Blacksmith Tools, Anvil
So you want to start blacksmithing and need to find tools that are related to this craft.
There are a handful of different tools that you will need to start blacksmithing. These include anvil, forge, hammers, tongs, and vise.
The anvil is your primary work surface and will be your biggest investment when you are starting out. The good news is that you can still find good quality anvils that are made today. You don't have to find an antique tool and use it.
There is nothing wrong with using an antique anvil if it is still in good condition. You are looking for a flat top with slightly rounded but unbroken edges. It should not have any cracks or breaks in it or deep gouges or dents in the face.
The style of a double horn or a single horn really doesn't matter. Smiths have their preference mine is the double horn but mostly it will depend what you learn on. Teaching old dogs new tricks etc.
As blacksmith tools go the anvil is the place to start. Once you have an anvil you can make many of your tools and ones to fit your anvil.
The forge is really just your heat source. It can be solid fuel such as coal, coke, or charcoal. Or it can be gas fuel such as propane.
A solid fuel forge is easiest to build. It is basically a depression that will hold the coals and a variable air blast that increases the temperature. In its most basic form it is just a depression in the ground with an air tube leading into it. Not very efficient but would work.
Refinements include building out of steel and giving it legs so that it is a comfortable height. A fire pot will help as well to provide depth to the fire. There are many modern versions available and most work fairly well. If you are just starting out make a brake drum forge to save you money. A little bit of welding and you can have an excellent forge from scrap parts.
The gas forge is a bit more complicated to put together but it is essentially an insulated chamber that has a propane burner in the side or top. Getting the right mix of air and propane for the burner to work at optimum is tricky and you should follow plans closely to get this to work for you.
There are comercial units available as well.
The beauty with a solid fuel forge is that you can put any shape of piece of steel into it and you have higher working temperatures. The downside is that it takes up a fair bit of space and is not as convenient as gas.
A propane forge takes up a small space and has good working temperatures but lower than a solid fuel forge. The main draw back is that everything that you have to heat has to fit inside the box. If the chamber is small you can find this very restrictive. I would recommend a combination of gas foge and torches. This has worked well for me.
If you are interested in gas forge plans please click through to my
Gas Forge Plans
page on my main website. There is a lot more information there.
The choice of hammers varies from smith to smith. My personal preference is a cross pein of about 2 lbs although I have and used both heavier and lighter. There are many different styles of hammers and each smith prefers their own type. I suggest to my students to try different hammer styles and choose the one that you are most comfortable with not necessarily the one your teacher uses. My personal preference is the French pattern, but that is what I learned on and is what I find most comfortable.
I also recommend using a new blacksmith hammer and developing your style with it. I find old hammers are a lot like old shoes, they have been worn out by someone else. Look around there are lots of sources on the web for good blacksmithing hammers.
You Can buy tongs but I recomend you make your own. Once you are proficient at making them you can make tongs exactly how you want for your custom job. Much better than having to modify ones that you bought.
Blacksmith Post Vise
The blacksmith vise or leg vise is the traditional second or third hand of the blacksmith. The long leg that reaches down to the floor from one jaw is used to support the vise when the work is being hammerd on. Modern vises will work if you are just twisting but will break if you do any heavy hammering on them.
Post vises (leg vises) are still available from modern suppliers but are quite expensive new. If you can find an used one this is the way to go. On one blacksmithing site a fellow decided to fabricate one instead of paying new prices. His finished piece looked good and would work well and only required cutting and welding to fabricate. Another option if you can't find one in your area.
These are just the fundamental tools to start blacksmithing. The beauty of blacksmithing it that you can make many of your own tools.
For more information on blacksmith tools and techniques please see my main blacksmithing website www.artistblacksmith.com
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