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I Forge Iron

making tongs, what to use for rivets


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thank you. i have been visiting here for a while and decided to join.

i have a forge now and i am learning to use it. i can use a oxy/acet torch.

i am a sculptor, or used to be before sidesaddles took over my life. lol worked in bronze and steel. and porcelain, wood and fabric 

i cold forge because it i am better at it and i rarely work on any metal thicker than 1/8" right now. i will not get heat near the old wood trees.

i do heat some pieces if cold forging will not get the shape i want, lol!!

the bolts  i have are mild steel..   they rivet easily and look great just wondering if there are any disadvantages using them. some of these saddles will be fox hunted in and need to be safe.   as safe as you can be flying over fences chasing crazy dogs.   

i do realize Thomas Powers, that you deal with older items too. that is why i told what i was working on. lol!! 

i am in the usa, i didn't realize i could put my location.. i will do that now   

i live in east Texas!!

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Structurally peining bolts like rivets is as good as any common rivet. It looks like you're peining them over the nuts, I do that myself when I want to make sure the nut can't vibrate loose but don't have room to double nut it. My only concern would be burn points on the horse, even through pad and blankets. 

Thanks for the pics, I've never taken that close a look at a sidesaddle tree. 

Not being able to move the steel cold is why we put it in a forge, it's so much more smooshable HOT. I understand not wanting to work hot, it takes the right: equipment, skills sets and space. The livingroom or den isn't my idea of a hot shop. The media you work already goes well with iron though mixing metals can lead to corrosion problems, they can be dealt with. 

Is there something we may address you by? Sidesaddle queen is kind of cumbersome for casual conversation. Memorable though and catchy is good for a business name. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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no, the nuts are just on them tighten down the metal and holdout together while i get all the pieces on. many of the straps overlap   they are nearly flush when i am done.. look at the back cantle those are finished rivets..


i have a forge i understand working metal hot,   i can work faster if i do not have to wait for the metal to cool.. i use heat if needed.   

my forge is in the garage, along  many other metal working tools..   


i am building a shop in my garage.    moving the woodwork and metal out.  lol!! my living room is my saddle shop i do all facets of saddle work.  metal, wood  upholstery, leather, .  i am a jacklass of all trades,,, lol!

 mixing metals in art is normal but i don't mix them in saddle work. lol!!


sidesaddle queen was for fun. plum crazy originals is my farm / studio name.  you can call me plum. lol!!

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Howdy Plum; working steel hot tends to leave it in a softer state than working it cold.  Leaving it a bit oversized and then plannishing it to exact size cold to work harden it can help deal with that.  (Some reenactment armour makers used to dish an item and then dish it the reverse way to get it to stiffen up more.  Smart armour makers learned to work medium carbon steels hot and then heat treat---saves RSI on the joints!)

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i know heat  makes it softer  and i use heat when needed.     my methods work great for what i am doing..    .. cold forging allows me to works fast and end up with metal  the correct  hardness for what i need..  if it gets too stiff i anneal it,,, 


the thin metals work in do not need much heat,,

thank all of you for your input!! it is so nice to talk to people have similar interests ...

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Pleased to meet you Plum.

WHEW! Hot spots under saddles are badness things, we kept a carpet whisp(?) whacker thingy to make sure our blankets and pads didn't have hidden grit. I was having a little problem imagining a horse person building in hot spots, glad to see it's not the case. 

A saddle shop in the living room and the metal shop in the garage with all the other tools. A self deprecating sense of humor is icing on the cake. You are SO going to fit in here.

About not using other media on sidesaddles, not even conchos? Didn't the ladies decorate in the day? I mean REALLY, cowboys gussy up to make Liberace take notice. I've known a lot of horsewomen in my time and very VERY few were shrinking violets. I've watched more than one Littlebit slap a too pushy cowboy around. 

Like puns?

Frosty The Lucky.




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English sidesaddle have a wool stuffed panels on them fitted to the horse, if done right, no hots spots.  harder fit than  western saddle in some ways but better for the horse back,,

my blankets and pads do not get dirty enough to cause issues.. I clean everything after I use it.  lol!!   retired dressage queen, only my house is dirty, never my tack,,


I didn't mean no metal on the saddle  just that I don't mix metals in tree repairs.  modern  western sidesaddles  one can be gaudy but saddles from the time period i work in were not decorated with metal but with quilted leather,  very pretty !!!  and then after the 1890s   no decoration at all, just fine leather and workmanship.


lol!! pushy cowboys are why i ride english now. i was going to have to start carries a sidearm..  lol!!

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I'm going to have to read up on sidesaddles to maintain a conversation I think, I know diddly. 

