Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Fireplace Cranes

Recommended Posts

Made a quick sketch. To the right is brickwork with two plates with one hole each to receive the top and bottom tenons on the vertical bar. The horizontal bar had something like a horseshoe heel calk on the end. The curved brace could be forge welded or it could be a straight bar with thinned and bent ends, riveted. The old s-hooks were often of flat stock, so when the bail of the kettle was hung, there was less twisting and twirling of the vessel. Square sectioned stock would probably work OK for the frame, but you might use others to your own liking.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the response Frank and Tom. Let me throw in a few more details.

Hoping to make the crane from the original "lintel" that was part of the fireplace until a restoration of the fireplace several years ago.

The dimensions of the wrought iron lintel stock I have to work with is 1/2" x 2-1/2" x 6".

Horizontal piece will be approx. 36", vertical piece that fits into the pintels will be approx. 20".  There will most likely be a diagonal support brace from the horizontal to the vertical.

Frank. I like the idea of the hooks being of flat stock. Hadn't got that far in the thought process but it makes sense. Thanks. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

re construction: welded, riveted, tenon: the basic answer is *yes*

I have "Early American Wrought Iron" Albert H. Sonn and plate 299 has 5 different crane examples on it.

Another book I have notes that American cranes tend to be simple and functional, ("Antique Iron, Survey of American and English forms, 15th through 19th Centuries",  Schiffer; they didn't date their examples so I don't cite them by page.)

"Irons in the Fire, A History of Cooking Equipment", Rachael Feild, has several examples of ornate ones. (Be careful as there are several books with the exact same title but very different contents!)

"Iron and Brass Implements of the English House" J. Seymour Lindsay  has another lovely set of ornate crane examples

As for your starting material: as long as the item designed will weigh slightly less than the material you have it doesn't matter what shape it starts out as. You *FORGE* it to the size(s) needed. Forge welding it as needed.  (As wrought iron is known for it's forge welding properties it generally was forge welded where modern people would use other joining techniques) I do however suggest you practice making a couple in your design before you go for the gold!

If that dimension was 6' rather than 6" you could forge a crane with only *1* joint to be made by splitting and drawing out and bending working at welding heat wrought iron tends to be very pliable; but WARNING very low grade wrought iron was often used for items like lintels and it may be hot or cold short.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reply Tom.  The length of the piece I have to work with is "1/2" thick x 2-1/2" wide x 6' long.   Not 6 inches. My typo.

Thanks for the references. I will check them out.

Tom.  Now that you know that the length is six feet.  Please explain further, forging the crane with only one joint.

I will not have a chance to fire up the forge until the weather warms a bit more.   The person I am doing this for originally indicated that he wanted the pieces to be 3/4" square.

I took a 2" piece of the lintel and was able to forge almost 4-1/2" of 3/4" square out of the original 1/2" x 2-1/2" x 2".  The frugal yankee in me says, that is not practical by hand.

In the research stage now. And appreciate the input.  Thanks again.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Make a friend with a powerhammer?

Before the 3/4" constraint:  Forge the tenon on one end of the bar and then slit the bar to create the vertical and horizontal sections. Bend the horizontal one out and then bend over the excess (and I would forge weld it to make is solid) back to where it is bent at an angle to hit the vertical piece near the lower end. then Forge weld, rivet or mortise and tenon the one joint.  Forge the tenon on the lower end of the vertical.  Use excess metal to make the hooks needed.

A lot more work than just forging the bars and forge welding them as required but rather a tour de force on the craft of smithing's ability to manipulate metal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here are a few pictures of how they are setup..  The length of crane is ideally from 1/2 the distance on one wall to the opposite far corner..     The top pin is longer than the bottom pin and is slid up into the top pintel and then drops into the bottom one.. 


the first real picture is a 48" crane, next is a 36" crane, next are pictures of putting together the 48" crane.


these were made back in the early 90's.. 










Link to comment
Share on other sites

59 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

Being in Massachusetts; I would think there would be a number of colonial kitchens on display where you might be able to see the local styles of cranes... 

Not that many left in homes.. Most were removed..  Houses used to be the Jaguars and Mercedes of the world..  So as time marched on and as wood burning stoves moved in the fireplaces got hidden and the stuff got lost or thrown away.. 

The 2 styles of cranes shown are based on models I had seen back in the 80's..  In a full sized cooking kitchen they always had a brace.. 

Here is one that someone bought thinking it was an antique but it was one I made back in the 80's.. Back when i was inconstant with makers mark.. 



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes Tom. There are several examples at Inns and restaurants in the area. I have photographed several as i come across them.

JLP. There is one of similar style (open end) in "The Tavern" at the Daniel Webster Inn in Sandwich Mass.  I know I had seen that Photo before. It's on your business card.

Thanks for the photos and ideas all. Not on a deadline so am trying to get as much info as possible.  And be period correct, if there are any particular traits in a crane from the late 1700s.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thomas is my "use name" my first name is William!  However I grew up being called Tomboy by the kinfolk with my Dad being "Tommy"---(as the eldest son in a southern family of course I was called after my Father!)  Outside of kin he was Tom and I was Tom until my voice started to change and we started to have problems with being confused on the phone: "Is Tom there?", "Yes", "the factory is having a problem, the line is stopped and they need you to make a judgement call on what to do!"---"You want my Father..."  So I went to Thomas. Actually its a big help as anyone who calls me "Bill" is exposed as someone who doesn't know me well enough to use a diminutive of my name anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tempus fugit and memory fades, but I just wanted to add a note of possible interest. A few years ago, I visited the Dutch Van Alen house near Kinderhook, New York. It is now kept as a museum and dates into the 1700's. The fireplace was actually a place for fire that had no sidewalls nor was it inlet into an existing wall. It was simply the floor meeting the wall. Overhead was a hood and spanning the interior of the hood lengthwise was a "fire bar" a hefty rectangular sectioned length of wrought iron. There was no crane as I recall, but a beautifully made wrought iron trammel hung from the bar. I didn't ask what the wall and floor were made of, but it may have been a refractory clay. I think there was a cast iron fireback standing against the wall.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Monastery kitchen in Rothenburg ODT Germany had another variation:  It had a raised masonry platform in a section of the kitchen that was inside a hooded area; so you could build multiple fires and cook standing up!   (Not the requested date or location just added for an interesting variant for down hearth cooking)d90508fde7.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

The Monastery kitchen in Rothenburg ODT Germany

Look at the rods used to help lock together all the timbers and masonry..  2 on one end and then the shorter and longer ones on the edge of the photo.. 

I was out exploring a factory area looking for wrought iron pieces few days back when coming back from horses..  The mills were established back in the 1700's but had been destroyed several times.. Once by fire and then once with floods and then again with fire from what I can figure.. Anyhow the Dam was an earthen ware dam and like many dams back then didn't handle flood waters well.. It pretty much washed away the complete dam other than a few concrete pieces.. 

In the rubble I found a wagon tire with a part of a wooden fellow still attached but deeper in the pile there are tie rods..  Because we are still in winter here and the rods were buried under rocks I left them.. 

Anyhow, I am always amazed on exploring old sites.. In certain areas like this one the area was picked clean with only stuff they deemed to hard to retreive left behind.. 

other areas there is stuff just laying there in piles..   

A lot of farms and town houses had their own dumps (99%) of them did.. on their own property with a burn pit.. Lots of the people I had worked for in the past discovered a crane sitting in the burn pit.. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...