More power.

I’ve been busy. As always– I’ve been working on new tools. You can never seem to have enough.
I’m welding up my power hammer, not like this, but I wanted to share it anyway. I’ve ogled it for a while. A bit antiquated, but none the less I bet it was top-notch for a small shop.. at least in its own day..

Blacker power hammer (Photo isn't mine, but preserved for educational purposes.)
Blacker power hammer
(Not mine- preserved from an ended ebay auction for educational purposes.)



I’ve found a new artist blacksmith to follow. BobbyT keeps an interesting blog over at blogspot.

A random fun links:
Old power hammer info from over at NEBS
Vocabulary:
самодельный кузнечный

A small patternwelded desk-knife/letter opener

I forged this at his request.

Pattern welded 1084/15n20
Pattern welded 1084/15n20
Pattern welded 1084/15n20
steel billet
Getting ready to forge weld!
twisting pattern weld
twisting pattern weld


I hope you enjoy seeing it come alive!

Music by: Mr. Peter Biedermann “The Uncommon Man” (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Peter_Biedermann/)

Helpful links for the DIY blacksmith/bladesmith:
Heat treating 1084 thanks to Mr. Cashen – http://www.knivesby.com/knifemaking-Kevin-Cashen-treating-1084.html

Tool and knife steel from “The NJ Steel Barron” Mr. Aldo Bruno – http://newjerseysteelbaron.com/

Parks 50 Thanks to Mr. Kelly Cupples

Temperatures can be inexpensively tested with tempsticks. I get mine from markingpendepot.com.

St. George’s Day demo

I had a grand time helping out Solvar at the St. George’s Day demonstration at Lafayette Village.
I even got to display and vend some stuffs from the forge.

Several leaf and hart key chains.
Several leaf and heart key chains.
Rose paper weights.
Rose paper weights.
A tripod with hooks for cooking or flower pots close up on the hooks
A tripod with hooks for cooking or flower pots close up on the hooks
A tripod with hooks for cooking or flower pots
A tripod with hooks for cooking or flower pots
S-hooks and a heart horseshoe wall mount.
S-hooks and a heart horseshoe wall mount and a few j-hooks.
Some fire place tools were there for display only.
Some fire-place tools already sold were there for display only.

Pirate Blacksmith webcomic 001

I’ve got a few more of these I’d like to do.
blacksmith comic wtext 1
blacksmith comic wtext2
Blacksmith comic wtext3
blacksmith comic wtext 4
blacksmith comic wtext 5b

A blacksmithing friend of mine often talks about drawing and how artistic talent correlates to blacksmith ability. I’m not full of vision and talent, but a little practice never hurts. It would have been a real pain to use the whiteboard again.

Happy holidays!

A bearded sea Barron who bares a slight resemblance to a young St. Nick has been bashing out frames for Christmas lights.
Being the scraggly pirate Blacksmith I am.. making some really cool things out of metal is the best way to spend the holidays.. you may know I love working with steel. If festive decoration is your thing “The Holiday light store” carries lots of fun stuff like Santa shimmying down a chimney (animated legs a flailing), reindeer, castles, planes, trains and helicopters… dolphins and pumpkins with Santa hats, presents, golf clubs (Yes!), Santa’s and elves of every variety.. Dinosaurs… a horse, candy of all sorts and more! You’ve got to see it. Even a whole wild west town complete with jail, church, saloon, bank and stables. Custom pieces to boot. Check out the website – The Holiday Light Store! Those of you in the NC area be sure to visit Hill Ridge Farms for their festival of lights.

Joy to the World
Joy to the World
Statue of liberty
Statue of liberty
Musical notes
Musical notes

misc5 misc4 dragon 3d-star fish castle peace china joy to the world whodat crawfish pot hearts misc2 misc merry christmas reef barn moose the king

Another masive project was this 3 piece extinct herbivore
Another massive project was this 3 piece extinct herbivore
Designing a making dinosaurs has been a real highlight for me
Designing a making dinosaurs has been a real highlight for me
I didn't do it
I didn’t do it
Playing around
Playing around a bit with candy cane parts

reindeer

 

Swinging the ol' ball pien
Swinging the ol’ ball pien
The deer making jig.
The deer making jig.
I felt patriotic.
I felt patriotic.
Merry Pumpkins!
Merry Pumpkins!

