Thursday, March 24, 2011

Making Tools for the Anvil: Bottom Swage

One of the pleasures of blacksmithing is the ability to make new tools as needed. We needed some bottom swages for use in the anvil to complete a current project. We made them as needed. This is just one way to make them, as it suited the tools available in our traditional shop.

Start with a piece of steel with enough mass for the tools.  In this case we used a piece of steel cut from a hammer head.  Square it to the desired size and start the job.

Any tool used in the anvil needs a square stem to hold it in place in the square Hardy hole of the anvil.  We achieved this by fullering the piece down to the desired size using a handled fuller, a striker with a sledge hammer, and the anvil.

Fullering the hardy stem:

Here you can see we have the hardy stem well formed:
Once the hardy stem is done, it is time to shape the working end.  The face of the tool is taken to a forging heat, placed in the hardy hole, and the appropriate sized groove sunk into the face by driving a tool into the hot steel.

Sinking the die impression:

We cleaned up the forged die with a rasp (file) while it was still hot.:

Then we examined the die for problems or areas that need more work:

Here is the finished die and one of the collar pieces it was created to shape:
Some projects require making more tools than others.  Our ongoing weathervane project has led to the making of custom tongs and two sizes of bottom swage tools for the anvil.  Now that we have these tools, it expands the options of tools that can be used for future projects.


  1. I've never done any forging, though I hope to remedy that eventually. Good post!

  2. Steve,

    Appreciate the description on the making of the hardies, how do you quench and temper them? Are they used in one direction only? I would guess that after hammer forging it to the hardie hole, it would kind of form fit in that direction. Is that so?

    Just curious!

    Best regards,
    Albert “Afghanus” Rasch
    The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles™
    The Best Turkey Hunting Tips!

  3. Albert,

    You are right that the hardie fits best in one direction due to the hardie hole being a little irregular. Ours is just loose enough that we can rotate it 90 degrees, but it works best one way.
    This one is medium carbon steel, and was left as forged. It was not hardened. But if it had a cutting edge we would harden it in oil, then temper to dark blue spring temper. For hardie tools we temper them a little soft so they will mushroom rather than break or spall if misused.


  4. Did you ever fire those two pistols you made?

  5. Steve,

    I saw that you do courses in blacksmithing, I would like to take one sometime, my brother has always been interested and made a couple of his own forges, maybe I'll take him along as a birthday present....

    I was also wondering if you could get a message to Farmer Wayne, I managed to find a price for his Corn Sheller from the right time period, $6-$10 at this link which is $102-$170 inflation adjusted by which claims to use CPI numbers, seems a bit low to me.... but you most likely have better resources for determining that.

    Thanks for all you guys do over there to preserve a way of life that will be lost otherwise.

    Kevin Kling

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