Old School chisel work in iron
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    Default Old School chisel work in iron

    I have never really done any work with a chisel in iron or any other metal. I understand the concept of scraping precision surfaces. My question is before machine tools where iron workers, clock makers etc, supposed to shape metal with hammer and chisel while cold. Could you cut a keyway with a chisel, cut gear teeth etc. Similar to a shaper(which we are not allowed to discuss here) but hand power for each stroke. Similar to wood working?
    I have even done simple forging with hot iron and a chisel to split it into a fork etc. Not really cutting it but pushing it into a new shape with no loss of material.
    Bill D

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill D View Post
    I have never really done any work with a chisel in iron or any other metal. I understand the concept of scraping precision surfaces. My question is before machine tools where iron workers, clock makers etc, supposed to shape metal with hammer and chisel while cold. Could you cut a keyway with a chisel, cut gear teeth etc. Similar to a shaper(which we are not allowed to discuss here) but hand power for each stroke. Similar to wood working?
    I have even done simple forging with hot iron and a chisel to split it into a fork etc. Not really cutting it but pushing it into a new shape with no loss of material.
    Bill D
    Good question. I don't have a good answer, I CAN tell you that metal cutting files "back in the day" were made by hand, one tooth at a time, with a chisel. I'll post a couple links to YouTube videos on the subject.

    Also, if you look at engravers (the tool, not person), they're generally a small, sharp chisel.

    Theres another tool (I think it's called a "scarper"). It's sorta chisel-like and it pushed and rocked side to side at the same time and cuts metal. Leaves an interesting pattern behind. Like a really fine zigzag.

    I recommend watching "Clickspring" on YouTube. That dude does some really impressive work making clocks and related tools and that sorta thing. He made a video where he took mild steel, cut file teeth, case hardened and heat treated, a whole set of files and actually uses them in his work.


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    Heres the video where Clickspring makes those files. https://youtu.be/SOw9WqMOHjA

    I'll try to find the one showing the "scarper" he used with a trammel to cut semi-circles in brass plate.

    https://youtu.be/wtjvWU0Ij-c SCORPER. Not scarper... I also seem to've mixed it up with another old school tool. I'll try to find that one, too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill D View Post
    Could you cut a keyway with a chisel, cut gear teeth etc.
    "Hot" isn't hard. "Cold" is a right b***h.

    I've done both. Splines as well. But with a sort of "double caveat".

    - Whilst still part of the TRAINING, that era, it was already frowned-on in industry as a massive waster of expensive labour, even when labour was cheap.

    One was meant to use the appropriate machine-tool, whether the chisel was within your skillset or never..

    - each case was a repair ... where I had no other good options.

    Seriously tedious pain in the arse if ever was, but the tools are tiny so yah JF carry them when out in the field.

    Pretty sure you could find written instructions - WITH line-art illustration - on cutting a keyway. Damned if it ever went as clean, neat, and easy as shown though!

    Steel had gotten aholt of the wurld. No more easy-peasy wrought-Iron or brass!


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    Quote Originally Posted by thermite View Post
    I've done both. Splines as well. But with a sort of "double caveat".

    - Whilst still part of the TRAINING, that era, it was already frowned-on in industry as a massive waster of expensive labour, even when labour was cheap.

    One was meant to use the appropriate machine-tool, whether the chisel was within your skillset or never..

    - each case was a repair where I had no other good options.

    Seriously tedious pain in the arse if ever was, but the tools are tiny so yah JF carry them when out in the field.

    Pretty sure you could find written instructions - WITH line-art illustration - on cutting a keyway. Damned if it ever went as clean, neat, and easy as shown though!

    Steel had gotten aholt of the wurld. No more easy-peasy wrought-Iron or brass!

    I've done a lot of chisel work in steel and iron - fortunately, most of it is hot work at an anvil.

    Having a forge is sorta like having a welder. Hard to imagine getting along without it.



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    Quote Originally Posted by 52 Ford View Post
    I've done a lot of chisel work in steel and iron - fortunately, most of it is hot work at an anvil.
    That's the proper use, actually.

    "Cold chisel" is just a blue collar word for "exponential aggravation"

    Only thing I ever worked cold that compared with hot Iron was soft solid Copper.

