Farm Blacksmithing

by J.M.Drew St. Paul Publishing Company 1918


In furnishing a shop, the first thing to be considered is the forge. There are good portable forges now on the market which may be had for a reasonable price. To anyone thinking of buying one of these I would say: Don't get one that is too small. One with a fire pan 18x24 inches and a 14-inch fan is small enough. The little bench forges are entirely too small for ordinary work. A cheap forge which will answer every purpose of the ordinary farm shop may be made of wood, simply a box filled with clay. It should be about three feet square and two and one-half feet high. A 36-inch bellows may be had for $5, and a single nest tuyere iron for 35 cents. A tuyere iron which may be cleaned out from the bottom will cost about $2. A very cheap and good tuyere may be made of a piece of two-inch iron pipe extending entirely through the forge. Several mall holes are drilled into the top side of the pipe for the blast, and a plug is fitted into the end opposite the bellows. When the pipe gets clogged with ashes the plug is pulled out, when a strong blast from the bellows will blow everything out.

Blacksmith Hammer Figure 1

The picture on page 4 shows the style of forge in use at the School of Agriculture. It is simply a length of sewer pipe set on end and filled with clay. A hole is drilled through the back side for the horn of the bellows, and an ordinary single nest tuyere iron is used. The bellows is an ordinary old fashioned one, 32 inches wide. The most expensive part of the outfit will be the anvil. It has always been supposed that the best anvils were those imported from England. They cost about 10 cents per pound. Very good American anvils can now be had for about 8 cents per pound. One weighing 80 to 100 pounds is none too large for a farmer's use. Don't make the mistake of getting a cast iron anvil that will not stand hard pounding. The same is true of the vise. Get one that you can pound on without fear of breaking. A wrought iron vise with steel jaws costs from $3.50 to $5, according to weight. A machinist's hammer, shown at Fig. 1, weighing one and one-half pounds, will be found the most convenient size for common use, and a blacksmith's hand hammer weighing two and one-half pounds will be convenient to have at hand for heavier work. Each will cost about 50 cents. For sharpening plows a round-faced hammer should be used. More will be said on this subject in a later chapter. At the start the beginner will need a pair of plain tongs (Fig. 2) and a pair of bolt tongs (Fig. 3).

Blacksmith Tongs Figure 2

The plain tongs may be changed into chain tongs by cutting off the corners and shaping the ends of the jaws as explained on page 41. This does not affect their usefulness as plain tongs, and makes: them serviceable in handling links and rings. A set of stocks and dies for cutting threads on bolts from one-fourth to three-fourths of an inch is almost a necessity. These win cost from $3 to $10, or even more, depending upon kind, quality, and the number of sizes in the set. A good set for ordinary use, cutting three different numbers of thread, and taking bolts or nuts from five-sixteenths to three- fourths of an inch, may be had for $3. A very good upright drill press may be bought for $4.50. The expense so far is about as follows:

Beside tools there will be needed a supply of blacksmith's coal and some iron and steel For general blacksmithing, what is known as "Cumberland" coal is the best fuel It contains but little sulphur, and is easily packed about the fire. It gives a powerful heat, and is so free from earthy matter that but little clinker is left after burning.

Blacksmith Tongs Figure 3

In former years charcoal was used almost entirely by blacksmiths. It has the advantage over other coals that it contains no sulphur, and for this reason is especially desirable for fine steel work. But its cost as compared with mineral coal has nearly driven it out of use. Ordinary stove coal, either hard or soft, cannot be used for blacksmithing. It contains such a large percentage of sulphur and other impurities that iron cannot be welded with it, and steel would be ruined if brought in contact with it while hot. Iron cannot be welded in the presence of sulphur. Great care should therefore be exercised to avoid getting sulphur into the forge. Never allow lead or babbit metal to be melted in the forge without a thorough cleaning out afterward. Iron and steel unite readily with sulphur to produce iron sulphide,-a brown powder which resembles neither iron nor sulphur. When sulphur is present iron at welding heat is slippery, whereas without the sulphur it would be sticky.