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Heart themed bird feeder hook

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As offered and as requested, here is a step-by-step tutorial of my heart-themed bird feeder hook.

I should have mentioned this before, but these step-by-step instructions do not cover pieces I claim a copy right to. Anyone here is welcome to try to reproduce these piece. I encourage you to come up with your own variation and exercise your own imagination in your work, but if you are hard up for ideas, don't worry about copying what I'm doing! You are MOST welcome to try it.

I sell this piece as a bird feeder hook. The idea is, the extended hook gets a bird feeder, or hanging plant, or dinner bell, or WHATEVER, away from the post, beam, or board the hook is mounted on.
This tutorial will cover two variations of the bird feeder hook. One is a simple J-hook style and the general shape and forge work would be classified as a beginner level project. The second variation features a flared scroll type hook with a (supposedly) graceful curl down to the scroll. This might be classified as an intermediate level piece as it is much more difficult to get an even, "kink free" curve, than it is to make the simple "cut-n-dry" shape of the first variation.

Step #1: Turn off the TV, hit the shop, and cut you a 20-inch piece of 3/8" round stock.

Step #2: Mark a line with silver pencil or soapstone, 2-inches from the near edge of the anvil. Heat the end of the stock, place the end of the stock against the line, and step the metal to one side. You will use a half-on-half-off hammer blow to accomplish the step in your metal. Basically one side of the metal will "step" down and the other side will remain flat. In this entire process, keep the metal VERY hot the entire time. Just shy of welding heat is IDEAL. If you over-stress the metal from lack of heat, you WILL loose your heart. (The metal one that is!)

Illustration of a half-on-half-off blow. (cold)

During the process!

The result!

Step #3: Now center punch the stepped in side of the stock a couple of times. These will act as guide marks as you split the stock. Make sure they are in the center. I just eyeball it, but if you want, you can measure or use a center finder.

Step #4: Next heat the end of the stock and using your center punch marks, split the stock with a chisel. HEAT IS KEY! LOTS AND LOTS OF HEAT! The heat must be, not only on the end of the stock, but back in the shaft behind the step on the end. Chisel up to the end of the step. A cherry red heat is NOT ENOUGH! BRIGHT red is the lowest you can go and ideally you need to keep it in the yellow to bright yellow range! I HIGHLY recommend a cutting plate for this job. I use 16 gauge sheet metal to protect the anvil face. Some people use copper! You may be the best "chiseler" in the world, but you WILL miss eventually and your anvil face will remind you forever. Spend ten cents and buy a cutting plate!

Step #5: After you have chiseled completely through, use your hardy to seat the cut and spread the two prongs apart! Once again, LOTS AND LOTS OF HEAT!
(That picture shows you the IDEAL working heat and location of that heat for the entire "split heart" forging process!)

The result of this seating and spreading should look like this!

Step #6: Next, one prong should be straightened and one should be curled back as shown below! Make sure you don't let the stock twist when you curl the prong back. It will try to twist, but keep it straight and again.....HIGH HEAT! Also, you'll probably have one prong that is a little bigger than the other. Bend the larger of the two out of the way and leave the smaller one straight. This makes it just a bit easier to get the prongs the same length. (This curl is called a convenience bend.)

Step #7: Taper the straight prong using your preferred tapering method! Then make a mark on the anvil that designates the length of this prong. This mark is VERY IMPORTANT in making an aesthetically pleasing heart.

Step #8: Now bend the tapered prong out of the way and straighten the other prong. Once again, watch for twisting and DON'T let it happen. Lots of HEAT! Then taper out the prong. Taper the prong to the length of the mark you made. That way, it will be near the length of the other prong. When you are done tapering, straighten the first prong and hammer the two together.

Step #9: Heat the two tapered prongs up, clamp the stock in the vice and use some needle nose tongs or pliers to begin shaping the heart. Use as many heats as you like, but try not to flex the base of the heart too much.

Step #10: Now it's time to make the screw hole locations. I do two screw holes, and I space them far enough apart to allow my touchmark between the screw hole locations. I use a ball peen hammer to make my screw hole indentions, then I flatten a place between the two for my touchmark. I place my touchmark, straighten it all back out, and let it cool. AIR COOL!

