Here are a couple of the hand tools that I use everyday. Pictured below is a Lufkin rule. It is one of the most important tools in my shop. Without it, I'm like a ship with no captain. Tape measures are okay, but for blacksmithing, a steel rule is so much nicer. Plus, if you flip it over and measure a circle, the fine print tells you what length of bar stock you need to make the circle.
Next is the hammer I made. I wanted a shorter, stubbier hammer like a Habermann or Hofi hammer. With a stubbier hammer, you strike the metal with more of a punching blow. I find this style of hammer a lot easier to use and it doesn't wear me out as quickly as a traditional blacksmithing hammer. Some people don't like them, but this style of hammer is my favorite.
The problem was that a Hofi Hammer costs over $100, and a Habermann Hammer is only a little cheaper. There are some other options, but the only other hammer of this style I could find for a reasonable price weighs in at 2 lbs - little smaller than I like for my main forging hammer.
So, I ran down to Home Depot and bought a Stanley "blacksmith" hammer. It's horribly balanced and comes with a junky plastic handle. But, it's still made of nice tool steel and weighs over 4 lbs. So, I figured if I cut it down, it would weigh somewhere in the ballpark of 3 lbs - the weight I like for my forging hammer.
After a little cutting, grinding, and tempering - voila! I call it the "Home Depot Habermann." It only cost me about $20 and is so much more comfortable than the hammer I used to use.
Plus it comes with this helpful reminder:
I also make my own tongs. Once you get the metal hot, you need something to grab it with. That's where tongs come into play. Tongs can be bought, but making tongs for a specific task is a great blacksmithing exercise and saves a bunch of money. It's also very satisfying to do work with tools you made yourself.
Pictured from left to right are: pickup tongs to grab various stock sizes, box jaw tongs for holding 1" wide flat bar stock, angle jaw tongs for holding scrolls, and tongs for closing hot collars. If you are new to blacksmithing, I will explain some of the terminology in upcoming blog entries.
Now that you are familiar with my shop and some basic blacksmithing tools, next up will be some blacksmithing!