Door hardware from wrought iron.

I was sent this part of a latch to make another for a 1830's house in NY. It was a bit loose. I removed the paint and disassembled it.
I was sent this part of a latch to make another for a 1830’s house in NY. It was a bit loose. I removed the paint and disassembled it.
The new hardware was forged from an old wraught iron wagon wheel.
The new hardware was forged from an old wraught iron wagon wheel.

The new hardware was forged from an old wraught iron wagon wheel.

IMG_20141027_035033 You can see one of the test peices in the back ground. I forged 6 or seven of these in mildsteel before moving to the rarer wrought iron.

filed peice






One is the original hardware repaired using a traditional penny weld the other is a reproduction forged out of wraught iron from a wagon wheel.


One is the original hardware repaired using a traditional penny weld (forge braze) the other is a reproduction forged out of wraught iron from a wagon wheel.

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” (

Helpful links for the DIY blacksmith/bladesmith:
Heat treating 1084 thanks to Mr. Cashen –

Tool and knife steel from “The NJ Steel Barron” Mr. Aldo Bruno –

Parks 50 Thanks to Mr. Kelly Cupples

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

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.
With only a light etch barely highlighting the strands of steel.
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

Talk like a pirate day. And Bottle openers.

Ahoy! You may or may not be aware.. but we’re pirate people. Now I’m not for all the rapein’ an piligin’ we’re usually associated with. Ye be thinkin’ what be a pirate if ‘e ain’t robbin’ lasses of their booty an stealin’ everythin’ that ain’t tied down?
Freedom.. well to me alas pirates were only moderately scurvier or doggier than those sanctioned sailin’ men. And they often had more rights, ‘ell women were know to turn to the less than noble trade of piracy. Sure there were rules, but the sea.. twas often a satiable alternative to tyranny. That is my way of seein’ it anyway.
The pirate Lafitte was an American hero of sorts who just so happened to be co-proprietor of a blacksmith shop. Aye.. I’m at least third in a list of notable pirate blacksmiths, but Will Turner the barnacled belly-acher wasn’t even a real person!

I’ve never talked about it ‘ere but we actually had a pirate themed weddin’ where I made many of the cutlery and some of the decor early in me blacksmithin’ career.

Avast! Look at that captin’ of my heart Captin’ Redd my love an’ my mateys.
..They’re a motley crew of all types the lot of ’em and the best friends and family I could hope for!

So today ye should remember the five “A’s” as ye talk like a pirate. An dress like one too if yer’ ‘eart desires. ‘ell even drink like a pirate if ye be of age. An’ always remember to stay young at heart no matter how old ye get. Takin’ life to seriously will only get ye missin’ the ocean for all the waves so to speak.

Check out thepiratebay and download the new album by Ye Banished Privateers they’ve chosen to give it away at a fittin’ source. It’s good ‘ol pirate folk Irish punk.. what ever that be.. They give just a wee bit o’ advice for today on grog:

I’ve started doin’ skulls a bit differently these days. Even working on gettin’ the crossbones in there.
A bottle opener doesn’t have to look like a bottle opener.
I wish I got a picture of it before I gifted it. But alas, twas the last thing on my mind. Here it is almost complete.

-Pirate Greg

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.

Building the trench forge, and a dirt cheap clay recipe.

This may not be the fastest forge to build, but it was worth the time. These ingredients have been used on all my clayed forges. The secret is slowly curing and really rehydrating the kitty litter before hand:

A dirt cheap recipe for fire hardening clay in forges— Works great for projects big or small; I just winged it loosely off of some other recipes. This is an approximation. That was modified as I went along and needed more. I just went for something that “looked right”.. not that I knew what that was. I started off drier and got wetter to keep the large mass from cracking:

-1 20lb Bag kitty litter (the unscented bentonite clay kind) is barely covered with water in a wheel barrel.
-Add three full shovels of sifted red ground clay. (Sifting is really just a formality, but it should be done dry.. if it’s from a deep enough hole.. like a charcoal barrel pit then it’ll be well clumped and moist almost pure clay)

-Stir it all together and wait at least 24 hours. Occasionally stir to make yourself feel productive. =P This will soften the clay pellets as they absorb the water. Additional stirring will make sure all the mix stays wet. (The weather was mild, but cool at night when I did this so use less water in winter, and possibly more in summer)

– Once about half the standing water is soaked up or evaporated. Then add about equal parts wood ash and kitty litter to the mix until it’s to the desired consistency. For a single layer about an inch that’s something that clumps together in your hand without crumbling.
This mixture should to cure very slowly.

I would apply it in about one inch thick layers around firebricks letting them dry 24-48+ hours in between. I used a heater and halogen light at night because it was getting into the high low 60’s. I’d check on each layer to keep the outermost “skin” moist. The goal was to avoid lots of steam from the inside escaping and cracking a dry outside. After many layers were applied I waited maybe just over a week with 75-degree heat and air movement. Then I built a small wood fire in my new forge. I built it up to a nice sized fire taking up the whole forge over a few hours and then let it burn HOT for half an hour before letting it slowly cool.

This forge wasn’t a single afternoon project, but it’s served me for a long time now:

I used coal in the forge, but wasn’t really happy with it compared to charcoal. I may try it again with coked coal now that I have a nice supply.
The PVC goes to a steel pipe.
The end can be used or the lid can be opened.
I’ve actually loaded a lot of wood on top of charcoal. The heat with out a lot of O2 (with the lid closed) can allow for charcoal production while forging. But sap is something to consider with green wood.. And be CAREFUL when opening the lid us a fire rake or pair of tongs, the flames will flare up.
The entire leangth of the forge can be used or clay can also be used to block off air holes in the pipe.

A tip with all clayed forges used with coal is to leave a thin layer of ash in the forge, or even apply a layer mixed with very little water. This will help prevent clinker from bonding with the clay. Instead it bonds with the ash.

Hardwood charcoal or bamboo charcoal are what I prefer to use n the trench forge. But coal can be used in a pinch.
Some relative information on clay:
Clay when used in bladesmithing for heat treatment.
I went on a quest to find out the science of how clay hardens… Instead I found debate!
I’ve been introduced to some new vocabulary that is very interesting: Sintering.

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.

Joel Lane house on the fourth of July

In lieu of a lengthy post I’m just sharing some photo’s from a demonstration my wife and I had a chance to help out with at the Joel Lane house in Raleigh, NC. Their fourth of July celebration was a lot of fun, great music, lots of crafts and good food. If you’re ever in the area give them a visit. The museum is a lovely place. The grounds are wonderfully maintained and attractive. A very friendly group of people working together to keep history alive and it’s mostly done by volunteer efforts so if you drop by consider making a donation.

Working the bellows and hearth.


Forging a small leaf


Here you can see the portable bellows and hearth. Great craftsmanship on the bellows.


The atmosphere was great and pleasant on the ears!


The smell of stew was enough alone to draw a hungry crowd cooked up in true mountain man style over an open fire.
There was calligraphy with quill and ink.
The writing was truly elegant, I wish we had a better photo.


A chandler at work making candles.
Some of his goods and tools


Splint weaving was just one of this gentleman’s talents, he’s also a talented blacksmith I was later informed.


Thank you to the Joel Lane House and museum staff/volunteers for making such a great holiday celebration possible, and especially Mr. Campbell for allowing me to help out around the forge.


I wouldn’t have had most of these photo’s if it wasn’t for Ashley, my lovely wife’s help. She was everywhere at once it seemed helping wherever she could and taking many more photos than I have time to share! Thank you sweet heart.