Cutting Steel Hot

Blacksmiths cut hot for centuries because it was quick and the tools were more easily accessible. Blacksmiths could make their own. Hacksaw blades were expensive and not easy to obtain and the only shears we’ve seen used in contemporary prints of shops were those used where water power was available or were for extremely thin metal like tinplate.

Hot cutting is done with a chisel or tool configured much like the common cold cut chisel, except the blade is much thinner and sharper. A cold cut chisel is shown to the left and next to is a hot slitting chisel, both of which are meant to be held in the hand and struck with a hammer. A handled hot cut chisel is shown next. To use this another person must be added to the forging operation either to hold the chisel or to strike it with a hammer while the blacksmith holds the hot steel to be cut in tongs on the anvil. The tool furthest to the right is a hot cut hardy, whose stem fits in the hardy hole of the anvil to hold the tool upright and secure there.

Here the hot cut hardy is shown in use.

This tool allows the blacksmith to work alone, heating the forging and resting it on the cutting edge while striking the forging with a hammer. In this case, the forging is rotated between blows. If the bar is not rotated while the cut is being made, the cut end will be sloped at an angle.

This is a half inch bar with the cut partially completed.

The final blows are struck to one side of the hardy’s edge so the hammer’s face won’t be marred by a misstrike. The final blows must have enough power to complete the cut, but not so much that the cut off piece goes flying to the other side of the shop!

This is the end of a  1 1/2 inch bar that was cut hot using a hot cut hardy tool. As can be seen, there’s a rough area in the center. We used hot cutting in this instance for making a hardy tool for the anvil.

The half-inch bar has been reheated and its end is being struck repeatedly by the hammer to dress the end, making it smooth.

This is the dressed end of the half inch bar. Dressing is required to prevent a flaw in the forging from occurring from the rough hot cut end. Several heats were used to cut and dress the stock but if we did this all the time we could probably get it down to one heat.

Cold cutting is still faster and more accurate and that’s what we do except when cutting the slot for Suffolk latches.