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Every time I watch Brian Brazeal forge with a bottom and top cup, it makes me want to make one. I really appreciate how it keeps the faces of the tool rounded, so that it combats the fish mouthing that would occur later.

Here is a video showing him using the top cupping tool. The link is que'd up to 6:49 so you dont have to search for it.

Now here is the reason for my post. I'd like to hear some opinions on the order of operations you all would do in forging a top cup.

For example, here is one of the three ways I've thought of doing it

  • Start with a large round stock, forge the dish into one end
  • Fuller behind the face to draw out the body of the top tool 
  • Punch billet, making sure to leave the face hanging over the edge of the anvil so not to make the cup oblong
  • carry out like any other hammer or top tool

That method ~sounds~ good when just talking about it. But I've done something similar before with a busted sledge hammer head to make a large face top set/flatter. Fullering behind the face and drawing the body of the tool really sucked, even with someone striking with me.

Ive got a few more ideas, but I'd rather hear some original ideas

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A tool like that is not used without a striker or a power hammer in any case. Do you have either now, or is this just a theoretical question?

Everyone approaches problems from wherever they started out. Weldor/fabricator, machinist, tool & die maker, backyard hobby smith, thousand ton hammer industrial smith, total noob. Whatever tools you know and understand, will be how you want to attack the problem. Heck, with the right robot welder, you could 3D print one.

I, personally, would search thru scrapyards looking for something close to what I wanted, cut it, and weld it to an old sledge hammer head, but I work alone.

If I had access to a big enough lathe, I could probably rough a bowl shape out of some big stock.

Having seen BB demo at ABANA, I would wager that that one was forged over a ball form, like a shot-putt, with strikers.

(Oh, yeah. Keeping a unsightly scrap pile bee-you-tiful assemblage of odd shapes and sizes available for bucket list projects is a Guild requirement. I keep telling my wife that, she says the same thing about all the boxes of fabric.)

Hmmm, where did I put my son's old high school shot-putt? And where can I get some strapping lads to swing hammers accurately. Don't want to end up in the Emergency Room holding my finger together with a bandanna ***again***. The upside is, I always know when it is going to rain.

 

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I bet a ball hitch in the vise would work well for forming a cupping tool. As you said, attack it from where you're coming from. I just happen to have a ball hitch I've been using since I started not too long ago. 

Pnut

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I get the shop, my wife gets the house, her studio is pretty much just abandoned storage at this point.

if you search enough you can still find trailer hitches without the flat on top that helps using it for tooling. (In armouring, folks used to cut the ball off and flip it upside down and use the flat to weld it onto a stake and then grind the cut to a curve to match the rest. MUCH easier to find a spherical one...)

I also have a top tool for dressing large rivets; but it's cup is pretty acute compared to most domed hammer faces.

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Returning to the original question, if I were forging such a thing, I would make a domed hardy tool in the desired profile. Then I'd heat up the blank for the top rounding tool and hammer it down on the dome to create the hollow on the underside.

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1:Make the cupping tool out of mild steel. It needs to be bigger than the stock for your hammer and not very tall. No fuller needed. Just leave it square or round and an inch or so tall. 

2: take your hammer stock and for ease of working, long enough to hand hold it, no tongs. Round the end appropriately.

3: heat the cupping tool blank to a good yellow or even a sweating heat 

4: put the hot blank on your anvil, use a ~ 4 # hammer and sink the hammer stock into the blank. 

Done. 

You can still use the rounded hammer stock for a hammer. After you heat and shape the end, just normalize the end before driving it into the blank 

If you don't have a "handling" length, hold it with tongs. 

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48 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

(memo to self: open all small parcels from John remotely and immersed in liquid helium...)

How could you be so cold? :( 

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With temperatures in the mid 90's out here we dream of cryogenics!  I was telling my wife yesterday how happy I was to have sweat running down my face---as it wasn't bothering me and so my conversion to hot weather working was going apace.   Expected: 96 degF today with the humidity a swampy 23%!

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Well, the upside now is weather forecasting. For a week, I got to hold my middle finger up above my heart. In public.

"No, not being rude. Doctor's orders. See the bandage? And a good day to you as well, and the horse you rode in on." 

And my son, as the striker (for the last time), earned the nickname "Lightning", and had to drive me to the ER, and not for the last time. Just the last time he was the culprit.
 

