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How to do Collars?

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Over the years, I had worked with a couple of hot farriers and a couple of experienced smiths, but there were no apprenticeships that I could find. So collaring was a bit of a struggle for me at first. I did have "The Blacksmiths' Craft" as my primary guide. They gave the length formula for the butted collar: the perimeter of the material to be collared plus twice the thickness of the collar material. The book describes bending the material over a hand held mandrel and then 'squaring it up.' This method works but is not as efficient as the jig setup Brian showed. Furthermore, it is more difficult to get the line of the joint centered. It can wind up eccentric, which works but looks awful. If the length formula doesn't work exactly, you can fine tune it. Presently, I make my collars in an appropriately sized jig using an appropriate mandrel to drive the hot collar into the jig.

At a later time, I saw Francis Whitaker demo a lapped collar (as opposed to a butted joint). He said that he always used 3/16" thick stock or less for the collar material, because there are two cold bends in his method. If you bend a sharp 90º cold on thicker stock, it usually tears. The formula is the perimeter of the material to be collared plus 2½ times the collar material thickness. The length is laid out and marked for later cropping. Each end gets a forged taper in thickness, somewhat like a ribbon-end scroll. The taper length is perhaps 1/2" to 3/4". Then, find center and lay out one half the inside bend length either way of the center. For example, if you're collaring two ¼" x 1" pieces and the joint is on the 1" side, your center punch bend marks will be 1" apart. When the piece is air cooled to ambient temperature, the two cold bends are done, the first by standing the piece vertically in a sharp jawed vise and bending 90º OUTSIDE the center punch mark. If you bend inside the mark, you'll lose your required 1". When you turn the collar over for the second bend, you're in trouble, because the leg of the bend is in the way of the vise jaws. Francis used a homemade spacer tool which would, in our instance, be 1" thick and wide enough to accommodate the bent leg when the whole assembly is vise clamped. Our L shape would be fit tightly under the spacer and be clamped with the unbent leg sticking up. The leg is then bent over the spacer. Now you should have a cold U shape with legs of equal length. To apply the collar, it is heated and fitted to the project. Both legs are bucked and bent to obtain the lapped joint, and "Bob's your uncle."

This latter method took a while to explain and may seem implausible compared to a butted collar. The idea behind this method is to make multiples. You're going to be making more than one, and as you do the straight forging and layout, the pieces are cooling as you work, one after another. Furthermore, the lap does give a nice look to the finished collar. The disadvantage, as I see it, is that a 3/16 thick collar may look flimsy on large stock in terms of aesthetics, and upon reflection, it seems to me that the two cold bends could be done hot using a jig and mandrel.

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http://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/21343-joining-methods-course-last-weekend-april-2011/ is the method used in the Blacksmiths Craft book Mr Turley is talking about, I would have posted the pictures again but couldne't get them to upload. Its not difficult to get the join in the centre of the side where you want it. You can also alternate cutting off your stock with the hardie to give you the lapped effect.. If I have a lot of collars to do, I use the flypress with a similar set up to what Brian Brazeal does on the anvil. I usually make and fit a collar start to finish 3minutes, out of 3/4" x 3/8" bar ( I like chunky collars) There are other ways of doing collars which have a profiled shape.
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