    Back before it cost the very Earth, of course.


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    Toss the "cold chisel" back in the truck bed, there are more special purpose chisels for the typical things like cutting keyways, etc.

    For that, you want a "cape" chisel. It has back relief so it can be guided, and makes the pain in the ass job a little better. It's still a pain in the ass, but it's not a f***ing impossible pain in the ass.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thermite View Post
    That's the proper use, actually.

    "Cold chisel" is just a blue collar word for "exponential aggravation"

    Only thing I ever worked cold that compared with hot Iron was soft solid Copper.

    Back before it cost the very Earth, of course.

    It's crazy the transformation steel goes through when it's hot.

    Easier than working room temp 6061.

    The "hot cut" that I usually use - a big chisel that goes in the hardie hole in the anvil - is dead soft mild steel. I sharpen it every once in a a while. I can cut 2" bar on it with a 10 pound sledge and it'll be just as good as when I sharpened it. Only time it needs to be ground is when I hit it with a hammer. Even then, it doesnt really affect the performance much. Faster than putting stock in a bandsaw, too.

    Prolly less energy efficient, considering the electricity to run the forge blower and all that... then again, in the winter, that forge is all the heat I need. The ceiling joists get up to about 130 or 140 (Degrees Freedom, not C).

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    Quote Originally Posted by 52 Ford View Post
    It's crazy the transformation steel goes through when it's hot.

    Easier than working room temp 6061.

    The "hot cut" that I usually use - a big chisel that goes in the hardie hole in the anvil - is dead soft mild steel. I sharpen it every once in a a while. I can cut 2" bar on it with a 10 pound sledge and it'll be just as good as when I sharpened it. Only time it needs to be ground is when I hit it with a hammer. Even then, it doesnt really affect the performance much. Faster than putting stock in a bandsaw, too.

    Prolly less energy efficient, considering the electricity to run the forge blower and all that... then again, in the winter, that forge is all the heat I need. The ceiling joists get up to about 130 or 140 (Degrees Freedom, not C).

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    LOL! I'm easily 20 years into talking myself out of a Trenton, Hay-Budden.. or hard as they are to find not worn and abused all to flinders, even a brand-new Peddinghaus.

    It's easy to resist.

    Far too many years since I still had the ARM for 'smithy work!



    OTOH.. "saw"?

    Rebuilt Kasto PHS ~ 12" x 10" and around sixty 18" blades, "many, many" types that can be swapped in about 30 seconds to suit any material.

    Not so easy to do that with a bandsaw!

    Blades were DIRT CHEAP, "remaindered", NOS, too, since they are no longer all that popular.



    The OTHER cheap and dirty, emphasis on "dirty", is a 14" abrasive chop saw.

    Wuddn' wanna do shiney-wood wit' dat'.. but the compact, crude and rude bugger will walk right through Tantung-G (Stellite) or HSS-Cobalt blanks.

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    First year apprentice exercise where I did it: given a cast iron block 6" x 4" about 2" thick .. lower the top surface 1/8" by hammer & cold chisel, flat as you could .. then file it 'as flat as you could' .. then scrape it as flat as poss, blued up & checked on the shop surface plate. Good for the soul. Oh yes, the next intake would repeat the process as you had done, until the block was too thin, when a new one would go into the cycle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swarfless View Post
    First year apprentice exercise where I did it: given a cast iron block 6" x 4" about 2" thick .. lower the top surface 1/8" by hammer & cold chisel, flat as you could .. then file it 'as flat as you could' .. then scrape it as flat as poss, blued up & checked on the shop surface plate. Good for the soul.
    Herr Pelz was a saint. He TOLD all of us how he spent the first six months of his 14th year - apprenticed to Daimler, around 1899 AD? - removing about six inches off a roughly 6" X 6" square iron bar to make it flat & square, then do it again until it was fast and easy. His "Master" had a square to vet the work. Herr Pelz had a three-cornered file .. and the Mark One Schwabian eyeball. Y'see.. it wasn't the filing alone he was meant to learn.

    But he did not make any of we 'prentices do it!

    It was good enough we understood it possible if there was no other means.

