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Home Forums DIY blacksmithing, tools of the trade

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    A good blacksmith is nothing without his tools
    so to go with the pics im posting links for, im going to describe each tool and its use


    every smith has tongs, all shapes, all sizes, most are handmade to do a specific job
    i have like 20 pair, some for thin steel, some for barstock of varying thicknesses
    some for roundstock, square, even triangular
    mostly i use my hand…i wonder if thats why they have such ungodly callouses?
    the best tongs ive found have the handles welded on, if they break or bow its easy to repair or replace them
    you can even weld on an extension if needed
    ive tried bolting the jaws together, the bolts always come undone, riveting seems to be safest
    the last thing you need is to be holding some glowin iron and have your tongs come apart in your hand
    if your rivet is too tight, heat it up a bit, lay the head over your hardy hole and whack the the other end once or twice
    if they are too loose, do the same but on the face, not over the hole
    a good pair of tongs will be with you forever

    What good is a blacksmith without a hammer? not freakin much!
    there are lots of type of hammers, turning, sledge, claw, ballpeen, straightpeen, crosspeen, forging, drawing, upsetting, nailing
    a hammer isnt just a piece of metal on a wooden handle, its a wonderful tool that lets us do so many things out bare hands cant
    ech type has a purpose:
    Turning hammer is primarily for making shoes (i do most of my work with one tho)
    sledge hammer for movin the iron fast or heavy work
    ballpeen for making hollows or bowls
    straightpeen and crosspeen for drawing metal one direction
    upsetting hammer is heavy with short handle, for driving the metal into itself
    any hammer will work for drawing but a good drawing hammer has a good slightly rounded face and a good weight to it

    what makes a hammer good?
    if it fits your hand and you can holdit from turning on impact
    if you cn hit where you want 100% of your swings
    balance is important, so is the weight
    too heavy head and you cant lift it after a couple hours
    too light and youre workin too hard to do anything
    wooden handles are best, just keep them wet or the head will fly off
    fiberglass gets too hot and bursts into flames
    living wedges melt out
    choose your hammers well


    then there are tools that look like hammers but arent:
    fullers, punches, drifts and flatters
    A fuller may look like a hammer and you can swing it like one and use it as one
    but it is not one
    a fuller looks like a straight or cross peen with the pointed edge rounded off
    some fullers have small rounded edges, some have large
    the flat hammer-like face is for striking with a hammer
    the rounded edge is for drawing your metal in a specific direction
    like making the drawknife, you want to draw the blade out evenly and flat
    if youve ever tried to hammer out a knife edge with a hammer youll know it tends to curve around the back edge
    the fuller will help stop this, their use is much the same as a straight or cross peen
    a regular hammer forces the iron to move in every direction, the fuller in only 2
    so you can force the metal to give in the direction you desire, thus stopping the blade curve
    on most claw hammers, the area right behind the face is smaller, this was originally done with fullers
    there are 2 types, a top fuller, with a wooden wythe or handle
    and a bottom fuller, this looks like a coldcut hardy except it has no cutting edge
    just the rounded face that marches your top hardy
    there are even 2-piece springloaded fullers that mount in your hardy hole, you just set your iron into them and strike with your hammer

    WTF is a swage?…lol
    its a fuller in reverse, a tool that looks like a hammer but has a hollow face
    they are for shaping your metal
    youll find the hollows cut in all sizes and shapes
    round, square, tapered, triangular
    there are top swages with a wythe or handle
    and bottom swages that sit in your hardy hole
    the same as with fullers there are even springloaded pairs
    you can also find swage blocks, these you drive your hot metal into to give it a specific shape and size
    they are also confused with and used as hammers but the flat faces are for striking with a hammer

    more tools

    Everyone knows what a punch is
    now, take that punch and add a perpendicular handle
    shape the punch to make certain shapes and sizes of holes
    taper it smoothly
    now you have a pritchel
    in blacksmithing you dont drill holes
    you punch them out to size and shape with a pritchel
    square, round, star-shaped
    your only limits are your imagination and ability
    to use a pritchel, you have your apprentice or helper set your hot iron on the anvil
    you place you pritchel where you want the hole and strike the hammer face with your hammer
    when youre most of the way thru, line up your hole with the pritchel or hardy hole and strike again
    turn your metal over, set pritchel on the raised place and drive it back thru the hole to finish and clean it up
    walla, you just made a nice clean hole without wasting metal or drilling

    A drift is what you use to enlarge and shape a hole
    those neat handle holes in axes and hammers were punched thru then shaped with drifts
    with the exception of the old axes that were folded over a drift then hammer welded
    you need many sizes of drifts so you can take a small hole to big one
    you place your drift inside then hammer on your iron against the drift while its on your anvil to expand the hole
    when the hole is too big for a drift, get a bigger drift

    A mandril is like a swage or fuller crossed with an anvil
    they can be pretty huge, ive seen a 6 foot tall cone mandril before
    ive also seen small ones that mount in your hardy hole
    a mandril is basically a specialized anvil extension, usually used for making funnels or pans and buckets
    back in the old days the hubs for wagon wheels were hammered out on a mandril
    im working now at talking a local scrap dealer out of his ‘boat anchor’, a very nice 3-headed mandril in great shape
    if i get it ill show you pics, as this type of mandril is damned hard to explain


    as important as hammer and tongs are the queen of the smithy is your anvil
    without it youre just heating iron and hammering for nothing
    there are a whole lot of different versions of an anvil but they all fall into three classes
    Machinists, homemade and Farriers
    we will go over them one at a time

    Machinists anvils are short from nose to butt
    very stout and blocky, heavier in the base and foot area
    with short horns and wider thicker face areas
    some may have 2 or more varying sized hardy holes

    Farriers anvils are long with a graceful taper to the horn and up the back to the butt
    occasionally they have turning cams on the side
    always a hardy and pritchel hole
    once in a while you may find a light portable one that was cast hollow
    or one that has a stake for a foot so it can be driven into stall floor

    homemade anvils tend to be old chunks of scrap iron or ground down chunks of train rail
    ive even seen large rocks used and i cant tell you how many times ive used a tractor drawbar or the hitch of a truck in an emergency

    whatever it takes to do the job, or whatever you can find, use it
    someday you’ll get somethng better, for now you make do
    thats what bein a smith is all about, being able to make something out of damned near nothing



    A neighbor and friend gave PB an anvil made from a railroad rail, PB really cherishes that thing, gets a lot of good out of it…


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