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Corey Skriletz




Location: United States
Joined: 27 May 2011

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PostPosted: Thu 23 Feb, 2012 6:56 pm    Post subject: Making a spear head from a pipe         Reply with quote

I seem to recall hearing, somewhere within these forums, something about forging a spear head out of an ordinary pipe. Of course, now that I look for the thread, I can't find it. Maybe it was on a different forum, but I digress. I later found out that most pipes are made of galvenized steel, and somebody told me you can't use galvenized steel in a forge. I'm very new to the world of black-smithing, and so I don't know very much about the matter. Is the concept of turning an ordinary pipe into a functional spear head even realistic? If so, would galvenized steel work and if it wouldn't does anybody know where I could find a pipe made of a more forge-friendly type of steel?
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Scott Hanson




Location: La Crosse, WI
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Feb, 2012 8:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most hardware stores have "black" pipe, which is mild steel and could be forged. Wouldn't make a very good spear without adding some carbon though. If you want to give this sort of thing a try I'd order a higher carbon steel tube online.

You could also try what I'm going to be doing shortly; use a decent but cheap blade from somewhere (I'm using a Cold Steel katana machete) and welding it to a pipe to allow it to be mounted on a shaft.
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Thomas Peters




Location: La Farge, WI
Joined: 19 Oct 2011

Posts: 27

PostPosted: Thu 23 Feb, 2012 8:59 pm    Post subject: Pipe to spear         Reply with quote

Corey,
I know a smith in the UP of Michigan that has made pipe into spears but I do not know what type of pipe he uses. I can get a hold of him and find out what he uses and let you know if your interested.

Tribe Woden Thor historical re-enactors.
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Corey Skriletz




Location: United States
Joined: 27 May 2011

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PostPosted: Thu 23 Feb, 2012 9:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott: Thank you for your prompt reply. Price is the primary factor, here. What would be the consequences of making it out of a black pipe? Will it be really fragile and break on the first throw? Also, this is the first time I'll have done something like this. Can the open end be forge-welded shut? Thanks again for your time.
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Corey Skriletz




Location: United States
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Feb, 2012 9:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thomas: That would be great if it's not too much trouble. Next time you happen to talk to him, I really would appreciate it if you brought it up. Thanks.
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 6:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Black" pipe is basically mild steel. I would say that this is not a bad material to make a spearhead of. Even short swords can made out of mild steel and since spear heads are shorter and therefore less prone to bending, I think it would work.

However, it may be easier to just make the spear head out of plate rather than pipe.

Galvanised steel is also mild steel, but with a zinc coating. Forging it should be possible, but probably not very good for your health.
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Einar Drønnesund





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PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 7:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
"Black" pipe is basically mild steel. I would say that this is not a bad material to make a spearhead of. Even short swords can made out of mild steel and since spear heads are shorter and therefore less prone to bending, I think it would work.

However, it may be easier to just make the spear head out of plate rather than pipe.

Galvanised steel is also mild steel, but with a zinc coating. Forging it should be possible, but probably not very good for your health.


Zinc fever alarm. I'm a welder and have had quite a few workmates who have gotten really sick from welding galvanised steel. Avoid. I even read about a smith who died from forging galvanised steel a while back.
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Johan Gemvik




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 7:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The pipe will need Borax to meld together in the center when you forge the blade. Be careful with that, it's actually poisonous. Don't get the powder directly on your skin or breathe it in. I've heard you can also use really fine sand, but I've only used borax myself.

What about making the spearhead from standard mild steel pipe, then box carburizing it?
Or better yet, cutting a length of pipe, box carburize it and then forge it to a spearhead. Can't decide which is better in the end, both have pros and cons. Forging mild steel is easier than high carbon which you need to hammer harder to shape and not de-carburize again by overheating. On the other hand carburizing the pipe menas you get high carbon all the way through the material and not just in the surface.
Then, if one feels the need you can even quench it and anneal the center of the spear a few times.

Still, if you're forging it anyway, making a socket by flattening out and overlapping isn't all that hard. Lots of youtube videos show how to do it.

There's also tang spearheads to consider. Then you'd use that pipe to make a false socket.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Thomas Peters




Location: La Farge, WI
Joined: 19 Oct 2011

Posts: 27

PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 7:57 am    Post subject: Pipe to spear         Reply with quote

Corey,
No Problem. I will ask him next time I talk to him and pass on the info to you.

