Archive for the ‘Collecting Stuff’ Category


Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Until I had to do it, I never would have guessed how hard it would be to find a tree stump!

I asked friends and family (in person and via facebook) to let me know if they had ideas on where to find one. I called around to wood lots and tree trimming companies, none of which were helpful. Even after a major wind storm, when there were trees down all over the place, I couldn’t find anyone with an anvil-stand sized stump.

But after my first few forging sessions, using the steel work table under my crane rail, it was obvious that I needed something. And so, I made one myself out of 6″x6″ pressure treated posts.

And I can tell you, it is a vast improvement! The rail feels like a proper anvil, now that it’s on something solid. I’ve got it set a bit higher than the ‘knuckle’ height that’s recommended for an anvil – but I’m doing light work, and find it more comfortable.

Aladdin’s Cave

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Speaking of the various and sundry bits of treasure squirreled away by my late father-in-law, I found an arc welder hidden in he back of the garage.

The original box for it was tucked up in the rafters (full of mice nests and large, nasty spiders); but the welder itself looks to be in good shape. I’ll have to buy myself a new helmet, and see if I can find someone to give me a crash-course in welding 101.

Raining on my parade

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I’ve discovered a problem with my current set-up … rain.

I have my forge, table with anvil, etc. tucked just inside the garage. When I want to do some smithing, I open the garage and pull everything out into the driveway. It’s a fairly sheltered area, with easy access to utilities (lights, water, power). At the end of the day, it’s quick and easy to move everything back inside.

Everything, except the forge. Being cast iron, I can’t actually extinguish the fire, because the thermal shock would crack the forge pan. So, I leave it outside to cool down overnight. What I wasn’t prepared for, was an early morning downpour.

Water plus wood ash equals a nasty mess, with the potential of being quite caustic.

Searching through the garage for something to cover up the forge when it’s outside, I found this:

It’s a dome, made of fairly heavy gauge stainless steel. What can I say, my late father-in-law was both a world-class scrounger, and a pack rat. It’s just about perfect, but a little bit too small (it fits just inside the lip of the pan).

I thought about trying to flare out the bottom of the dome to fit, but from what I understand, that would be really tough to do. I’m now thinking that I’ll make some form of an adapter ring out of mild steel.

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.

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.