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I Forge Iron




S0013 Hard Work


IForgeIron Stories
Copyright 2002 - 2007 IFORGEIRON, All rights reserved.

S0013 Hard Work
By Richard Hanson © 2003













Is Murphy in your shop? Rhetorical question, who do you think brought the shovel to the ground breaking ceremony.


As I grow older, it seems that I accomplish less each day. It is not that I waste my time or take a lot of naps, I work hard all day long but I don't seem to get much done. I start the day with a good plan and the best of intentions, but when the day ends there seems to be less and less work in the completed pile. I hate to admit it but I think old age is creeping up on me. Chronic CRS is rapidly developing into acute CRAFT. My plan was to make a flower that resembles a Daffodil, but my day usually goes like this:


6:30 AM wake up at decide it is too early to get up and start hammering. Don't want to disturb the neighbors or, God forbid, wake the DG (Domestic Goddess). Decide to sleep for another half hour.


8:00 AM Wake up again stumble out of bed, go down stairs get work clothes out of dryer that you forgot to get two days ago. Get dressed go to the kitchen make coffee, bring in the paper, make usual breakfast of toast with peanut butter, banana and an apple. Eat breakfast, drink coffee while finishing the paper


9:00 AM time to get started. Need a compass and some soap stone. Head out to Hardware Hanks. They have soapstone but no compass. Go to Drug store in strip mall across the street get a compass. Hot xxxx, I also remembered to get a magic marker. This is going to be a banner day. I got everything I set out to get and am on my way back home in less than an hour.


10:00 AM back home. Used debit card from checking account to make purchases so I have to take the receipts into the house and leave them for the DG. Never take a chance, you know where the receipts are and God knows where the receipts are, but if the DG don't know where the receipts are, let me put it this way, you better be on pretty good terms with God! Back down to the garage. Forgot safety glasses, back up to the bedroom, get safety glasses off the dresser. Can't be too careful. Back down to the garage and I am ready to go to work, except I really wanted a second cup of coffee, back up to the kitchen get coffee. Reach for Coffeemate, but absentmindedly grab container of container of toothpicks and dump them in coffee. Dump coffee and toothpicks in garbage, get another cup of coffee. Refill toothpick container, clean up the mess, and head back out to the garage. Return to kitchen, put sweet and low and Coffeemate into coffee.


10:30 AM I am all set and ready to go now. Not a great start, but still not bad. Drag out the table, get a piece of 16 gauge steel and start flower layout. Look out garage door, there are some of them xxxx dandelions out in the yard. Look for the dandelion digger. It should be hanging on the hook but it isn't. Search garage for 10 minutes, finally find it laying on the bench behind the belt sander. Go attack the xxxx dandelions. John up the street calls a greeting, finish dandelion assault lt go up the street and chat with John. Come back, put the dandelion digger back on the hook and now it is time for work!!!


11:00 AM here I go, or here I will go as soon as I can find the stuff I bought at the store this morning. Where the hell did I put those two little bags. Must have left them in the kitchen with the receipts. Back up to the kitchen, nope, they are not there. Back down to the garage. Make mental note to self to sell this split entry house and buy one that is all on one floor. Hate running up and down those stairs all the time. Search garage, finally find the two bags on the bench behind the belt sander. Must have had them in my hand when I found the dandelion digger.


11:30 AM I am definitely ready to start! Just going to have a sip of coffee first. Except I can't seem to find my cup. Search the garage, finally find cup sitting on the stand beside the swage block. Back to the layout, but I can't find the compass I once again search the garage. I know I had it when I went looking for the coffee, check the swage block stand, it's not there. Make quick turn, feel sharp pain in left side of chest. Found compass, it is point down in my shirt pocket. Back to the layout. It is finally done. Actual work only took a couple minutes. Now all I have to do is trace the pencil marks with the black magic marker I had in my hand a minute ago. Search garage, turn quick, bump head into end or retractable extension cord hanging from reel attached to rafter. Reach up to retract cord fully, magic marker falls out from under arm and lands on the floor. Well at least I found it now.