Step #11: After the metal is cooled, drill two 3/16-inch holes in your screw hole indentions. The advantage of the ball peen indention is that it eliminates the need for center punching or counter sinking your screw holes.

This is where the variations come in. I'll do the simple version first and then the more complex one.

Step #12: Taper the end apposite the heart.

Step #13: Put a finial scroll on the tip. The scroll should face downward when the heart is facing upward. Then bend a hook on the tapered end. The hook should face upward when the heart faces upward.

Step #14: Bend this hook downward, approximately 90 degrees using the vise. (pictured cold)

Step #15: Now heat and bend the bar approximately 90 degrees, just below the last screw hole. This is done in the vise with the screw holes clamped in the vise. (again shewn cold)

Step #16: Wire brush a apply bee's wax while hot.

Now for the more difficult variation! Ignore steps 12-16 and pick up at step 11.

Step #12: Flare the end of the bar apposite the heart. For a wide flare use the cross peen hammer. For a medium flare us the edge of the hammer face. For a small flare, simply flatten the end of the bar. Scroll the flare so that the scroll faces upward when the heart faces upward.

Step #13: Bend the hook at approximately 90 degrees, just below the last screw hole. Clamp the screw holes in the vise to bend as shewn.

Step #14: Use a vise held bending fork to bend the bar, between the screw holes and the flared end, to a nice even curve. This takes practice so don't fret if your first isn't all that great. Work out any kinks and make sure the curve is even.

Step #15: Wire brush and apply bee's wax while hot.

The end results!

And that's all folks! I welcome questions and comments. If something didn't make sense just let me know and I'll try to explain it better and/or get more pictures!



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Fiery Furnace, I think I may just have to try these tomorrow, I couldn't afford to buy the Mrs. a Mom's day gift this weekend (we did spend a nice day together, and she was smiling so not a total fail... ;) ) so this will be a nice suprise for her. She is just in the process of starting to set out her flowers in front of the house. These will go great. Good job on the tutorial, and very clear instructions! Well done.

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I was in the shop yesterday and a different method for step #5 dawned on me.

In step #5 I have you opening the split ends on the hardy. This pushes both of the prongs to the side, but we actually need one prong to stay straight. More movement in the prongs = more stress!
So this is the revised version of step #5.

Step #5 Clamp the material in the vise and use a narrow profile chisel to seat the split. Then us a tight radius, hand-held fuller to round the bottom of the split!

This method stresses the metal MUCH LESS than the hardy, and it gives the base of the heart a VERY NICE finished look that is more difficult to get with the hardy. It takes no more time than the hardy method and in fact saves time because it reduces the chance of breaking off a part of your heart.

Give it a try!

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It is such a pleasure and an honor to know that some of you guys are able to follow, successfully these instructions. I hope you all are enjoying putting your own "twist" (figuratively and litterly) on something that I make. I'd love to see pictures of the ones you are turning out and even variations of what was in the instructions.

Has anyone lost a heart prong yet? I had to tack one the other day because it was almost broken. I usually toss them when they start to break but I was able to spot weld it without it looking to bad. ;)

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That was a great tutorial. Easy to follow and read. I need lots of pictures when I learn something and that lesson fit the bill. Thanks for taking the time to share your skill with us. One more thing to add to my list of to do items.


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Dave: To prevent the heart from deforming both directions when you split them out, use a butcher.

Frosty the Lucky.

Butcher?? Splain what is this Butcher you speak of?

A blunt axe shaped hammer? (thats googles answer)

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Mr. Mark,

A butcher is a tool that is straight on one side and steep ground on the other side. Maybe at a 45 degree angle. What it accomplishes is it cuts straight down into the metal on one side and angled on the other side.

The application Frosty is refering to is that it would push one of the heart prongs out of the way while leaving the other one straight as needed. It would also serve the purpose of seating the initial chisel cut. I'll see if I can get a picture of one of my hand-held butchers and post it.

A butcher can also be a hardy tool serving the purpose of a hardy but leaving a cleaner cut. It is most often used to begin a tenon on the end of a bar of metal.

