Seymour Indiana Student Project

Seymour Indiana - Blacksmith Classes - Brown County Forge

Jeremy from Seymour, Indiana Forges a Fire Poker

Seymour Indiana is just under an hour from Brown County Forge.

Jeremy made the trip west for the 10 AM Beginners Class at the shop to forge his own fire poker.

In the 2-3 hour Beginners Class, students have the option to make one of three items:

  • A traditional “J” hook.
  • A bartop bottle opener.
  • A fire poker with a twist in the handle.

Beginner Blacksmithing Classes - Indiana - Brown County Forge

The decision about what to make usually comes down to what they would find useful.

The goal of every project and product that comes out of the shop is that it look good and be useful.

Jeremy opted for the fire poker so he could use it when he goes camping with his family.

Hammering It Out

Seymour Indiana - Blacksmith Classes - Brown County Forge

To forge the fire poker, we need to get the steel very hot: over 1500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The glowing yellow-orange you see in the photo is the steel’s color straight out of the forge.

Now we have about 15 seconds to hammer on it before it gets too cold again.

We do 30-40 heats per project in the Beginners Class.

The Blacksmith Equipment We Use

Having the right equipment definitely makes it easier to blacksmith.

Jeremy used one of our 70 pound NC Tool Company anvils as his work surface.

Some benefits of this lighter anvil:

  • You can work steel up to 1 inch thick.
  • It’s easy to move around by yourself.
  • It costs a lot less than larger anvils. (A 70 lb, anvil like this will run you about $280.)

Other tools Jeremy used:

  • A Majestic Knifemaker Economy Forge – This is a two-burner forge made by a company based in Ohio.
  • Centaur Forge V-bit Bolt tongs for holding on to the fire poker while he forges it.
  • Vaughan 2.5 pound blacksmith’s hammer. A very solid hammer that has held up for almost a decade of steady use.

Was the Gentleman from Seymour Indiana Successful?

Absolutely!

Jeremy came away with a great fire poker that he forged on his own.

He was proud of what he was able to accomplish with no prior experience.

I think this gift from his wife was a success!

Ax Class Photos

Blade smithing classes - Ax Class - Brown County Forge

On May 11, Brown County Forge hosted its 4th Ax Making Class with guest instructor Benton Frisse of River City Forge & Tool. 

Here are some photos from the day in class. 

Blade smithing classes - Brown County Forge

The class involves hours of heavy hammerwork to create a functional, 1.5-pound camp hatchet out of a billet of 4140 tool steel. 

We use a variety of different hammers ranging from 6-pound sledge hammers at the beginning of the process all the way down to 2-pound ball peen hammers to refine the blade edge before air cooling and grinding.

Blade smithing classes - Brown County Forge 2

The basic process goes like this:

  1. Heat the billet to a bright yellow in the forge. Higher carbon steels require higher temperatures to make them easier to work.
  2. Punch your ax eye through a series of heats (upwards of 20).
  3. Spread the eye with progressively larger ax eye drifts.
  4. Fuller (spread) the area just behind the cheeks that surrounds the eye.
  5. Fuller the bit edge from toe to heel adjusting your blows to create your desired beard shape.
  6. Thin the bit to near its final thickness.
  7. Set aside to cool before grinding. This makes it easier to grind.
  8. Grind the bevel and clean up the eye, cheeks, and butt.
  9. Re-light the forge and gradually heat up the bit to just past magnetic. This is important for hardening (one half of the heat treat process).
  10. Quench the bit with slicing motions through vegetable oil in a tub.
  11. Set aside to cool.
  12. Polish the bit so the “silver” comes back out. This will allow you to see the temper colors come through (tempering is the other half of the heat treat).
  13. Temper by dancing the bit in the fire of the forge, checking frequently.
  14. As soon as “straw” color appears, quench in the oil again.
  15. Set aside to cool.
  16. Grind to finish
  17. Head the ax with oak, ash, or hickory handle. Rasp or grinder work will be necessary to get the right fit.

