Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tool Making: Forging a Tobacco Spear

At the Peleg Field Blacksmith shop we get to make or repair a lot of tools. This year the Lippitt farm experimented with Tobacco, a crop once common from Conneticut through New York and the Genesee reigion.

What is a tobacco Spear? It is a removable point put on a sawn piece of lathe. It allows you to harvest the tobacco by drying it on a stick hanging from the rafters. The point is threaded through the heavy stalk the and plants are hung to dry on the lathe.

How was it made? The hollow socket is made by cutting 16 gauge sheet metal to match our template. It is folded hot into a flattened cone-shaped tube. The edges overlap and will be forge welded.

Forge welding a hollow object presents some difficulties. How can you hit it to weld without crushing it? We made a mandrel that fits inside the socket and holds it while welding. That worked fairly well.
Socket and point parts.

The socket is fluxed and forge welded. Then the point, which is forged from solid bar, is inserted into the socket and that is forge welded into place.
Welding the point

The finished Tobacco Spear was sent down to the farm and was used in our harvest.


  1. I wonder why a sharpened stick wouldn't work. Are tobacco stalks that tough?

  2. Yes tobacco stalks are tough, I had some small plants but the core of the stalk seemed like wood. However I just took a knife and cut a notch in the stalk, slanting upward (towards the base) then you could hang the plant on a line. The weight of the plant keeps the line wedged into the notch, works really well.

  3. The oldest spears I have seen were just the cone shaped part forged together. The top of the cone was filed to a point.
    Sawn lathes became popular in the 1940s. Prior to that a log would be split into sticks, or trees less that one inch would be used.


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