Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Mack Firedoors

Gayle Brooks

Recommended Posts

I gave the topic the same project name that it is in the studio.

After cleaning up the working drawing I was given, and got the small details figured out I went to the prototypes for the grill of these fire doors.

This particular one was a type of "knuckle" joint. The challenge was to forge this detail and be able to do it so that another joint could be laid out on the same bar. I tried to forge this out on the anvil and power hammer, though could not get a consistent, controlled result. So after upsetting the mass, offsetting it to one side, drilling a hole and cutting mass out to create a slot; I used a press to squish this joint out. I made some tooling for the press that had 2 shoulders to control the piece to stay inline. Ended up breaking the press step up in 2 parts. One was using a 3/8"x 1" flat bar and set it in the joint under the press. Next I opened it up a little making room for my 1/2" x 1" bar and doing that last squeeze. The result was nice and very clean.

I apologize ahead for this is a camera phone pics.



Thanks for reading! Ill post more soon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks for the kind words, Beth :)

update on these doors. Got the grills done. I have left is to hang them, rivet then grills on, build the glass frames and some fine details.


Handles riveted together. A tenon was forged on the end of the 1/2" square stock and riveted through the 3 pieces of flat bar

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Your works visual vocabulary is exceptional and the execution is flawless. How long you been smithing? Who does your design work and do you contribute some of your forging sensibility to your location? Pike must be a beautiful place to live and work. Have any photos of your shop setup?

Wow Michael! Thank you for such kind words. Some about me: I'm a second generation smith and am 28 yrs old. I grew up in the studio. It was used as punishment for quite some time when I was younger. I never really got grounded, I just went to work with dad. I have been full-time since I was 15. I work with my father and 99.9% of what I know, and how to do it, is because of him. I take an occasional class but most of the time he is my walking library. I could not do this craft without him.

As for the business side of things, I get handed a design that he has drawn up. I am allowed the freedom to interpret the drawing how ever I see fit --as long as it looks like the drawing at the end-- and I finish with in the given amount of time to stay with in budget. Most of our work has been in higher end custom homes. The designs are custom to each client. Either based on their personal experience and/or design of the house. As for these firedoors he is really liking them. Has made the comment "I like where you have taken these. Nice touch."

The shop is quite large. It has been 30 years of my dad gathering, building, modifying. The past 10 years of my contributions as well.

Some update pics of what I was able to get done today.

Rolled some barrels and fabed the pins into place.

Riveted the grill and handles
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Typically when we hang fire doors, we set them up straight. Here you can see I have 3/4" round back welded to the back of the frame and the table to brace the frame. I also will weld some angle iron on the table for the base. In this case the frame was flexing a little from the weight, so I welded the corners down to the table. Before I hang the doors I make sure my frame and doors were built flat from the beginning, and hang it level in every direction. If these are not met, it makes this part of the door hard to do. I apologize for the blurry pic :(

The right door went in fine, the left door I had to budge a little. One risky technique is to heat up the hinge, place a wedge (I happen to have a flat head screw driver with me) behind the door. While the arm of the hinge is hot, you place the wedge behind the door and close it forcing that side to move out. This is risky becuase the door can also move to the center of your frame giving you even more problems. I was lucky in this case since it work well.

I was asked about how we keep the doors closed, if we use magnets. We used to, but it was always a gamble if the glue really took. Seemed that half the time, we would have to reset them. So we use these little plungers. They are adjustable and work great. You have to bevel a little notch on both sides of the frame so it has a ramp to ride against and snap into place.

Later today I got the detailing done, copper in place and ready to paint. This will get a clear laquer and the copper will get a wax finish. Keep in mind these doors are 5 feet across.
The copper has a backing plate on it so it can be attached to the door, and is more rigid in case someone pokes it.

Thanks for reading and replying! Install this guy next week and on to the next project!

visit Dragonforgeltd.com if you would like to see more of what my dad and I do.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


The copper is a nice touch, great tip on the plunger. I'm sure they will be very pleased.

Looks great may I ask how did you get the worn/scale peened type look on the large parts of the frame?
its very consistant and I like the look

do you allow the material to naturally rust or apply an acid?

I have admired your family work in the past

dad has taught you well :)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The copper is a nice touch, great tip on the plunger. I'm sure they will be very pleased.

Originally they were going to go with some bronze plate on the bottom. I was concerned about weight and the doors sagging. So we met with them and showed some other sample pieces. They really turned on to the copper. Which was great since it eliminated a possible issue.

may I ask how did you get the worn/scale peened type look on the large parts of the frame?
its very consistent and I like the look

It is called "boiler plate." At least that's what they call it at the scrap yard. But it comes with that texture and typically loaded with rust.

I have admired your family work in the past
dad has taught you well :)

:) ty
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...