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Anarchist/Animist Primate
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm hoping this thread really takes off, because I would like to discuss blacksmithing with others who might be interested on this forum, whether you're an expert, novice or are just interested.

In my opinion, blacksmithing is going to be one of the prime skills in a post EOTWAWKI world. It will allow you to make and repair a wide variety of very useful items, including knives, axes, arrow heads, farming tools, and countless other things.

So just how primitive can you get with blacksmithing?


My personal goal is to be able to do blacksmithing with no electricity or coal, though I may use a few electric tools in the meantime, such as a bench grinder and power drill. :)

Edit: It should be noted that the iron used in this demonstration was smelted from iron rich dirt. I'll see if I can find a video on how it's done, but basically they build a tall clay kiln with the dirt inside, and they just burn it all day and end up with a lump of iron at the bottom. It's pretty amazing.
 

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Anarchist/Animist Primate
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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Here's a great example of blacksmithing in practical application. This same thing could have been done without the power hammer or grinder. It just would have taken a bit longer. :)


Edit:The really cool bit is that all of the tools the guy uses to build the cabin could have been (and probably were) made by that blacksmith.
 

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I love the effect of him walking out and handing the ax to a guy who takes it right to a log and in my inexperienced eye, appears to know what he's doing.
 

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Anarchist/Animist Primate
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Discussion Starter #5
I would love to learn blacksmithing, but is it possible to learn without a hands-on approach, like from a video? Unfortunately there are not many blacksmiths around to learn from.
I think you can learn from videos. It's not that complex, and you can start doing it for almost nothing. Basically dig a hole in the ground with a pipe running into it, and using a hair drier for a blower. Hammers are easy enough to get, and an anvil can be anything from a chunk of granite to a block of steel from a scrap yard.
 

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One funny thing for me, it didn't matter to me that I didn't know or understand metals. I'd charge off on a project and make things that actually worked.

Then I found a painted length of 'steel'. At the time slab sided blades with tanto tips and edges weren't all that common and I decided I'd make one because the articles mentioned grinding was all it took to make some knives, no forging necessary. I mounted my cheapie grinder on the center stand of a table and ground away, doing a great job of shaping. The blade profile started looking good. Unfortunately, I read another knife making magazine and there was a warning about working on 'mystery metal' and about investing effort into unknown pieces of steel.

Then something odd happened.

I hit soft metal, there was a spot that came away like nothing. the thing was ruined.

I should have hunted down the author of that piece.

He jinxed me.

Man, that was a long, long time ago.
 

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I just wanna be in on this thread and check out the videos! I am interested in blacksmith work as well. I would love to learn to make things out of railroad spikes. I work for the railroad and there are literally thousands of them laying around. When they replace the rail I think they just let them fall on the ground. Very interesting thread!!
 

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I am fortunate enough to know quite a few blacksmiths. I've tried my own hand at a few light projects. I really enjoy it even though I am a total amateur at it.

Hopefully this thread takes off. I'll be following it.
 

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Anarchist/Animist Primate
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Discussion Starter #11
One funny thing for me, it didn't matter to me that I didn't know or understand metals. I'd charge off on a project and make things that actually worked.

Then I found a painted length of 'steel'. At the time slab sided blades with tanto tips and edges weren't all that common and I decided I'd make one because the articles mentioned grinding was all it took to make some knives, no forging necessary. I mounted my cheapie grinder on the center stand of a table and ground away, doing a great job of shaping. The blade profile started looking good. Unfortunately, I read another knife making magazine and there was a warning about working on 'mystery metal' and about investing effort into unknown pieces of steel.

Then something odd happened.

I hit soft metal, there was a spot that came away like nothing. the thing was ruined.

I should have hunted down the author of that piece.

He jinxed me.

Man, that was a long, long time ago.
That's a very good point. As important as it is for practical hands-on work, you definitely need to learn as much as you can about the basics. There's a book called "The Modern Blacksmith" which is a decent place to start.

It's available for free (legally) online here as a pdf: The Modern Blacksmith.

In fact, this site: http://cd3wd.com/cd3wd_40/cd3wd/index.htm has a lot of great blacksmithing and other homesteading material... all for free.

