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Help with a split curl on flat bar


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Is there a good ratio for a split curl  (hopefully that’s the correct term)? 

I’m working on a few decorative crosses for Mother’s Day presents. The plan is to use 2x1/8” flat bar, split the ends down the middle and curl them back towards the bar. I’m having trouble figuring out how much length to add for the split though. I want the solid parts of the bars to be 24” for the vertical piece and 12” for the horizontal piece. 
 

Picture of the idea in case I’m using the wrong term. As always, you’ll have to forgive my art skills. 
133500B0-B319-402B-BD03-A8770E4B6587.thumb.jpeg.98f4abc79f91526c3e2ffa8d90c3f931.jpeg

 

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There are formula for calculating what you're asking but I couldn't locate one if I knew how to use them

Instead get out your modeling clay, roll it 1/8" thick, trim to 2" wide and model the piece you wish to make. 

I don't know if there is a specific term for this end treatment though I imagine there is. I call them finial scrolls, split or double finial scroll might work. I don't know.

Drawing a sketch is THE BEST way I know of to convey what you meant. Well done!

One last note, 1/8" stock will be a bugger to make that kind of finial on. I suggest you select about 18" and practice a few times before starting on the cross. 18" so you can hold it in your hand and being mild steel feel free to stick it in the water bucket as often as you like it won't damage it. It's decorative so grain growth is pretty irrelevant.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Posted (edited)

I was thinking I had done it with 1/8 before but it was 3/16. I was originally thinking 1/4 but I’m afraid that would be too heavy for a wall hanger. 
 

Edit to add: Disregard the above. I found a chart for bar stock weight by foot. Made of 1/4”x2” the cross will weigh ~6lbs. 6lbs should be fine for wall art. 

Edited by Bantou
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It's not too heavy if you make a nice hanger for it that can be screwed into a stud in say 3+ places. 

When I make spread crosses for gifts, 8" tall is plenty for a wall hanger and can be mounted with one screw or if you're into traditional a nail. A small picture hook, painted black and maybe trimmed a bit will hang a spread cross through the negative space in the center and look well. Mostly I make spread crosses under 2" tall as necklaces or pocket "worry stones."

This is just me but I think of a 24" tall cross as something for church or shrine, somewhere formal location than the living room.

That's just me though.

Frosty The Lucky.

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You are probably right. I was thinking 24” because that’s what looked best when I drew it out using 2” stock. If I drop the stock size down to 1” it would make a more manageable size. 
 

I want to engrave the reference for each mom’s favorite Bible verse on the long side. I was originally thinking 2” so I would have plenty of room for the engraving. Looking at it again, I think 1” will still give me plenty of room and may even look better. 

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After measuring the piece I did for my class and experimenting with Play-doh, 1.5x the width of the bar appears to be about the right length for the split. 
 

Final drawing plan:

image.thumb.jpg.c7d0d5b1cdc84ea41b401cb78e658748.jpg

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Rather than cut a wedge out of the bar make a single slit down the center and draw the sides into a taper and scroll them. It'll have a more organic look than what you're contemplating and use WAY less length of slit. 

Make the slit, drive the chisel in from the end, then open it up over the anvil edge. Once it's opened up it'll draw easily, just remember to keep it reasonably flat. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Check out the Golden Mean. It's a great starting place for figuring out lengths using a ratio. It works for proportions of the whole piece, where they cross and even down to how much scroll per arm length.

You will prolly find that your basic proportions are intuitively already in the ball park.

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Even better than the Golden Mean is using ratios of whole numbers that are adjacent in the Fibonacci series (which approach the Golden Mean eventually anyway), which are much easier to calculate. So, 1:2, 2:3, 3:5, and 5:8 are all really easy to draw and are each quite pleasing to the eye. 

If you haven’t read it already, the book By Hand and Eye by George Walker and Jim Tolpin is an essential read for any craftsperson interested in creating attractive and well-proportioned designs. 

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40 minutes ago, JHCC said:

Even better than the Golden Mean is using ratios of whole numbers that are adjacent in the Fibonacci series (which approach the Golden Mean eventually anyway),

I was amazed when someone pointed how many times this shows up in nature. Seeds in a sunflower and ferns demonstrate it pretty well. 

Pnut

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Blackbear forge put out a video last night that show him doing a similar finial (two others also). It’s a little different that what you’re going for, but the technique should be similar. It may worth checking out.