We rode western and the environment meant dust and dirt got everywhere so we'd beat the pad and blankets if shaking made dust. I didn't compete much, a little roping and barrel racing but I was too heavy to make good times. The girls doing dressage wouldn't even talk to the likes of us. <sniff> 

Then again we didn't ride in an arena, we rode everywhere, knew where the fossil beds are, the old mine with the waterfall inside, how to bypass any road and all the back ways in or out. We knew where there was water, good camping and where stray cattle liked to hide. I mostly rode pleasure but I could cut, rope and herd/drive. I never participated in a mustang roundup, I didn't have enough mounts to keep up. All our stock was healthy, well cared for, even pretty. 

What's wrong with carrying a pistol? You meet polite people if you're fully dressed you know. I mean good grief you live in Texas! Oh I suppose you never need to pop a rattle snake in an arena do you? :P

There's a big difference between messy and dirty, your living room isn't a surgery. 

I didn't think anybody would decorate the tree, though there are guys who will chrome plate the frame of their car but no accounting for obsession. Take belt buckles for example. 

I miss the horses, I just couldn't afford to keep them much after high school: job, college and commute time, absorbed all my time and money. Keeping horses in Alaska is a new level of expensive on all counts.

The pic is Banjo and I, he was my boy, great horse, caught in a mustang roundup in Utah and used to round up mustangs for two seasons before we bought him. He did more to teach me to ride and any lesson.

The palomino in the background is Tophat's Babydoll. Mother's day gift from Dad for Mother on who wanted a horse as much as Dad wanted the piano She bought him that Father's day. Babe was dressage trained but didn't like men at all. It got so I could ride her a little but I fed her and would curry her a few times a week just because. I don't have a pic of "Shannon's Nomad" my little Sister's Arabian mare. We called her Happy because she was No Mad. I don't have a pic of Dad's big Morgan mare "Easy" either. I'm going to have to get my Sister to go through the family pics and find some.

Frosty The Lucky.


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sidesaddle is interesting for certain people.  like old cars or tractors.  lol!!

i grew up around western riders.   I rode bareback until I was 18..  hated saddles they never fit me and i could tell my horse didn't like them, he moved different.  I would put 30 miles a day on my old appy riding the roads.. bet I have 200k miles on hwy 69, lol!!

the western riders around her in the 60 and 70s were mean.  I was not going to ride like that so i went looking for something  else.  found jumping, first then dressage and now speed racking.  and sidesaddle.  lol!!  never did like a arena full of people but dressage was fun. like dancing, I had lipizzaners.  lived my dream for a while. 

love your appy!!

I have nothing against guns but hated the atmosphere that made me feel like I needed one.  I use a shotgun on varmints.  2 legged or 4.

no you don't see the tree in a finished saddle so no reason the decorate, except the Mexican sidesaddles, they are very ornate and pretty.  


I have only been without horse a few times in my life. pretty much gave up everything else to have them. lol!!  addict?? maybe,  I have 10 right now, 2 new foals.  crazy but fun. it is cheap to keep horses here if you own land. 


why alaska??


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(Because there's a lot of it there?) 

 My next door neighbor wanted to run a paint horse stud farm next door.  I haven't seen them lately  but they still have  some horses; his new wife rides competitively last I heard.  His house used to be the large 8 sided barn with a courtyard in the middle. Over the years he gradually made his way around it converting it to be an impressive western themed house---(been used in shooting a movie recently) There's an old saddle at the scrap yard I go to; but not a  side saddle. 

Rather a niche market you have there!  (Riding side saddle always reminded me of that quote about Fed Astair and Ginger Rogers "After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.”

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i trained and rode dressage for yrs.  but can't do it anymore. i raised lipizzaner  horse for yrs. my stallion and favorite horse ever dies in 2010  he was 32.  i sold my lipis and rescued a few racking horses and saddlebreds.

i started collecting sidesaddles in the 70s because  they are so sculptural. didn't ride them just liked them.

used to rebuild old western saddles first,  

  i starts fixing sidesaddle trees because no one in the  usa was doing it right.  i had some that need repair.   i ride and train sidesaddle so i understand the asymmetrical balance they have.  i rebuild using the same methods they were build with. no fiberglass copper rivets. wood putty. omg!!  lol!! 

i don't cut corners and when i am done you cannot tell where they were broken.

 i can widen the old trees also and make them fit modern horses.   then i can fit it  to your horse. make a riding habit for  the same time period   and teach you how to ride in it. lol!!

not many people doing what i do anymore.  it is a dying trade. not one is making a sidesaddle tree anymore.  that is my next step.

i have 2 women that come 3 times a yr to study with me and learn how to do everything i do.  1 from Tuscan and the other from Alabama.  

riding a sidesaddle that fits the horse and you is pure pleasure but hard to find a saddle that fits the modern woman  and horse.    i am short so i can ride the old ones.  lol!