More knowledgable smiths correct me where I am wrong!

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Dave,with all due respect,it looks like to me that the base of both tines is severely overworked.Some use the term "brashness" to describe that.In effect,the steel is damaged by cracking,and it's not surprising that you loose some tines doing it that way.

Here's what i'd do different(all purely subjective,of course).

1.That initial offset,over the edge of anvil,is it necessary?IF so,then the radius to which you do it is critically small.that alone can damage steel irrevokably(BTW,that whole edge of your anvil is scary sharp and damaged.Latter BECAUSE of the former,i.e.not dressed to a radius(again,IMHO)).Such severe stress on steel MAY be applied if strictly necessary,but as a last stage of working,as all subsequent vibration/flexure will compound the damage.

2.The chisel-split causes the parts to become trapezoid in section.What's wrong with that?The heart shape is,by nature,a set tapering lines.That extra facet of the split can be used to further accent that.That will save you all the labor of working the tines clear to the point of the V of the split(Do they really need to be worked there,where the diverse stresses were already so tough on steel?).
Also,you may try tapering the stock before splitting,to further save steps.

3.All of the above,plus those bends to get one of the tines out of your way is what stresses the steel so badly.In my opinion it can all be avoided.So,to reiterate:Taper the stock first.Split(possibly trimming the "flash"with a sharp chisel or a file.Work only the last 1 to 2 thirds of lengh of tines to come up with a pleasing-looking taper.

4.Heart-shape,a variant of an S,or a recurve shape,is very easy to work with a hammer alone.Bending the tines with pliers introduces a certain "artificiality" of form,by interfering with the natural,logarithmic bending of a taper.
Becides,it's a great practice,very helpful in understanding what it is that the iron's trying to tell us.

Yet again,all this is strictly IMHO,and hope that it will help,rather than otherwise.
All the best of luck,Jake

P.S.I've happened to just finished a set of 16 hooks with a similar rod-ending,also 3/8"(log-spikes,actually).I didn't really take any photos with this in mind,but just in case will post one of the process.Not sure that it'll illustrate what i've said,as i took it for a different reason....Darn it,they're both lousy shots(and shoddy work as well,i really hurried this order),but,in the forge shot,there's one on the right that kinda illustrates what i mean about the facet of a trapezoid.



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Thanks for the reply. If all comments were bread and butter I would never learn anything so I appreciate someone critiqueing and offering suggestions.

I often review thos finished hearts and I dislike that over-worked look. Eliminating the hardy and adding the thin chisel and fuller helped that alot.

The offset in my opinion is required to speed up the spliting process. Splitting in round is rather difficult and it would take longer because the metal is thicker. I am using a sharp corner of the anvil now, but I have about 6" or so of 3/8 to 1/4-inch clean radius up towards the step and horn side of the anvil. I'll switch over and use that for the offset to relieve some of that stress. Good point and I appreciate you bringing that to light!

Tapering the stock first is a good idea. I would try tapering and the making the offset, prior to splitting.
I've had a lot of smiths ask me, "man why do you taper it down that far? There's no reason for that!" And so on! No offence to you and non taken from your suggestions as to tapering. I like tapering down to a fine point. I also like thinning the metal down all the way back to the V-split. I personally think it has a more refined look to it. Obviously if the whole base looks awful, in result, then it isn't worth it. I'll try to work that out.
That may not be possible though because I think making that convenience bend is the most stressful part on the metal.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but what you are saying is file/trim around the V and taper the end of the split so that the convenience bend ends up being half way up the prong or so. Is that right?

I don't know that I would agree with bending the heart with a hammer verses the use of pliers. I'd have to make a hardy cone mandrel to find out because some fool cut the tip of my horn off with a torch. :) (Must have got tired of running into a sharp horn backed by 280 LBS. LOL) The smallest working radius on the horn is a hair over 3/4" which is too big for what I'm doing.

Those hearts you posted pictures of are quite interesting! I love the additional aspects other than just a heart!

Finally, again I appreciate the critque and suggestions VERY MUCH! Something is wrong with a person that can't take critique or suggestions in regards to their work or method. IMHO ;)

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