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I Forge Iron

Letter opener

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Nice job on both the video and the letter opener. I made a letter opener for a friends wife and she raised a few good points which caused me to remake the letter opener for her. Letter openers are generally no longer than an average table knife and many times shorter. The end has to fit comfortably and naturally into the users hand. Needless to say my second letter opener was shorter and daintier than the first.

Keep up the good work.

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Joe, nice presentation. I agree with Doug that the letter opener should be about the length of a table knife.

May I suggest a couple of ways to change the next letter opener. Thin the edge of the blade just a bit so it can cut through the paper. This edge usually needs to be on the TOP of the blade, as most people I have seen open the envelope by cutting upward.

When you make the twist, go from round to square with very well defined ends at the transition. Heat the stock, and use a small stream of water to isolate the heat to just the area being twisted. Clamp the stock in the vise AT the transition point and twist quickly before the vise draws the neat from that end of the stock. This will result in a crisp transition from round to twist and back to round.

This is where you show your craftsmanship and your extra effort as a blacksmith to make that simple letter opener unique and special. There are many different ways to decorate the metal. You can play with decorating the twisted section by using a center punch to place dimples into opposite flats, by using a chisel and making a line on opposite flats, or all 4 flats before twisting, or making the twisted section into flat bar and then twisting. You can even add a pineapple twist to the letter opener.

You will want to consider the balance of the letter opener as it is being held in the hand. Too heavy or out of balance and it will not be used.

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The first is always a prototype, sample if you will, to see that everything comes together as you planned and it works. Keep it for yourself so you can look back later and see how your have progressed. I still have (and use) the first letter opener I made. It reminds me to be humble (grin).

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Something to think about:

When you look at that "whatever" made from steel by a blacksmith, just how long do you spend looking at the details?

Let us say it is a pair of tongs.

These tongs were made from a rebar by Highlander
(thank you for allowing me to use the photo as an example).

These tongs were made from a horse shoe by Jedsdad
(thank you for allowing me to use the photo as an example).

Both sets of tongs work, and most likely close to the same amount of time was spent making each pair of tongs. But you have taken more time to *LOOK* at the second pair to see how the horseshoe was made into tongs and how you can do the same.

These tongs were made by Strine
(thank you for allowing me to use the photo as an example).

He applied a little talent, and took a little more time to personalize the tongs. Everyone that comes by his demo *LOOKS* at the tongs. They Oooh, they Ahhh, they want one.

The point is, try to spend that extra bit of time to personalize the items you produce and to let your work reflect your dedication to the craft. Let those that purchase (and use) your work be proud to own and use that item. Let them point out to others the details, the small things that make it special. It only take a few minutes longer at the forge.

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