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I Forge Iron

This Mornings Work

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I'm taking a brake for lunch and thought I would post this mornings work because it has made me think.

I am working on these elements for a gate and a side panel. I would be lost with out my modern equipment. Working on these parts I have used the bandsaw, for slitting, the power hammer, welder, propane forge, and flypress for straightening. I have about 4hrs in them.

Now the question I have for all of you is. How long would it take to forge these traditionaly with a good smith and a striker, coal forge, hand tools and anvil? Could the two of them do it in 2hrs? I am sad to say I could not.

I am thinking it is a plausible that they could.



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John, Had some problems posting.

The material is 3/4" solid and the opening is 4 1/2" done on the diamond. I wish I could posted all the pictures but on this new format something is a little bit different. I am getting a error that my file is to big even though the camera settings are the same for all photos.

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Hi,Harold,good morning!(And,good mornings' work :)).

I'd venture an opinion that the two,the mechanised and the manual work methods,are apples and oranges.So that your question,as stated,would be almost impossible to answer OBJECTIVELY.
Then,to complicate an already IMMENSELY complex issue,there're the hybrides of the two-as in some ancient PH's,and multiple strikers.As well as the hand-tools sneaking in in between all the CNC's and stuff!

And,as a death-knell to all objectivity,there's a fact(to me,it's a Fact,though it can,and will,be argued) that the Tools and the Methods actually determine the design particulars.
Historically,or on the macro-level,such as those German fully-automated ironworker machines(or whatever one calls them),but also on the micro-,subjective level,as in:I've got a MiG,so that i'll go ahead and do it this way...

So,i,personally,am at a total loss in re.to your question,but,i like what's been done so far on the project,ans LOVE that 45 deg.anvil in your PH!!!That's mighty cool :)

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Hi Harold, the overall appearance may be similar yet totally different and they won't require cleaning up of the welds and other areas. to give the forged look.

Just forge the end, split through and open the slot to profile, 20 mins to 30 mins each would be easily maintainable, maybe quicker. If you have a power hammer and gas forge to use then you should be well capable of making the tooling to produce these and then you would be making them in 10 minutes each or less, depending on quantity you are working on.

It really is amazing what can be achieved in a couple of hours

As an example, These were made single handed, in a two hour competition we held to make a railing infil feature at the Devon County Show in 2009


The left hand one by Dave Denford, central one by Richard Jones and the right hand one by James Crossman


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Hmmm Take stock and run through a triangular swage; cut lengths and forgeweld in a diamond swage top/bottom, forgeweld resultant to picket. Dress. 2 people, 2 hours? Doesn't seem like an impossibility to me. I'd probably set it up to do all of one task at a time and then move to the next one.

Now figuring out what you are going to do will take some time---but that is required even with a mig welder...

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HWHII I don't know if this would answer your question definitively but when watching this six part series of videos the viewer can get a fair idea of what a first rate blacksmith shop with a master smith and an able staff are capable of.

In any event if you haven't seen it yet this series is worth watching just because it is an excellent documentary of Francis Whitaker.

Here's the first, just click along to follow the rest in series~


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I struggled with something similar. In Mexico, this element is called a "claraboya" which translates as a clerestory window or skylight. It is commonly seen in Mexican grille work, and was brought as a Gothic ornament to the New World from Spain. In Spain, the style became outdated, but the Mexicans continued its use.

The claraboya is all square stock, and the vertical columns that contain the element can be of the same stock size as the element. There are no triangular cross-sections or hot splitting. I think that there is a way to make these with special swages and forge welding, but I didn't have the swages. I live in Santa Fe, and I saw this ornament repeated on a window grille on Upper Canyon Road. I took pictures and made sketches of the grille, but it was forged in a manner that I couldn't quite figure out. I was stumped. After several failures at the forge, I had a little epiphany. Instead of trying to do everything on the diamond from the gitgo, I welded the assembly on the flat. I was using 1/2" mild steel square. I bent a 16" length in half, laid back on itself, and forged a lap welding scarf on the bend. I upset and scarfed a handling length of 1/2" square and welded the doubled piece to the straight piece. When all was hammered down and flatted, I took a heat on the join and clamped the "stem portion" vertically in the vise. I pulled the two doubled pieces apart at an angle 45º to the vise jaw length. They got a natural curve from the lengthy heat. I opened them to approximately 35º or so. Now, everything was on the diamond.

When the side pieces are pulled open, the join will be a little bulgy. I did my level-up with a rawhide mallet on a 2x4 length of wood. That area will have an interesting appearance containing a little depth to it..

If you make two of these, the side pieces that you opened can be joined. Joining them can be tricky. If forge welded, you need to flatten the corners (diamond) a bit, and carefully place them in the forge fire. When taken to the anvil, one needs a striker. Another route is to fishtail the ends hitting on the diamond and to make a collar. The collar has an odd shape and is hard to fit. The old grille on Canyon Road was fishtailed and forge welded. The work was a little sloppy, but uniform, so the ensemble looked good from 30 feet away, Another way: the flats of the fishtails could be riveted together.

When bending square stock on the diamond, a special tool with a 90º hot split depth opening needs to be made. The tool is shown in Schwarzkopf, "Plain and Ornamental Forging." The tool has a crank in it so it can stick out to one side of the vise jaw. This gives clearance when you bend an extreme curve or are trying to make a circle. I made mine from a car axle by splitting the end and opening it to 90º. It fits in the vise. I hit the hot steel with a rawhide or wooden mallet.

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Thanks for your replys

Ferrous, I have seen the series ,and do like it.

Frank, Thank you for your insite on this. The speciality tool you speak of for bending on the diamond is something I will look into. I like to work on the diamond and this tool will be helpful.

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Samuel Yellen's work has long been an inspiration to me. In southwestern Mississippi there is a lovely small town, Laurel, that has a charming art museum that was ironed by Yellen. It is well worth a visit for decorative iron smiths.

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I finshed the install on the gate and panel for the elements on this thread. I thought some might like to see the finished prouduct. It is a rust patina so it will have some ageing to do. If you are wondering the cost on this. I had $250.00 in materials, 30hrs, and sold for $2500.00


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