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.

Cable welded jewlery

Forge welded cable jewelry.
Forge welded cable jewelry.
Forge welded cable jewelry.
Forge welded cable jewelry.
Forge welded cable jewelry.
Forge welded cable jewelry.
image
With only a light etch barely highlighting the strands of steel.
image
With only a light etch barely highlighting the strands of steel.

A few months back I welded up a bunch of steel cable and forged this little bracelet. I’ve made a few more since. This one is still my favorite.

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

Hooks, hearts, and horseshoe heart hooks

A lot of my writing and how-to stuff has sat on the back burner. With the NC state fair coming up I’ve been busy with projects big and small here are a few of the small heart themed ones.

The horseshoe heart wall hooks are fun to make and look neat to me.
It’s great for hanging your keys on or other small items.
I’ve got a more complex heart project in the works but these are some of the different hearts I’ve been making.
Some are heart-shaped wall hooks, most are heart key chains.
And I’ve even been making lanyard or key chain heart self defense tools.
A close up of the hook perfect to hang your keys on.
This a picture of the welding a key chain. It starts as a simple forge weld.

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

A flower candleholder wall hook

I made this flower candle holder and wall hook not so long ago. Here’s how:
I started by forging a leaf out on the end of a piece of flatbar
I then forge welded about 21″ of the bar stock over onto itself. I tapered the end and cut a small indent close to halfway to prepare for the next weld.
I folded it over once again and forge welded it.
After welding was complete I started to form a fishtail with the crosspein.
The bar is now about 1/2″x1/2″ and I still needed to punch a hole and trim the fishtail with a chisels (not photoed)
The bar was then folded and welded for a third time. This is a bit more time-consuming than jump welding smaller stock to a 1/2″x1/2″ base would be I imagine, but the finished product would look different.
I forged the hook and I can start shaping the stem to the flower. When bending the hook I noticed it was about 20 degree off horizontally when mounted flat on the wall. Instead of straightening it out and redoing it I just twisted it to the right angle. This gave an undesirable line that I refined later.
The bulk of the work is done.
This isn’t an occult blacksmithing ritual. I cut out a small semi-circle for the flower and drew a star to mark the pedals.
I used snips and a punch to form the flower. It took a little sanding too.
Rose candle hook 11
A crosspein on a stump gave the pedals texture.
rose candle hook 12
I cut off the excess stem and bent it around to secure the flower. (You can also see a steak turner I made a while before I could finish the hook and candle holder).
These little scented candles come with a thin metal pan that I glued into the center of the flower using JB-weld.

I’ll get a better picture of it mounted sometime soon I hope.
I’ve got some more projects to post eventually and some more how-to stuff too.
(update)
1119121118a
–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.

Forging a cut-off hardie

I forged a cut-off hardie a while back. I took some pictures along the way. I hope you enjoy.

I used an ax wedged into a stump as a cut-off for a long time, but it’s time for an upgrade.
I used an ax and sledge to cut the end off the jack hammer bit.
I forged the hardie section down some.
The jack hammer bit I forged down.
This only took a few heats.
Before I evened out the edge and sharpened it with a file.
After the file work.
After I let it normalize I heated the cut-off and then quenched it in oil.
I then immediately tempered to a golden straw.
I tempered it in the oven again, twice: once after fire tempering, and once the next day.

I’ve been working on creating some extra pages for my blog. I can’t wait to publish them.

Bamboo Charcoal Making


Some hippie stuff from a long-haired country boy and scraggly pirate:

Before I get into the pictorial I’d like to talk about the blacksmith and the environment. I’m not an environmentalist per-say, I try to be environmentally aware though. Nature and I get along; and I’d very much so like to think of her being able to take care of my great-grandchildren. Every day most everyone on the planet is burning something in some direct or indirect way. Us metal working folks probably gobble up a bit more than our fair share of the pie. Unless you can acquire an induction heating method and sustainable green energy source to power it then you’re probably destroying our ozone. Bad blacksmith, bad! Manbearpig is hiding under your bed right now waiting for you. In all seriousness though it’s something to consider. I’ve been using a lot of coal recently because of its price. Coal releases an awful lot of co2, from the massive amounts of fuel used to mine and transport it all the way to the end-user. Industrial coal use is regulated with emission standards, but I regularly send pillars of soot aloft. It isn’t a renewable resource so I’m of the opinion it should be used sparingly and in the most efficient way possible. Natural gas is more expensive but much easier to use and far better for the environment than coal, but it’s infrastructure still promotes the burning of fossil fuels and it’s expensive. Neither source of BTUs directly prevents co2 sequestering like harvesting trees solely for charcoal.
Bamboo is a very quickly maturing plant, that grows densely. I can harvest it by hand locally making it very co2 efficient for me. In the grand scheme of things it’s a drop in the bucket. But the overwhelming size of a problem shouldn’t be discouraging. It should be encouraging. At the risk of making an unfair parallel… I’d like to know how the same mentality would be applied to first aid… I’d hate to show up at the hospital with a huge open gash only to see the doctors focus on patients with small scratches because my problem was too severe.

