Monday, March 15, 2010

Tool Making at The River Forge

Even blacksmiths have some time off.  On mine this winter, I visited friends and helped make some tools.  My friend Marty Snye is proprietor of The River Forge near Ogdensburg, NY.  The Farmers’ Museum shop uses 1840’s tools and technology.  Marty’s shop uses a wide variety of tools.  In some ways it is like jumping forward a century from the 1840’s to the 1940’s.  On this project we were using a combination of hand tools and powered machines.

We worked on making some tools for use with his anvil.  His anvil is an English-made Peter Wright like one we use in the Fields' Shop.  To make the large cut off hardy, it had to be forged from a larger piece of high carbon tool steel.  That would need at least two smiths with sledgehammers in the Fields' Shop. 
Marty, however, has a Little Giant Power Hammer.  Designed in the last years of the 19th century and likely made before the 1920’s, Marty’s mechanical hammer has a 25lb. reciprocating hammer die that hits the iron up to 3 times per second.  While not stronger than 2 men with sledgehammers, the mechanical hammer never gets tired and doesn’t take coffee breaks!

Here Marty is using the Little Giant to draw the solid bar of tool steel out into a wedge-shaped cutting tool.  He has welded a piece of pipe to the tool steel to handle it while hot, and will cut that off later.  When the finished cutting edge is done, it is then welded to a previously made base that is fitted to sit tightly in the hardy hole of the anvil.  The finished tool fits well and is ready to cut some hot iron and steel!  The new hardies are on the left and right, with two older hardies in the middle.  The ones we made are larger than his old ones, and are ready for some work!

1 comment:

  1. It made me smile when I read it : Even blacksmiths have some time off. On mine this winter, I visited friends and helped make some tools. What you're calling a "time-off" still deals with blacksmithing. Passion, just that simple. Even in rest days your still doing hand forged iron for a friend. Just like painters, their past time is still painting with another painter friend.

    I enjoyed viewing your blog, sir. Everything is hand forged, iron hardware and everything useful are done beyond profession but with friendship and passion.

    Continue the metal works! Yeah!


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