Category Archives: Blacksmith shop

Forging a strap hinge

I’ve been working with Montie and Jayna from PunkinMUsher Productions On a video to show some of what goes into forging a hinge.  This is also a good chance to see the shop and it’s wonderful setting here in Beulah.

 

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The time to retire has come

I started working for a private ambulance company back in 1980.  Then was hired by the Aurora Fire Department in 1987.  I have progressed through the ranks from probationary firefighter to paramedic and for the last 14 years have served as a suppression lieutenant on an engine company.  Most my time as an officer has been at station 10.  I have had the honor of working with a great crew at 10s.  However after 34 years in emergency service, It is time to retire. from firefighting and emergency medicine.  It is with great excitement that I pick up my hammer to begin a new career as a full-time blacksmith.  I have been running the shop part-time for 20 years or more and the time feels right to make it a full-time job.  So thank you to all of those I have served with as a fire fighter and thank you to all of my customers past and present who have made this transition possible.  Wednesday October 8th will be the start of a new adventure.  Please come visit at http://www.blackbearforge.com

New Heat Treating Kiln

New kiln

Last week I attended a knife making workshop at Scott Kretschmer’s shop in Loveland.  The workshop was taught by Steve Rollert from Dove Knives.  This was a full day of demonstration and discussion about hand forged knives.

One of the main topics was a the proper heat treatment of knives.  Blacksmiths have traditionaly judged heat by color and while this is pretty good it isn’t perfect.  Colors appear different in different ambient light.  It is also hard to tell the difference betwwen 1100 degrees and 1200 degrees accurately and that 100 degree difference can be important.  Hardening at the exact right temperature makes for repeatable results.  If you don’t like the results you can easily judge if it should be a bit hotter or a bit cooler.  But that is only possible if you can hit the exact hardening temperature you are aiming for every time.

Enter my “new” heat treating kiln.  This is an electric oven capable of very exact temperature control.  You can set the exact temprature you want, leave the knife or (any other tool for that matter) to preheat and soak – hold at temperature – if needed.  You can’t do that accurately with a torch or a forge.  This particular kiln is actually a small ceramics kiln that was being used by a silver smith for burning out wax for lost wax casting.  It is not ready to be a heat treating kiln yet.  I will need to add some higher tech precision controls to make it work the way it needs to.  But, since a new heat treating kiln costs close to $2,000 and this one was only $200 plus $100 or so for the controls, it will be a bargan.

Part of my long term goal is to make quality hand forged tools for woodworkers.  This new equipment will help me turn out consistent, predictable high quality tools.

It was too muddy to get the car, with the kiln in it, right up to the shop.  So it went up on the back of the ATV

It was too muddy to get the car, with the kiln in it, right up to the shop. So it went up on the back of the ATV.

The kiln was tranfered to the top of my welding cart, since there was no place else to put it, then rolled in under cover.

The kiln was tranfered to the top of my welding cart, since there was no place else to put it, then rolled in under cover.

Warm beer anyone?

004

A few weeks ago a friend was commenting on a TV show he had seen where someone took what he thought was an old style soldering iron, and used it to warm his cup of coffee.  While I have never actually seen this done, I have heard of a “flip iron” being used to make a hot toddy or hot buttered rum.  I felt pretty smug knowing what he was refering to.

Imagine my surprise when I recieved the following message a few days latter. “I’ve been searching for an iron tool that is used in the upper-midwest during spring bock beer festivals. The solid iron “head” of the tool is heated in a fire and then dipped red hot into a glass of beer. The result is a hot foamy head of beer.”

Here is the picture provided by the customer

Here is the picture provided by the customer

Now I really should learn from the way the old timers did things. It would save me lots of grief.  But not me, I have a 100 pound power hammer.  So why not just make these from a single piece of 1″ round bar?  Even under the hammer drawing 10″ of 1″ bar into 40″ of 1/2″ bar is a lot of work.  I suspect that this took about 3 times longer than the alternate and probably more traditional approach.  I am pretty sure the old timers would have used a shorter section of the 1″ bar with a short stub drawn out and the 1/2″ handle forge welded on.  But, live and learn.  My customer gets a great value and I got a great education.

I suppose I need to make a shorter one and try the hot toddy or hot buttered rum, but I’ll leave the warm beer for more adventurous types.

Here are the 43" long irons ready to make hot beer, Yum ;)

Here are the 43″ long irons ready to make hot beer, Yum 😉

The claw hammer gives some idea of the size.

The claw hammer gives some idea of the size.

Whats up in the shop

Curently there are not any really spectacular projects going in the shop, but here is what is on the workbench or anvil if you prefer.

I am working on a set of fireplace tools for a local here in Beulah. These will be short for use in a wood stove. They will have heavy 3/4″ handles forged to a tapper of about 3/8″ at the tool end. There will be a poker, shovel and broom. The broom is hand tied from Grassy Creek Brooms.

There is a new order for some more hinges to match the ones Chris Shwarz put on his Dutch tool chest. I will also be making a spare set to list on the web site

I started working on a couple of small striking knives similar to the one mentioned by Chris

Of course lets not forget the Roubo workbench I started over a year ago that still has no legs

And then there is the log house that remains unfinished

Back Camera

Cat Head Chest Lifts

cat handle 001 (2)

I had never heard the term “chest lift” before.  But that is what Megan Fitzpatrick from Popular Woodworking Magazine asked for.  Turns out it is just the same as a chest handle.  since there is generally a waiting list around here it was going to be awhile before I got the handles done.  In the meantime Megan posted a blog about her new tool chest she showed some little toggles that hold the hand saws in the till, they are shaped like little cats.  I commented that I could make the handles for the chest look like cats as well.  Really I thought she would laugh and write it off as a joke.  But she loved the idea.  So I have been working on my first ever set of cat shaped tool chest handles.  This has really been a fun project and I’m glad Megan liked the idea.

The design was drawn up in Correll Draw by Janet (my wife and the head of our quality control department).  The paper copy is then glued to an 1/8″ piece of steel plate.  I cut to the line using a Beverly shear, hacksaw and belt grinder.

Cutting the cats on the Beverly shear

Cutting the cats on the Beverly shear

the ears are cut a bit closer with a hacksaw

 
Here is one of the blanks before trimming, the one on the left is ready to grind right down to the line.

Here is one of the blanks before trimming, the one on the left is ready to grind right down to the line.

 

I wish I had some pictures of the chasing process for the eyes, but I can’t get pictures while working very well.

 
the ears are cut a bit closer with a hacksaw