Hooks, Hold downs, and a quiet anvil
I've been dabbling in blacksmithing for years now. However I found that as a hobby it really didn't mix well with babies. Your only free time comes when they are asleep and the last thing to do is go make a ton of noise beating pieces of metal together. Then once they are toddlers they are not super trustworthy about not picking up a piece of hot metal or putting a hand into the forge...
Since my forge and anvil are in the back yard this has been my reality for the last 7+ years. Sneaking in a few hours at the forge here and there.
Not to say I have done nothing in the last 7 years. My wife bought me a used anvil, that was at the time unidentified, for $100 as an anniversary gift, replacing my railroad track post anvil. Turns out after a bit of cleaning it is a Peter Wright with weight markings 2 1 2 (meaning it is 254 lbs according to the anvil weight calulator on anvilfire.com) not a bad score for $100!
It had quite a loud ring when I first mounted it to my wood block however after a few 4 inch lag bolts and some metal bar strapping it down it makes more of a thud than a ring. Black Bear Forge (who I've linked below) has an entire video on options to quiet a loud anvil that I used as a starting place for ideas.
I also bought a wood fired forge off of Amazon. To replace my homemade forge made out of a hibachi tabletop bbq, some clay and a bunch of steel pipe.
Yesterday I was out in the yard putting the garden to sleep for the winter. As I was putting everything away in my shed I found I was hunting for places to hang hoses and rope and well everything. I needed some hooks.
5 mins later with an excuse firmly in hand I was lighting my forge to make some custom hooks to fit in the rafters of the shed.
Hooks are pretty easy to make a little heat an a couple of bends and you are good. I needed to make some odd shapes to fit the ends of the hooks over rafters and into gaps in the wall. It's a tin shed with corrugated walls so plenty of places to hang a hook if its the right shape.
I also decided I finally needed to stop fussing with trying to hold material alone and make a hold fast. I had some round stock that is about 1/32 smaller than the pritchel hole on my anvil which is perfect. A hold fast needs to be smaller than the hole it will be used in but not too much smaller. Making a hold fast is pretty easy and I really should have done it a LONG time ago.
- First I used my hot cut to take a 1 1/2 ft section off the end of my stock.
- Flattened one end down till it was maybe 3/16 thick
- Tossed it back in the forge and got a good amount of heat about 7 inches back from the flat end
- Stick the flat end down through the hardy hole and put the bent in the bar past 90 degrees
- Let the bent part cool a bit in the air or the next step will just flatten your bend
- Heat the flat end back up and place the straight end into the pritchel
- Hit the top of the bend to flatten the foot of the hold fast down till it's flat on the anvil.
- Thats it! Just let it air cool and you have a hold fast.
- I chose to give the end that goes into the pritchel a bit of a taper to make it easier to get into the hole but that is optional and you can always do it later if you choose.
Here's a great video of how to do the entire process from Black Bear Forge. He's got some really great tutorials on just about everything to do with blacksmithing and is definitely worth hitting the subscribe button if you are learning how to smith.
Pretty simple projects, but functional, and it feels great to get the hammer swinging again now that the kids are old enough that I can spend an hour or 2 just doing something for myself and not worry about them too much.
More to come.
-The Stay At Home Dad