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Forging a Teacher's Key Ring

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I mentioned in another post on how to make a swivel that I want to make a big ring for holding teacher's keys as a present for my sister-in-law when she finishes her teaching credential. I am broadly modeling it on my wife's brass ring that her grandmother used when she was a teacher. Rather than have a seamless brass ring, I'm intending to forge square bar to round, add a leaf and then make the ring by twisting the loops together.

I'm fairly limited as a blacksmith, having only dabbled over the years and mostly made things from other peoples' examples. As a result, I'm not sure the best sequence of forging operations to use. I've drawn out my plan, and I'd appreciate comments. I'm looking at the ring now, and will probably add in questions for the hook and the swivel, when those come.

Some notes: ring will be about 5" in diameter, which comes to about 17.25" in circumference. adding in material for the leaf, stem, taper, loops and wraps, my finished length should be about 22-23". Stock will be 3/8" bar ultimately forged to 3/8" round (except for the leaf, stem, and taper).

Pictures attached for reference. You might note that my forging ability is rivaled by my sketching ability!

1. Forge steep taper for leaf shape.

2. Isolate taper for body of leaf

3. Draw out stem of leaf to 1/8" or so for about 3"

4. Forge 3/8" square to 3/8" round for the length of 17.25" from end of leaf stem. Mark with center punch at that point

5. Taper to point 3.5" long, cut off remaining

6. Flatten and vein leaf

7. Forge mostly round

8. Bend leaf back and twist to loop

9. Bend opposite side taper to fit through loop

10. Twist taper around ring to secure

11. Planish/true ring on horn

What are your thoughts on this? Changes? Additional Detail?




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First thing I'd note is weight.  Steel is heavier than brass, so a 5" ring that's made of steel, and has all the extra mass added with the leaf and twists.... well, that might not be something a woman is comfortable toting around.  Women are weird about how "heavy" things are, and it's odd that they find things heavy that menfolk think nothing about.  

Going from 3/8 square to 3/8 round serves what purpose?  Why not start with 3/8 round?  If you're interested in texturing the steel with hammer blows.... that can easily be done even when you start with round bar.  I'd opt to go with something smaller than 3/8 diameter bar since that's pretty substantial for no particular gain.  I think 5/16" bar would be too thick and heavy visually, and would likely go with 1/4" to get a balance between weight and strength as well as keeping the design "feminine".

Sometimes the best design is the most simple design.  Joining the ends with simple curls interlocking would be easy enough for someone with limited time/experience and would come out looking very nice.  It's understated elegance that still showcases the blacksmith's trade.

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1 hour ago, VaughnT said:

 Women are weird about how "heavy" things are, and it's odd that they find things heavy that menfolk think nothing about.  .


I made a little leaf key fob for my wife that hooks over the edge of her purse, to keep her keys handy. While she thought it was beautiful, she mentioned how heavy it was on several occasions over the course of a couple of weeks... finally, she must have developed enough muscle to lug that chunk of iron around... no more comments about it, other than her friends and coworkers all want one now.. :rolleyes:


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  • 3 weeks later...

So I've started on this, and thought I'd respond to some of the comments. I didn't think the difference in weight would be that remarkable since we're talking about a finish diameter of 0.25". However, I just went to an online calculator, and it appears that mild steel is less dense than brass, so weight is going to be a non-issue (steel will be 12 oz and brass would be 13 oz).

Why not start with 3/8" round? Because then I'm just giving it a faux finish by giving it hammer marks. I want to forge this entirely from start to finish. That's kind of the point of the exercise.

These things progress slowly, since I've got small kids at home and not a lot of spare time. I am a typical office worker, except that I work remotely, so most of my time forging is on boring conference calls when I've said my part and I just need to listen to the call but can otherwise be on mute. So I get 15 or 20 minutes at a time. I'll take some pics in a bit, but I've started by forging the leaf shape, the stem, and have begun reforging the 3/8 square down. I think I'm going to go closer to 1/4, maybe 5/16. These are all estimates, by the way, I'm not expecting to run calipers along it.



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