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

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

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.

–Greg

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

File making

I’m very found of making things from steel and sometimes I just have to ask.. how did they do that? Our rich human history of creation is an infinite pool of knowledge to wade through for inspiration. The wealth of research available is engrossing. I’ve found myself wondering about digital copies of books. Their scans seem dusty and to smell of musk like walking through a damp, gray tomb of knowledge.. Admittedly it could be my imagination. Or more likely the lack of a good shower wafting about. =)
I digress. I’m very thankful to live in an age where knowledge is abundant.

One of mans oldest tools is the file. A cutting tool like the saw. The two are nearly as ancient as the knife and it’s cousin with a little more leverage, the ax. Rocks, gems, bones and fish spines can be used to remove material for crafting. Modern files and rasp are easily recognized as the descendant’s of these ancient tools. Metal working files were known around the world in some form of another. 14th century Europe had a change in architecture and culture lead to more ironwork being refined cold with file work becoming abundant. By the 17th century file making would have been a full-time endeavor for some. A file cutter would take a shaped piece of annealed steel ground smooth with a stone or file. He’d strap it firmly to a work block or anvil with a softer metal between the file blank and anvil. Then teeth were cut into the file by hand on both sides. As many as 60 to 80 blows per minute could be delivered by an experience cutter. The angle of the chisel was dependent on the aggressiveness of the file desired but it could be between 40-65 degrees. Next the file was carefully hardened and tempered depending on the type of steel and file.

The file in history by Henry Disston & Sons, Inc
For more information on files check these out:

The File In History
The Manufacturer and builder, Volume 26 (page 280) 1894
File-Making by Hand and Machinery from “The Manufacturer and Builder” November, 1889
The legend of the knife from a file
(
update – This is a really nice blog entree about file making)

On a personal note. The studio has been organized, an office arranged and we’ve switched Internet service providers. A faster network has finally reached our neck of the woods here Clayton, NC.
Most recently a lot of my time has been spent organizing photos and a bit of modern file work. I do most of my reading, writing and photo work on a faithful ol’ laptop running Ubuntu; occasionally I migrate toward the desktop as I familiarize myself with google sketch-up so the two are not far from one another.

–Greg

So hot steel leaves wilt

It’s been darn near a hundred in the shade lately. But I’ve been trying to stay hydrated by the forge. I’ve been practicing leaves. And well I have some more stuff for the ugly side of my next installment the good, bad and the ugly. But I liked these from the other day:

hand forged leaf hooks

 

leaf hook start
leaf hook start

 

leaf hook fire welded
leaf hook forge welded

 

leaf hook hole prep
leaf hook punch prep
leaf, ballpein, tongs, holdfast
leaf hook punch
hand forging leaf hooks
leaf hooks in the works

–Greg