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This is where a lot of people go off when making cupping tools....whether top or bottom tools. You do not use a ball or sphere to make them. You use a squished ball. Now for this tool it doesn’t matter as much since it’s just used to combat fish mouthing, but with hammers it matters. At least if you are wanting a proper and versatile hammer. You use a squished ball type radius, and you get varying fullers on your hammer face. You use a ball and you short yourself. A proper ground rounding hammer (I’m not talking in the context of farrier work) you should be able to simply tilt the hammer face to get a sharper and more aggressive fuller. So many just grind and even radius ball face, I used to, until I realized the versatility in the “squished ball” grind. 
 

I have been wanting to make a top cupping tool too. How I have been planning to do it is basically for a flatter using my flatter anvil, and then forge what would be the working end of the tool the same as you would a cupping tool. Forging the edge of the tool face with light constant blows to begin a fish mouth and then cleaning up the hallow with a ball fuller. 

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Wow, thanks for the input everyone!

Just as I suspected, each of the different ways I've thought of to get the job done was presented back by those of you taking the time to reply.

For example...
John talking about coming at it from a fabrication perspective. Yeah, I work in a weld shop, and have considered just forging a "bottom cup" without the hardy shank, and welding it a top tool blank.

Pnut saying to use a ball hitch. In fact, when I forge a cupping tool, I use a large ball hitch that I cut the top 1/3 off before grinding the radii, so that the thickest part of the ball determines the width of my cupping tool, without making the depth 1" (since a 2" round billet is usually the largest hammers I make")

JHCC and his agreement with Lisa about not storing thread in his shop. This is also high on my list, seeing as I don't particularly like it when Lisas yarn gets near my forge.

Anvil: you are my hero, and not just because your user name is Anvil, but because you did the bullets list. Also I think you're onto something about taking a hammer blank and upsetting it into my bottom cup to make the die (for lack of a better term) to use to create the top cup.

Littleblacksmith made a lot of good points that I might have assumed was common knowledge, and not worth bringing up. I've spent a lot of time with Brian Brazeal, and even though learning from him is like drinking from a fire hose, one thing he drove home about the face of a rounding hammer a lot with his quote "It's not a sphere! It's more of a... squished ball shape". And even though I suggested he call it a "lens or lentil shape", I'm sure he's out there right now still saying "squished ball".

And before even reading Littleblacksmiths post, I've already welded up a new swage block with a hardy shank. The swage is about 3" deep, and 1.25" square, so that I can upset stock, almost identically to what Torbjörn Åhman does in this video.

From there, my plan is to use the hammer blank upset into the bottom cup like Anvil suggested and drive it down into the upset face of the billet in my fab'd swage block hardy tool to create the impression. Once it's going in the right direction, I'll take it out and tap on the sides of the cup to intentionally fish mouth it, just as Littleblacksmith pointed out. If the fish mouthing goes too far, dropping the billet back into the swage and knocking the edges back out with the rounded hammer blank should dress the tool out.

Done!

...well, except for letting the face of the tool hang over the edge of the anvil while punching and drifting the eye for the top tool. But that steps never been a problem on any other tools of that general shape

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  • 11 months later...
On 5/18/2020 at 9:11 AM, ThomasPowers said:

if you search enough you can still find trailer hitches without the flat on top that helps using it for tooling. (In armouring, folks used to cut the ball off and flip it upside down and use the flat to weld it onto a stake and then grind the cut to a curve to match the rest. MUCH easier to find a spherical one...)

Easy for you to say. 

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I can't see how deep the depression is in the pic but if it's as deep as it looks I'd grind most of it off. Once it's say 1" deep max and the threaded narrow shaft is cut off and dressed a bit. I'd bring it to bright yellow and drive it onto a ball hitch, rotate it 90* every couple blows to keep things reasonably even.

Once I had a cup I liked well enough I'd get serious about trimming the shaft end. Maybe clear to the widest just above the cup. A wire wrap handle works just fine. Remember to dome the struck end slightly to maximize hitting the mark and minimize mushrooming. 

It'll be a pretty small radius cupping tool so you'll need to dress hammers you make with it to widen the pein as needed. This is good, a preform should have room to work. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Cut at the red or the green line?

This one is unusual. Most or all the other spindles I have are flat where the spindle steel ends and the axle tubing begins. They are all from utility trailers.

