Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hot Stuff!

My favorite part of making the broadfork is the hot work. I started blacksmithing in 1985 and have been around a lot of hot metal over the years. The same intrigue and passion for forge work that hooked me in all those years ago still keeps me wanting to do it day after day, year after year. 

Making the tines is a lot of fun. Initially, I used a mechanical hammer for forging the tips, but in the move last fall, I left the 2000 pound beast behind in Wisconsin. Doing them by hand is possible, but very slow and a lot of work that can (and should at my age) be avoided.

So I asked my wife to help me. She swings a 3 kilogram German style sledge (it's her very own hammer!) as I swing my little 1 kg hammer. We strike in rhythm, back and forth as I rotate the hot bar on the anvil to forge the tip square. It's fast work, and we usually do 20-25 tines without a break, but have done 40 before. Ow!

I'm really proud of her ability to hit. A lot of women wouldn't touch that job with a stick, but she really took to it, developing the strength, speed, stamina, and most importantly, the accuracy needed for the job. We've been doing it for years now and she's really good with her hammer. We have fun doing the hammer work together and have done enough now to where it's almost play, as it should be.

Once the tips are done, the tines are placed in the forge and each one is heated and bent to that perfect curve. 

With the hot work done, the assembly begins. All the parts are gathered, rolled in a tumbler to clean the mill scale off them, then brought together at the welding table.
I try to intersperse the steps as much as possible to keep from doing one thing all day. It keeps it interesting for me, and I think it's better for the body to break up the chores like that.

All the other details come along; the drilling, the handle fitting, the trips to the handleman, the welding, the sawing, the trips to the steel supplier, etc. It's all part of the job.
I love seeing a cart full of parts in the morning. Thank you for helping me to keep that cart full. It's spring now in 2/3rds of the country, and it's getting pretty busy in the shop so I haven't been able to write much lately. I'm working on a little demo video that should be out soon so you can all see how the broadfork was designed to work. Keep an eye on the blog for that.

Thank you all for your support. I recorded my first daughter/mother broadfork sales referral this week. The daughter works on an organic farm and bought a broadfork several weeks ago. Her Mom ordered one yesterday. What a wonderful thing to share.

I hope the ground is warm where you are and that you are planting soon. Keep those broadforks busy!


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