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Dealing with slitting/splitting problems

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Hi to all out there,


few days ago I tried to make a basket twist, the traditional way. Meaning, that I split squar bar from all 4 sides and then go to twist it. Using my sharp hotcut chisle...

However, if you punch holes in a bar using a flat surfaced slotpunch, you will shear off the rag/slug as the final step. But using a slitting chisle, hotcut ect. meaning something that has a sharp working end, a fairly big rag will develop if you slit from the opposite side.

I found it a little bit hard to deal with this rag after splitting was complete, and try to file it away.

But does anyone knows an easier way to get splitting without or with a minimum of rag?




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Try squaring up the bar as you go, as an intermediate step between cutting steps. That way, each thinner element retains more of a square cross section.

Also, forge welding together the thinner elements is just as traditional -- perhaps even more so -- than splitting.

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Yes forge welding is more traditional than splitting, especially when working with pre 1850's real wrought iron!

To smooth out interiors when split you could let it cool and take abrasive cloth and thread it around and "shoe shine" it.  Or open the basket up to where you could use small files on the interior surfaces.

Frankly I would forge weld round stock. (Or sq stock, I have even seen forge welded twisted sq stock baskets.)

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I usually slit all the way through (onto a sacrificial plate at the last stage to prevent damage to the slitter)

Then close up and resquare the piece, then repeat slitting again from this side. 

Resquare again, and use a thin drift over a suitable bolster to open up the slots prior to twisting and forming the cage.

Open cage to desired profile (If you have any burred edges you can address the issue now, either use a mandrel, or file off any ragged bits)

Twist to the required form

This sample was on a 1/2" bar and not dressed at all.



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Either way is good, but if you don't hold the 90 degrees vertical to the cutting face and your half and half technique does not align at the same place, that is when you get a ragged edge and need to address the finish, also you can end up with different width strands,

For beginers it is advisable to accurately mark out using a cold chisel, guide lines on all four sides on the centrelines of each side, and to the same extremities before attempting to slit, again the 90 degree rule is essential

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Layout is all.

Without that, you are working in the dark(or should I say the heat of the moment). My cold chisel and centerpunch get as hard of a workout as my hammer. Sometimes the challenge is where to put your reference points so they will be hidden when the job is done.

And the 90* rule is essential as well.

A good smith in my life put it this way:

Proper setup

Proper tools

Proper job

I took it to heart.


13 hours ago, John B said:

it is advisable to accurately mark out using a cold chisel


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testing your metal, you might say.  :)

a hard thing about stock selection is the tendency to choose undersized material. say you want your work to look light and delicate. so starting off with light stock seems correct. however too often starting light ends up looking thin and wispy on your test piece. if your choice is too heavy, you can always forge it down to what you want, and adjust your parent stock accordingly for the next test/final.  Both ways you adjust your stock size, but one way you build your scrap pile, the other you end up with a wall hanger example of your work.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 9/28/2020 at 8:23 PM, arftist said:

Supposedly the mettle (sic) was metal splinters in the hands of the fellows who had to dress the grain grinding stones with cold chisels.

While "mettle" does derive from a variant of "metal", the oldest uses (per the OED) have nothing to do with chisels, but are more about what a person is "made of" -- their character, strength, etc. There's also a related sense of vigor and energy, especially in horses. Thus, to show one's mettle was to show that one was of strong character, an energetic person of decision and action.

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Close but no cigar; The weasel is a hand cranked tool used to measure "yarn/thread" for warping a loom or making equal length skeins.  It has a built in counter that you set for the length needed---when it's all hand spun you don't want any wastage!  Anyway when it gets to the proper number of turns indicating the proper length of yarn/thread; it makes a little pop sound to tell you that's enough.

My wife's a spinster and has a couple of them. A niddy noddy  is a simple hand held variation where you have to keep track of the wraps yourself.

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