Tribe Woden Thor historical re-enactors.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,247

PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 9:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You may be going to more trouble than you need to. Historically, many spears were made from a flat piece of thick sheet, starting with a tall isoceles triangle. The height equals the overall length of the spearhead you want, and the width of the base is the circumference of the finished socket. Simply wrap the wide end around a mandrel to form the socket, while the pointy end becomes the blade. Hammer and grind the glade to taste. LOTS of Roman spearheads were done that way, and at least some medieval ones as well. Here's a repro:



Obviously you can put a little more effort into it, to make it prettier, especially around the socket/blade transition, and the seam can be left as is or forge-welded shut, depending on timeframe and culture. I did a rather uglier one out of c. 3mm steel scrap, with just a propane torch for occasional heat and a hammer. The nice thing is that you can experiment with cardboard and thin sheet to get the size and shape you want, before messing with thicker stock and heat. And no forge-welding is needed unless you want to close the seam.

From what I've heard, forging one small piece of galvanized metal like a spearhead is not going to be a problem if you're outdoors or at least well ventilated. But when in doubt, 2 minutes with a sander should take off most of the zinc.

Happy spearing!

Matthew
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Josh Maxwell




Location: Michigan
Joined: 01 Jul 2009
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 2:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you're just starting out then forge welding can be tricky. If you can pull off welding mild steel to mild steel then you might as well go ahead and try welding mild steel to a tool steel like W1 to at least give you edges that will hold up to use.

Forging pipe is pretty similar to forging solid stock, but there are some things to remember. Because its hollow its going to move a whole lot faster than solid stock and if pushed too hard it will have a tendency to collapse. I've found the best way to avoid this is to forge over a surface that cradles the pipe as opposed to a surface that's completely flat, if that makes sense.
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 2:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting idea.... also interesting that the pattern can be as simple as a triangle. +1 on the galvanized stuff though - I recall a smith a few years ago died when trying to burn the zinc off some metal. How dangerous it is, I don't know, but not worth guessing for the sake of a spear head.

All in all I think that getting an accurate spearhead from a pipe would be difficult - you would probably need a narrow diameter pipe for it to be worthwhile, meaning you have less material to work with for the blade and narrow pipe tends to be thinner-walled - and when you add the taper for the socket, it might get dangerously thin stretching out the mouth. Just some thoughts.
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Corey Skriletz




Location: United States
Joined: 27 May 2011

Posts: 118

PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 8:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you everyone for your prompt and exceedingly helpful replies. After hearing everybody's accounts, I think it would be in my best interest to avoid galvenized steel. A spearhead isn't worth risking one's life over.

As I say, I am new to the world of forging so if these questions sound dumb, please feel free to enlighten me.

Johan: When you say Borax, do you mean like the laundry product? If so, is there a specific brand or type that you use? Is box carbonizing the same thing as Case hardening?

Matthew: The reason I wanted to go with a pipe is because I know where to get some of that, and it's fairly inexpensive. Neither Home Depot or Lowe's carry sheet metal over 18 gauge thick...and that's all galvenized too. However I like the idea of not having to weld anything, and that seems like the ideal way to do that. Where do you usually get your steel scrap?

Josh: In regards to a surface that cradles the pipe, do you think a split-log with a groove carved in the center would work for that?

Peter: I had planned on using a 1" diameter pipe, but all the dowels I would use for shafts are about 1 1/2". How should I go about stretching the mouth?

Thank you all again for your help and your patience with an ignorant beginner..
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 8:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Corey Skriletz wrote:
Peter: I had planned on using a 1" diameter pipe, but all the dowels I would use for shafts are about 1 1/2". How should I go about stretching the mouth?


Well you get tapers that fit in hardy holes - if you're unaware, a good anvil will have a square hole in it for fitting additional tools that allow you to accomplish more tasks than the anvil itself. If you don't have an anvil, a sturdy bench vise on a solid bench should be able to do it OK - though you will of course still need a flat surface to forge weld the pipe together for the blade. Some people use sections of railroad track to good effect, but if you intend to make a habit of blacksmithing, you can never go to heavy with an anvil unless portability is necessary Big Grin A 1" diameter pipe should flatten out to approximately 1 1/2" which should leave enough metal for the blade, as long as the walls of the pipe are thick enough. To be honest though, I might consider 1" for the top of the socket to be a bit too big. I'd probably go for 3/4" or thereabouts - it's just easier to stretch the base of the socket to a bigger diameter than shrink the top of the socket to a smaller diameter. If you needed more metal to work with for the blade, you could make the blade section twice as long as necessary and then fold it over on itself since you'll be forge welding anyway - this would provide twice as much material, so may be worth considering.

