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Stock for Shoe Horn and BBQ Fork

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I'd like to make a long handled shoe horn, as well as a BBQ fork, each out of just mild steel but would appreciate some starting stock size suggestions. I'll be buying the stock to work with, not re-purposing something else.

For the BBQ fork, I thought I'd start with 3/4" round?

For the shoe horn, I really don't know. I feel like 3/4" round won't spread out enough to make the horn. I'm tempted to start with a flat bar roughly the width I want in the horn, but then making the rest of the handle round will be a chore (likewise, I think drawing out 3/4 or 1" round will also be a chore, but good practice I suppose?).

I will be working only with hand tools. I do not have any fullers, "just" a basic anvil (I figure I can shape the shoehorn reasonably will on the anvil horn?).

Thanks in advance.

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Calculating volume is a useful skill. Think of it this way: a 3/4" round bar has a cross section of about 7/16" square. If you hammer that same cross section out to a flat rectangle 1/16" thick, it will decrease in thickness by a factor of 7 and increase in width by that same factor. That means you'll end up with a cross section about 1/16" x 3-1/16", which is plenty wide for a shoe horn.

Now, you'll need to factor in that you will lose some metal to scaling and that some of your material may move lengthwise when you want it to move widthwise. A neutral or reducing fire will help with the first, and good hammer technique will help with the second. Remember, you can always use the edge of the anvil as a small-radius fuller. Remember as well that it's almost always easier to make metal thinner by drawing out than it is to make it thicker by upsetting.

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i would definitely suggest that you use half inch round for the barbecue fork. that's what I use and it works great. as to the shoe horn, keep in mind that your steel will be considerably wider when u flatten it for the in-the-shoe part. half inch round will be about an inch wide when flattened to an eighth of an inch thick. if you don't think that would be wide enough, i would suggest upsetting the last few inches of half inch stock before u flatten it rather than using larger stock and drawing out the whole handle. without a power hammer, that would be a big job.

jhcc does have a point that drawing out is easier than upsetting, it just depends on how much you have you draw out. personally, I would rather upset 4 inches for the horn then draw out 18 inches of heavy stock for the handle. anyway, that's my 2 cents.

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Depends on how  fancy you want to  make it. 1/4 x1/2 makes a simple fork or shoe horn if you upset the end  or fold it over you have enough for the  horn. If you want fancy  any where  from 1/4x 3//4 up . Figure  out what you  want to  make  and calculate  what you  need.

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On 10/25/2016 at 9:10 AM, Tubalcain2 said:

jhcc does have a point that drawing out is easier than upsetting, it just depends on how much you have you draw out. personally, I would rather upset 4 inches for the horn then draw out 18 inches of heavy stock for the handle. anyway, that's my 2 cents.

I think I'll try both approaches, actually, should be interesting.

On 10/25/2016 at 10:31 AM, Latticino said:

Another alternative is to fold back a couple of inches of the 1/2" stock at the end of your shoehorn blank and forge weld it together.  A good exercise for forge welding.

I'm happy yo try, but I'm still at exactly zero successful forge welds - admittedly not one of them was ever done properly (I've always started with heavily scaled stock).

When you do this (fold the steel over) how do you prevent scale from building up while you're doing the bend? I presume the process is:

  1. Heat
  2. Brush, foldback and hammer the pieces so they are firmly together, flux, back in forge
  3. Let heatup and soak until...? The flux is bubbling?
  4. Out of the forge, several light (but not that light) quick taps, flux, and back into the forge.
  5. Let heat and soak again
  6. Out and hammer for real

Thanks everyone for the comments.

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You are pretty much there as regards your welding steps.  A couple of enhancements:

  1. Control the atmosphere of your gas forge to minimize scaling during heating (or work in the reducing zone of your coal forge with just enough air running to keep coals glowing yellow/white)
  2. Heat, scarf the far end, and cut 1/2-3/4 way through with a  hot cut
  3. Brush vigorously to remove any scale with a coarse brush (can lightly dust with flux here, but not required)
  4. Heat, brush and fold closed and flux
  5. Heat carefully to welding temperature (flux bubbling, metal surface looking soft like melting butter).  If in coal forge hopefully you have a nice clean beehive and can soak at that temperature for a short time (different for different stock sizes) with the air shut down almost all the way.  Coals will continue to heat the stock for a little bit, and steel won't burn without excess air
  6. Out of the forge to anvil quickly.  Have hammer in hand already.  Hit as soon as stock hits anvil.  I like to think of it as a "medium hard dead-blow".  The goal is to stick the two surfaces together without making them shift around or bounce apart.
  7. Flux and heat again the same way.  Harder hammering to complete weld and start forming OK now
  8. Complete forging, keeping at close to welding heat for this area.

That is what works for me.  YMMV

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I went the easy route.  I have a good bit of 1"X 1/8" stock from my last trip to the scrap yard.  This was my first BBQ fork and bottle opener combo.  Came out ok.  I learned a good bit doing it.  Hot cut the fork and punched and drifted the bottle opener.  


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