Bamboo is a great plant to have around. I’ve made cane fishing poles, tomato plant supports, trellises and our pear tree even gets a helping hand with the weight of its yield. When I was a child bows, arrows and tents were what bamboo was made for! It’s speedy growth can be a blessing or a curse, our little bamboo forest has easily more than quadrupled in size over the past ten years and it’s encroaching on the foundation of my studio. We keep it cut back, but it’s kinda like throwing water on an oil fire. This year we cut a deep pocket into the bamboo for a garden in the rich soil cultivated from years of compost.

We gave some bamboo away and used a few pieces. But most of the downed canes were left to dry in the air and sun. Kept off the ground by their limbs it didn’t take long for them to turn from green to a tan/brownish color.


A safety note. Please read
: bamboo has many hollow pockets that allow pressure to build up and cause small explosions. I haven’t found these to be dangerous personally but I do like to at least give problem pieces a thwack with a machete length wise to reduce these pops. Once during the burn a large pop was enough to rattle the barrel a bit and under the wrong circumstances I can imagine danger occurring. It should go without saying, but fire is inherently a dangerous tool and should be used with the utmost respect.
There are better ways to do this but this is how I’ve managed so far.

Charcoal time!

The barrel has holes and slots in the sides and bottom to allow for airflow. I keep the dirt from the hole for use later.
The barrel should fit into the hole loosely and deep enough to eventually cover the air inlets with dirt.
In the past I’ve filled the barrel and then started the fire. It’s really the best way, but it can be frustrating to get lit. This time I started a small fire in the bottom of the barrel and then quickly packed as much bamboo in as we could. (Jon Mills was kind enough to help me out during the burn) Long handled shovels were very helpful for wedging the canes in.
Now if you didn’t pack the barrel with fuel before lighting a fire you may want to block off the air from the bottom of the barrel midway through the burn. allowing the top to catch up.
I use a large steel pot with 4 small holes in it to cap off the barrel.
I cap it off once the fire is really going and wait a bit till the smoke is notably lessened. Once I’ve decided all the steam and smoke has signified an apex of the burn I block off the mouth of the pot. Then I clay up the holes around the base of the pot.
I didn’t time things but the entire burn was less than an hour and a half if I had to guess. Not all of the bamboo passed the crumble test. But it’ll simply be used to start the next burn.
While we were waiting for the charcoal to cook I set up a log and passed onto Jon what I’ve learned about throwing axes, knives and toss and stick spikes. Jon picked it up quickly and he was real proud of this lucky double stick.

Some more bamboo fun with out all the carbon emissions:

Working with bamboo tips

Other bamboo crafting ideas
A bamboo bike (Really neat!)
Bamboo beer? This site also has a lot of interesting info on bamboo and even co2 but it seems a tad bias.

Charcoal links:
Charcoal chemistry
Microwave charcoal without the co2? Cool! Something tells me shouldn’t try this one at home.
A video of a large-scale home wood charcoal burn.
A video of a fairly small-scale conversion of wood to high quality charcoal.

Co2 emission info:
BTU, co2, and price information for home heating.

Info on types of household energy consumption as well as energy info for different types of wood, coal, gas and oil.
Think humans don’t cause the bulk of co2? Some folks think volcanoes are examples of nature producing co2 at a greater rate than humans, but science tells me they can’t even come close to comparing to our carbon footprint
How much more carbon does bamboo sequester than trees? 35%.

–Greg

Hot Diggity Dawg

A cordial ‘gent and I got together not so long ago. He’s retired but still works as a hot dog vendor. When he dropped in with a real nice custom cart in tow. It was a simple enough task and a while later I’d finished. He asked for one thing done but mentioned some other things he’d like done. I told him I’d make him something simple and affordable to get the job done, and something with a little more visual appeal.












I went ahead and made something to keep the condiment cooler open to the appropriate height since the fella mentioned it.



I really like making functional stuff. It’s satisfying to make a tool to specifications and attempt to make it visually appealing. But it’s difficult for me to put a price tag on the stuff I make. It’s this odd double standard in my mind on value. I got into this kind of work because of a sort of independence. I’ve always liked making things and it never made sense to me buying something or paying someone to do something I could do myself. If someone needs something I don’t ever want to send them home empty-handed; I’m not the type to take advantage of someone who needs help. But I’m a man who wants to build a business out of a hobby so I have to think about money. With as much of myself that’s intertwined into everything I do it’s almost enough to make me feel a bit like, pardon me, a whore. How do you put a price tag on a piece of yourself? Especially if you’re the sort of person that prefers to make things instead of buy ’em. I understand a majority of the factors to consider but I’m no true business minded man. The next day I gave the ‘gent a price for any two of the three pieces, and another price for all three. The fellow kindly took all three and seemed satisfied.

–Greg