Archive for February, 2012

An electric blower

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Just picked up an electric blower I found on Kijiji. It’s really neat, and will be great once I have a permanent home for my forge.

Electric Blower    Blower Motor

The blower itself is marked: “MARK KRILUCK  THOROLD ONT  NO 6-12”.


I don’t know anything about either of these companies, but the interesting thing (for me), is that both Thorold and St. Catharines are local to me.  So it’s kind of nice the keep these things in the area.

However, the best part of this entire transaction, is that I met a very nice blacksmith. He’s been smithing professionally for years, and is retiring from it. He may be selling other things … an anvil, a vise, all sorts of hammers and tongs, etc. But the most valuable thing I picked up, was knowledge. An hour of chatting with this guy was pure gold!

So far, every blacksmith I’ve met has been an exceptionally nice person. I sincerely hope that trend continues.

Crane Rail Anvil

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

I’ve decided not to do too much to my crane rail after all. I may, at some point in the future, weld a piece of heavy square tubing to one end as a hardy hole … but I currently don’t weld.

I looked into having the top machined flat – but the first three machine shops I talked to all said the same thing “that’s tough stuff to work with“, and “we’re not sure our machinery is big enough to deal with that, but we may know someone” (Note: they we’re all smaller shops I’d talked to, friends of friends, etc.). I never did get an actual quote from a shop that would have taken on the work, but I assumed it would be very expensive. Money better spent on other things.

So in the end, I did a bit of ‘cleaning up’ of the rail section myself. A combination of large files, angle grinder and belt sander smoothed out the top quite a bit. It’s not ‘flat’, but isn’t too round either.

I also attempted to drill a pritchel hole. I figured that I would be doing some punching, and if I made it a bit larger (say, something a bit over a 1/2″), then I could use some basic tooling in it, such as a spring hold down. Enough to suffice until I can get a hardy holder welded on.

Well the machine shops were right about one thing, this is made of tough stuff! I don’t know if it’s case hardened or what, but there seems to be a layer within the steel, an 1/8″ or so under the surface, that just refused to drill. With my drill press on it’s lowest speed, and using lubricating oil, I just could not get a larger diameter drill bit through. I finally managed to get a very small drill bit (1/4″) through, and worked the hole up to 3/8″ with larger and larger bits – but never did get as large a diameter as I would have liked.

In any case, here’s the ‘finished’ improvised Crane Rail Anvil:

To quote Shrek: “That’ll do Donkey, that’ll do“.

My first forge!

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

The collection grows!

As mentioned, I was planning on building a break drum type forge, but as I search for parts, I’m realizing it won’t be cheap. The design I was using called for 2″ or better black pipe for an air intake / ash dump, and various other bits and pieces. None of it is ‘expensive’, but when you add up a dozen or so fittings at $10 a piece, an inexpensive bathroom exhaust fan (at least $40) for a blower, etc, etc, it all adds up!

I’ve been watching Kijiji for blacksmithing stuff for a while, and a small riveter’s forge just popped up.

Riviter's Forge Forge Blower

It’s not ideal, and at $200 isn’t exactly cheap – but it’s not unreasonable. The forge needs some fixing up. The blower needs a new belt and a cover for the ash dump, but the blower turns freely and moves air. It’s also got a bit of a wobble, but hopefully tightening up the fasteners on the legs and braces will take care of that.

But all in all, I’m very excited! I’ve got my crain rail anvil, and now a forge. Really, that should be enough to get me started. I can’t wait to spark it up for the first time.

And so it begins!

Monday, February 6th, 2012

After much thinking about it, talking about it, reading, researching, etc., I finally had the opportunity to do some hands-on forging while getting my first formal training in smithing.

I’ve just come back from a weekend course provided by David Robertson (who some of you may recognize from his popular smithing videos on YouTube).

The course was fantastic, and David is an excellent teacher and coach. I got so much out of this weekend. Most importantly, the confidence to fire up my own forge and continue learning on my own.

The course was well laid out, and included a wide variety of projects – each building upon the techniques learned in the previous project. By the end of the course, we’d made a number of different types of hooks, a coal rake, tongs, a roasting fork, cold chisel, a hinge and my favourite, a fire steel (striker for use with a flint).

The Weekend's Projects

I’m now even more commited to getting my own shop set up so that I can keep going. I’ll defenitely be coming back for another of David’s courses too!

An improvised anvil

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Well, it starts … I’ve acquired the first bit of ‘stuff’ that I need to set up my own shop.

I’ve been looking for some time now, for the basic equipment for my own shop – a forge, anvil, vise, etc.; and haven’t been having much luck. I’m planning on building my own forge (a ‘break drum’ type) once I find the spare time, and have collected all the materials.

My brother was looking into having a couple of the guys at his work (a heavy steel related shop) fabricate an improvised anvil for me, from a heavy plate drop … but that’s fallen through. One of the pieces of machinery is off line, and since it’s little-used in their shop, it’s not their highest priority to get it fixed – which is completely understandable.

Kijiji, etc. hasn’t had much of late, so, plan “B” it is. I just came across this:

Crane Rail Crane Rail

It’s an 18″ length of 175 lb crane rail, which is similar to rail road track (which many a beginner smith has used as a first improvised anvil), only heavier with a much thicker top rail and web section. This particular chunk of rail weighs in at just over 85 lbs., which is not too bad at all!

The question now is what, if anything, I do to the rail to make it more anvil-like. I’ve seen photos online of others who have carved horns onto these, had the top rails machined flat, drilled in pritchel & hardy holes, etc. Is it worth the effort? The expense? … we’ll see.