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Blacksmithing tools

Unlike many other craftsmen, blacksmiths are able to make most of their own tools. The principal tools are hand hammers and sledgehammers, a great number and variety of chisels, punches and drifts and a selection of tongs with bits or jaws of various shapes.

Tools that fit into the tool hole of the anvil, usually with their counterpart top tools fitted with a suitable handle, are required for shaping and cutting.

For measuring and marking off, callipers, dividers, a set square and a rule are needed. The callipers, dividers and set square should be heavy and robust enough to withstand use on hot metal under adverse conditions. A brass rule about 600 mm in length is recommended as steel rules rapidly rust when subjected to heat and water.

Agricultural engineering in development


Agricultural engineering in development


Agricultural engineering in development



For everyday work most blacksmiths use a ball-peen hand hammer weighing about 750 to 1 250 g (Fig. 9). A hand hammer should be of a weight that suits the smith. It should have a longer shaft than is usual for other work and be well-balanced. Often special hammers are used for particular jobs. These the smith usually makes as the need arises. Old car-axle shafts are suitable material for hammers.

Sledgehammers may be double-faced, straight- or cross-peen, and usually weigh from 3 to 5 kg (Fig. 10). They have long shafts for use with two hands.

All hammer heads must be firmly fastened to their shafts. Both wooden and metal wedges are used (Fig. 11). The centre lines of the hammer head and its shaft must be at right angles to each other. Hammer faces should be polished and kept free of marks.


The blacksmith needs chisels for cutting both cold and hot metal. For cutting cold metal chisels are comparatively short and thick, while for hot metal they are thinner and longer (Fig. 12A). Chisels can be of many shapes and sizes, special ones often being made to facilitate the work in hand. They are best made from steel containing about 0.8 percent of carbon. Motor-vehicle coil and leaf springs are a fair substitute if nothing else is available.

Smiths are often called upon to make chisels for other tradesmen. These have to be hardened and tempered to suit particular purposes.


Like chisels, sets are used for cutting hot and cold metal. Basically, they are chisels with handles or shafts. Wooden shafts are easiest to handle but many smiths use metal-rod handles. These are cheap and easy to make and fit. As with chisels, sets for cold work are short and thick whereas for hot metal they are longer and thinner. Again, these can be made in a wide range of shapes for various purposes (Fig. 12B).


The hardy is a chisel designed to fit the tool hole in the anvil. It is used with a hand hammer for cutting both hot and cold metal.

Agricultural engineering in development


Agricultural engineering in development



The blacksmith uses many different types and styles of tongs (Fig. 13). Tongs must hold the workpiece firmly without slipping. They are often made for one specific job or adapted for a particular workpiece and will vary in length, size and weight, as metal sizes also vary. Although smiths make their own tongs, generally from mild steel, it is a good idea to start with at least a few pairs already made.


These can be round, square or almost any other shape to suit the job. Punches should be long enough to keep hands away from reflected heat and large ones can be fitted with handles. They are usually designed to remove the minimum amount of metal from the job and to swell the hole to size and shape (Fig. 14).


Drifts are rather like short punches. Made of carbon-tool steel, they are of exact size and shape and may be round, hexagonal, octagonal or almost any other shape. They are usually hammered through the work to finish a hole to size and shape while the metal is only at a dull red heat. A little grease can be applied to make the work easier and to give a better finish (Fig.14).

Agricultural engineering in development


Agricultural engineering in development


Agricultural engineering in development


Agricultural engineering in development



These, like chisels or sets, are made in various sizes and have rounded edges. Small ones may be hand-held while larger sizes require shafts or handles and are struck with a sledgehammer. Fullers are usually made in pairs. The bottom fuller fits into the tool hole of the anvil. They are used for setting down shoulders in preparation for forging tenons and for drawing or moving metal in one direction (Fig. 15).


These are top and bottom tools between which metal is worked. The most common are semicircular and are used for forming round sections to size after previous forging. The bottom tool fits into the tool hole of the anvil. In some cases top and bottom tools are hinged or fastened together by a spring strap or rod. These can be useful when a smith is working alone. They are also common in power-hammer work (Fig. 16).


These have flat faces with sharp or rounded edges according to requirements and are placed on the work and struck with the sledgehammer. The set hammer is most often used for setting in shoulders, while the flatter is a good finishing tool and should be used only to impart a good finish to flat surfaces (Fig. 17).

Agricultural engineering in development


Agricultural engineering in development



This tool is cone-shaped and fitted with a handle. It is used for rounding up small rings or for stretching them to size. It is hand-held either on the face or over the edge of the anvil (Fig.18).


These are steel plates with various holes drilled or punched into them. They are used for forming neat shoulders at change of section in the workpiece. Some types have round and square countersunk holes in them and enable countersunk-headed bolts to be made as for ploughshares (Fig. 19).

Agricultural engineering in development


Agricultural engineering in development


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