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Split Crosses

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The following is my method of making split crosses. They are based in part off of Jeff Philip's method. (AKA "Uncle Spike" Silver Moon Forge) He was kind enough to show me how he does them last October at a craft fair we both happened to be at. His assistance was greatly appreciated, and I learned a lot from him. Thanks Mr. Jeff!

Mr. Jeff gave me a cross blank so that I could manufacture my own when I got back home. However, sometime during transportation, packing, and unpacking, I miss-placed the blank. That made it a real bugger-bear to figure out the measurements for a proportional cross. After four or five trial runs, I finally got this one.
These are the specs are for an approximately 2 3/4" wide by 4" tall cross. I do not know if the measurements of this cross can be scaled up or down by percentage to get a larger or smaller cross that is proportional. These are the measurements for this cross and I have had no time to experiment with up or down scaling these measurements.

Stock size: 3/8" square

Stock length: 3 3/4" long

The stock must be cut lengthways on both sides down the center.

Step # 1: Mark stock down the centerline, 2 5/8 inches. A centerfinder speeds this step up but if you don't have one, a tape measure and silver pencil work well too.

Step # 2: Rotate stock 90 degrees and mark stock down the centerline 1 3/8 inches. (You should have an overlap in the lines drawn in step #1 and step #2.

Step # 3: Cut along both of the above marked lines. (An upright band saw is the ideal tool. Any type of cutting disk removes too much material. A verticle band saw can be used in its upright position. A reciprocating saw works decent. A hacksaw is...well a hacksaw! Good luck!)

Step # 4: Now measure 1 inch from the end along the longer 2 5/8 inch cut, and mark. Cut ONE side of the 2 5/8 inch pieces off.

Step # 5: Now the side where you cut the 2 5/8" slit should have one longer side and one shorter side. Drill a 3/16" hole near the end of the SHORTER side. (Represented by the red dot on the LOWER cross blank in the picture below.)

The following photo shows steps 1-5 from marking to cutting to drilling.

Step # 6: Now it is time to use the forge. Heat the cross up. With a little practice you can make the cross in one heat and texture in a second and be done. However, for our first try, we'll take it slow. Use your hardy to open up the cross, driving the SHORT cut side (the 1 3/8-inch slit,) down on the hardy.

Step # 7: Next, use the far edge of the anvil to open up the slit a little more. You'll probably want to keep the place that you are opening under a 90 degree corner. Play around with it until you get the feel! Opening too much or not enough does not make or break the cross, but will determine how much clean-up or straightening you will have to do.

Step # 8: Now you should have a piece of metal that resembles the letter "Y". Turn the metal around and heat the side with the LONGER slit. Get a flat head screw driver or a small chisel ready while your metal is heating. (Start over because you probably burnt your cross to clinkers trying to locate the chisel!) Anyway, use the screw driver or chisel to open up the LONGER slit.

Step # 9: Promptly switch over to the far side of the anvil and open up the LARGER slit completely. Simply put, you will be bending the LARGER slit 180 degrees. This may all sound quite confusing in words so since a thousand

Step # 10: Now wasn't that a lot to cover in the last step! Well this next one is easy......actually that depends on how well you did the last nine steps. It is time to straighten your cross up. NOTHING looks more sloppy than a cross that is not straightened up. It is important to concentrate on the details of even these small "insignifigant" pieces, because if you don't, you are probably not going to pay attention to the details of the big signifigant pieces. Take an extra heat, and make the cross look PERFECT. This is very simple to do, but if the first one takes you 30 minutes to get right, take the time and DO IT! Bottom line; if you are taking the trouble to make iron-work, make it NICE!

Step # 11: If you wanted to, you could really stop now. I mean, you have a cross! However, there are a few more steps that will spice up your cross and add greater individuality and character to the piece. This is what I like to do, but you can branch off and try different texturing methods, etc. Cant your hammer face at an angle and hammer the ends of the cross. This flares them out slightly. You can also do this to all the edges of the stock. Don't worry about keeping up at a yellow heat....you can work the stock down to a black-heat with these steps.

Step # 12: Next use a small (1-pound or less) ball-peen hammer, to texture the cross. Do this with the BALL side of the hammer. You could probably do this completely cold, but I usually take a cherry-heat just to make it easier.

Step # 13: For a "Celtic" cross, drive a drift through the center "diamond" shape. Make sure you have an even heat around the center to help prevent bending your cross out of whack. You will probably still need to do a bit of minor adjusting after taking the drift through. I used about a 3/4-inch drift, but if you don't think that looks proportional with the cross then adjust your size as you like! The drift can be mild steel. A punch plate with a hole just large enough for your drift to slide through is helpful and prevents too much distortion.

