Welcome to the Kellogg & Sons Blacksmith Shop

Our traditional Blacksmith shop located in Northern New York. We do custom Blacksmithing work focused upon traditional 18th and 19th century hardware and tools.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Valley of Fire!

On Vacation I visited Nevada. One drive took us through the Valley of Fire! The State park has remarkable desert scenery. Stark red cliffs. Torturous canyons. Shattered mountainsides.

I particularly like seeing the ancient Petroglyphs. Amazing.  These were create over centuries on the side of a cliff.  The designs were carved into the dark oxidized rock.

There is a hunter with an Atl-Atl hunting Mountain Goats in the top of the picture below.

Only a mile away were the remains of petrified trees.  These trees were part of a forest that was here far before the Egyptians built the Pyramids.  Covered by mud for thousands of years the wood was replaced by iron rich minerals and became rock.

The red cliffs were once sand dune up to 2,000 feet deep. They turned to sandstone and were covered by a sea. Then iron rich minerals stained them red. That is my Blacksmithing content- Iron rich sand.  Iron has stained the rocks red.  The hills are full of sweeping curves and holes.  This is a natural sandstone arch.

Bec and I were out there for our 20th anniversary.

A good trip into desert.  It sure doesn't look much like the Adirondacks!

Monday, December 19, 2011

New Blacksmith Shop building here!

My prefabricated, Amish made shed is now on site.  Now I can start making it into a small Blacksmith shop at my home.  The larger shop is windy and unheated.  That doesn't work too well in North Country winters.  It is hard to work in the shop when it gets below 20 F.

Delivery truck pic.

The building was purchased from North Country Storage Barns.  They were pretty good to work with and allow you to customize the building.  Size, number of windows, roofing material, and stain color are some of the choices.  Technically my building is a Horse Run-in Shed.  I think it will make a good little shop for hand work projects.

It came on a hydraulically adjustable trailer.  Pretty neat!  I have trailer envy, go figure!  The trailer can adjust itself for tilt, camber, extend and retract, and tilt. My favorite feature is that it can drive itself straight sideways!  The deliverer was able to back it in, set it down on an angle, and swing it into position 90 degrees from how it was on the trailer.  The trailer is all controlled by a wireless remote control.  Putting the building in place didn't take 5 minutes.

Now I need to make barn doors.  And hinges.  And a traditional latch.  And shelves.  And... well you get the picture.  Lots to do.  My driveway overlooks the Black river just before it meets Lake Ontario.  I'll always have a pleasant view.  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Strange Lichen pattern on rocks!

I was walking in the woods with some Blacksmith friends when we saw this rock.  It was in a small wet spot on the trail with some flowing water.

I think there are two kinds of Lichen on the rock.  One is mottled brown, and the other makes the interesting white and black pattern!  I think the white and black must kill off or displace the other at it expands.  It is both startling and pretty to find in the woods.  At first I thought someone had made very intricate artwork on the rocks.

Getting Ready for more Blacksmithing!

After a long pause I plan to post more regularly.  There are a lot of thing afoot at the Kellogg & Sons Blacksmith Shop.  Namely a new shop building.  A nice little 10 x 18 shop will be at the end of my driveway soon.  That will let me do more work at home instead of driving to my larger and less weatherproof shop.

The new shop required a load of gravel to make a base.  The site overlooks the Black River just before it enters Lake Ontario.  I'll have a good view, that is for sure.

The man that moved the gravel for me was quick and accurate with his skid-steer loader!  I've rented them before to do similar jobs, but he did the job for less money and in a fraction of the time.  Sometimes it is smart to not do it yourself!

I'll have some work to do on the shop.  New doors, add a woodstove chimney, and make some shelves.  Then to start moving the tools.  I have accumulated more than enough to use in my old shop and the smaller new one.  I'll just have to start moving heavy stuff, like anvils and hammers.  Now which of my friends have Pickup trucks?  Hmmm!

I'm looking forward to setting up the new shop, making new tools, and getting some product lines out for sale.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Quad State Roundup Blacksmithing Conference 2011

As usual Quad State was a fantastic get together for Blacksmiths.  It is the last weekend in September each year in lovely Troy, Ohio.  Good demonstrators, good facilities, and great camaraderie!

Four of us went down from the Cooperstown area to the event.  It was a good road trip, in part because I got a new Toyota RAV4 two weeks earlier.  The trip sure broke that in and got rid of the new car smell!  Once there we went to most of the demos, and picked up lots of ideas and new techniques.  We saw some great ironwork being made.

We saw a lot on neat old tools.  This bridge anvil is more ornate than was usual for an industrial tool.

There were several smiths that brought their own portable demonstration rigs.  This one was very compact, and had a neat linkage that turned the rotary bellows by pulling a handle like a bellows!

We ate well.  Even if it was possum stew.