    Even so.. the joke about the grand old man was that he only allowed a 'prentice to use powered machinery once each day... Hammer & chisel was a "Russian milling machine", hacksaw was a "Polish milling machine", files were a "German milling machine"... the lesson was that a craftsman did whatever he had to do and made it right off patience, guts, and dogged determination as much as skill...

    The understanding grew roots, whether I/we wore out my/our hands with repetition .. or never. It was results he wanted. Not motion, wasted, for the sake of "form".

    And off we went ... to drillpress, shaper, and thence the coveted "AMERICAN" milling machines... B&S # 0 "universal", larger "Milwaukee" (K&T), a pair of BirdPorts (round ram and early daze dovetailed ram).. and the two surface grinders. Lathes as well, but those were no challenge. even our school had THOSE!

    "OJT".

    Because "revenue" work had to be done. Fixtures and dies needed built. Deadlines met. Quality upheld.

    First comes good. Later comes fast. Learn from "real work" slowly what you will later do rapidly.

    Not from no-revenue, no-relevance "metal masturbation".

    More than once, later years, I've had to level the "deck" of an IC engine block, mate the cylinder head, or do much the same, high-pressure compressor parts, induction or exhaust manifolds .. where a file and "backed" abrasives were good enough.

    Because they HAD to be "good enough". There being no other option in that place and time.

    Humans can do all sorts of stuff.

    So long as they "JFDI" ... instead of talking themselves out of it ahead of time as "impossible" for lack of skill or resources.

    It held well into Management / Command.

    As they put it in some of THOSE courses:

    "A Manager is someone who gets the job done with the resources he has."
    "Not those he only wishes he had,"

    "A 'professional' is anyone who is ALWAYS at their best. Regardless."

    Kinda like a "housewife", actually?

    We kids got fed... regardless of the toughest of times.

    "Super Moms?"

    Aren't they all?


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    I worked in some brick works and we chisseled off bolt regulary
    Faster as a blow torch If you could reach it with the chissel at least
    If we could get in the right position we smashed the bolt head or nut off with a 2kg hammer
    Went oke with one blow up to M10
    Bolts needed to be tightend properly
    Also did some repairwork on site with a chissel Keyways mainly Also in shafts
    It has its place

    peter

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    I did an exercise once, cutting a woodruff key slot by hand, with the correct chisel is was suprisingly easy though slow, the chisel spent quite a bit of time being reground, you can sink dies with chisels ( they did) cut plate to size, ( I often do) use the vice and hammer and chisel, square out holes, it’s an underrated technique, it’s what they had, and if the thing that needs work weighs 100 tons it’s a valid option,
    Mark

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    Quote Originally Posted by boslab View Post
    I did an exercise once, cutting a woodruff key slot by hand, with the correct chisel is was suprisingly easy though slow, the chisel spent quite a bit of time being reground, you can sink dies with chisels ( they did) cut plate to size, ( I often do) use the vice and hammer and chisel, square out holes, it’s an underrated technique, it’s what they had, and if the thing that needs work weighs 100 tons it’s a valid option,
    Mark
    We had a former Machinist and shop Foreman as shop instructor who had taken his Collitch on the GI bill later in life.

    Dave had seen to it we made punches and chisels. He also was picky as to out of what alloy, and how heat-treated. It was Pittsburgh, after all.

    Never have found store-bought cold chisels OR punches as held an edge as well, but the one time.

    Cheapest looking flat plate with mill scale still on it, South China hole-in-the-wall shop not a lot larger than a BT phone booth.

    Resembles an Old Skewl cut-nail on steroids, made the same way. Hot-sheared at a matching slight angle out of plate. "Plate" must have been one Hellacious Alloy.. maybe too hard for a Chicom army tank.. 'coz the edge was near as dammit immortal.

    Go figure even a blind hog finds an acorn ever' now and then.

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    Absolutely a skilled "mechanic" (the old term for such workers) can do these things with hand tools.

    Several of my older texts show the techniques for cutting keyways, etc. using hammer and chisel. The old timers had far more specific purpose chisels than most today.

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    I was taught as a toolmakers apprentice to use chisels for metal removal. It is an old skill. I had to make a set of V-blocks using only hand tools. Hacksaw to rough shape, then chisels, followed by files and abrasive paper. The old toolmakers had all sorts of chisels in there boxes, some made by them. Scraping is another old skill that is being lost.