12:15 PM Layout is done and I am ready to cut it out. Had no trouble finding the saber saw, did spend a couple minutes rooting through a drawer to find metal cutting blade. Changed blades, put wood cutting blade back in storage pack. Put screwdriver on the top of the freezer because I am sure I will need it in a bit. Usually break a blade doing this stuff. Cut out most of flower before blade broke. Grind new tang on blade, put back in saw. Finish cutout. Time to light the forge. Forge is lit, but I swear I heard some turkeys up on the hill. Spend 15 minutes gazing at hillside can�t remember why. Oh yea, it is turkeys. There are 4 black things up there, 2 are definitely stumps, the other two are quite possibly turkeys. Just then the two stumps sprout wings and fly away while the turkeys remain motionless. Well I was right I did hear turkeys even if I didn't seem that so clear. Make mental note to self: Make appointment with eye doctor.


12:30 PM The forge is hot and I am ready to go. Heat it and beat it. Got that thing all pounded out thing add ready to run it into my new flower making tool. Except, where did I �put� the tool? Oh yea I remember, I took it in the house to show it to the DG last night. It's laying on the counter in the kitchen. Back up stairs get tool and return to garage. Now I am all set. The flower is red hot, put it on the swage tool, and punch it down it. Oops the petals overlapped, didn't cut the slots deep enough. Have to start over. Good thing I used this one as a pattern to trace a couple more before I hammered on it.


1:00 PM Clear off work table. Where did all that stuff come from. Start cutting second flower, break blade for second time this time it is not salvageable get new blade. Look for screwdriver in tool box, oh yea, I left it on the freezer because I knew I would need it again. Change blades and finish cutting out flower with deeper cuts hope I didn't cut them too deep. Back into the forge. While this is heating, I will cut out the piece for the center section. Get some 2 inch by 1/8 stock. Cut first 2 inch piece with hack saw. Cut crooked, cut another, also crooked. Say the heck with it, get out chop saw. Too big a hassle to wrestle with a 10 foot piece, cut off about a foot. Oops, now I remember, blade on chop saw is worn down to a nub. Good thing I picked up another a couple days ago. Where I put it. Search garage!!!! Find blade laying on bench between belt sanders. Change blade. Spend several minutes getting the stock marked at exactly 2 inches, then spend 5 minutes trying to determine why you are being so anal about having exactly 2 inches of steel when you are going to heat it up and beat the hell out of it anyway. Start cut and circuit breaker kicks out. Back into house, downstairs this time. Breaker box is on the wall right by the washer. As long as I am here might as well wash a load of shop rags. Put rags in washer reset breaker, back up stairs. Oops, back down stairs, put soap in washer and turn it on, back to the garage. Starting to feel tired, like I walked 10 miles or so. Plug chop saw into another outlet on another circuit. Make cut then clamp piece in vise to slot sides. Where did the hacksaw go. It was here a minute ago, now it's gone. Check under arm, not there, check behind belt sander not there. Search garage, find hacksaw hanging on the block that vise is mounted on. Slot piece, then remember I have had iron in the fire for quite a while. Good thing I have the gas forge on idle or I would be cutting out the third flower I traced. Hammer out petals, vein them with cross pein. Punch into swage tool, things look good. Turn the petals down over the edge of the tool. Not bad for a first try. Look for piece that I just cut, find it laying on the tray in front of the forge, put it in the fire then go out back to look at a real Daffodil what I have made bears little resemblance to the actual flower, back into the shop. Hammer out center section very thin, then texture with a cross pein. Re heat, get ready to punch this one into the swage tool, need the smaller round nosed punch I have made, where is it, oh there it is, laying on the anvil mount. Punch center section into tool, get still smaller punch and punch it again to shrink it down. It don't look that good, it's ok but just barely. Start thinking of some other way to do this. Round tube would be good, wonder if they make round tube, oh yea they do, it's called pipe stupid! Get piece of 1/4 inch round to make stem. Cold texture it then forge a square point on one end. Drill hole in center of two pieces and insert stem and rivet over then end. All tools necessary were found in the vicinity of the vise. Amazing, I may get this done yet. Grab a piece of � X 1/8 inch stock and forge the leaves, we're rolling now. DG calls down, lunch is ready. Good place to take a break.