The best steel to start with is what's called mild steel, and you can buy it fairly inexpensively. I picked up a 1/2" x 5' square length for about $5. Barring that, I have used a length of rebar to play around with, and those you can get at most hardware stores.
 

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Anarchist/Animist Primate
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Discussion Starter #12
I just wanna be in on this thread and check out the videos! I am interested in blacksmith work as well. I would love to learn to make things out of railroad spikes. I work for the railroad and there are literally thousands of them laying around. When they replace the rail I think they just let them fall on the ground. Very interesting thread!!
The important thing with railroad spikes -- if you're going to make tools or knives -- is to make sure they are high carbon. I believe most high carbon spikes have an "HC" on the head.

If yoy don't have access to a railroad yard, I bought a lot of 25 spikes on Ebay for about $15 with shipping.
 

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Anarchist/Animist Primate
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Discussion Starter #14
Does anyone know about how much fuel the forge needs for a day's work?
There are a number of factors. It depends on the fuel, the efficiency of your forge, and the metal you're working.

If you're using charcoal, you can go through 20 lbs. in 6 hours, but you can make a lot in that time. Obviously coal lasts longer, but then you deal with the fumes.

The I'm partial to charcoal because you can make your own. There is a lot of information out there on how to do that, but even making a decent sized camp fire, burning it down to coals can make enough fuel for a days work. I watch one video where they used the fire to cook their meal, put out the fire with water, washed and dried the charcoal, and then forged a knife from a truck leaf spring. :)
 

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on 1 of ron hood videos he has tai goo and another tribal forging style demo. its a real good video.

i just setup a cheap coal forge and used it a few times, trying to learn to manipulate the steel and learn to hammer a bevel in, but have been too busy to do much, also the 105 degree weather slows some of my motivation down.

my setup is from used 18wheeler brake drum, some ceramic fire bricks and ash. ash is a great insulator and cheap. atm i use compressed air since i have a compressor setup easily(prob the easiest for me), but want a hand crank blower to make truely non electric.

heres a sample
 

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Anarchist/Animist Primate
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Discussion Starter #17
I am fortunate enough to know quite a few blacksmiths. I've tried my own hand at a few light projects. I really enjoy it even though I am a total amateur at it.

Hopefully this thread takes off. I'll be following it.
The thing I really like about it -- besides the satisfaction of beating on hot steel -- is that you are making practical things that are beautiful and they last a long time.

The other great thing is that no matter how your project comes out, because it's hammered metal, and is supposed to look "rustic," everyone thinks it looks awesome. :D:

There's almost a spiritual mystique about metalworking that probably goes back to the first metal smiths. In a way, the blacksmith is like a shaman who brings the power of the steel to the tribe.

Needless to say, in a post-apocalyptic world, the ones who possess this knowledge will have a very valuable survival/trade skill.
 

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Anarchist/Animist Primate
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Discussion Starter #19
on 1 of ron hood videos he has tai goo and another tribal forging style demo. its a real good video.

i just setup a cheap coal forge and used it a few times, trying to learn to manipulate the steel and learn to hammer a bevel in, but have been too busy to do much, also the 105 degree weather slows some of my motivation down.

my setup is from used 18wheeler brake drum, some ceramic fire bricks and ash. ash is a great insulator and cheap. atm i use compressed air since i have a compressor setup easily(prob the easiest for me), but want a hand crank blower to make truely non electric.

heres a sample
Tai Goo forge from Woodsmaster 09 - YouTube
The Woodsmaster video is an excellent one (actually, the whole series is fantastic). The other blademaster in the video -- Tim Lively -- has his own DVD out as well that has a lot of great information.

If you can find it, there is a 3 DVD set called "Blacksmithing Primer" I believe, and that has very good instruction.

It's funny you should mention the truck brake drum, because that's what I used as well.



This is an older picture. The wooden frame under the forge was just to hold it until I finished the legs. :)
 

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The Woodsmaster video is an excellent one (actually, the whole series is fantastic). The other blademaster in the video -- Tim Lively -- has his own DVD out as well that has a lot of great information.

If you can find it, there is a 3 DVD set called "Blacksmithing Primer" I believe, and that has very good instruction.

It's funny you should mention the truck brake drum, because that's what I used as well.



This is an older picture. The wooden frame under the forge was just to hold it until I finished the legs. :)
where did you find your hand crank blower?
 
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