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Currently viewing the category: "Blacksmithing"

TM reader Jim sent us a photo of this unidentified tool which he suspects is a “blacksmith’s bullet mold that didn’t turn out. Maybe a bullet mold blank?” My first thought is that he’s probably at least partially right. Its long handles, bent-tapered-rod construction, and hinge design clearly identify it as a blacksmith’s tool.

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Seeing whiteforge‘s picture above in the Toolmonger Flickr pool reminded me of an imaginary game I used to play as a kid. Maybe you played it, too: We’d imagine what would happen if someone picked us up and magically dumped us on another Earth-like planet with nothing but the clothes on our back and our skills. What would we do? (Sure, you might know all about steel, but can you make it?)

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In last week’s all-new Tool Talk, I mentioned that I own a pair of blacksmith-made blacksmith tongs. And here they are. While I admittedly don’t own a forge — I had to sell the one I inherited from my father — I kept these around because they’re just about one of the coolest tools I own.

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As interest in urban and rooftop gardens increases, especially where growing space and access to fresh produce is limited, companies like Trenton Forging in Michigan are stepping in to help. The company developed a system that transports excess heat in the form of water through piping; from there it runs to the rooftop and through narrow metal tubes that heat a rooftop greenhouse. So far they’ve harvested tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and strawberries, and they share the produce among the company employees and visitors.

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Flickr user whiteforge has a great collection of forged and antique tools, as you may remember from previous TM posts. This set of adjustable wrenches he posted caught my eye, since I’ve never seen any quite like them. Oldtools in the UK has some cool-looking twisted handle wrenches that are similar, but not identical.

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Sadly, blacksmiths are few and far between these days. Certainly there’s not a whole hell of a lot of need for a guy with a forge to shoe horses. But the artistry of blacksmithing goes way beyond the practical. I’ve seen lots of cool projects ranging from iron gates to pot hangers to a fully-forge-welded table you wouldn’t believe.

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So you’re not a blacksmith, but do you find yourself beating on metal from time to time in the garage? Do yourself (and your vise, workbench, and everything else in the shop) a favor and buy the right tool for the job: an anvil. It’s shaped perfectly for re-shaping a bracket, making a 90-degree in a piece of bar, or banging a strip of metal into a compound curve.

Personally, I inherited my anvil from my father, or I’d have never thought about buying one. (He was a blacksmith-in-learning and picked up this really nice model from Laurel Machine and Foundry in Mississippi.) Hell, I actually spent a few months beating on my (sturdy) workbench from time to time before I dug his out of storage and brought it to the shop.

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Reader Tmib_Seattle has managed to put together a badass little blacksmithing program for the local Boy Scout troop he labeled “Camp Hahobas 2009” in the Toolmonger photo pool. Whether or not it actually is located in the historic BSA camp grounds doesn’t really matter to us, though it might be since Seattle is only about 30 miles north of Tacoma.

Check out the wicked metal bending these guys have going on and you begin to understand what Tmib is actually doing. These are kids that would probably have no exposure to blacksmithing in their lives, and a day or two spent over a fire gives them a positive, hands-on experience to take away with them.

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Soon all new cars will come with tire pressure monitoring systems, and a lot of vehicles have ’em already. Maintaining another computer and mechanical system will bring another set of challenges to professional and backyard mechanics — four sets of wireless, battery-powered sensors all spinning at highway speeds sounds like problems in the making.  GearWrench’s Tire Pressure Monitoring Kit will help you with these maintenance tasks.

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Ace Hardware is selling this 20lb sledge hammer for $34.55.  While assisting with a bit of blacksmithing last night, I remembered what a handy tool the 20lb sledge hammer is for transmitting force to another object — and how frightening it is when it’s being swung at you.  While it’s not as efficient as a lighter hammer for all-day demolition, when you hit something with a 20lb sledge, it stays hit.

Shipping will likely be high, so you might want to check your local store for this one.

Jackson Sledge Hammer [Ace Hardware]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]