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I Forge Iron

Tips on handling long stock (10 ft.)

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Well, I am making some of those garden things to hold bird feeders and stuff. They look like shepherd's hooks and stick in the ground. I guess they're just a big scroll.

I made one and it came out like crap. I'll keep that one because I don't mind the way it looks. Function over fashion is my motto. :)

Anyway, it was not easy working with a 10ft. piece of 1/2" round stock. I couldn't make the bends around the horn very well. I was using a hand truck as a blacksmith's helper, but it was still an ornery piece of metal to be trying to move. So, should I build a scroll jig out of a piece of flat bar and use that to make the curves or is there some other way I can make the curves.

I'm trying to practice hammer control. I've got pretty good control and do a good job on shorter stuff that I can work around my anvil horn, but this 10ft stock gave me fits.


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Rick: A jig is a good idea. Just make sure that you form the very end of the scroll first so that it doesn't look like a flat lifeless fabricated imported piece of #$%^# that got farmed out to some commercial bender.

Another option is to forge the scroll/hook section separately. Use a length only slightly longer than you need for the hanger section, and then forge-weld that to a decorative straight section.

To give a piece of steel more life, it should have lots of reflective surfaces, and the milled look should be plenished out. So usually, the careful craftsmen will re-forge the entire length. At the minimum, get it hot and gently hammer it. We're talking planishing, not deliberately texturing. The difference is that if you try really hard to straighten it and NOT leave hammer marks as you hammer the whole thing, the result will be a gentle faceted surface that looks moved by you. As opposed to tortured by you.

Basically, every part of a forged piece should be forged.

The reason I bring this up is that a 10' length is tedious to do by hand. So feel free to do one or two sections and forge-weld them back together.

And finally, you can join several different pieces mechanically. Rivets, collars, and tenons make for beautiful lawn ornamentation. Beats weld globs any day for visual appeal.

Use your imagination. The nice thing about plant hangers and bird feeders is that you can do anything you want as long as it continues to hold the birds and plants off the ground.

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An old brake drum makes a good jig for your big hook.

Screw or bolt the drum (open end down, lug side up) to a good size board; 2x10 or 2x12... whatever's handy. This way the drum should taper from the bottom up; easier to remove your piece when finished.

Drive a big nail or a screw a little more than 1/2" from the drum.

Forge the small up-turned hook on the end, and do any other hot work as Ed suggested.

Then, take a good, long bending heat, catch the small hook over the nail, and bend around the drum.

You can either rig it for the jig to rotate... probably a 2 man job, or you can fix it rigidly to a stump or something and just walk it around. This will be one to do in the yard unless you are blessed with a really spacious shop.

Oh, by the way, you'll have to look around for a brake drum to match the diameter of the hook you want to end up with.

I suppose a feller could weld the stop to the drum and engineer a crank handle of some sort to make a self-contained hook jig.

I know exactly what you are dealing with here. I tried to do my first one "over the horn", and the length and vibration were a real headache.

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Rick: ...Just make sure that you form the very end of the scroll first so that it doesn't look like a flat lifeless fabricated imported piece of #$%^# that got farmed out to some commercial bender.

Mmmm... :wink:
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If you dont feel like forge welding down the one section like Ed said I would reccommend using a collar (like Ed said) I love using collars, the creativity is endless, One of my favorite collars or wraps is take a piece of 1/4 inch round, forge a leaf on one end, taper the other end and wrap it around. Make sure you have the wrap good and hot the whole time otherwise it will probally end up loose. Metal expands when it is hot and shrinks when it cools and this is what creates the hold on the two peices, and if you want to cheat (Ill admit it I do it some times) electric weld the two together then cover the spot with a collar.

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RICK: If you form your collars right and get them tight. You will not need any welds

I like to start with square stock. I can twist, reverse twist and do pine-apples twist and make them look alright with out having to square up the round stock. We have made multi/birdhouse(MARTINS) scroll stands on one 3/4" upright. We used two decorative collars on each scroll to hold it all together.

Stay after them and have fun. :wink:


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Rick Barter:

Collars are made like clips. You shape them to fit three of the sides of whatever you are joining. Then you put the parts together, put the clip in place, and fold the two ends over. Sometimes you secure the clip cold and sometimes hot, depending on the size of the clip, size of your arm, and availability of heat.

Any beginner book should have the directions, but if you can't find them let me know here. I'll walk through making them for you. The best description I've seen is in Francis Wittaker's Cookbook.

I recommend getting a good feel for a simple clip. Do a few dozen of those before branching into the decorative ones. That way you'll pay closer attention to the fit.

It is not necessary to spot weld if you make the clips correctly and use them appropriately. I'm not saying you shouldn't weld, but most of the time it is an unnecessary extra step that doesn't add any real value.

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Rick sent me a PM with some questions on this but I thought I'd share some thoughts on the scroll form part of the thread.

A buddy of mine does large (24" OD) scrolls for gates and fences. He has a "lazy susan" type of bender that is nothing more than a two pieces of pipe, one inside the other, with a frame on top to accept different form jigs. He has material stands that can be set level with the bender so the whole piece is laid flat. He starts the scroll hot with about a 12" heat then winds up the rest of the stick cold after the interior is trapped in the form. The lazy susan has some lugs welded on so any convenient cheater bar can be used for leverage to do the bending. The whole thing is made from scrap and works well for the purpose.

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To kind of build on what Don was saying about using the brake drum, what I would do is forge the shape of the crook portion out of something like 1/4" X 1-1/2" or 1/4" X 2", with some extra where the straight portion will be (what I'm talking about is a "J" shape). Weld this to a plate or a piece of angle iron, something you can lock in the vice, and weld a piece of round bar straight up on the short end of the "J" about an inch out so that you can lock the hook portion in it.

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