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Tonight I went out to get some pizza for me and the missus.  I stopped at one of our favorite local eateries where I know the owner and people working there.  He comes out of the kitchen and says, "Oh, there you are, we need to talk."  Now the last time someone said that to me I was in big trouble.  But I know I couldn't be this time, I thought. 

 

A little background here might be in order.  I have had, with out a doubt, the busiest summer blacksmithing I've ever had.  I made a mistake.  I made something someone really liked.  A camp tripod.  Next thing I knew I was making a bunch of them.  Then I made someone else a cowboy cook set.  Next thing I knew I was making a bunch of them.  THEN, I made someone a campfire grate out of expanded metal with folding legs.  Next think I knew I was making a bunch of them.  I made extras of everything just in case.  I can't keep the durn things in stock.  Now I'm a hobby guy.  I just do it for the fun of it.  I never wanted this to be a business.  On the other hand I'm having a dandy time doing it.  Ok back to the story.

 

So I go into the back room with him into the office and he shows me a chafing dish and rack that's used to hold them.  He wants a chafing dish rack with grape leaves and a bunch of grapes in each corner.  Ok I understand, it will be hefty, one 1" x 1/8" flat bar.  Square riveted corners.  Legs of course.  Two on each side. And a small tray to set the burners on.  All of this seems easy enough.  I've not done anything like this before but I'll sure getter done. 

 

I think I have the basic layout figured out.  I could use help with the artistic elements.  I've never done grape leaves and grapes.  There are some things I can't do.  I can't weld.  I don't have a welder.  But I rivet pretty well.  I could even do copper rivets.  I had thought that would be a nice accent color against the black iron. 

 

I've read the forum and I believe the easiest way for me to do the leaves is to use 14 ga.  mild steel for the leaves.  And I'm thinking about raising or dishing or chasing what ever the term is the grape bunches.  This needs to look good but not be so heavy it can't be lifted by a normal person.  I have seen the welded grape bunches and using forged grapes or ball bearings welded into bunches may be somewhat on the heavy side. 

 

I suppose I should also mention this is for Festival Fairbanks, in two weeks.  Erp.

 

:blink: :blink: :blink: :blink:

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I'm rooting for you! 

"May the forge be with you."

 

And I second the picture-wish...

 

Gergely

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Bryan: Now I know what the first four words I'm going to say to you next time we meet, just to see the look on your face. <anticipatory grin>

 

14 ga. should do for the leaves How you going to cut them? Patterns are as simple as picking out a nice grape leaf online and printing it to scale. If you have a laser printer you can press the prints onto the sheet with an iron, it'll be a mirror image but it's a leaf.

 

The grapes are a different thing though, I hope you're charging enough to pay for the new little mig (gmaw) welder you need. Yes? Lincoln and Hobart make nice high quality ones that run off 120v house current. I think you've seen my Hobart 120 Handler, it's gotta be more than 25 years old and is still a flawless low amp welder. Sure 1/8" steel single pass is about it's realistic limit but it still gets used all the time.

 

Maybe you can make up a little spring fuller and make grapes from light tubing. Heck, copper tubing on 10ga. copper wire would look like red grapes in low light. Heck, you could enamel them for most any color. I wish we lived closer, Deb could show you how to do fold form leaves in copper sheet, she's MUCH better at fold forming than I am but leaves are a natural fold form.

 

A two week deadline eh? Man we need to talk!

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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That's a tight deadline.  Grape leaves have been an element in decorative smith work for a long time so you should be able to find some sort of instruction on how to make them.  Without a welder doing the grapes themselves might be a problem if you wanted to do them on 3D.  Low relief, which is the direction you seem to be considering, is probably your best bet.  You might have to up the gauge of the material you use, but you might be able to make up a decent looking grape bunch using a technique similar to what I used recently to make a hops flower on a bottle opener.  [Like this]('>)

 

What is involved is making up something with the rough outline of your finished bunch of grapes, then make yourself a special punch, probably more than one so you have some slightly different sizes, and stamp the grapes in to the rough outline in low relief.  Then you would come back with a file and refine the outline of the bunch.  Without a welder however, you are going to have to rivet or collar the bunch to the project.  As Frosty suggested, an inexpensive wire feed welder would make this a lot easier for you.  I also have a Hobart Handler and it works pretty well for me. This is my second one as my first got stolen.  The Lincoln 120 volt welder is actually considerably better but also costs a couple hundred dollars more.   

