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12432Re: [MedievalSawdust] Forges on the cheap

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  • conradh@efn.org
    May 1, 2010
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      On Fri, April 30, 2010 6:29 pm, Laura Iseman wrote:
      > Hi all, several posts here have said something like "I use X for my metal
      > work since I don't have access to a forge" While any source of heat will
      > work, and why not use an oxy torch if you have one, I thought I would
      > share my forge technology for those who would like to have a go but think
      > it is hard/expensive. My forge is 6 house bricks laid out in a rectangle
      > on the concrete out the back and an old vacuum cleaner that does "blow" as
      > well as suck. My anvil is a piece of railway iron with a point cut into
      > the end, nailed to a stump. Because I know some great scroungers, this
      > set-up cost me nothing but I suspect anyone could manage something
      > similar. All I need to buy is the charcoal and I find that places that
      > supply spit roasting caterers are a good place to get this.
      Good going! Always good to hear from those who understand just how simple
      it can be.

      > Using this setup I have made decorative flur de lis ends for my chest
      > strapping ends for my box (pictures at
      > http://www.flickr.com/photos/36906401@N00/sets/72157618165002297/ ) the
      > actual hinge bit is worked cold (requires a hack-saw, and a hammer shaped
      > like a bill, I used nails for the hinge pins). While I admit my forge
      > work is not professional quality, I love that fact that my box is all my
      > own work.
      Perhaps you've already done this, but consider some way of blocking or
      diverting most of the airflow. A vacuum cleaner exhaust is about six
      times more air than you need for forgings this size, and the extra blast
      just wastes an awful lot of your charcoal and risks burning up your
      workpieces. A hair dryer is closer to the sort of air supply you need. I
      use a hand-crank Champion 400 forge blower, and can literally blow all the
      air I need for workpieces that size with one finger hooked around the

      The satisfaction of "all your own work", of course, is huge--and what has
      kept a lot of us going all these years. Welcome and congratulations!

      > --
      > Agite primo recte! Nihil igitur durat tamquam enodatia brevis at satis.
      > (Do it right the first time, because nothing is so permanent as a
      > temporary solution that works)

      True enough, but blacksmithing is the ultimate craft for improvisers. I
      threw together a temporary forge about thirty-five years ago, and it's
      served me well for all kinds of amateur and eventually professional work;
      only now am I replacing it. If you don't mind sitting down while you
      work, as so many craft workers do in Africa and Asia, all kinds of good
      work can be done in a forge that is no more than a hole in the ground.

      IMHO, the place where you should try not to settle for second best is in
      the work, more than the tooling. Or, as one mentor put it, "The main
      problem with steel is, that if you make something ugly out of steel, it's
      going to be ugly for a long time."

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