I’ve been working with hot metal for about a year now. Here’s a little writeup of things I’ve learned along the way.
First some basic one liners of wisdom. All of these have been learned the hard way.
- Don’t work hot metal while wearing tennis shoes. Use steel toe leather work boots. You will learn new levels of speedy footwork if you ignore this.
- Always make sure the metal stock is even with the face of the anvil before hitting it. You will save a lot of finger injuries if you keep this in mind.
- Wood as a fuel source doesn’t work very well, but it works. Chop it up into small chunks or you’ll be waiting for ever for a hot spot.
- Cold weather can rupture metal slack tubs when the water turns to ice.
- Yellow/White hot steel is much, much, much easier to work than red. Be patient let the metal heat.
- 6” wide pipe does not work as a chimney. Order the big stuff the first time (12” works good).
- Too much air blowing into the forge is bad. If you’re throwing sparks you’re loosing heat.
- Drill your holes BEFORE you quench… /facepalm
- Take care not to accidentally bend your blades in the fire when heating to quench, this is especially true for thin blades.
- Don’t smith without a slack tub nearby. If it breaks go ahead and rig up another one instead of just smithing without it.
- When in doubt, don’t just take another swing of the hammer. Instead take a closer look and another heat.
- Fast dry 2 part epoxy is horrible. Don’t use it. Ever. For anything. Use normal slow dry 2 part epoxy. It is crazy awesome.
A little about my shop:
My “anvil” was made pretty cheaply but has been very effective. I used a section from a very large forklift tine cut to size. Four 2′ long sections of rebar are welded to the bottom of it about 8” apart