NJBA Report on the Demo-Projects Workshop May 2006

Report by Bruce Freeman

On May 20, a number of us met at the shop of Marshall Bienstock to teach and/or to learn simple forging projects suitable for demonstrating to the public. I aimed to arrive early, but got a call from Marshall when I was about 5 minutes away that he had people there and didn't know what to put them to. It was gratifying to see the enthusiasm, and thanks to John, we soon had adequate coal and two coal fires. Meanwhile, Bill kindly chopped down some stock for my demonstration.

I had been scrambling for a few weeks to come up with a suitable project. My favorite projects involve tap and die work - too much tooling for a public demo - or forge welding - which I had specifically disallowed because it's too hard to do reliable in the daylight. With a week to go I'd hit upon making three C-scrolls and collaring them together to make a simple trivet.

The trivet. (Okay, it's not the world's best trivet or the worlds best demo, but it's not bad.)
Marking the scroll stock with a soapstone stick
Tapering the width of the scroll stock.
Forming the scroll on the scroll jig.
The half-finished C-scroll on the scroll jig.
Tapering the second end of the scroll. Another classic blacksmith shot.

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Starting the second scroll over the edge of the anvil. A close-up.
The completed C-scroll.
Hot-forming the collar on the mandrel. Note the chalklines on the anvil for measuring the collar length.
The collar on the mandrel, ready for the final legs to be hammered down.
Closing the collar.
The finished collar.
Fitting two C-scrolls in a collar.
Using a channel-locks to close the collar.

After getting the process more-or-less mastered, partly by consulting the "COSIRA" book, Wrought Ironwork, Rural Development Commimssion, Salisbury, c. 1953, ISBN 0854070-07-9 (available free on the Internet) and other references, I wrote up a one-page sheet of instructions. I also provide copies of some printed references so the attendees would have other opinions to go by besides mine.

Unfortunately, my demo dragged a bit, partly because I was using different sized stock than I'd practiced with. Nonetheless, I was able to demonstrate the basic processes, making C-scrolls and collaring them together, and that was well received by the attendees.

Jeff Morelli then took over, doing a demo of making a Rendezvous style fire-making kit: Flint and steel, charcloth and linen fiber kindling.

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Jeff demonstrating striker.
(He didn't actually knap the flint or ret the linen for us, but he did demonstrate making charcloth.) Jeff gets two steels from one small (maybe 1/2" x 1/8") American-made file. (Some cheap imports aren't the right quality steel.)
After finishing the form, he got it red hot and quenched only the outer edge - the striking surface - in the slack tub.
After cooling the steel on the anvil, he demonstrated fire starting. Dry charcloth is the key, as this catches the spark and soon glows red in that spot. He then put this into a fluffed mass of linen fiber and blew to start the fiber burning. That flame would have been quite sufficient to start small wood kindling.
David Macauley demonstrated making a napkin ring starting with a railroad spike - which he now has in abundant supply, working as a blacksmith in the Pine Creek Railroad shop.
He started by drawing out the spike head to match the rest of the spike, leaving him with about 8" of roughly 3/4" square bar. He put a short, square point on the end. He then used a 1/2" spring fuller to isolate this mass from the rest of the bar, and drew out the bar behind the end mass.
At this point he returned to the end mass and drew it out flat as a leaf shape.

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Before he was done he used the hammer pein and a swage block to put "veins" and waviness into the leaf. The other end he drew out to ~1/4" dia and about 4" long. After pointing and curling the end, he bent this into an open ring.
After the lunch break, Bill Futer demonstrated a couple projects. First he made a leaf key ring, with the usual procedure for the leaf,
by giving the leaf shape by hammering against a wooden log .
He also demonstrated making a heart hook.
and a square-knot hook

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Marshall finished up with a demo of a flesh fork.
Slitting and Spreading
Drawing out bar and bending to draw out tines.
Shaping the handle and starting the loop.
Finished loop and finished fork
Examples of finished items