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Very cool. Your way of riviting is the same as we blacksmiths use when using multiple rivits. Bolt them all together, then remove one bolt and replace with a rivit and set the rivit.

Using a bolt as a rivit has one problem and it is a serious structural one. When you peen it over, because of the threads, cold shuts are created inside each of the threads. A cold shut is, simply said,when there is a fold in the metal. Each of these folds will become a stress point and can break at that point. This particularly happens when there is movement. Movement and flex happen with every step your horse makes. Cold shuts are a problem we blacksmiths are continually on the lookout for. When they happen we remove them if possible or discard the piece. The go to solution is to use techniques that don't let this happen. I suggest that to verify what I'm saying do a search here for cold shuts and see what is said about them.

There are joinery situations where a bolt will work as a rivit. Saddle making is not one of those places.

22 hours ago, sidesaddle queen said:

nuts are just on them tighten down the metal

useing a bolt as a rivit in your situation is not good!

 I believe it would be a serious problem that could cause saddle failure especially under stress of any riding situation.

When I was a farrier I too was involved with dressage. Seems the popular horse breed were Trecaners(sp). But one of the special things about dressage is what the horse and rider could do is more important than breed. 

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The point about cold shuts is a good one, especially since the stresses on the saddle will be constantly shifting while it's in use. 

16 minutes ago, sidesaddle queen said:

i am afraid  i have taken things off topic though

Umm...have you looked at any of the other threads here? We've had some threads go so solidly off topic that they've had to be split into multiple new ones.

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lol!! i have not been on here long..  i tend to visit when i have a question .. i do look at some of the other topics when i have time,, 

there is very little movement in the areas where most rivets go,,, in the critical areas i will use my normal rivets and  larger sizes..  the bolts would  just save me time.

 i have done quite a few saddles now and  the results are good .  the old girls are back in use and good for another 100 yrs,, lol!!

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Note,  not all bolts are threaded all the way up to the head.  Selection of a bolt with a sufficient unthreaded section to completely form the rivet will address the issues with cold shuts (just cut off the threaded section before riveting):


That being said, if you are going to heat the head up for hot riveting, make sure the bolts are not galvanized...

Personally I don't get the horse thing (probably grew up in the wrong environment to appreciate them), but each to their own.

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1 hour ago, sidesaddle queen said:

there is very little movement

I'm "dead"  serious about not using a bolt, other than like Latticino said above. Threads in the head will cause stress fractures.

I've dealt with horses nearly all my life, raised, trained, show, shoe, and finally shue, and I will repeat, movement will pop these cold shuts. You are underplaying the " little" movement. When that horse is launching for a jump, that whole saddle is under max stress. When your saddle comes apart at the apex of the jump, due to a popped rivit, your client will be very unhappy. And, I suspect, after they pick themselves up and they figure out why it happened, you won't be a very happy camper either.


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What  Latticino said: you can use fully threaded  bolts for holding things together---like for trial fitting; but use bolts for rivets that have an unthreaded portion and cut the threaded portion off and DISCARD!   (I assume that this is your intended method anyway; but we tend to harp on safety here as there are folks out there that are NOT aware of little things like stress risers and metal fume fever.)

Friday observation:  Why is it that older folks who have less lifespan to risk tend to be more safety conscious than younger folks that have many decades left?  Only things I can think of is that greater experience lets you know more ways things can go painfully wrong and that younger folks tend to heal better and faster than crusty curmudgeons.

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My ignorance of horses and riding is astonishing. My experience with horses is strapping the plow to the old horse we had as a kid. I even had a FIL that did western reenacting with out horses, yeah cowboys in Ohio with no horses, figure that one out. Anyway i knew about riding sidesaddle but had no idea that there was a such a critter as a side saddle. I just thought that was how ladies rode becuase of their dress. It is not that far of a stretch to figure some one would have invented one but just never gave it a lot of thought. 

Quite interesting and maybe one day you can visit my life. Blacksmith, work, grandkids...never mind i have no life. 

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Additionally, older folks have less time remaining (actuarially speaking) and want to spend as little of it as possible recuperating.

1 minute ago, BillyBones said:

Anyway i knew about riding sidesaddle but had no idea that there was a such a critter as a side saddle.

I first saw such an critter at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont when I was about twelve or thirteen. Great place to visit, if you ever get the chance, and there's a nice little book detailing all the blacksmith's and farrier's tools in the blacksmith shop.

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sidesaddles are sold buyer beware,,  no one can guarantee  they are 100% safe..  they over 100 yrs old and made mostly of wood and  leather.   lol!! we are kinda like parachute jumpers,,   thrilled when the ride ends well.. ..   the over lapping ironworks  will keep the tree from falling apart but wood and leather do break,, 

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