Blacksmithing is not a thing of the past. Torbjörn Åhman offers his expertise in making his own tools by using tried and true blacksmithing techniques used for centuries. One of the tools he teaches people to make (on his YouTube channel) is a flatter. If you have the right equipment, you’ll never have to pay for tools again.
Forging your own flatter begins with a blueprint of what you want to make. Calculate the stock length and build a swage block, which works as a mold for the flatter. Åhman’s was 70mm×70mm×28mm with rounded inner edges, a slanted upper face and welded wings for added support. When you think your mold is done, do a test run with clay first to ensure you got it right.
Once this step is done, saw off the piece of iron or metal you’ll need, throw it in fire to heat it up and begin shaping the tool by hitting it with a sledgehammer. If you’re using a rounded piece of metal, you can shape this into a square by hitting each side of the circle until a square-like form takes shape. If it’s too thick to fit into your mold, continue to hit the piece and it will eventually thin out.
Once in the mold, you’ll need to focus on shaping the top of your flatter. In the same way you shaped the base, you’ll need to heat the top and smash it with your sledgehammer to flatten it. It will eventually flatten down and become more square.
When it’s closer to the appropriate size, you can use your automatic sledgehammer to shape the edges of the piece. When you’re almost done, use a spare (or borrow one) flatter to flatten the top of your new tool.
Now you’re almost done. Next you’ll need to focus on making the hole through which you’ll put your handle. Using a pointed tool and a mallet, begin making a small hole in your flatter head. Continue to heat the base and gradually make the hole larger, as not to break the metal.
Once the sizing is right, grind out any imperfections and use a sanding wheel to ensure your metal is smooth. When you’ve got it right, heat the meal again and dunk it in a bucket of water. This will set your metal.
After you paint and varnish your flatter, the last step is making a handle. It needs to fit loosely, as the better vibrations through the flatter, the more effective it will be. Simply take a wooden rod and shave it down so it fits nicely in the hole you’ve made in the flatter.
When this is done, crown and shape the edges and corners of your tool head, to ensure you have a perfectly smooth surface. The last step is testing your tool to gauge quality. If it looks good, you’re done!