Step # 14: Now it is clean up time. Take a deep cherry-heat and wire brush. Switch from the wire brush and go to a brass brush. Move quickly or you won't get the whole cross brushed. It may take you a couple of tries to get the pattern of movement down, and get the hole cross brushed.

Step # 15: Next do your protective coat of choice. I use wax most of the time, simply because the metal is already hot. A glossy clear coat also makes a nice coating. I usually include a key ring on mine too!

End Notes:
I recommend using a small hammer for the entire process. I stick with a one pound ball-peen throughout. You simply DO NOT have to use a larger hammer. You are working small metal that yields very willing even at relatively cold temperatures. Using a larger hammer will only slow down your hammer rate and wear you down short-term, and long term.
Get it hot! Especially when you are doing the bending to open the cross up. Sure, it isn't a MUST and with the little bit of work we are doing, the cross would not break from stress, but getting the metal HOT is a good habit to get into.
The hammer texture is not a required step, but it helps hide the saw marks in the metal. It is probably a good idea to do some sort of hammering on it.
The drilled hole will leave a dimple in the lower section of the cross. You can either make that side the back of the cross or blend it with the ball-peen texture.
Try out your own variations!
Dave Custer
Fiery Furnace Forge Blacksmith Company

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Great tutorial dave,
Yesterday I took a bunch of pics and wrote notes as I went doing the same thing. I intended on posting it today but as you are younger and quicker (and took better pictures) you beat me to it. I like yours better. :D Now I don't need to go through the headache of trying to piece it all together to post. You did a great job and left out all doubt.
Thanks for a great job.


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Excellent Demo Dave. One thing I have learned since showing you, once you have the "arms" at 90 degrees, you can stick the cross arms down in a slightly open vice and with a short bend down the gap will open so you can hook it on the anvil edge. There are many people who you show things to and they claim they came up with it, not true in the case of Dave. Nice to get credit for showing him something. In return I learned the quick way to do a "heart hook". I drill mine to make them quicker at demo's, but with Dave's and most peoples quick punching skills, that step would be pretty quick. I generally start my demo on this by saying "a good blacksmith would split this whole thing out with a chisel" (pause) "but I am not THAT good"....gets a chuckle from the crowd. Thanks Dave, keep up the good work.

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Nice demo Dave. I learned how from the Anvil Fire blue prints (Frederics Cross). I cut the smaller ones with a hacksaw but use a chisel on the larger ones. I like the effect of the finish work you did on those. I'll have to try that.

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Nice job on the cross and tutorial. Much better directions than I had when learning to make my first cross. Are you planning to post any directions for projects that I haven't thought of yet? :rolleyes:

I thought about doing one on a heart J-hook and also a split heart bird feeder hook. Anyone interested?

Thanks for all of the complements!
Hey Mr. Mark: I'd love to see a tutorial on the RR spike crosses. I'm not any faster...I've had this stuff for over a week but it took a while to type it all out.

"Uncle Spike": "Render therefore to all ther dues" (The Bible, Romans 13:7) I really appreciate you taking your time to teach me, and though I never came back and told you, I really appreciate you being there that weekend. It was a dificult time for me personally and you helped me get through it by taking my mind off of what was going on. Thanks!
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Excellent tutorial Dave. I think a lot of us needed that procedure really spelled out. I know I did not too long ago. If I may suggest one more finishing technique to your repertoire, try using a hot cut or even an old hand axe to incise vertical cuts along the length of the cross. Repeated, random blows in one direction can give a nice rough-hewn wood texture without too much effort - and the brass brush really brings out the "grain". Here's a pic of one of mine for reference. Keep up the good work!


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put the marble in the diamond and into the fire ...watch it it will start to melt some what molten ...if you let it cool some then dunk in water it will crack for a different effect

I see a trip to the old marble jar coming...
Thanks for the idea!
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I made one of these for fun and learned a lot doing it (thanks Dave for the tutorial!). A co-worked thought it was cool and asked me to make one for his wife. Here is a picture of the result. Any suggestions on what to charge? It didn't take too long but I'm new to smithing and haven't been planning on trying to make money with this hobby. Thanks for looking and any comments.



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I made one of these for fun and learned a lot doing it (thanks Dave for the tutorial!). A co-worked thought it was cool and asked me to make one for his wife. Here is a picture of the result. Any suggestions on what to charge? It didn't take too long but I'm new to smithing and haven't been planning on trying to make money with this hobby. Thanks for looking and any comments.


Hey Ward, nice looking Spike cross. It looks great. Some people put a woodgrain texture on theirs which looks pretty cool. I put a nail mark on the end of the two arms and on the foot rest. Not all the way through but just a mark with a sharp bic. Kind of reminds people know what it was used for.

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