Three Rivers Forge profile
Three Rivers Forge
Three Rivers Forge
Blacksmith - forging iron by hand in order to bring a little bit of the wonderful trade to folks everywhere!
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Apprentice

Firstly, thank you. Your support means the world to me and I cannot thank you enough. It's because of great folks like you that I can experiment with new ideas, create new content, and keep the iron moving here at Three Rivers Forge!

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Firstly, you get my undying appreciation for your faith in me. Your support will help keep the iron moving here at Three Rivers Forge, making it possible to try new things and create new content.

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Master Smith

Like the previous tiers, you'll receive my undying appreciation for your support as well as the first look my reviews of tools, books and videos related to the blacksmith's trade. On top of that, you'll also get to look forward to receiving a special gift, some hand-forged ironwork, once a year as a token of my appreciation.

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Recent posts

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Three Rivers Forge
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One of the better videos about blacksmithing.  


Dave does a great job of illustrating all of the unseen things that go into making the grille, something customers really don't understand.  Not only do you have to make the finished product, but you have to figure out what tools you’ll need, how you’ll make the tools, and then run through a dozen iterations of the different parts until you find what looks best.

There’s nothing easy in the blacksmith’s shop, which is what makes it both rewarding and frustrating.  

If you’d like to help support the ironwork here at Three Rivers Forge, consider getting yourself a shirt, hoodie or drink sleeve.   https://www.storefrontier.com/three-rivers-forge

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make a tool to make a tool...!  

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Three Rivers Forge
Public post

The Rag-in-a-Can Oiler. 


Around the blacksmith shop, rust is something you have to deal with.
While Mr. Sellers is a master woodworker and I'll trust his thoughts on how the oiler helps with cutting wood, my first thought was that his wonderful design would be a real boon here at Three Rivers Forge, too.
Visit any smithy, and you'll find that most folks have an oily rag that they use to wipe down their hammers and anvils before leaving the shop so nothing rusts overnight. The problem is that the oily rag always seems to dry out no matter what you do. And when you give it a dose of fresh oil, it's then too oily to wipe down your tools.
Overall, it's something that's more frustrating than not, so you can imagine how happy I was to see Mr. Sellers discuss his solution to the problem! Plus, I have to admit that I just love the old-school vibe the Rag-in-a-Can Oiler gives off. This is something my grandfather and great-grandfather would have done. 
Whether you work wood or metal, you should have one of these in your shop. Just remember that the cloth has to be cotton so the oil will wick up through the weave.

https://youtu.be/npKo1y2e8RI
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Three Rivers Forge
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Time is money! 

Nate's done it again with a masterful tutorial on something you rarely see in US circles. Upsetting the iron is one of those jobs that you hate doing because it's so aggravating, but sometimes it's the only way, or the easiest way, to get to your end goal.

In this video, Nate takes us along as he forges a wonderful diamond point, and explains the process as thoroughly as you could ask for. It's as good as being there in the shop with him!
Excellent camerawork and lighting, though I feel sorry for that poor light after he hit it so many times. Solid narration with no excess jawjacking to sidetrack things. Overall, well worth the time and I encourage everyone to join Nate's channel and encourage him to keep up the great work.
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Three Rivers Forge
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Little Bits Add Up! 

Seems like every couple of months, I get asked about how I make my rune pendants. 

The end product doesn't look anything like what I see when I'm actually working on them. One of the best parts of the process is the "surprise" at the end when all's said and done.

The biggest difference between my work and other examples you might see around the internet is that I don't try to get the lines set in the iron in just one blow. When I first started doing designs like this, I knew I wanted my work to stand apart from the herd a bit, so I developed some tools and techniques that would let me vary the length, width and depth of the lines. One look tells you there's no way these were pounded in with a stamp or a single chisel.

Of course, the downside to all that is the time it takes to make one! As much as I like making these pieces, I've resigned myself to using them as something of a creative outlet rather than a rational business decision. That's the blacksmith life, though. Sanity is sometimes more important than keeping the lights on!
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Three Rivers Forge
Public post

Forging a Leaf


Nathan has just uploaded what I think will go down in history as the best tutorial on forging a leaf. 

Aside from fantastic videography, this video takes the time to really explain what you do and the all important WHY you do it. When you watch #blacksmiths forging leaves, you'll often hear them warn about working too cold or having that dreaded snap as their leaf just falls off the parent bar after all that work. Lord knows I've lost a bunch of leaves!

