Cutting Steel Cold

Blacksmiths often need to cut, either hot or cold. Cuts are made in tool making, to prepare stock, shorten rivets, and as part of the forging. Almost all the cuts we make are cold because that is quicker and more precise. Blacksmiths a century or more ago often made most of their cuts hot. We’ll show how that’s done in the next post.

This is Molly’s favorite hacksaw of the several we use, one she inherited from her dad. In a previous post we showed an early nineteenth century hacksaw frame. A common element to both is a way to add tension to the blade. When our shop was first started in 1991 we used a hacksaw to make almost all the cuts.

Our shop has two shears for cutting steel. This is an Edwards number 1 shear which is used for cutting hinge pins and rivets and sheet metal up to 14 gauge (a little over 1/16 inch thick). The blade is controlled by pulling a handle that extends beyond the right upperhand frame of the photograph.

The other shear in the shop is much bigger. It’s an Edwards number 5 shear and is used for doing the bulk of the cutting. It’s rated to cut much thicker stock than what we cut on it, as it was made when steel was much less tough than it is today. The largest stock we’ve cut with the Edwards number 5 is bars 1/4 by 2 inches. We use a short handle for cutting thinner stock and a five foot long handle for cutting thicker.

Electrically powered chopsaws are found in most blacksmith shops now and ours is no different, but our chop saw gets little use. It’s handy when cutting 3/4 inch thick bars used for jigs and tools and is sure a lot easier than using a hacksaw!

Cutting stock cold has little of the romance associated with blacksmithing but is a mainstay of contemporary shops.

Go to the next post, Cutting Steel Hot.

The Cutting Steel Cold post originally appeared here.


Blacksmith's Blog Posts

The Shop
A Shop Shaded by Trees
The Blacksmith's Fire
Wrought Iron
Blacksmith Finish

The Library
The Blacksmith's Library -- Objects
The Blacksmith's Library -- Books

The Blacksmith's Hands -- the Hammer
The Blacksmith's Hands -- Tongs
What's It?
Using a Power Hammer

Cutting Steel Cold
Cutting Steel Hot
Blacksmith's Riveting, Brazing and Welding, part 1
Blacksmith's Riveting, Brazing and Welding, part 2
Shaping a Grip
Shaping the Braced Driven Catch
Making a Suffolk Latch -- The Thumber's Slot
Forging a Suffolk Latch Bar

Making a Latch
is a description, with photos, of the steps we go through to make a Suffolk Latch.

Making a Hinge
is a description, like Making a Latch, that shows the steps we go through to make a Butterfly Hinge.

Making a Grip
shows the process for making a Cabinet Grip.

Tools of the Trade
shows some of the tools in Molly’s blacksmith shop.

Making a Living
describes how we became blacksmiths.

Glossary of Blacksmithing Terms
is linked to various words that are not commonly known by non-smiths throughout this section of the site.