Archive for the ‘salvage adventure’ Category

We’ve had some time in the shop between mapping projects lately, and have been burning some coal and propane, forging tools from salvaged metal. I’ve had help/coaching from friends Paul Lackovic, Dave Richer, Anthony Branner, and Brad Hauskens. Here are some of the things that we have made, and the source of the material.


Kitchen knife from Collins Pine Sawmill blade.


Alligator snout, from railroad spike.


Bottom fuller tool (for rounding/shaping hot metal on anvil), from old pickaxe eye.


Bottom fuller tool (for rounding square stock), from farm disc axle.


Cutoff hardy tool – for cutting hot bar stock – from scrap of 1.5″ square bar.


Detail in decorative hook, from railroad spike.


Steel jewelry tray, 2×4″ from industrial scrap. textured using punches, below.



Change basket/small bowl, from industrial scrap, textured with punches, below.



Decorative/texturing punches, made with carbon steel recycled from tools including pickaxe blade, old rock drill bit, and old cold chisel.



I went to see my friend Lewis and dig through his scrap piles over the weekend. Here is one of the meanest looking pair of snips I have ever seen.


‘Flatter’ hammer used for flattening hot metal. Made from old sledgehammer and part of an old splitting maul.


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Decorative twists in a handles made from railroad spikes.


‘Cross Pien’ sledgehammer made from 10 lb. splitting maul.

Even though steel prices are high and lots of old stuff is getting melted down to make new, poorly-made Chinese crap, there is a lot of good, high-quality tool steel around, and we are looking for ways to recycle it into tools and art.

I have been lucky to spend some time in some great metalworking shops this year, and have learned a lot from the generous people in these photos.


A jig for clamping hot metal in a post vise at an angle so you can work it hands-free – @Earthen Iron


David searching for a part in his van-based storage system


A kitchen knife we made from part of an old sawmill blade with a baseball-bat ash handle

Somewhere in South Chico

Consignment auction in Chico

Old iron in Portland

Dave Richer and Anthony at Earthen Iron bending up a custom stair railing for a hair salon.
I like the scaled-out template on the concrete floor

Their finished product

Forging night at Earthen Iron

Dave and Brent Bailey at the coal forge

Metalworkers social

Heavy sculpture in progress at Earthen Iron

Some basic tools

Preparing an exhaust hood for our forging area from reclaimed nut-drying ductwork

Starting point of a coal forge blower rebuild, c. 1901.

Champion Forge Blower guts, just needed some oil, cleaning, and $5 worth of loose 1/4″ bearings.

Champion Forge Blower frame and tuyere, it needed new legs

A new burner for the forge, some sort of old hub.

Nena Creasy, Klamath River metal sculptress

A collage

There’s a heart in there

Hand forged hooks in Nena and Max’s kitchen

The beginnings of a firepan for the coal forge, an International Truck wheel and hub.

Firepan, step 2. a custom base plate to fit it on the tuyere of the original blower.

Anthony texturing straps for gate hinges on the power hammer

Oak chair parts > forging hammer handle

Rake becomes pound-in key hooks

Richer’s gas forge

Rake becomes key hook or cellphone shelf

Anthony laying out a railing

Firepan, step 3

The refurbished forge, complete

Forge, in action

First tool out of the new coal forge

Hatchet made from old hammer head

J. and David Irle, South Chico, with 58 years of accumulated materials

Anthony and Dave at the forge. There has been a blacksmiths shop on this property since the late 1800s.

Anthony practicing his decorative twists on an old railroad spike

Looks about right

Improvised anvils were getting old

Broken anvil found in a junkyard and purchased by the pound. Made in England in the 1800s.

The broken top cleaned up well, and without the missing tail, it still weighs 200#

Got a 24″ Valley Oak stump from an arborist friend to put it on, together they weigh about 500#

Decorative twists in railroad spikes

Drawknives made from car leaf springs

Handles from an old axe handle, ferrules from 3/4″ copper pipe couplers