Nathan explains why that happens and how to avoid it. And he turns out a leaf that is about as beautiful as you could ask for.

If you're not subscribed to Working with Iron, I highly recommend it. Nathan produces some of the best videos out there and is a genuinely good person!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ci93coi_0tI
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Three Rivers Forge
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It's the little things.... 


One of my favorite channels on youtube is Desert Owl Forge. Tim hails from over in Europe and brings a unique aesthetic to the American smithing scene, in my estimation.

In this video, we see him making a gate latch. It's a beautiful design with elegant lines and enough topographical change in the steel that there's no doubt in your mind that a blacksmith made it.

What's most impressive, in my estimation, is that each step along the way is very simple. Tim is using the basic movements that every blacksmith uses. The magic is in how he chose to combine the fundamental movements. 

Little things add up.  Tim started out with some plain iron bars and ended with a truly beautiful piece that'd be the pride and joy of any garden gate in the land!

Kudos to Desert Owl Forge for reminding me of an old lesson!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP12vtz_fjQ

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Three Rivers Forge
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Perun Blacksmithing Tongs


If you're like me, you've never heard anyone talking about this brand name.  Maybe you can find a review of one of their anvils if you search through Youtube, but what about their other products? 

Well, I couldn't resist the temptation and decided to buy a pair from Blacksmith Depot.  I had misplaced my other set of V-bit Bolt Jaw tongs for holding 3/8" bar, so it was as good an excuse as any. Right? 

The description on the Blacksmith Depot website specifically said that these tongs would hold stock between 3/8" and 5/8" - always a warning sign since no tongs will hold that wide a range of stock comfortable or securely.  Still, knowing that I was using them for the smallest size listed and confident that I could reshape them a bit if needed, I felt good about the purchase.

Imagine my surprise when I get them in the mail a few days later and saw that not only would they not hold 5/8" bar, but they were so incredibly delicate around the jaw that even holding 3/8" bar was something of a challenge.  Because of the design of the bit, square bar would sink down into the valley and be held with relative security, but round bar was just barely captured and quick to pop out.

As you can see in the company photograph, the tongs look large and beefy.  You're told that these will hold reasonably thick iron, and the jaws and reins look parallel in the photo, so you'd expect that that's what they'll look like when wrapping around some 3/8" round stock you're about to hammer into shape. 

Now, compare that to the photos of the tongs as I received them, a 6" nail in the jaws, and you begin to see just how small the things are.  That nail has a shank diameter of 1/4" and you can see that it's held perfectly, the jaws parallel just like in the company picture.  There's no extra meat in the wings of the bit, but even if you drew them out to paper-thin to get some more room... you'd still have the problem of the jaw right behind the bit being so small.  I measured them at roughly 1/4" in diameter, far too wispy to provide any long term strength when twisting and bending bars larger than 1/4".  In other words, even if you could forge the bit to a new shape, the Achilles Heel would still exist right behind the bit.

Overall, the Perun model 80x400 tongs are an absolute delight in the hand.  They are light, well balanced and comfortable.  The reins have no sharp edges and are long enough to get your hand away from the heat of the forge.  Their appearance is spot on with what you expect to see in a blacksmith shop.

They just aren't sized to hold 3/8" bar like the advert claimed.

If I was to describe these tongs in one word, it would be "dainty".  They're great for doing light work with light steel and I'd certainly recommend them to anyone needing tongs for 1/4" and 5/16" bar stock.
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Three Rivers Forge
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Thinking outside the box 

One of the reasons I've never purchased a swage block is because they are covered with a bunch of shapes and holes that I just don't need. I thought about having one cut out from a plate of mild steel, but that's every bit as costly as buying a cast iron block, and I really don't have much need for one.  Most blacksmiths don't use 90% of their swage block's options so it seems like a lot of mass to have around collecting dust.

Kudos to Adriano Pasquino for coming up with a swage block design that gives folks the ability to make their own, getting exactly what they want and nothing they don't. With the bolt-together design, you can cut out the shapes you need right now and have plenty of room to add new holes in the future.  Plus, it's a good project to help broaden your metalworking skills!

A great video to watch, as well.  Adriano does a great job making a door handle!  https://youtu.be/2kb93p5hzfc
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