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Unusual Swage Block Features

Unusual design features:

Unusual features are found on blocks from time to time and are more common on personal blocks and artist blacksmith blocks. Some of these are useful and others useless. Many are too specialized and try to standardize things that are not.

The Heart Hole was put forth as a possibility by Alex Bealer in The Art of Blacksmithing but has little use if any. Although it looks difficult to make it can be made with a simple two piece core box.

Triangular and half round holes are occasionally found on general purpose blocks. Equilateral triangles are unusual but 90° triangles are fairly common. The cores for the half round and 90° triangle can both be made from half of an existing square or round core box.

Diamond and Oval holes have possible uses but I have yet to see them on a block.

Star Holes have little use except that eight point holes can be used to hold square shanks at more angles than in a square hole. Generally stars and Hearts are gimmicky shapes but they may interest a collector.

Octagon grooves are rarely found but have use for gunsmiths forging octagon rifle barrels. These type grooves would most likely be custom cut into an existing block by the gunsmith. Octagon bar was once standard but is a rarity today with most bar with flats being hexagonal. See "The Gunsmiths Anvil"

60° V grooves have some use as this is a shape that is difficult to forge without a die. 60° V tapers for making points should be included with the straight 60° V.

Collar, molding and rail section grooves are strictly custom personal shapes and need to be in a stronger material than most blocks are made of. Special sections with details should be made as dies in steel not part of a universal block.

Funnel Grooves have some use in forming sockets or in finding that "just right" radius. They are also useful for forming certain types of wood carving chisels.

Shovel depressions are found on several modern artist blacksmiths blocks but these have little use and assume a standard shovel. It would be much better to have a series of universal depressions that fit different areas of a shovel so that any size or shape the smith should want can be made.

Complete depressions of any object are a "mold" and are for producing the same part over and over. They have no place on a universal tool and should remain a personal pattern.


There is still a great deal of room for originality in design of swage blocks. Many original features will be seen on blocks of the future. There is no perfect block nor "do everything" block.


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