February 22, 2017
Hi from Texas everyone!
I’ve been interested in blacksmithing for as long as I can remember, but I only recently discovered that propane forges were a thing. I’m still mad at myself for not knowing years ago!
Anyways, after a bit of research I’ve managed to put together a decent workshop, and today I hit my first piece of hot steel between hammer and anvil. I decided to attempt a pair of tongs as my first project. I’m using 1/4″ x 1″ bar stock, just the cheap stuff they keep on hand at big name hardware stores.
The experience did not disappoint!
- My hammer gets very heavy, very quickly. I could only go for about 30 minutes at a time before my strikes became mostly inaccurate and too weak to move much metal, and only managed two sessions before my forearm was completely worn out. I’ve only got the one hammer right now, a cheap 2.5lb cross-pein from the local hardware store. I imagine I’ll gain some endurance pretty quickly…I’m still fairly young and not in too bad of shape yet.
- I never would have imagined that much heat could come from such a small opening. I’m using a propane forge, and probably a lot of it was my fault for wanting to watch the metal heat up and make sure the flame was hitting where I wanted. I had my face just a couple of feet away most of the time.
- The neighbor was super-curious about what I was doing in my garage with all the ringing and the forge sounding like a jet engine. He finally came over and popped his head in my garage and asked if I was making horse shoes. I haven’t fastened my anvil to my stand yet so it gives off a nice high-pitched ring. I’ve read about putting a bead of silicon under the center of the anvil before I bolt it down to deaden the ring even more, so I’ll be doing that very soon.
- The satisfaction of reforming a piece of steel with some heat and a few hammer blows was just awesome. I’ve never had so much fun while at the same time working so hard in my life! The first couple of minutes I was a bit timid with the hammer, not really hitting it hard enough to move anything. I also wasn’t putting enough downward pressure on my material to keep it from hopping around on the anvil. Once I got that figured out I started to get the hang of it, only to have my arm get so tired I had to stop.
- I only completely missed the material and direct hit my anvil once. Unfortunately it was right on the edge while I was trying to put a notch in the side of a bar. Poor anvil
It’s great to be a part of the community, and I think I’ll be here a while if that’s alright!
February 25, 2012
Hi Caleb, welcome!
Here’s a little feedback on your first impressions:
- Yes, you will quickly build endurance. Just make sure you’re not holding your hammer in a death-grip. If you maintain a looser grip on your hammer, you’ll quickly learn to control the blows and get more work done before your arm is blown out – let the hammer do the work. But hey, 60 minutes of hammering ain’t bad for a beginner!
- You probably shouldn’t get into the habit of staring into your forge (or the sun) for long periods of time.I have to remind myself of this all the time….
- If your neighbor is worth his salt, he is already envious.
- Regarding your comment on the instant gratification of moving hot steel: You, my friend, are addicted!
If you can swing it, you should come up to Washington for the NWBA conference in May. Our membership is welcoming and completely willing to share their knowledge.
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