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    Right around the year 2000, I saw a demo by an american blacksmith named Ward Grossman. He was an expert in a german cold chisel technique called "Eisenhowering". And he made it look pretty easy. He did, however, have biceps like Popeye. He had spent a long time in England, talking his way into musuem storage rooms, to personally inspect early english and german swords, and reverse engineered the process- I saw him cold chiselling real wrought iron, mild steel and stainless steel (304) and he did amazing things. His trick seemed to be sharp chisels, and patience. Not much about him online, and my guess is he passed away. He was from Wyoming, as I recall.
    NRBA Conference Fall 2003 at Steve Fontanini
    anvilfire NEWS Vol. 4 p. 7

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    Quote Originally Posted by thermite View Post
    LOL! I'm easily 20 years into talking myself out of a Trenton, Hay-Budden.. or hard as they are to find not worn and abused all to flinders, even a brand-new Peddinghaus.
    Since Forged in Fire aired and especially since Wuhan Flu, anvils are stupidly expensive. A good, new, US made, 140 pound steel anvil is $10 a pound.

    The Steele Anvil (140 LB) – Alec Steele Co.

    I've thought about buying one of those cast iron "anvil shaped objects" from Harbor Freight and padding the face out with hardfacing rods, just to see if it'd make a decent anvil.

    The face on my anvil is forge welded on steel plate - not sure what it's hardened to, but I've never left a mark on it. Got some hardfacing rods from a friend an I used those to fix a couple dents and edge chips In it (how the hell did someone do that?? I've smacked it with a 10lb sledge and it didnt do anything). The hardface repairs have been holding up great for a couple years.

    Only problem with the rods I used is they're a HUGE pain to grind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 52 Ford View Post
    Since Forged in Fire aired and especially since Wuhan Flu, anvils are stupidly expensive. A good, new, US made, 140 pound steel anvil is $10 a pound.

    The Steele Anvil (140 LB) – Alec Steele Co.

    I've thought about buying one of those cast iron "anvil shaped objects" from Harbor Freight and padding the face out with hardfacing rods, just to see if it'd make a decent anvil.

    The face on my anvil is forge welded on steel plate - not sure what it's hardened to, but I've never left a mark on it. Got some hardfacing rods from a friend an I used those to fix a couple dents and edge chips In it (how the hell did someone do that?? I've smacked it with a 10lb sledge and it didnt do anything). The hardface repairs have been holding up great for a couple years.

    Only problem with the rods I used is they're a HUGE pain to grind.

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    That is good idea on hardfacing the cheap base anvil. I used hardfacing rod on some mild steel to make flat dies for one of my power hammers (2B Nazel) and they have been fine for over 10 yrs. I primarily use them to hold other tooling. The hardfacing I used was for impact and abrasion, it sounds like yours is more abrasion and less impact. I might use 3 layers of that stuff you have and 2 more layers of something with more impact protection on top.
    The abrasion resistant hardfacing does not like be abraded, even with a grinding wheel. The impact resistant stuff grinds fine and it may work harden IIRC.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob F. View Post
    That is good idea on hardfacing the cheap base anvil. I used hardfacing rod on some mild steel to make flat dies for one of my power hammers (2B Nazel) and they have been fine for over 10 yrs. I primarily use them to hold other tooling. The hardfacing I used was for impact and abrasion, it sounds like yours is more abrasion and less impact. I might use 3 layers of that stuff you have and 2 more layers of something with more impact protection on top.
    The abrasion resistant hardfacing does not like be abraded, even with a grinding wheel. The impact resistant stuff grinds fine and it may work harden IIRC.
    I forgot what the rod was. Think it was "something Carbide something" or maybe "something something Carbide". Pretty sure it was either Hobart or Firepower.

    I was just given a big handful of them and went to town the the welder. Did my best to preheat it and maintain post heat and all that. 75% of the time I'd get these tiny little stress cracks in the weld... WTF. Turns out it's some super hard alloy and is SUPPOSED to fracture as it cools... to "relieve stress"... since I already spent the time to get the anvil hot, I just went ahead and welded it.

    Like I said in my last post. It's held up fine for a few years now.

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