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.

hack saw

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.

Edwards #1 shear

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.

Edwards #5 shear

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.

chop saw

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.

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