I had thought I would trying disrupting a hitch ball to make it more of a “squashed ball” shape and then using that to shape this. 

E3D8AF9D-2531-4800-99A4-65408A79A200.png

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The green line or somewhere between it and the red to forge the cupping tool itself. 

I'd seriously consider cutting it at the red line and crowning it for the finished tool. I'd try it with the longer shaft first though. I like short top tools for heavy hitting, there's less leverage for an off angle set or blow to shock your hand or throw the top tool across the shop at the cat.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Tigger isn’t stupid. He knows to clear out when he hears the angle grinder. I wish he would learn to leave the bobcats and coyotes alone. You can’t really see it from this angle, but almost all the hair around his neck and the lower half of his right front leg were shaved off in February.  Something really got him pretty good.  He was a bit hesitant to do his rounds or a long time after that, but he’s back to his old ways again. Out all night. Sleeps all day. 
 

(I really need to sweep up.)

 

Back on topic. I have one almost finished as a flatter. It was one of those without a depression in the end. I still need to disrupt it a little more and try again to get the outer tubing to weld all around the perimeter. 

7176AB0A-3E84-4173-A385-8E3B3BEFBB47.jpeg

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29 minutes ago, DHarris said:

I still need to disrupt it a little

I thought I'd figure it out from context but . . . . nope, I'm clueless here. What is disrupting?

In my experience a pretty girl walking by or fresh cup of coffee is a worthy disruption. 

I didn't say you striking a top tool at bad angle and shooting it across the shop at the cat made the CAT stupid. :rolleyes:

Frosty The Lucky.

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Disrupt. Meaning make the working end shorter and more spread out.  I will take a photo of it tomorrow. Until it is finished, I am using a piece of leaf-spring as a “flatter”. It works ok, but it is pretty painful if I don’t have it properly aligned when I strike it.

Speaking of sending something across the shop, the guy who showed me how to get started didn’t have a wide selection of tongs. He had only one in fact and it was totally unsuited for what we were trying to do. We were trying to forge a short length of chain and a hook. That was the trade item at a meeting which was coming up. My first link slipped out of the tongs and flew off and struck the chair his son had been sitting in not five minutes prior. 

20 minutes ago, JHCC said:

It’s okay, Frosty. No need to get upset. 

If you had ever seen me trying to work at the anvil, you would probably agree what I do is disrupting and not upsetting. You would likely be so upset, you would swear off blacksmithing period. Or at least petition that I do. 
 

(I sometimes get the terms mixed up. I wish I could lay that off on a TBI, but can’t. Sometimes I am a little like that guy from the beer commercials in the 70’s.)

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Got it, makes sense. D: I've been saying it since the first time I tried it that upsetting is a descriptive term. It is what it is. You don't need a petition to swear at blacksmithing, it can be very upsetting.

Aphasia losing or blanking on things is normal, everybody does it. I just do it all the time. You can blame it on a TBI if you'd like, nobody has ever asked me for proof. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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For me I wouldn't use that for a cupping tool. It's just too much work to get the cup to match what your minds eye wants in the first place. Not to mention cutting off the shaft etc.

Read my post above, it's far easier and you don't need a shaft for the hardy hole. Just use it on the face of your anvil.

Think heading tool instead of cupping tool, as in a rivit heading tool. They are in the same basic family of tools.

I made a tool like I stated above to make a pyramid shaped cap nut out of 1" square, forged, drilled, and tapped in the same " cupping"  tool. I did a 4 sided taper on the 1" square bar. I then took a piece of 1-1/2"x1-1/2" and drove the cold pyramid end into the hot blank 'til it was deep enough. I then drilled a 1/4" hole in the corner of this " bottom" die. I then made a cover plate the size of the die out of 1/4" flat stock the same size as the die with a matching 1/4" hole in the corner and a hole in the center slightly bigger than what I intended for the threaded hole in the pyramid.. To make matching cap nuts I forged a 4 sided taper on the 1" square bar, then upset set it into the heading tool for final shaping. I then cut off the taper on the 1" square bar and set it back into the die. Next I  used a quarter inch bolt to act as a hinge for the cap and the die. I put this under my drill press and could hold the cap nut securely whilst I drilled and tapped it. 

It's sometimes just far easier to see something in the minds eye and make it than to convert something "close" to get what you want with no compromises.

 

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