Of course we bought lots of tools!  Hammers old and new, files, books, chisels, bottom tools, and flatters!  The little truck had a full load coming back!

My thanks to the guys that went with me.  We had a great time.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Blacksmith's Day Book: Elihu Allen's work April 3rd & 4th, 1837

 Elihu Allen's Day Book 1837

As both a Historian and a Blacksmith it is rewarding to find ways to better understand the daily life of people in our past.  Most historical information is general and third person news like history books or second person accounts in Newspapers.  That makes it even more rewarding to find sources like Elihu Allen’s Day Book. 

This is the account book of the work done in his Blacksmith Shop in the hamlet of Ellisburg, NY between 1836 and 1845.  Ellisburg was and is a little crossroads town in a farming region.  Geographically it is located on the Great Lakes Plain on fertile farmland between the Tug Hill Plateau and Lake Ontario.  The town was settled around 1800 and some of its founders were still alive at the time Elihu Allen was working.  Many of the farms were now in their second or possibly third generation.

The work in a Blacksmith shop often reflects the time of the year.  Here we see the work being done in early April by Blacksmith Allen.

April 3rd, 1837

Erastus Potter                                      Dr             ||            |
to 4 wedges                                              ||            |  44
Oren Earl                                             Dr             ||            |
            To shoeing                                               ||            |  31
Joseph Allen jr.                                    Dr             ||            | 
            To shoeing                                               ||            |  13
Chancey Predway                                 Cr            ||            |
            To 49 1/2lbs nales rods                             ||         4 |  45
James Hughs                                        Dr            ||            |
            To shoeing                                               ||            |  13                            
Hiram Talor                                        Dr               ||            |
            To shoeing                                               ||            |  13
Cornelius M Tabor                               Dr              ||            |
            To 1 1/2 chisel                                         ||            |  88

April 4, 1837

Elisha Smith                                        Dr            ||            |
            To 2 bolts                                               ||            |  25
            To 1 nut and 2 washers                            ||            |  09
Orvel Brown                                        Dr             ||            | 
            To hardening axe                                     ||            |  13

We see the shoeing of horses, the making of a woodworking chisel, making nuts and bolts to mend something, and the hardening of an axe.  Why does an axe need hardening?  Because you have used it so much you have worn away all of the hardened steel! 

Another interesting sale was almost 50 pounds of nail making iron to Mr. Predway.  Farmers sometimes bought nail iron to make their own nails!  Fifty pounds of nail rod will make thousands of nails!  These projects show the farmers and townspeople repairing tools, mending what was worn or broken, and preparing for new construction.

I plan to share more interesting excerpts from Elihu Allen’s Day Book.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shipwreck Iron!

February in the North Country has been snowy and brutally cold.  The worst so far was minus 27 degrees F.  So on vacation we went somewhere warmer.  Which could have been almost anywhere, but we went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  I love the off-tourist season there, as it was quiet and very beautiful. 

The boys and I were delighted to find the remains of a wooden ship buried in the sand only a few hundred feet from the place we were staying!  There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of shipwrecks off the island.  In fact we weren’t far from a lighthouse built to prevent them.  But this skeleton on the beach wasn’t marked.

 I don’t know how old it was or how big.  The keel and ribs I could see suggested it may have had a beam around 16-20 feet.  The stem and sternpost were long gone, but what remained was around 30 feet long.  It could have been much larger, but I couldn’t hazard a guess as to the final size. 

The timbers were heavily weathered, but were very substantial.  Most interesting to me were the wrought iron spikes  and pins in the remains.  True wrought iron has been out of use since WWII and was declining in ship building from 1900 onward.  So this vessel could be anything from a 70 year old fishing boat to something older and larger.

Wrought iron is made of iron with layers of silica impurities in the metal.  This imparts both greater ductility and slows rusting.  The silica acts as a barrier to continued rusting.  The longitudinal fibers give the iron a look like wood grain.

Up here in the North Country our wrought iron remains and scrap are usually found as old wagon tires and rotten farm equipment.  It was interesting to see wrought iron and old timbers surviving as part of our Maritime history.  It was fun to sit on the beach in the sun and make up stories about the ship and where it may have gone to sea.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blacksmiths' method to Harden and Temper a Spring.

On vacation lately I've gotten to work with some other Blacksmiths.  One of them is Eric Schatzel, a smith of no small skill at traditional work.  One recent project he did was to harden and temper a spring using traditional Blacksmithing methods of heating in the forge and oil quenching.

This is an existing spring that was tempered too soft.  First it was carefully heated to non-magnetic in the coal fire and then quenched in oil.  That is vegetable oil.

Then it was degreased and carefully heated to draw a "Robin's egg blue" spring temper.  I've also heard a Southern smith call this "Possum ear blue"!  In any case it is probably around 630 degrees to impart a good spring temper.

Next a spring vice is used to re-install it.