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note that if your price will cover it; copper sheet makes great grape leaves and can be patinated a nice green too.  Easy to work, just a lot more expensive than sheet steel.

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Bryan - speed up the grape making by purchasing a box of round precision ball/bearings from MSC or Grainger or the likes of industrial suppliers. heat them up and give them a light hammer texture and your set. They can be welded in clumps easily (I know you don't have a welder) and like Frosty said - this may be the time to jump into a small mig machine - you'll say "why didn't I get one a long time ago after you get one. It will pay for itself easily, as you will find work for it every time you turn around.

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that's interesting, bryan.  i've been talking with a member of e clampus vitus about some of the things they use that are blacksmith made, and they don't have a blacksmith in their (larger) group at the moment.  not that i want to join, per se, but i'm thinking of making some camp stuff out of rod and seeing if they like it.

 

i'll never get to the point you're at, though, well done.  bespoke chafing dish holders... :)

bill

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Wow, lots of great ideas here.  I read the grape leave tutorial that Brian Brazeal showed on this thread.   and I will be using some of those techniques.  However I won't be making them out of copper.  I've decided on 14 ga. steel.  Now how to cut that?  Most likely a grinder and hack saw.  They will be small.  As will the grape bunches.  these will live in the corners of the legs of the chafing dish.  Remember, this is a decorative element for a small item.  Large bunch of grapes, to my mind would be out of scale.  So small elements.  Small leaves.  I would think no more than 2 inches across for the leaves, so there will be 2-3 in each corner of the rack and one bunch of leaves.  Held on by rivets, that may or may not be copper.  Uhggg....

 

Ok Frosty, I know we need to talk.  Any help you could provide, and that actually goes to everyone, would and will be greatly appreciated. 

 

Jeremy, that does sound like a good idea.  I just don't know.  I have never welded anything in my life other than a few good forge welds.  Its a big step with no training.

 

Thomas, this is going to drive you crazy.  I'm doing this on spec.  I have no idea what the price will be yet.  And neither does he.  I have a figure in mind but I'm hesitant to put it out there. 

 

Beammeupscotty, that's just lovely.  and actually pretty close to what I had in mind for the grape bunches.  It gives me a great idea and I only need to make one tool to do that. I had planned on rivets.  And its what my friend wants.

 

Ok so here I go to the steel store to buy steel.  Woot!

 

Oh ya one more thing.  Yes I will take pictures.

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don't know what the method is called but cold chisal across the top of closed vise jaws is a quick eazey way to cut small bits af sheet.

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The molds used to make "Egg" sinkers, ... or "Musket Ball" type Jigs, ... with bits of copper wire embeded in the balls for stems .....

 

The Copper "stems" could then be soldered together into "bunches".

 

The Leaves are the easy part.

 

 

 

.

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Lightly hammered ballbearings for grapes. Now there's a great time saving idea. That's filed for future use. Thanks.

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Ok I got the materials to get the job done.  I went over to a friends machine shop and talked to him about a rivet set for the rivets.  I've decided to use 1/4 hot rolled for the rivets, flat on the inside and domed on the outside.  I'm going to make an oval punch and use that to make a negative into a piece of mild steel plate I have, then raise the grapes out of the 14 ga.  There will be a small bunch of grapes in each corner of the frame.  And the leaves of course.  So, tooling tomorrow.  Then I need to cut my pieces.  Then drill for rivets.. then then then...

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Bryan you can provide an organic looking stem by texturing your round bar hot with your hammer then twisting the textured bar .  Experiment to get the effect you want including reversing the twist .   That process will give your stem a much more realistic look. 

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Bryan: The leaves and grapes are decorative not structural, 14 ga. is WAY overkill, 18 ga is more than enough and it'll take the shapes much better. You could remove the galvy from flashing and it'd work a treat. I used to make SCA fighting helms from 14 ga. and to prove they were safe I parked a front wheel of my pickup on one. Hey, cookie tins are plenty and they take chasing and repousse like a charm, they're very low carbon deep draw steel.

