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I Forge Iron

My first important commission


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In 2012, I was commissioned to forge a separation grille between the entrance of a home and the parlor immediately adjacent. I was never happy with the photographs but not wanting to hire a professionnal photographer, I finaly decided to be content with the pics I took then and present the grille here.

All this was done with hammer and anvil. The only modern tool I used was a small toch to finish installing rivets and collars when I was not fast enough and lost the forge's heat.

The reason I present it (apart from showing off) is to help a beginner in stepping out of his comfort zone. This was a big step for me, my first big one out of the hook-zone. The way I went about it made the difficulty a pleasing adventure. I now use this approach on every important commission. It works for me.

I begin with small drawings in my note books. Note that all drawings are to scale : the ceiling, the wall and the base have  to be taken into account even at the very beginning. It does make things easier. The grille grew from the small drawing on the bottom of the right page. Note that I also drew/exploited Fritz Khün's forgings on the left page. Ultimately, I used his technique.


The chosen drawing was doubled once (left page) and twice (right page). The obsession with Khün's forging is apparent. It appeared to be at the moment the most elegant manner to attach the grille to the wall.


And then a larger drawing always to scale where the parts were numbered and the size of the steel to be used was decided.


The final working drawing, scale 1:1, on the smithy's wall :


The parts of the grille were transfered on Kraft paper :


And finaly on a steel table in order to forge the parts precisely in the shape of the drawings and to adjust and fit them together. Precision was important as this grill is attached to a wall, a base and a ceiling.


Here are views of both sides of the grille installed.


The mushrooms that grow on the foot of the tree were tapped and screwd on hanger bolts.


I copied Khün's technique outright and I am very happy with the results. there are no welds. The whole thing hang to the wall and ceiling with the collars.


Hanger bolts to anchor in the wall. The same bolts were used to attach the upper part to the ceiling.


And finaly, a few details of the treatment I gave to the branches.




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Yves: I really appreciate how clearly you planned this project. You and I do such things in a very similar way, I'll bet either of us could step into the other's shop and go to work on a project already under way without much trouble. We only differ in minor details in how we sequence large projects. If it's available you should try using graph paper for the sketch process, it makes scaling automatic and accurate. The customer can watch, comment and scale by eye as you sketch. "No, the front window is taller than that and farther from the front door. The fire place mantle is closer and narrower than that." Etc. etc. People don't need any training or expertise reading blueprints or visualizing drawings as finished products when they're sketched on graph paper, the scale is right there as part of the sketch and you can take it to the drafting table or shop floor without special work.

This project and post is a perfect example of what a proper plan of action is. Too many folk just don't know how to plan a job, they can have the best idea ever but if there is no plan it's going to flop unless they're very VERY lucky. Believe it or not I've had Bridge ENGINEERS! ask me why I didn't just buy some steel and weld it together. The second time the hapless knot head said that to me I was seriously tempted to just go buy a ton of "random" steel and weld it together for him but he wouldn't put it in writing.

Projects as well done and beautiful as your grille need to be planned from concept to finish before even making a cut list and buying the steel. Properly planning the job is absolutely necessary or success on any level is just luck but the smith pouring time and money in with nothing coming back is almost guaranteed.

Again, thank you for such a good pictorial how to of a proper plan and fine product Yves. Well done.

Frosty The Lucky.

Edited by Frosty
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Thanks for the compliments. I do hope that what I posted here will help someone who, as I said, has the opportunity to get out of his comfort zone. Doing it this way, designing, slowly developing the details, sticking to the plan as much as possible, is the easiest way of doing it.

I believe it was monsieur Turley who said that the beating-hot-steel-on-an anvil part of the blacksmith's job is something like 30%. Doing all this is part of the 70% of the blacksmith's job, and a good part of it. It takes time to design a proposition for a client. It takes time again to get to the details and plan them. And more time again for the final drawings. But to me it is an importtant part of the job since I do not do the same thing twice.

To me, and to you Frosty, it seems to be the best way.

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