The spring is now in place.  Light oil is added everywhere it touches other steel to prevent it from binding on a burr.  By the time the oil evaporates it will have worn in.

There it is!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Forge Welding, Power Hammers, and Making Tongs: The February 2011 meeting of the NYSDB – Adirondack Chapter.

Bob Cunningham hosted a great meeting for the Adirondack Chapter of the New York State Designer Blacksmiths. 

His large new shop was well organized and very comfortable. The theme for the day was making a leaf veining die, but many projects were accomplished.  Several of us did make the parts to assemble a veining die.

Leaf veining die.

We heated and forged the W-1 tool steel die blanks using the gas forge. They were forged both by hand and with the power hammer.

Josh forging

We had several new smiths at work.  They made a long handle flux spoon that required a forge weld.  That was done in the coal forge.  They did a great job and worked hard.

Young Smiths forging

After lunch we had a tong making contest.  I was on the team to forge a pair of flat jaw tongs by hand from 5/8 mild steel bar.  The other team used a power hammer. The goal was to see who could make the best tongs the fastest.  The winner would be the tongs that was finished and could pick up the other pair first. 

Marty Snye and John Brunelle forge a pair using the Big Blu.

Eric Schatzel and I forged them out on the anvil.

The Power Hammer team finished theirs first.  Since they were done before us we made ours the most handsome! 

It was a fun project, taught everyone something, and inspired some fierce trash talk!  A new member was given both pair of tongs.  Hopefully he will break the “Newbie tool gift curse”!  No first time visitor to the club that has been given a tool has come back to a second meeting!  I am confident Joshua will break the trend, because I know where he lives!  All in all it was a great Hammer-In at the NYSDB-ADK meeting.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

February Snow Day: Lake effect snow and building igloos!

No forging in the shop today.  I’m cleaning, putting away tools, and planning future projects today due to the weather.  My boy’s are getting out of school early due to snow.  It really isn’t bad yet, but we are supposed to get about a foot this afternoon and another foot tomorrow.

The boys have been working on building an igloo.  They build a good one each year.  Digging it out is a lot harder than piling the snow up.  It helps that we have 3 feet of snow on the ground!  If you look very carefully you can see that a boy is inside kicking show out to the waiting shoveler!  The Igloo is getting pretty big!

P.S.  Here is a picture from the day after the storm.  Lake Effect is hitting 40 miles to the South, and while we have sun today all of the schools near Oswego, NY are closed today.  When "Lake Effect" snow is hitting somewhere else it looks like this:
2:30 pm.

Two hours later when Lake Effect is hitting us and we are getting 3 inches per hour:
4:00 pm.

That is the way it goes in the North Country.  We may get yards of snow and subzero temperatures, but at least we don't get hurricanes or tornados. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Blacksmithing trip to Michigan, Part II: Bladesmithing.

When visiting my friend Rob in Michigan we did a little Bladesmithing.  The goal was to make a couple of blade blanks for historic reenacting.  We were using his gas forge and anvils set up in his shop, a former carriage house.

For this project I bought some O-1 tools steel from Speedy Metals Online.  It was my first order from the company.  The 3 foot lengths of O-1 steel were rust free, cut to length, and arrived at my house in NY only 3 days after ordering. 

Steel shipping tube

They shipped by UPS in a cardboard mailing tube.  When ordering any steel online shop around, as prices for different alloys vary greatly.  When I was comparing prices I found Speedymetals to be a little high on W-1 and very economical on O-1 and some h-13 I needed for tool making.  I had intended to order W-1 but bought O-1 instead.  The service and shipping speed was great.  Steel is a traded commodity so always compare prices.  They can change often.

Forging out a Sgian Dubh and a Skinner style blade was a lot of fun.  I ended up teaching an unintended lesson about the importance of normalizing and annealing when using high carbon steel.  Normalizing is the process of slowly cooling the steel from non-magnetic heat to cool in still air.  Annealing is the slowest possible cooling from non-magnetic in an insulating medium like Vermiculite or wood ashes.  Both refine the size of the internal grain in the steel and soften it.  Since these blades were to be hand filed that is important.

Rob's blade

It was about 15 degrees F. inside the shop when we started work.  I should have remembered that tools can serve as a heat sink and cause hardening.  The spike tang of my blade broke in the vice while filing.  It had hardened in one spot from the chilling effect of the cold tongs I used to hold it.

 Broken Blade Tang

I should have learned from that.  After re-forging the blade and making a new tang I attempted to normalize it again on a hot brick.  If I had checked with a file I would have found the thin tang had air-hardened again in the 15 degree F. shop.  I called it a day after snapping off the tang a second time!  Next time I’ll follow my own advice and anneal in ash or normalize by leaving the blade in the hot gas forge and then shut off the forge to slowly cool.  The cold air and tools in the shop were preventing my usual normalizing method from working.  Live and learn!

I’m looking forward to doing the project again.  Next time I’ll anneal before filing!