 

Buy Renee some cookies or popcorn and get out your tin snips. You could dap the grapes with rounded wooden dowels in fact.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Bryan, I know you have already got your steel, but if you have to make more of them,as history suggests, if it was me I would get the leaves laser or plasma cut to your preferred size and profile and then hammer some shape and texture into them.

 Same goes for the grapes, profile out the shape of the bunch then push out the grape shape as suggested above, leaving a tag for rivetting them on.good luck.

BTW what is a chafing rack?

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Bryan, good for you! Good way to learn... commit to a big project that is not to big of a stretch. You will do well, and learn lots in the process, Double win!

Glad to hear you have been busy. I would love to see your projects, especially the fire grate. after you are done with this one though, no rush. 

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If you don't use the 14ga. it's really handy stuff, light enough to form by hand and heavy enough to be structural. I discovered that working it cold was too much work but dull to med red and it works a treat.

 

Don't you have a sabre saw?

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Yes I have a Sawsall and will be using that to cut the metal with.  But I think I will stick with the 14 ga.  I'm having fun so why not.  I got some of it cut up today.  But life intervened and I've had to step away from the shop for the rest of the day.  Things to do places to go ect.  But I'll jump back on it tomorrow. 

 

I will put together one of the grills after this to show you what I've been making.  It's pretty simple really.  1" angle iron frame and riveted 3/4 inch flat to that with expanded metal sheet sandwiched between.  I like the 3/4" expanded metal.  Its less expensive.  Your buying less steel than the smaller opening stuff and not much will fall through it.  for the legs I just make a U at both ends with 3/4" angle and bolt them on. They fold inside the 1" angle and pretty much disappear.  I used up a whole 4x8 foot sheet of the expanded metal over the summer.  I need to get more.  I have to buy the whole sheet though. 

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I have a Porter Cable version of a Sawzall and it's a handy brute, it's just unwieldy doing fine work. I have an el cheapo sabresaw for light fine stuff. A boy can't have too many tools you know. <wink>

 

Better life gets in your way than a tree. Got the place winterized?

 

Yes please, I'd love a look at your fold up grills. Sean posted pics of a fold up brazier based on a Roman (I think) model. Good camp gear for high fire danger days.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Well I've come to a decision.  The 14 ga. is just to thick for what I'm doing.  I'm heading to the local sheet metal shop, that's been here since 1914, http://www.newsminer.com/business/wilbur-bros-sheet-metal-turns/article_1345a8a4-0fe2-11e4-94b3-001a4bcf6878.html, to get some thinner gauge metal.  I'm thinking 20 ga.?  I included the link its an interesting story for a family business that's been a part of this town for 100 years.

 

So, my slight experience with sheet metal gave me some bad data and I found that the 14 ga. was just had more thickness than I had originally thought.  So, no biggie.  I can use it for something else another time.  Maybe a Viking helmet some day?  Or something.  LOL. 

 

A little bit on design.  I'm making two legs per side with a slight flare at the bottoms with a curve and a couple of fuller lined going up the curved section of the foot.  The grapes will be bent at a 90 deg. angle and attached to the corner with a grape vine and leaves curling down the two legs.  There will be two rows of bar stock one above the other.  One will hold the chafing dish and one row for the framing for the tray that will hold the burners.  So, I've settled on design and now I need to measure the existing example for size and get to cutting and drilling and riveting.  Woo hoo.. I'm excited to getting started with the actual build.  I have a feeling the decorative elements will be what take me the longest.  Woot.  Here I go!

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King Architectural metal sells grape clusters and leaves already made.  For the price, you really can't beat it.

 

I love sub-contracting as much as I can because the product is often better than I can do.  Better quality at a price I couldn't possibly match?  That's a win for me and the customer.

 

$13.95 for a cluster of grapes with a leaf and vine segment?  Texture it a bit and have a local welder tack it onto the rest of the piece.  Then all you have to do is blend it all together.

 

And the customer will think you're a smithing god!

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