Blade smithing classes - Brown County Forge 3

This photo shows the original 4140 steel billet sandwiched between two student made, finished axes. Fully hung, heat treated, and sharpened. Ready for work. 

Blade smithing classes - Brown County Forge 4

This in-depth class is offered just a few times per year. The students who gain access to the class have taken at least one, and ideally two, classes at Brown County Forge first. 

The reason for this is so that I can get a feel for hammer skills, hand-eye coordination, ability to follow instructions, and physical/mental stamina. 

If you think you might be a good fit for this class, please take a look at our introductory classes here: browncountyforge.com/classes

Looking forward to working with you!

-Terran the Blacksmith

January Forgings – Rebar Fire Tools, Railroad Spike Knives

Tempering Colors Railroad Spike Knives

We’ve been busy at the Forge this month making S hooks, J hooks, Rebar Fire Tools, and Railroad Spike Knives. The knives pictured above were hand-hammered from old rusty railroad spikes, ground into shape, polished with emory paper, hardened, tempered, and finally sharpened.

You can see photos from the process below.

Hand Forging a Railroad Spike Knife

First, we got the spike up to an even heat. By keeping the heat even throughout the piece of metal, we’re able to control where the metal goes a little better.

You can see videos of the process on Brown County Forge’s YouTube channel.

To hammer thick steel like this, we use a much heavier hammer than we normally would. In this case, we’re using a 4 lb. cross peen instead of the standard 2.5 lb.

Railroad Spike Knife Shaping - Brown County Forge

Once the basic shape of the knife (plus a twist in the handle) is done, there’s a fair amount of grinding work and polishing to give it the final shape. Aaron’s knife has a large sweeping belly and a drop tip.

Tempering Colors Railroad Spike Knives

After the knife is shaped, we bring it back up to a red-hot heat and quench it in oil. This hardens the knife and makes it fairly brittle. The knives are set aside to cool completely before we polish them a second time.

This second polish is done so the shiny metal shows through. This makes it easier to see the color change as we carefully heat it up to temper it. In the picture above you notice a slight wheat color in the blades. This is a good level of temper for a knife blade.

Finished Railroad Spike Knives

And finally we have the finished blades all polished, sharpened, and ready to go.

Next up:

Rebar Fire Tools and Forging with Family

Father and Son Class

Earlier in the month, we had Jerry and Chris out to the forge to learn some of the fundamentals. We made some S hooks that you can see below.

S Hooks Brown County Forge

We also made J hooks and rebar fire tools including a scrolled fire rake and poker. Working with rebar can be a challenge since it’s much denser than the mild steel we use for hooks. It takes a lot of high-heat hammering to get it to move the way you want. Jerry and Chris did a great job and got results.

Rebar Fire Tools Brown County Forge

That’s what we’ve been up to in January so far. If you’re interested in classes we just made more times available. Check out the Classes page.  

Friday Night Forging and New Class Offerings

Brown County Forge Lessons

This past Friday night, we had a Brown County native in the shop learning the fundamentals. Ethan had never swung a hammer at hot metal in his life, but by the end of the three-hour private class he showed a real knack for it.

In the top picture, he’s fine-tuning a scroll at the end of what will eventually be an S hook. The S hook is a great beginning project because it involves a variety of techniques.

BC Forge Hammering

To make a single S hook, you’ll have to taper or draw out the metal, scroll it multiple times, quench it multiple times, and make nice, fluid bends. Since the S hook has two ends, that’s double the practice. Repeating those motions pays off quickly, too. There was a huge improvement from one end of the S hook to the next.

Here’s what Ethan created at the shop:

BC Forge Getting Results

Great Job, Ethan!

Sunday Class Times Now Available

Your interest in the Saturday classes encouraged us to make Sundays available for lessons as well. You can now book the forge either day.

If you’re not ready to do a full class, that’s okay. Come stop by for 2 or 3 hours like Ethan did and create something.

Thanks for stopping by. Let’s get forging!