Sunday, January 15, 2012


The forge
 I made mention in other sections about my metalworking background.  This post will showcase some of what I have done.  Above is the forge I built for myself after returning from Japan during the winter of 2009-2010.  That winter was especially cold in Iowa and I remember a few nights when I had to wash out my mortar pan in below 0 windchills.
The design of the forge is based on a forge built in the 1890s in a small town a half-hour drive from my home.  The shop ran from the 1890s until one day in 1940 when the owner closed shop, went home, and passed away.  His family kept the doors closed on the shop and when they donated it to the State Historical Society in 1980, it was still just as Mr. Edel had left it the night he closed it up. 
The Edel shop is to blacksmiths what the Dominy shop is to woodworkers.  It is amazing to tour too for there are a great many things that Mr. Edel built for himself, such as his helve-hammer. 
My forge drew upon elements of Edel's forge, and other features that I like in a forge.  It is a bottom draft with a deep trough framed together from 8x8 oak.  The chimney is brick with a stainless steel flue integrated into it so that I can close it and retain heat when the forge is not in use.  Above the ceiling the brick transitions into 12in double wall stainless steel pipe. 
My air delivery system is a post all to itself that will probably come later so for now I'll just put up some more pictures. 

Some of the tongs I made to outfit my shop
It's hard to find good hammers, so I made myself a straight peen 4lb

Also not impressed with most commerical clinker-breakers, so my dad and I made this
Controls for electric blower -top lever controls restrictor and escape valves to regulate air flow, bottom controls selector valve between electric blower and bellows. 
My shop is fairly well outfitted, I also have a propane forge and various other tools.  But I have to say the one thing I used to have but now miss desperately is interns.  You can have all of the swages, dies, and mechanical aids in the world, but nothing is as helpful as an intern trained to be a striker.  When I ran the museum shop I had help most days and in those conditions you realize that your work is much easier and accurate with a second pair of hands.