I got to help out around the forge and anvil at the Joel lane house again this month for their Christmas open house
Joel lane house Christmas open house
Solvar, Erica and I demonstrated flint striker forging and heat treating.
Solvar’s advice to new smiths.

All is fair in NC. (2012 State Fair)

So I’ve been abnormally busy lately learning to do something a bit new for me. I hope to talk more about it soon.. But the NC state fair wasn’t so long ago!
Several NCABANA members and I were all there demonstrating blacksmithing for record numbers of people. It was an awful lot of fun. I made some neat things, even tried some new projects I hadn’t practiced before and let a crowd watch as I scratched my head and struggled with learning a new item or two. We answered many questions and maybe even inspired a few people young and old to take a more active interest in the craft.. But mostly I made and sold leaves and bottle openers oh, and my favorite change of pace.. leaf bottle openers..
Check out the art inspired by the experience in the Pirate Blacksmith webcomic

I’m in the background probably about to burn myself or a lucky audience

Yates mill demo

I had a fun time this weekend attending an event at Yates Mill in Raleigh with Solvarr! There was good food, lots of corn talk and music. If you’ve never been there, the lake is beautiful and the mill is a marvel.

The highlight of my day was getting to help out around the forge. I demonstrated how I make one piece steel roses.

I wish I had a photo of me working, but sadly I forgot to ask. If Ashley was there’ she’d have taken twice as many photographs. Alas I love to swing a hammer not take pictures. She’s been busy lately and has even started he own blog!

With out further adieu Yates Mill:

I love places like this.
The first thing I wanted to do was to look at how the water wheel ran.
Water was controlled via a steel level. I’d have loved to see this part forged!

 

The water wheel.

 

Here is a better shot. You can hardly tell the hurricane nearly destroyed this area in 1996.

 

Some of the surrounding buildings were neat. I enjoy old wagon wheels.

 

I know I can’t be the only one fascinated my bits of old machinery!
Am I?.. yeah guess you’d have to be there. This stuff was neat to examine.
Solvarr had his forge set up, and that was my main reason for going. A couple of other folks helped out and it was nice talking shop and seeing how others work!

 

I didn’t bring a lot of my stuff, but I brought some stuff to sell, most of the neat stuff isn’t mine =P
These bellows are just really fun to work with.
All in all I had a ton of fun, and it was nice to sit back and enjoy some music near the end of the day.

You can see a great picture of the mill drive system here. And the inside here. It’s nice to see the past still present.
-Greg

How to light a coal fire.

