Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Forge and tool making workshop

I ran a course at the weekend, making a small 2 brick gas forge and tools. I like a brick forge as it is easily set up and is ready to use within a minute of lighting the gas torch. I am no blacksmith but have made my own tools on and off for over 15 years, often using coke or charcoal. The other advantage of using a gas forge is that it can be set up inside, and very little space is needed.

Before students are allowed to use tool steel they have to practise drawing out a square taper from a 6 inch nail and bending it into a spiral. After this exercise the first tool made was a spoon knife with a gentle curve, the edge was ground into the steel using a bench grinder and belt sander. Once ground it was heated and shaped with the necessary heat treatments to harden and temper it. At the end of day 1 everyone had made their own forge and a hook knife with a handle. Day two consisted of sharpening the knives and making a small carving knife.

I will be running this course again next year, but if you want to make a gas forge then I can send refractory bricks through the post. They are not that heavy and very easy to carve out. I use propane torches from a large gas cylinder, but it is possible to use a cheap all-in-one gas torch with throw away cylinders, they are a bit slower to use, but just make the inside of the forge smaller. MAP gas torches are a lot better but the cartridges are a lot more expensive.