Blacksmithing Shop Tools
Used by Delnero Furniture, Fort Plain, New York
The 50 lb. Little Giant Power HammerThis hammer was manufactured in 1925 by the Little Giant Manufacturing Company. It was originally purchased by The H.B. Smith Foundry Company of Westfield, Massachusetts. It weighs 1800 lbs. and can forge iron up to 3 inches square. It originally sold for $340.00.
Power hammers have been used to help forge metal ever since the smith decided that he needed more capacity to forge a larger mass than he was capable of doing with his own hand. This need generated the idea of using an assistant as a striker, multiple strikers, and then the power hammer.
It doesn't take long to get used to using the power hammer. A job that could take 10 minutes swinging a 4 lb. hammer can be forged in seconds.
The Blacksmith's Treadle HammerThis treadle hammer was built from the plans designed by Clay Spencer of Madison, Alabama. It has a 65 lb. hammer connected by a adjustable link to the treadle. Three large springs suspend the hammer. Its anvil is made of a 36" X 6" X 6" piece of steel. There are hardie holes in both the hammer and the anvil to hold many different kinds of tools. The treadle hammer has many uses to a smith as many operations require three hands.
Almost all blacksmithing is done with iron and steel. None of the other common metals can be forged after heating in the same way. Modern iron is produced from large furnaces which melt iron ore. What first comes from these blast furnaces is called pig iron. Wrought iron is produced by refining and rolling hot pig iron to reduce the carbon and to remove most of the impurities. It is the most tough and malleable form of iron. It also has a greater resistance to corrosion than most other types of iron.
Unfortunately, wrought iron has not been produced since around 1911. It has been replaced by mild steel, which is iron with a small amount of carbon in it. For structural work and general machining, this is a better material. It is not however, as satisfactory for blacksmithing. It forges harder than wrought iron and is much more difficult to fire weld. Because it is possible to reuse the same iron many times, today's smiths might find it worthwhile to collect discarded iron for further use.
The Blacksmith's Leg ViseMost of the blacksmiths' work is done with hand tools. The most commonly used tool is the hammer. There is very little that a smith does that doesn't involve a hammer blow, either directly onto the metal or against a tool over it. Depending on the job the ball peen, cross peen, straight peen and sledge hammers may be used.
Tongs are used when a piece of metal is too hot or short to go from the forge to the anvil. Tongs come in every shape and size imaginable. The smith selects the pair most suited for the job he's doing.
Hardies are tools of different shapes which fit into the hardy hole or square hole in the anvil. The most common hardie is called a cutoff hardie and is wedge shaped. It is used to cut metal by placing a hot piece of iron over it and hitting the metal with a hammer, forcing the hardie through the iron.
Swedges and fullers are matching sets of shaping tools cut in half. The bottom half, the swedge, fits into the hardie hole. The fuller, the top half, has a flat area on top in which a hammer could hit and its bottom half is shaped exactly like the swedge below. By placing a piece of hot iron in between the two and hammering you create the shape desired.
The vise a blacksmith uses is called a leg vise. It is made differently than a modern engineers' vise. It's made of iron to withstand heavy hammering.
Unlike an engineers' vice, the leg vise is designed to protect the screw treads from the blows.
The smith uses the vise for many jobs including bending work at a 90 degree angle, putting in twists, and any time he needs another hand.
The Forge and AnvilBlacksmithing is simply hammering hot iron into a desired shape. A way of heating iron and something to hammer it on is all the basic required equipment needed. Early smiths would heat their iron in a wood fire. They soon learned that wood converted to charcoal produced a better fire. By blasting a flow of air into a fire, they were able to produce a much hotter fire.
A forge is basically a container for the fire with air inlet for an air blast, connected by a pipe to some sort of bellows or blower. My forge, a Buffalo forge, came out of the H.B. Smith Company of Westfield, Mass.. It's base is laid up block and has a solid steel bottom which supports the Buffalo Tyre. It has an electric blower for the blast and also an exhaust fan in the hood. On the right side there is a four foot by one foot water trough for
quenching steel. Attached to the trough is a metal table with a hammer rack. On the left side is a tong rack and a handy leg vise.
Once the smith has heated the iron, he needs a significant support underneath to take the blows. The anvils' solid mass on a good foundation maximizes the smiths effort. A swedge block works the same way, but also offers the smith a variety of contours to help him shape the iron.
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