Basics for Blacksmithing (Hammering and Drawing)
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Blacksmithing or Smithing is the art of creating or repairing things that are made of Wrought Iron or Steel, however other metals can be used in the process. This process normally involves tools such as a Forge, Anvil, Vices, Tongs, Various Hammers, and other tools.
While many people work with metal such as farriers, wheelwrights, and armorers, in former times the blacksmith had a general knowledge of how to make and repair many things, from complex weapons and armor to simple things like nails, horseshoes, or lengths of chain.
Blacksmithing requires the heating of metal at high temperatures to make it more malleable. This means that there are safety practices that should be observed whenever you partake in the activity. Follow these safety guidelines to ensure the best practices are met when Blacksmithing...
Always Wear Safety Glasses
Hammering hot metal will cause sparks and other debris to fly off the metal. Safety glasses prevent the debris from flying into your eyes.
Always be Focused
Make sure you are paying attention to your work. Always be aware of where your hands are as not paying attention can cause injury. In addition, paying attention can prevent mistakes from occurring in your work.
Use Face Shield When Grinding or Sharpening Your Work
Grinding your metal will result in sparks from your work. A face shield not only protects your eyes, but the entirety of your face.
Always Have a First-Aid Kit in Your Workshop
The most common injuries when blacksmithing are cuts and burns. Having a first-aid kit near by can be curtail in the event of an injury. Always ensure your first-aid kit has the following materials...
- Various sizes of plasters
- Sterile gauze dressings
- Various bandages
- Dafety pins
- Disposable sterile gloves
- Sticky tape
- Skin rash cream
- Clean distilled water.
Always have a Fire Extinguisher and Bucket of Water Near the Forge
There is always a potential for danger whenever you work with fire, and a forge is no exception to this rule. Having a fire extinguisher, or a bucket of water, nearby can help prevent a fire from spreading to the rest of your workshop.
Often times a fire extinguisher is the safer option, but a bucket of water will be sufficient as long as you are not using electricity. While their are many kind of fire extinguishers, a dry chemical or carbon dioxide extinguisher should be used.
Wear Ear Protection
Noises in your workshop can exceed 85 decibels, which has the potential cause damage to your ears. Use ear plugs, or earmuffs when working.
Make sure that the head of the hammer is appropriately attached
The head of the hammer is the heaviest part of a hammer. An improperly attached hammer head can fly off and hurt you, or someone else in your workshop. The heavier the head is, the more dangerous it is.
Never leave your metal laying around
In addition to keeping your workshop clean, this rule can help to prevent you from accidentally grabbing hot metal. Just because your metal isn't red, it does not mean that the metal isn't hot. Never grab hot metal even if you are wearing gloves, as you can still burn yourself.
Keeping your hot working pieces in a specific area of your workshop can help you from accidentally grabbing hot metal.
Know when you should and should not wear gloves
In a similar way that not all tools are suited for the job, there are instances where you should and should not wear gloves. Gloves should be used when hammering, but you should only wear a glove on the hand that holds your stock and not on the one that holds the hammer, as this reduces grip on the hammer.
The only time you should NEVER wear gloves is when working with machines like drill presses or lathes, due to the risk of getting the gloves snagged on the machines.
Always Wear Cotton Clothing
Cotton is resistant to fire, and is naturally breathable. Cotton gloves also lack the synthetic fibers that are likely to catch fire and melt. While they're a bit expensive, it is definitely worth the investment.
Learn Proper Hammering Technique
Learning the proper techniques for hammering not only makes you better at blacksmithing, but can also prevent damages to your hammer, and prevents injury. Improper hammering can result in injuries to your wrist, elbows, and shoulder joints.
Do not Ever Forge Galvanized Steel
Galvanized Steel releases toxic gasses when it is heated, which can result in fatal injury. It should never be anywhere near your workshop, let alone your forge.
You can identify galvanized steel by looking at its surface pattern, which usually has a spangle pattern which is created by the zinc used on the metal. The zinc is used as a protective coating to prevent corrosion, but will release toxic gasses when burned.
Always Have a proper Ventilation
Always make sure that your workshop has proper ventilation when working. Coal forges, toxic gases are released, including sulfur gasses which can effect your health negatively if chronically inhaled. Gas forges can also release carbon monoxide, which is completely orderless.
Make sure your shop has a chimney if you are using a coal forge, and has a carbon monoxide detector if you are using a gas forge. Your workshop should have at least 2 open windows to ensure proper ventilation.
Keep Your Workshop Clean
Keeping proper organization in your workshop can make working much easier. Make sure your tools have their own space, and make sure that tool is returned to its proper space so you can find it when you need it.
It is recommended that you place your tools on one side of the workshop, and keep your anvil in the middle to create a better working space. In most cases, try to keep your anvil wishing 4 - 6 feet from your forge. For longer projects, you can increase this distance.
Ask for Advice If Not Sure
The greatest piece of advice that can be given from this wiki, is to never be ashamed to ask for help or advice. If you find that you are having trouble accomplishing something when working, you can always reach out to experts through the internet. Internet forums also exist where newcomers to the hobby can seek advice from others. If you are having issues with anything that you are trying to accomplish, then reach out!
Forging and Hammering
Two of the most essential processes of blacksmithing. Forging metal is the process of heating metal in a forge to hammering and bending it into the desired shape. Often the forging temperatures and hammering process will depend on the type of material that is being worked with, and the item you intend to make
Drawing is a process in blacksmithing, where the smith will make the metal longer and thinner. This process often uses a set of tongs to hold the metal down and hammer both sides to extend the length.
In contrast to drawing, upsetting is the process of making your metal thicker, shorter, and narrower. This will require a bit more practice and skill than most blacksmithing techniques, as it is difficult to control. Often smiths will heat a specific part of the metal in the force, rather than heating the entire piece in the forge.
The process of bending, or curving, a heated piece of metal by hammering it over the horn of the anvil until it has the desired curve. Smiths often strategically heat sections of their metal in their forge before bending it. This same process can be used to unbend their metals by reheating their metal and reversing the steps.
The process of making holes in hot metal. This is done by softly hammering a punching tool into the spot you intend to make your hole. This needs to be done carefully as hammering too hard can damage your anvil's surface.