All club demo or hands-on meetings are held on the second Saturday of the month.

Old Dominion Black Smith Association

Established November 2005

                                    Blacksmith Help

     This page is designed to help anyone, particularly beginners who are interested in learning to do the craft of black smithing, especially in south central and western Virginia including areas around Lynchburg, Danville, South Boston, Martinsville, Roanoke, Rocky Mount, Bedford, Stuart, Appomattox. 

On this page you will find: 
1. Tips from L.T Skinnell     
2. Where can you purchase good blacksmith coal ? 
3. Places to purchase mild steel
4. Fire Pots

5. Touch Marks

6. Training


Tips from L.T.:

* From LT : Jan. Monthly Tip: Fire Control:

         We hear and read about the need for fire control and it is necessary in order to get the right amount of heat in the right location. Heat in the right location is important and can make your forging session productive and rewarding. Heat in the wrong spot can cause frustration, extra work and less rewarding, to say the least. A simple example is upsetting the end of a bar. If the heat is concentrated at the end, your hammer blows are effective and the bar is upset quickly. But if your heat runs up the bar to far, your hammer blows are less effective, and the bar bends easily and you spend more time straightening etc. Another example is making hooks or just making bends. The bar will want to bend where it is the hottest. So let the heat help rather than hurt. Good fire control makes it easier to get the heat in the right spot. A coal forge can be used for so many different task when you have control.


* Tip of the month: Working With Flat Bar:

          I recently made some small hooks out of 1/8 x 3/4 flat bar. The biggest problem with forging flat bar that is much wider than thick is a cold shunt developing the length of the bar, when forging to near round. The cause of this is to much hammering on the thin edges. I have found it best to hit one blow on edge, one blow on flat, one blow on other edge, one blow on other flat side. In other words hit and rotate 90 degrees. This works very well for me. Monitor what is taking place as you forge and adjust accordingly. Cold shunts are ugly and they may cause your piece to break or fail. If you see one developing stop and grind or file it away.  

* Monthly tip: Clean-Up Metal Shavings:

          To clean up metal shavings, you can put a magnet inside a plastic sandwich bag and sweep area. Remove magnet and Discard bag and shavings. This may help if you have shavings in a sensitive area, like customers property.
L.T.Skinnell * 

Tip from L.T. : Preventing Cracks & Cold Shunts ii Slips or Cuts:

          When we split a bar hot or saw it cold, we need to heat it up and radius the end of cut with a fuller tool of some kind. I usually use a hand held fuller tool with the bar clamped in vise. This will help prevent cracks from developing as the material is forged and worked. Sometimes a crack won't show up until you have put a lot of work into the piece.

 * Tip from L.T: Concerns When Using Quenching Oil:(SAFETY)

      The container should have a metal cover just like the wax container I spoke about last month. The cover will snuff the fire out if needed. Sometimes the oil will catch fire especially if you are quenching a large tool and you stay around the top surface of the oil. It is better to go deep from my experience. Anyway, have the cover near and if needed you can take control. I could say more but that would be another tip.

*Tip from L.T.: Concerns When Using Traditional Wax Mixture:(SAFETY)

             I'm thinking safety this month. More Specifically, the flammability of the traditional wax mixture that we use on our colonial pieces. I use a two pound coffee can as my container, and have a metal cover for it. Initially when melting and mixing the ingredients, its best to stay away from an open flame. I usually use my old wood stove in the shop. For added safety, you could put the container in a pan of water. I have had my wax to catch on fire when I was applying it to finished pieces. Don't Panic! Put the cover on the container and it will go out. Just be aware that it can happen. For added safety keep other flammable material away when using it.
Be Safe and protect your property.

*Tip from L.T.: Welding Heat:

           This month we will go to the other end of the range and look at welding heat. For mild steel this is white in color. Be careful, this is close to burning and damaging your piece. Because the metal gets softer as it gets hotter this is a good heat for upsetting and forging a welded area. If you need to bend in a welded area, it is better to have it white hot. Besides upsetting and welding some people like this heat for making shoulders and general forging of larger pieces. I suggest everyone learn the different heats and what they are best suited for and let the heat work for you

*Tip from L.T.: Finishing Heat:

           We need to learn the different heats for different task. One of these is a finishing heat which is dark red in color and non scaling. As the name implies this heat is used for finishing your piece. The surface will be left smooth, the chamfer edges will be more crisp and pleasing to the eye. the reason for this is the lack of scaling. A scaling heat leaves a rough surface and the chamfer and different facets tend to blend and not be as noticeable. It is easy to overlook this but if you will finish at a low heat you will notice the difference.

              Where can you purchase blacksmithing coal?
Note: all coal is not equal! no two coals are exactly the same! coal of choice for blacksmiths is bituminous and not anthracite. 
         FYI-    1. A five-gallon bucket of coal weighs about 33 pounds.
                   2. When gas prices goes up, coal prices also go up.
                   3. Price per ton delivered depend on how many miles to the delivery site
                   4. Blacksmith coal is getting harder and harder to find. 
                   5. I suspect that blacksmith coal will more than double in price in the next few years.

Lloyd Burns who lives in West Virginia will deliver the coal to your shop. He has been doing this for years and has delivered it to a lot of famous smiths, plus Colonial Williamsburg and John C Campbell Folk School. He and his wife Ruby are very nice people and they have delivered a three and half ton load to my shop four times. His telephone # is 304-497-2371 . The price per ton delivered to Lynchburg VA by Lloyd. In Oct 2018 was about $327.00 a ton. Price in the winter time is better than the remainder of the year, if he can get it.