Much of that is just my personal opinion but I hope it helps somewhat Happy Just for the record though, scrapyards can be a good source of steel, particularly if you're forging. I'd stay away from old springs for stock removal because they may have developed small fractures, but for forging I've seen both coil and leaf springs used to great effect - as well as steel cable, chainsaw chain and even link chain I believe. Auto suspension springs are reliably good steel - En45 mostly if memory serves. Big circular sawblades can be too, though you have to be careful - some modern ones are case hardened or induction hardened. If I get the chance i always grab them, though - I've seen some people get BIG old ones from sawmills for cheap or less. Heavy bandsaw blades, too.
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Corey Skriletz




Location: United States
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 9:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The anvil I've been using does have a hardy hole. Are tapers a type of former? If so, where could I get some? That's a great idea about folding over the blade section on a 3/4 diameter pipe. So should I flatten that part out first, then fold it over, then forge-weld those two pieces together and hammer it into shape afterward? And thanks for the tips on the scrap metal. I'll definitely have to look into those. Thanks again for your help.
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 10:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Corey Skriletz wrote:
The anvil I've been using does have a hardy hole. Are tapers a type of former? If so, where could I get some? That's a great idea about folding over the blade section on a 3/4 diameter pipe. So should I flatten that part out first, then fold it over, then forge-weld those two pieces together and hammer it into shape afterward? And thanks for the tips on the scrap metal. I'll definitely have to look into those. Thanks again for your help.


Tapers are indeed a former, it'll look someone like a cone, probably double-sided so that you can perhaps have a different degree of taper on one side than the other. It's a matter of heating up the socket and hammering home on the taper - you'll probably have to straighten the blade afterwards. You could probably find some on ebay. Now that I consider it though, I think that the most efficient way of doing it might be to do all the forge welding first, and then hold the blade in a vice and hammer a taper into the socket. That would probably be easier. For the record though, I've seen tapers run pretty expensive - it might be cheaper and not much more difficult to just forge one yourself and have it be your perfect custom size. You might be able to look through a good hardware store and find something in a correct or almost correct shape that could work in a pinch.
With regards to the blade, if you wanted a blade say 9" long, I would flatten an 18" section of tubing and split it down the crease for the top 9", then forge weld the bottom 9". I would fold the top flat bits in opposing directions and weld one side at a time. This might be overcomplicating it, I doubt it would make a huge difference if you just flattened the whole 18" and forge welded it at once, and then folded it in half - I'm just thinking that if the blade is centered on the socket from the get-go, bob's your uncle and life's a little more symmetrical Big Grin

Hope this helps!
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 10:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Btw, I just remembered - I don't know whether the manufacturers of some cheaper anvils don't realize what the hardy hole is actually for or what, but I have heard of anvils with an improperly sized hardy hole that you can't find any tools for - if you haven't used the hardy hole in your anvil, it's worth checking that tools will fit before blowing the money on them Happy
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Corey Skriletz




Location: United States
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 10:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Now that I consider it though, I think that the most efficient way of doing it might be to do all the forge welding first, and then hold the blade in a vice and hammer a taper into the socket. That would probably be easier. For the record though, I've seen tapers run pretty expensive - it might be cheaper and not much more difficult to just forge one yourself and have it be your perfect custom size. You might be able to look through a good hardware store and find something in a correct or almost correct shape that could work in a pinch.


Price being a factor, and all, I think I'll have to go with one of the latter two options. That's a great idea, to stick it in the vice and hammer the former in. The anvil and forge are actually my brother's friend's dad's so I don't get to look at them too often, but the anvil looks pretty well-made. Thanks for alerting me to that threat, I shall have to make a note of the size of the harty hole next time I'm there. In terms of forge-welding, an earlier poster stated that I should use Borax. Is he referring to the laundry product, and if so, how do I apply it? This will be my first time forge-welding something.
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 11:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Corey Skriletz wrote:
Price being a factor, and all, I think I'll have to go with one of the latter two options. That's a great idea, to stick it in the vice and hammer the former in. The anvil and forge are actually my brother's friend's dad's so I don't get to look at them too often, but the anvil looks pretty well-made. Thanks for alerting me to that threat, I shall have to make a note of the size of the harty hole next time I'm there. In terms of forge-welding, an earlier poster stated that I should use Borax. Is he referring to the laundry product, and if so, how do I apply it? This will be my first time forge-welding something.


Do you have access to a torch? It just occurred to me that if you do use the vice, having a torch to heat the socket while in the vice would be much easier than heating it a forge and then transferring it to the vice. It could still be done though, just mind that it doesn't get too cold - you don't want to split the pipe. The taper can be preheated to help prevent it cooling down the socket, but a vice does have the potential to sink away heat and is a much less convenient target for preheating Big Grin

The borax can just be straight 20 mule team borax, it's used as a flux to minimize issues from oxides forming. It's entirely possible to forge weld without a flux but it's better to have one. It's been a while since I hit two things with a hammer to make them into one thing, so I'll leave someone more familiar with the use of borax in forge welding to talk about that Happy
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Corey Skriletz




Location: United States
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Feb, 2012 11:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't have a blow torch, but I have the patience to do it a little bit at a time. Thank you for everything, you've been beyond helpful. I can't wait to get started.
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