My interest in blacksmithing started with a desire to learn how to forge knives from chunks of old steel. One of the things I love about blacksmithing is that the skills you acquire in that art come in extremely handy for all kinds of things that most people wouldn’t have the werewithal to attempt.
The skills I’ve developed forging knives have enabled me to do things that just a few years ago I would never have dreamed I could do. Case in point: We have a nice backyard with plenty of outside furniture so that we can comfortably enjoy sitting outdoors with friends and family. One of my wife’s favorite pieces of outdoor furniture is a large two-seater swing with an awning. Recently, the awning snapped off the top of the swing frame during a bad windstorm.
Transferable Blacksmithing Skills
I found the awning the next morning across the yard from the overturned swing. The brackets holding the awning onto the top of the swing frame were plastic, and unrepairable. For most of my life, I have not been an overly handy-man, and until recently I would have most likely trashed the swing and bought a new one because I would not have known how to fix it.
But forging knives has given me skills that come in handy for a wide range of things. I gathered up the bits of plastic and fit them together to see how the bracket was shaped, and realized I could probably make new ones. I dug through my small-but-ever-growing stack of scrap metal and found a bit of suitable steel. Then I fired up the forge and hammered away until the shape was right. After allowing the steel to cool slowly, I drilled the bolt holes, and installed the new brackets on the swing.
The awning fit perfectly, and my home-made steel brackets are stronger than the original plastic ones. I won’t need to worry about it ever breaking in a storm again.
I had a similar experience a couple years ago when replacing the outside dryer vent. The old one was broken and mice were getting into the house through it. (This is, by the way, a common access point for mice. If you’re having trouble with the little critters getting inside, check that your dryer vent flap is closing properly.)
Blacksmithing is a very handy skill to develop
I got a new vent from the local hardware store and proceeded to install it. Unfortunately, the bracket that came in the box that was meant for mounting the vent on the wall wasn’t going to work were the vent had to go. So I made one out of steel. A bit of forging to shape the metal, some filing and sanding, and problem solved.
In today’s blog I want to talk about a set of camp fire tongs I forged from the leaf spring of an F150 Ford pick-up truck. It was my wife’s idea, really. We were sitting around the fire pit in our backyard, and she was using some sticks to move burning logs around when she asked me if I’d make her a pair of tongs.
I always like to do handy-guy stuff for my wife, so I forged a set from the leaf spring of a Ford F150. I designed them to be useful for picking up large logs, as well as small bits. We were happy with the result.
Please enjoy the glamour photos of us using the tongs. If you’re interested in a set, send me a message using my contacts page. I always keep truck leaf spring in stock, because the 5160 high carbon steel used for leaf springs is excellent knife making material.
Our camp fire tongs can be used to pickup and move large burning logs.
Can get small sticks too. The pincers come together close and tight, so they’re great for picking up and moving hot coals and smaller sticks.