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I Forge Iron

Forging heavy stock

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As part of my full time business I make a lot of stair railings.
These usually involve handling and forging a lot of long and/or heavy stock for newel posts and handrail sections. These are often in the range of 1 1/4 '' to 2'' solids. I seldom or never have a helper available.
I usually try to avoid having to use tongs if I can, sometimes welding a section of pipe on the end as a handle to be cut off later.
I find the most useful tool for handling heavy pieces at forging temperature is a steel hook about 14'' long with a 1 1/2'' radius bend at the business end. The handle is shaped like a T at right angles to the plane of the hook.
With one hand on the cool end of the stock , I can drag the hot bar out of the forge and while it is resting on the stock rest at the mouth of the firebox, I can pick the hot section up with the hook and carry it to the hammer , anvil or platen table.
Once the weight of piece is on the dies or anvil it is fairly easy to move it around to work on it . The hook can be hung on the die key or tool tray or kept in the hand, the T handle gripped against the bar enabling both hands to manipulate the hot section under the hammer. The process is repeated in reverse to get it back into the forge.
The use of the hook allows for much better body mechanics in handling heavy pieces. Cotton hot mill gloves, leather apron and steel toed boots are essential as are careful planning and a clear path.
The hook is also very useful in handling long sections, particularly where the heat is towards the center of the bar, The longest piece I can work unaided with this method is about 12 feet.
The hook I use is made of 3/8'' spring steel. It was originally a halibut gaff. I cut the point off to make it safer to use.
Anyone have any other tricks to handling pieces like this?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for this idea I made a quick hook out of 1/4" bar to help me lifting a couple of heavy bars in and out of the forge to the platen table. A lot of the time I had a pair of tongs on the end of the bar held on with a link. I did find that holding near the bits of the tongs the weight of the tongs helped to counterbalance the weight of the bar. I will be making a better hook out of 3/8" I am not sure spring steel is needed as the 1/4 worked with 19" of 2" round with 12" of 2x2 1/2" on the far end.

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Indeed thanks for the idea. Simple is good. I forge tripods and firesets from 3 to 7 feet (5/8 round normally)stock. Material handling is the key yes. I have stock stands for the forge and also for working hot ends. Power hammer sow block and anvil and swage stand and stock stand and forging tool table are all within a 1/2"of same height BUT, the hook is a sweet idea. Will have to make one although not a lot of times I need it. Again, thanks. Infeed/outfeed rollers (or stands) for the saw are handy also for hot welded projects. Not many halibut in the Des Moines river. A bale hook might be the trick though.

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