force from my blows; striking with all my strength barely dented yellow-hot steel. The second hammer I bought sucked, the face being too wide and being too bulky/heavy. That was one thing I was right about the first time, the hammer I chose (1.25kg, the face slightly crowned). I was also ass-kickingly right with my forge.

As I said, it’s a shallow steel wok basically, and since I can’t find coal or charcoal for the life of me, I’ve been using barbecue briquettes. It is apparently not ideal. But I wanted to see how hot it could get, so I threw a steel bolt in. After ten minutes I couldn’t find the bolt. I started grabbing suspect pieces of fuel and striking them with the hammer to release the melted steel. But one of the pieces looked odd, and I realised then that not only had the steel melted, but it had burnt, the carbon content now so high that it was crumbling under the hammer. The melting temperature of A36 steel (what you usually get as plain steel) is 1370°C, by the way. I did get some trophy pieces back when the fire died.

So now I have a block of steel fastened to the sawhorse to act as an anvil, and I just finished installing an I/O switch to a leaf blower to replace the weak hairdryer fan. Perhaps now there won’t be such a build-up of ash in the firepot, though it did not pose a problem before.

Anyway, yes, first forging. I made a simple scroll out of 1.5cm square stock. Next time I will have a longer taper, and will try to make it looser. With a proper block of metal as an anvil, it was like hammering clay.

To further show the heat of the forge, during the forging of this scroll the metal was sparking; it happens when the metal is white-hot and about to burn. It’s also known as welding heat. I’m going to try and forge weld this scroll to make a shovel, and if it works, I will call everyone out who says that barbecue briquettes are useless, and I will laugh and laugh and laugh.

That's all there is, there isn't any more.
© Desi Quintans, 2002 – 2016.