ODBSA will again be offering good blacksmith coal to ONLY our members.*7/11/2016--4.52 tons of WV washed Sewell pea coal was delivered to my place by Lloyd Burns. This coal is a little bit smaller that the nugget coal that he delivered a couple of months ago. It's from the same mine and very good blacksmith coal. Cost was $1,294.98 or $.14325 lb. The last time we sold a 5 gal bucket full of coal for $4.00 to our members and lost about dollar a bucket from our cost. This time the cost will be $5.00 for a 5 gal. bucket full (35 lbs) to our members and only at a loss of about 2 cents per bucket. Lloyd did tell me the mine might be closing down because of loss orders. They are now operating only 2 days a week and it does not look good.
Dixie Gas and Oil Corp. Verona,VA (near Stauton) 540-248-6273: I talked with the owner in Feb 2013. Their coal comes from Penn.and they are presently out of bituminous coal for blacksmiths and not sure if or when they will be getting more in but please telephone them before coming. They sell it only in 50 lb bag. He gave me a price this day only of $9.25 a bag (50 lb) delivered if I ordered 25,000 lbs (10 pallet loads).  They do sell anthracite coal (this does not coke well and burns very hot) and I did not ask the price.
Hill’s Coal and Trucking Co, Galax, VA 1-276-236-3507 --Master Blacksmith Billy Phelps says that this is not very good blacksmithing coal. I called on 02/28/2013 and they said they have coal and sell it to blacksmiths for $125.00 a ton. They do sell small quantities, but you will need to bring your own boxes or bags and you load it yourself.. The girl I talked with did not know what kind of coal they had. -------------UP DATE Jan.2015  I've been told by a newer member that Hill Coal & Trucking Co in Galax, VA is now selling coal from Kentucky and it works well for blacksmithing. ( $125.00 a ton.) 
Floyd,VA from Rock Bonham owner of Blue Ridge Minibldgs just out side of Floyd,VA. Phone # 540-745-5035. 
He says that he has bituminous coal for sale: 40 lb bags for $6.50 a bag or tractor scoop for $80.00  and it's about 600 lbs. It has 3" to 6" chunks, low sulphur content, high btu, and has been washed with very little fines.
I telephoned him Friday 2nd to talk. He say that he has been selling it to blacksmiths. Lloyd Burns delivered a  truck load (over 20 Tons) from West VA a few months ago. I have no clue how good of blacksmithing coal this is until one of you try some. It has the largest pieces of coal that I've heard of in recent times, but you can break it up. That is an excellent price,close by, and you can get it in bags. Open week days 8am until 5 pm: Sat.9am until 1pm. UPDATE: no longer selling coal.
. Key Stone, West Virginia (Blue Stone Coal Corp). Note: as of May 2010 they are not selling to the public at present because (I've been told) they were sold to the Russians and all is going overseas.
Hatcher F.L.& Son Inc. Roanoke, VA   Note this place is closed down as per Feb 2013  
Monger’s Coal and Oil  was sold to Dixie Gas and Oil
New source of coal taken from Appalachian Blacksmiths Association Newsletter: Winter 2014. Greenbrier Minerals is now selling Sewell Seam Coal at Rupert, West Virginia. Tel. 304-372-1000, House coal=$125.00 ton; Blacksmith coal =$200.00 ton of stoker (bean size).
New to us on Feb 11, 2013  Another place to get Blacksmith Coal: Both Fred Crist and Lanny Campbell told me Sat that they now get their blacksmith coal in Harrisonburg, VA. I called R. J. Monger & Sons Inc.(a lumber yard) and this is what I found out. He has to order it by the semi truck load and he sales it for $6.50 for a 40lb bag. Load it yourself, not using his bags. the cost is $280 a ton and that equals to .14 cents a pound. That works out to be $4.62 for a 5 gal bucket that weights about 33 lbs. The size is about 5/8" to 3/4". John Monger said it's coal that burns very hot with not as much smoke. They will deliver but only within a 50 mile radius. ------265 Chesapeake Drive, Harrisonburg,VA 540-434-3882

Places to Purchase Mild Steel

1. BMG Metal, Inc                       $15.00 handling charge, $75.00 Min.
    100 Industrial Dr.
    Lynchburg, VA 24501

2. Thurmatco Corp                     They will sell you any length, with no cutting charge.

    3502 Mayflower Dr.

    Lynvchburg, Va 24501
3. Jarrett Welding Co.
    954 Goodyear Blvd
    Danville, VA 24541
4.  Hudson’s Welding Shop
     1757 Westover Dr
     Danville, VA
5.  Ace Steel 
     2200 Buford Ave S.W.     

     Roanoke, Va
6. Martinsville Iron & Steel Co 
    131 Virginia Avenue
    Martinsville, VA
    1-800- 626-7352 

                             Fire Pots Updated 1-5-19

Fire pots for coal forges: from $255 to $415.00 not counting shipping and handling.
1.    Bob “Ironmonger” Cruikshank  $255.00
Firepots---Call or write for sales brochure, Made in USA
1495 W. Possum Rd., Springfield, OH 45506
(939) 323-1300 
Note: we’ve just got a new one & it’s an excellent firepot. Thick walls & well cast. He does not take credit cards.
2.    Centaur Forge  $415.90
Note: This is what I have in my rock forge and was the least expensive.
3.    Blacksmith Depot:      $425.00
Note: This is the most expensive but I’ve been told it is an excellent fire pot Fire pots for coal forges.
4. John Elliott of Blacksmith Supply now has firepots   $329.00

Touch Marks:

A touch mark will cost between $100 - $200 depending on the mark.



ODBSA will provide free training, curtsy of Bobby Floyd,  when you meet the following:

1. Must be 21 years old. If under 21, must be with a participating parent.

2. Must have a working forge setup.

3. Must be an active member in ODBSA.

Contact: Bobby Floyd, 1-434-335-5621