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.

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!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Blacksmithing Trip to Michigan, Part I.

My old friend Rob lives in Michigan and does some blacksmithing along with historic reenacting.  I visited him in January and we did a little blacksmithing in his shop.  He has an old carriage house behind his place that is becoming a nice little hobby blacksmith shop.

Rob forging

Somehow one anvil is never enough!  In Rob’s shop there are both a 150lb Peter Wright from the mid 19th century and a much newer Hay Budden from the late 19th-early 20th century.  Here is the English made Peter Wright. 

Peter Wright

It looks like it had a hard life in an industrial shop.  On the near side the anvil has hundreds of pockmarks, and on the far side it has hundreds of chisel cuts.  I wonder if it was used by a smith to sharpen quarry or Mason’s chisels.  It looks like the smith tested the reforged edge on the side of the anvil.  I found this anvil in an antique shop on the edge of the Adirondacks in a region that did stone cutting for making several canals.  It makes you wonder what they did to wear this anvil so much!

Rob found this Hay Budden in Michigan.  Ironically this brand was made in Brooklyn, NY.  It is probably from around 1900, and has the prominent swelled horn and side clip developed for shoeing and Farrier’s work. 

Hay Budden

All made of steel this anvil sings like a church bell.  It is the loudest anvil I have ever heard.  It has a good rebound and the shoeing work hasn’t worn the face much.  Since Rob isn’t shoeing any horses he will get good use from the smooth face on this anvil.

We tried out some different types of steel and experimented with making some small knifes for reenacting purposes.  Forging heat was provided by a two burner N.C. Forge.  This worked well for our purposes. 


It was often only 10-15 degrees in the shop when we started work.  We heated some round pieces of steel to preheat the anvil.  The only other cold related problem was that the 20lb propane cylinders had to be swapped out about every 2 hours.  They were too cold to keep providing 10psi and started to “freeze up” and drop in pressure.  At home I use 40lb tanks to reduce problems with that in the winter.

Anvil preheat.

We had a lot of fun.  I’ll post more soon on our successes and failures making some knife blanks.