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Anvils in America - THE anvil book.

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Anvils in America, THE book about anvils

Swage Tools
Demonstration by James Joyce.
May 29, 2000 (Edited May 23, 2011)

J-J :

Tonight's demo is on what I use in lieu of a swage block. Someday, I hope a real blacksmith designs a swage block for us instead of a foundry, until then, ...there's what many of us do...

J-J :

sw02.jpg (7326 bytes)

J-J :

These cups are 2", 3" and 4" dia. bearing races I got at the secondary scrap yard....

J-J :

I gas cut a plate to fit the bottom, welded it in place, then welded a hardy shank on.

J-J :

I use these and several other sizes for most of the cups and bowls I make. Last month I made 120 5" dia candle cups in less than a day on the 3" cup.

J-J :

The thing to remember is we are using the round perimeter for an anvil base and our hammer on top to form a rounded shape. We don't need a solid bottom, just move it around a bit with the tongs as you hammer the cup.

J-J :

sw05.jpg (9005 bytes)

sw06.jpg (15203 bytes)

J-J :

This is a soup spoon mold or swage, I made using the 2" dia cup swage I showed last, and a rounding hammer struck with a 3# copper hammer, to form the spoon swage.

J-J :

I then took the spoon plate to the post vice and shaped the tip and handle recess with a Dremel tool and small cutoff wheel.

J-J :

Then I welded a hardy shank to the bottom. Works great. Here's another way I make spoons...

J-J :

sw03.jpg (8121 bytes)

J-J :

This is a 6" dia tree limb with 113 growth rings, so it's pretty dense.

J-J :

I drilled the hardy shank for a bolt, and wrapped a 1" x 1/8" mild steel strap around the stump and tightened it up firm. It, of course, rests on the anvil and is very solid.

J-J :

Don't try grinding or burning out any wood for making a spoon. The heat from your working stock will be beaten down into the wood as you hammer it (believe it or not :) ).

J-J :

Eventually, the spoon hole will get burned larger than will be effective for small dinner spoons. That's when you begin using that hole for serving spoons. Switch ends and start over for dinner spoons.

J-J :

Also, it won't hurt to soak the wood block in water for a few hours prior to use, with about an hour of drying out before you use it.

J-J :

For ladles, if I'm in a hurry, I'll take a 4" grinder with a chain saw head from harbor freight and rough in the ladle shape and get to it.

J-J :

For relatively light weight stock, say 16 ga and less, I have a sleeve from an old welding jacket filled with lead shot and sewn closed. I work the steel cold using the bag as a soft anvil.

J-J :

sw07.jpg (7879 bytes)

J-J :

For general bending of an inside diameter shape, I use this tool a lot.

J-J :

It is a section of driver for a crawler tractor, and I place the bar (for instance) over the two bumps, and strike down near the center. I rotate the stock as necessary and it is fast and effective.

J-J :

One full time, long-time smith I know, uses two parallel sections of railroad track welded to a heavy plate to achieve the same effect.

J-J :

sw01.jpg (5032 bytes)

J-J :

Sometimes you need to make a small concave shape and having balls of different sizes welded to hardy shanks is just the ticket.

J-J :

This one is a 2" trailer hitch ball, but cast iron balls are often found in large sizes 5" dia and up, and can be welded to the hardy shank with hi-nickle welding rod. I use these quite often.

J-J :

sw06.jpg (15203 bytes)

sw04.jpg (10863 bytes)

J-J :

Please excuse my photography and thank Guru for a remarkable effort in this pic....

J-J :

The top piece is 1" sq. stock of mild steel, or 4140. I made a series of these in v and half round....

J-J :

I forge these after welding them together. I heat the top yellow hot, drop into the hardy hole and lay a piece of round stock over the bar and drive it in half way.

J-J :

I use 1`/4", 3/8", 1/2" 5/8", 3/4" in the 1" sq. stock, and then go to larger stock for larger sizes.

J-J :

After forging the weld will be shot. Separate the 2 pieces, grind smooth again and reweld.

J-J :

For the v-shape, I make the v's with a 1" sq. stock, with one sharp corner ground flat for a hammering surface. I use an old "beater" hammer of 4# to drive the v into the swage material.

J-J :

These are the primary tools I use on a daily basis in the shop in lieu of a swage block.

J-J :

Questions and comments?

Leah :

J-J, what kind of wood is the tree limb?

Fred :

J-J , Although I've used bearing races myself, I've always been concerned they are tempered to such a hardness that they may be brittle and shatter without annealing them/ input all?

Jim-C :

Would you explain again how the first ones (bearing) cups are used?

Barne :

These look easier to move around the shop than the big swage blocks

J-J :

Redwood. A very soft outer wood but very hard tight grain on the heart wood.

Tapley :

Hats off to ingenuity and the desire to share info J-J, thanks.

Tedd-Harris :

Yes, anneal the bearing races first, heat treat again later, if you want.

Jock-D :

Great job JJ. Of course you know someone will be selling these on eBay next week! Fred I would use pipe or pipe couplings from the tubular sections.

Steve-C :

J J could you use some pipe and just for the tool that you made for a crawler parts?

Leah :

great ideas, thanks J-J, I will look at the scrap pile at work a lot closer now

J-J :

Jim, place the bearing cup shank in the hardy. Take a 5" dia cutout of 1/4" stock. Heat it to orange. Hold it over the 3" cup and smack it right in the center with a rounding hammer. Then you'll see the shape start forming fast. Just rotate the stock in a circular pattern and continue taping with the rounding hammer. Takes about 1 1/2 mins. to make a nice cup.

J-J :

Yes, thanks for reminding me! Thick wall pipe sections are great and do not need heat treating. Bearing races must be annealed, then hardened and drawn to a levy blue before beginning the fabrication.

Steve-C :

J J do you put a taper on the bearing races to keep them from gouging the cups

J-J :

Steve, I didn't understand the question about the tractor part.

Jim-C :

Lots of used oil field drill pipe will be close to 4130; can be water quenched OK.

J-J :

Steve, Daryl Nelson once told me "chamfer, chamfer, chamfer!!!!!!!!" I don't even think about it anymore. You will be hard pressed to find a sharp edge in my shop except on cutting tools.

Steve-C :

I thought I could make the it out of pipe instead of using that?

J-J :

Let me add that if you visited 50 shops, you'll probably find 47 different ways of doing what I've shown here tonight. This is how I do cause that's the scrap I had to work with when I needed the tool. Be inventive, and think in terms of the capability of each tool and the extreme limits of the material being works. Henry Ford said that in the 1920's and it was handed to me in 1965 in a steel fab shop by the owner who had worked for Henry.

J-J :

Steve, it would work if the pipe was good and heavy, I guess. give it a shot./

Barne :

Yes JJ I agree . As long as it works..

Steve-C :

I could weld some plate to the sides and make it look the same as that and it would be pretty heavy

J-J :

Guys, another shape I use a lot and have seen in several shops, is a large chain link (3/4" dia to 1 1/2" dia stock) welded to a hardy shank, and used for oblong shapes. Didn't want this to be too long so didn't shoot a pic of it. But think in terms of different shapes.

Barne :

I have some old anchor chain. It would make a nice big bowl..

Tedd-Harris :

Barne: is that old anchor chain made of wrought iron?

J-J :

Barne, Whitesavage and Lyle, artist blacksmith shop in Seattle, uses anchor chain swages daily in making the art work that gets welded to large fences, etc.



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