2:30 PM Back from lunch. Well fed, fat and happy. All I got to do is weld the leaves on this thing, and while I am at it, weld the leaves on the rose and the lilly I made at the hammer in last Saturday. Then paint them and mount them all together in a block of wood. The welding goes fine, I don't burn a hole in anything or melt a stem. Got everything ground down, then worked over with a hammer and scraped with a chisel, got the grind marks all out. This is great. Only lost my welding pliers a few times, found them in my back pocket twice, on top of the welder twice, on the table 3 times, on the floor twice, and how the hell they got on the freezer once I will never know because I swear I never went over there!!!!


3:15 PM Time to paint. I know nothing can go wrong here all the paint is in the paint closet. The brushes are on top of the closet Get a coffee can lid down off the top shelf to use as s pallet. I want a pale light yellow for this daffodil. Open bright yellow paint can, oops forgot to shake it. Put lid back on shake can. Set can down, clean yellow paint splatters off face, wall, freezer and arms. Put lid tightly on can shake again. Put dab of yellow on pallet get white paint, SHAKE CAN, then open, put dab of white paint on pallet. Mix desired color and paint flower. Turn lid over, mix a light green and paint stem and leaves. End of stem is firmly clamped in vise, gently loosen vise, try to catch end of stem as it drops through vise, place end of stem into hole in block of wood, wipe green paint off hands and re-paint stem. Place lilly and rose into other holes in this block of wood that has been made for just this purpose. Paint rose and lilly without further trouble.


4:00 PM Flowers are painted, and I only lost the paint brush a couple times. Both times it was found quickly and fortunately for me, neither time was it found under my arm. Time to assemble the base. I can actually remember where I put the bucket with the shale slabs and I also know where I put the pieces of Mexican Driftwood. Select appropriate piece of each. Man the base will look neat even if the flowers don't. Wash the slate, then drill a hole in it for a screw to hold the wood in place. Get the drill the slate, and small masonry bit. Drill hole no problem. The hole is just slightly smaller than the screw, no problem, just drill it out with a little bigger bit. Where did the chuck key go. Check under arm, not there, check behind belt sander, not there, check pockets not there. Search garage!!!!, find it under rag on top of wire feed. Change bits, put chuck key back on holder attached to drill cord. Drill out hole, change to a bigger bit, turn slab over and counter sink hole to bury screw head. Get long drywall screw, cut off to appropriate length. Now I am ready to assemble but I can't find the drift wood. SEARCH GARAGE!!! find driftwood setting in plain sight on bending table beside vise. Screw driftwood to slate. Now all I have to do is drill 3 holes in the drift wood for the flower stems. Open drill index, the only bit not in the index is the 1/4 inch spade point wood bit. No problem, I remember where I used it last, it is probably in the drawer with the other bits by the drill press. It's not!!!!!! SEARCH GARAGE!!!!!, bit is not to be found. Pick up one of three 1/4 inch bits that are laying in plain sight have chuck key in my hand but can't find the drill. Finally find drill by remembering it is still plugged in, get hold of the yellow extension cord and follow it to the drill. Why it is laying on the back side of the swage block stand will never be known.




5:00 PM plant the flowers in the driftwood and glue them into place with 5 minute epoxy. Spray the whole mess with clear lacquer and set it out to dry. Clean up garage and put tools away. Still can't find the 1/4 inch spade point bit. But wait, can it be, yes, yes, there it is. It's the one that is still chucked into the drill press.


5:30 PM Done and cleaned up, I am beat, worked like a dog all day and all I got to show for it is some lame looking flowers stuck into a board screwed to a rock. Well they don't look too bad from about 100 yards away but remember this is through the eyes of a guy who thinks stumps fly and turkeys stand motionless for long periods of time.


Final Thoughts


As I was typing this, I found myself sitting here laughing because I couldn't remember the name of the flower I was writing about. Oh yea, it's a Daffodil !!!

s0013-2.jpg. s0013-2.jpg

There is a IForgeIron Blueprint that accompanies this story, BP0050 Flower Swage, and BP0140 Painting Flowers.

Edited by Glenn

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Amen brother! I can totally relate. Sometimes I feel like I have worked my tail off.  Then when I'm telling my husband what I did, it doesn't sound like much. I guess if I told about the misdirection and the stuff I forgot to get or walking into a room and forgetting what I went in there for etc. etc. it would more match how I feel. Good laugh

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