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I Forge Iron

Dishing with a swage block

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I made a new piece for my stove yesterday. I was very pleased how it came out and how quickly I was able to complete it.

The stove lid is a circle of 1/4" plate with a hole in the centre to use as a lifting point. Under the hole was a piece of pipe with a plate welded on the bottom. This sealed the hole so as to prevent smoke getting out. At the weekend the pipe snapped off so I had to replace it. The problem was that a similar piece would have the same problem- it stuck down at 90 degrees and so was a stop to me putting in logs through the door at the front.

Having thought the matter over I got a circle of 3/8" platemaybe 5" across and heated it with the torch. I then put it in the biggest dish in my swage block and whacked away with a sledge. The resultant dish is much better than I had expected which is a rare experience! I then just arc welded it to the underside of the lid and it works beautifully. The dome deflects logs rather than snagging them. The effect reminded me a bit of the turret on a T52.

Nothing probably of interest to anybody but I was really happy.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey Phil

It's yet another example to remind all of us how important blacksmiths used to be, and how we are still a very viable element among the professional workforce.
Would any of us send away to the manufacturer with this request to have them make a domed stove lid? Heck no! They wouldn't mess with setting their machines to make just one domed lid!

I have been wanting to make a dishing tool, maybe 4" wide to use in making spoons and forming brass. I don't have money to buy a swage block. I was thinking I could cut out a half round (an arch, or skateboard jump) out of 2" plate
and use that for dishing...

Seems easier than grinding a dish out of a solid block!

Well done Phil...send us a photo if you're able


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You could go the wood route. You don't need a stump, only a cut off about 6 inch round and about an inch deeper than you want the bowl to be. You should be able to hollow out the depression using a wood chisel. I think you will find that route gives you a better result in the end.


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I used to use a wood stump for dishing too, as the wood chars the depression deepens and for thinner steel plate, 1/8-3/16", you can cold work it on a stump without to much difficulty. I now use various wood fixtures to dish copper sheet and silver too.
Good to see you post again Philip, I was just thinking that I hadn't seen a post from you in a long time. Hope that all has been well with you.

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Dishing form: taking a piece of round stock and bending it into a circle will work too.

On gas bottle bottoms: there are several ways to go with them; like cutting them short and using them on the anvil or stump; or cutting them long and using them setting upright on the shop floor. Bottles have a variety of dimple shapes so you can get quite a collection of them if you do dishing intensive work like armouring.

I like mine short so they will fit under the screwpress

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Another trick is cutting a black iron pipe elbow. What you want after cutting is the inside of the curve on the inside of the fitting that was the outside of the original fitting's curve. I know that sounds confusing, :blink: if it's too confusing simply experiment on some copper fittings till you find the shape you like, then buy the iron elbows.

I've had good success forging dippers and such with the appropriate diameter through holes in my swage block. I've also used different diameter black iron pipe in the same way though I'd make a ring from round stock as Thomas suggested were I to do it again.


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