Portable Blacksmith Forge Cart

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I’ve started building a portable forge cart. I have a really nice smithy with a brick and cast iron forge but needed a portable forge for demonstrations. The cart is built around a couple old-style iron wheelbarrow wheels a friend gave me. I am forging all the hardware. The forge proper is going to be a clay lined sheet metal pan with a hand-cranked blower another friend found for me (nothing like friends!). I plan to add a small toolbox to the front of the cart. Hope it has a real “old-timey” look!

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20140611-221311-79991776.jpg Thanks for looking…bart

October 2014

Pretty much finished. I have used it at a couple demos. Works great! Only problem is that the vise is a little “shaky”!

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Peter Ross inspired compass…again

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Today I gave the Peter Ross inspired compasses another try. The first hour was an exercise in frustration with two unsuccessful attempts to get the welded side of the hinge right. Finally, on attempt number three everything seemed to come together. I spent some extra time on the fit of the hinge and was rewarded with a much smoother action than on the first pair. >

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20140407-143952.jpg As you can see I tried my hand at filing in the facets on the head like Ross does in his video. >

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20140407-144130.jpg I plan to demonstrate forging these compasses at the April meeting of the New River Forge Council. Thanks for looking…Bart

Peter Ross inspired compass

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Today I forged a small set of compasses. I was inspired to make these after watching Peter Ross, former master blacksmith at Colonial Williamsburg, make a pair on the video “Forging a Compass”. While my compass is not nearly as elegant as those he forges, I was pleased with the results…for a first try…

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20140401-163156.jpg. Here you can see that my forge weld did not completely “take”:

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Bottle openers…

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I’m trying to catch up with some of the items I have promised to forge for my friends and acquaintances. The only thing I tell someone that asks for a particular item is “Don’t nag me!” After all, blacksmithing is a hobby for me…not a job. Eventually, though, I get around to making what they have requested and their patience is rewarded with a one-of-a-kind hand forged item, warts and all! Case in point: a friend asked me to forge him a couple bottle openers. That was what…two years ago?! Well, this week it finally warmed up enough to get out in the shop so I decided to give the bottle openers a try:

20140320-202501.jpg The one on the left was forged from a piece of 1/2 x 1/4 inch mild steel shearing, while the one on the right was wrought from a length of 1/2 inch rebar. The business end of the one on the left looks thus:

20140320-203015.jpg …while the handle is forged as a stylized ram’s head:

20140320-203149.jpg The one forged from rebar has a more traditional opener end:

20140320-203317.jpg …and its handle is a knot of sorts, tied in steel:

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These are the first bottle openers I have ever forged…I hope they work! Thanks for looking…bart

Old Blacksmith Pincers

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I like old tools. There…I’ve said it. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Ah, but that raises a question: is the pursuit of old tools a problem??!!
Anyway…since I started blacksmithing, I’ve been on the lookout for hand-forged items made by past smiths. Over the last couple years I have bought tongs, pliers, a nail header, etc. at flea markets, antique stores and junk shops, all hand forged.
This past Thursday I was off from work and running some errands. It was TOO cold to work comfortably in the shop, so I decided to stop in one of the local antique malls to browse. (Actually, I was looking for a small crock to keep my sourdough starter in…but that’s another story…).
Anyway I found these pincers, obviously hand forged. I was really impressed with the symmetry of this tool. They were obviously made by someone who knew his way around a smithy! The business ends of the two halves were forge-welded on…you can still see the weld lines:

20140316-085418.jpg The ends of the reins (handles) are forged into what can be described as screwdriver ends or maybe pry bars:

20140316-085644.jpg But the most intriguing aspect of these pincers is the rivet holding the two halves together:

20140316-085858.jpg In contrast to the symmetrical, sinewy, (dare I say sexy?!) form and execution of the tool itself, the rivet is crudely done, almost an afterthought. So what happened? Did the smith forge the two halves then turn the riveting over to his new apprentice? Or is the rivet a replacement forged sometime later by a less talented or skilled blacksmith? We will never know. I, however, am happy to add this piece of blacksmithing history to my toolbox. Thanks for looking…bart

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Forged Russian Rose

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I forged this so-called “Russian Rose” about a month ago while the temperature in my shop was still bearable. My son was taking a young adult literature class at college (he plans to be an English teacher). He had an assignment to write a “picture book” and chose to write about a visit to a blacksmith shop. I forged this rose as he interviewed me and took pictures of the process. It is forged from 1/4 inch round stock and was vigorously brushed with a brass brush while still at a black heat. I think it is my best one yet.

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By the way, Justin got an “A” both on the book and as a final grade in the class. Thanks for looking…bart

Hand-forged Center Bit

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Tried my hand at forging a woodworker’s center bit this morning. Started out with a length of rebar. These bits are used to drill shallow perfectly round holes with a brace. It is the traditional bit used for roughing out the mortice for the lock on a muzzle loading firearm. Heres the blank pretty much forged out:

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A little sawing and filing…ok, a LOT of filing, and it was ready to be tempered. The finished bit is pictured below with a 19th century original.

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It will cut but not as well as the original. The next one will be better!

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