When the long, hard days of summer are done, many of us take the time to catch up on some much-needed forge work and practice. Here are a few tips to help make those sessions productive, fun and — most importantly— safe.
GETTING STARTED: Before I begin forging, I like to get my anvil warm. A cold anvil can steal the heat from a shoe, forcing you to either work the steel cold or waste time taking another heat. Grab a couple of shoes, bring them up to heat, and place them on the horn and face of the anvil. This also helps get the forge liner up to a good working temperature.
WARM UP: It’s important to properly warm up before really hitting on some steel. Try building a pair of concave shoes first. This require more finesse than using flat stock. Afterward, you’re ready to “lay the smack down.”
TIME’S UP: When you’re done, take a few seconds to shut things down properly. Make sure your propane tank is turned off and the line is bled. Keep all shoes and other pieces of forge work away from anything that could catch fire. Put that sweatshirt and hat back on to help keep your upper body from cooling down too fast.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: Keep your work area well-lit to reduce eye strain. Make sure your tools are fitted properly. A fire extinguisher is a must in any shop, and always wear proper hearing and eye protection.