Posts Tagged ‘metal fabrication’

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


Been doing some metalwork in the shop. We have a different business that provides onsite mapping support during forest fires and other disasters, and I needed to make a cart that we could use to deliver and move a 350lb map plotter. The idea is that the plotter can be set up on this table while we are out in the field, and then when we are done with it, we can slide it off the table into the back of our van, fold up the table, and put it in the van too. 

We never know if we will have fire assignments, so this is a skinny time of year, and my goal was to do this project for less than $20 in materials.


Finished table.

The red top frame is 2″ thinwall tubing. Our friend Rob is learning to weld bicycle frames and he gave us this steel in exchange for some shop time. Diagonal braces are 1″ tubing from an auction at Chico Iron Works – they had various freestanding racks that they used to hang things on for painting, so it had a thick coat of all sorts of different paint colors. The braces pop off if you want to fold the legs in.


Top is a sheet of cabinet-grade plywood that used to be a tabletop from another project at my last job We got it when they used it as a pallet to forklift a piece of equipment that we were buying into my truck. I hit it with the sander, and then put on 3 coats of ReStore polyurethane. 


Legs are 1.5″ thinwall tubing from the ReStore – used to be a fence, and we bought about 35 pieces of it. Crossbraces are from the old painting rack, wheels are from an estate sale.


Hinge pin sleeves are scrap pipe from the ReStore, bolts are from the ReStore too.



I thought about painting it all primer brown or flat black but Erika had the idea of using the sanding wheel on the grinder to freestyle a design. Some of the red tubing had thicker coats of paint over black primer and came out with this dark effect.


Hit it with a coat of matte-clearcoat and called it good. Tabletop is held on from below with ReStore sheetrock screws.



Road rash 








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