I’ve tried a lot of methods to start a fire, my favoured is simply a sheet of news paper and charcoal. They produce a clean fire quickly. Everything should be self explanatory, except perhaps F: drier lint is useful, but smelly if you happen to have a hairy family =P: A wind and sun screen is useful when the fire is in it’s infancy.
Here you can see a close up of coal, coke, and charcoal respectively.
N: When using an electric blower controlling the air flow can be done in many ways. I use a shop vac directed to a T fitting. On the side of the fitting, opposite from the opening and going toward the forge, I’ve fitted a ball valve to allow excess air to be channelled to a side draft style hood/chimney.
O: Additional air can be vented from the ash dump as well by sliding it open a bit.
Before a new day’s hearth can be lit: sifting the ashes must be done, removing occasional bits of clinker. I toss the coke into one bucket and more questionable sifted shovels go into a bucket of water. The coke floats, and the ash clinker and coal sinks.
First a ring of coke is made at the bottom of the firepot. Some charcoal is present.
A little more charcoal is added. Charcoal or dried wood tender will ignite much easier than coke. If wood is used do so sparingly. I don’t know that you can’t weld in a fire with burning wood, but I do know it takes up hearth space and doesn’t burn as hot as the coked coal will.
A single sheet of newspaper is lit and placed in the center of the hearth.
Many people will use lots of paper or ball up coke/coal fines into the paper. I’ve tried many methods; this is what works for me. Although a separate wood fire is always nice to steal burning coals from.
Some larger chunks of charcoal are quickly added while the air supply is on very low.
I would use less kindling, just enough to catch fire before the paper burns out.
The kindling or charcoal only need to burn long enough for the coke to catch.
The key at this point is not suffocating the fire. The blower is still on but you may find too much air causes smouldering kindling that won’t catch. Once again charcoal or even charred wood is much more forgiving.
This bamboo charcoal burns hot but quickly. I use it to supplement my coal more than primary forging, so I added more than necessary.
Some coked coal is added.
When you are sure the coke has caught pile more on. The blower is blowing lightly. If you used kindling you can even carefully pull out the burning wood and seal it in an airtight container, or extinguish it some other way. This will make for an easier fire next time.
Remember that floating coke, now is a perfect time to layer it on. This will buy the coal a little time to cook. You may increase the air some, but you don’t need a lot of air yet. Just enough to keep things going.
Pile your wet coal around the center of the hearth/firepot. I snapped this picture right after the wet coke lit, just before cutting the blower off.
A handful of mostly uncoked coal (from the bottom of the water bucket) was then placed on top.
Then a small scoop of wet coal was added. (This picture didn’t turn out well and I failed to notice at the time.)
The coal has heated up around the hearth and begun to melt and stick together as it’s coking. You can make a small entrance with your rake. Within this cave you’ll be able to keep an eye on your steel and see the color of it while still surrounding it with heat from almost every direction. The fire pot is 3 inches deep and the mound is about 5-6 inches above the forge table.
Note – the fire is about at welding temperature.
This is the fire after welding. You can see it’s beginning to burn hollow– there isn’t enough burning coke inside the cave. While enough fuel is present inside this cave to work, use less air and water to allow coking to catch up.
A hollow fire is a result of not enough coal coking because you’re keeping it too wet, or too much air being introduced. Too much air and not enough burning coke will cool your fire and create scale.
I use a ladle that’s easily held with my tongs to avoid steam. I can’t tell you when exactly you need to sprinkle the fire and surrounding coal with water, but the idea is to keep the fire from migrating out of the firepot (generally whenever you see large sooty flames). If the perimeter of the firepot becomes well coked it may need to be watered until it’s time to be slid inwards. Occasionally, after the blower is stopped, the coking coal atop the fire will ignite and go out as soon as the blower is cut on again. That is often a good sign to add more coal. I believe it also means the burning coke just below the top of the mound is consuming excess atmosphere from around the fire.
This post is about building and maintaining a coal fire. Forging completely with coke is an entirely different animal.
Heat cokes coal. Coal will burn, and it’ll stay aflame simply from atmospheric air. Coke needs more air introduced or blown towards it to stay lit. I know of no reason to burn coal other than to create a supply of coke and help maintain the shape of certain types of fire.
It’s time to sprinkle some water on the fire.
Time to add more fuel.
If heat becomes a problem then clinker build up could be the source. Clinker can be prevented from blocking the air orifice by firepot design, installed clinker breakers or simply by pulling it all out in one large sticky clump with your fire rake.
To the left you can see clinker and flux from lots of welding. The middle and right are two different types of clinker from seperate coal sources.

I’ve found this sort of fire useful to heat several inches of steel. In this particular fire I forge welded a small hook out of 6 inches of half-inch square. Then finished working out the edge of a knife with a seven-inch blade.
I use many different types of fires and I am by no means an expert. Working odd bends and unusual shape or sizes without destroying a coal fire is difficult for me. It’s easier when extra coked coal is on hand, but coke still has to be raked back or added. Time must be spent waiting for the fire to get back up to temperature once burning coke is displaced. Proper fire management is one of the most basic skills anyone wanting to learn blacksmithing should know. I’ve had to teach myself most of these skills but I’ve by no means done it without the advice of others. I’ve not seen a good step-by-step pictorial on the subject so hopefully some may find this helpful. I plan to post a similar post over at Iforgeiron.com. It has been asked about an awful lot lately and I know many people like me are unable to attend classes. Around here, even at the events I’ve been able to attend, gas forges have been prominent or coal fires were started early and maintained irregularly and without discussion.