Forge Notes Part 3

See also Forge Notes Part 1 and Part 2


Click photo to view a larger image.

Forge notes are a new addition to the website.  They are composed of the fundamental steps to different forgings, showing an outline of the process, the tools used, and the finished piece.  I hope it will serve as a helpful reference.

Brass and Copper Hammers

A couple of weeks ago a customer sent me a 2" x 3 1/2" round of copper and 1 1/2" round of brass. He asked if I could punch a hole in each piece so he could use them as hammers. I commented that it seemed a shame to leave the copper as a 2" round. I mean as long as I'm punching a hole in it why not make it into something with a bit more style? So he suggested forging the piece into a ball pein (3 lbs). I drilled the brass with a 7/8" bit and pinned it through the side, overall weight 1 3/4 lbs.

A remedy for loose wedges:

WONDERLOK "EM

About a year ago I came across an article titled "The Axe Manual". A product called Swell & Lock was used on the axe handle prior to fitting the axe head. I thought it might be interesting to try on loose handles and wedges, so I did. The results were not quite what I had hoped, so I tried another product, WONDERLOK "EM. The verdict, this stuff is amazing. Following is the process I used:

Reset or tighten up loose wedges and handles in your hammer or axe. Put the tool (hammer or axe) upright in the vise. Apply Wonderlok "em on the top of the eye, it will penetrate and seep quickly. Apply once more and let it dry for about ten minutes. Now your tool is ready to use.

Forging the Tomahawk Drift

Forging a drift is no easy task, especially if the final shape is an oval, teardrop, or almond shape. If you forge and grind in sequence you'll achieve a better end result. Work opposite sides and keep the hammer blows equal. When grinding do the same. There's really no good way to caliper or measure an oval or teardrop shape, so you need to rely on your eyes for that.

The following photos and text show the making of a Tomahawk Drift (handheld). Just about any tool steel can make a nice drift. Having good wear resistance is a good characteristic as well as a steel that can be cool off during use. The length is up to you. I prefer the ones I use as short as possible. There's no doubt the shorter ones are easier to drive in. Put on a glove and soak it in water if your hand gets hot. Use a short handled sledge to drive the drift, 6-7 lbs is best.

Begin by forging a square taper. After that, forge down two corners. It's all about keeping things symmetrical at this point. After the two corners are forged down, hold the drift at an angle and round off the flats you just made. Now you have something that from an end view, looks like an almond. For the next step you need a V-Block and Round swage. Place one corner in the V-Block. Use the Round Swage to break down the top corner, it might take a few passes. Use a flatter a light planishing blows to refine the shape. Heat treat and make a Tomahawk!

Buying Steel

I thought I'd list the people I'm buying steel from. I'm not a consumer that typically shops by price. If I like a product and receive excellent customer service, then it's worth paying a little bit more.

Hudson Metals (Orange, CA)

Atlantic Tool Steel Corp. (Astoria, NY)

Pacific Machinery & Tool Steel (Portland, OR)

Peerless Steel (Troy, MI)

Cincinnati Tool Steel (Rockford, IL)

Diehl Steel (Cincinnati, OH)

Tremblay Tool Steels (Macedonia, OH)

Sullivan Steel (Pennington, NJ)

Mojave Southern Machine Works (San Jacinto, CA)

Admiral Steel (Alsip, IL)

Encore Metals

Latrobe Specialty Metals

Southern Tool Steel (Chattanooga, TN)


Brent Bailey Forge ®

3626 County Road P

Orland, California, 95963

Phone: 530-228-5388

Email Brent Bailey - brentb@cwo.com