David

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17 hours ago, Frosty said:

Rather than cut a wedge out of the bar make a single slit down the center and draw the sides into a taper and scroll them. It'll have a more organic look than what you're contemplating and use WAY less length of slit. 

Frosty The Lucky.

When done properly, the technique I’m using actually looks pretty organic and gives a nice tapered point without having to draw it out. This is the piece I did using the same technique in a class. 

AAF44848-2CAE-4D40-8EE8-40FC6DA30DA7.thumb.jpeg.3c5902a26a4e000783d18010c2b59fc5.jpeg

I’m going to try your technique though. Keeping both cuts perfectly straight and even is a bear. Having to only make one cut would definitely have its advantages. It would also save me about 3” of material per cross assuming my math is right. 
 

10 hours ago, JHCC said:

If you haven’t read it already, the book By Hand and Eye by George Walker and Jim Tolpin is an essential read for any craftsperson interested in creating attractive and well-proportioned designs. 

I haven’t read that one yet. I just finished The Artist Blacksmith the other night. It provided a good overview but I need something more in-depth now. 

 

10 hours ago, Goods said:

Blackbear forge put out a video last night that show him doing a similar finial (two others also). It’s a little different that what you’re going for, but the technique should be similar. It may worth checking out.

David

I’ll definitely check it out. Thank you for the suggestion.

 

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It takes more skill at the anvil where cut and bend doesn't. Just give it a try and see.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I've never considered cutting a wedge out. I guess slitting, tapering, and scrolling the ends just seemed like the way to do it. I might give it a try. 

Pnut

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I have done similar and just split it. the way to do it is make "convenience bends". Bend the others out of the way so you can forge one side at a time.  With 1/8" thick the biggest issue is keeping the edges from swelling more that the middle of the bar. I find using a heavy blow alternated by a flattening blow to be helpful. Nice to not end up with those swollen wrinkles that are easy to get. 

Photo to illustrate the need for convenience bends...

20201121_161543.jpg

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I've seen that one before but don't recall the finished piece. It'd make a cool locktopus don't you think?

Frosty The Lucky.

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:) Looking good Bantou! Did you note how deep you slit the end? It looks like you don't have to cut nearly as deep. 

If you want a smooth transition between the scrolls try driving something rounded to the bottom of the slit after you open it enough to make the bottom of the slit round.

I do that when making forks so the tines curve away from each other in a pleasing U shaped curve. I I start rounding the slit with a cold chisel with a rounded edge. It's my main veiner but it's perfect for spreading split ends like yours. After making the cut, I open it with a sharp chisel, then the veiner and I'll widen the bottom of the split till I like it a piece of 3/8" round transitions from the veiner to the horn on my Soderfors. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Yes, I could see you slit it the same as before. I see now you did reduce the slit by 3/8". I'm suggesting you'll realize a LOT more length in a forged taper and can reduce the initial slit by what is still visible in the picture. Without getting my dividers out it looks like you have almost 1" of slit left. 

Make your Mother's day gift the way you know how. This isn't the time to experiment, experimentation takes time to do right.

THEN cut a few test lengths and experiment with forged tapered finials. I'd suggest you make the slit about 1/2" deep, open it on the edge of your anvil and round the bottom on the horn or by driving it onto a piece or round stock, say 3/8" - 1/2" round. Then forge the tapers out and scroll them.

Frosty The Lucky.

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When you are as green as I am, pretty much everything is an experiment. Unfortunately, a lot of lessons come the hard way. Tonight’s lesson was that holes should be punched before the finials are made; if the hole is less than 2” from the tip of the finial. I had the piece completely done with the exception of punching the hole and melted part of the main beam off trying to get the hole hot enough to punch. 
 

The only way to get the main beam hot while protecting my finials was to stand it on edge and crank the fire up. My finials are fine but I’m now missing a ~1/16x2” section  off the main bar right below where the cross piece would sit. An inch higher and it would have been hidden behind the cross piece. Instead, it would be at a junction where it would be extra noticeable. 
 

As it sits, I wouldn’t hang it on my wall, let alone give it to someone else. I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew at my current level. Fortunately, these are gift not commissions (I’m a long way from being ready for those) so I don’t lose anything if I back up and punt. 

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12 hours ago, Frosty said:

you want a smooth transition between the scrolls try driving something rounded to the bottom of the slit after you open it enough to make the bottom of the slit round.

I'm going to make a slitting chisel like the one pictured in Vol.I of The Skills of a Blacksmith. It was one of those, "I don't know why this didn't occur to me sooner" moments when I seen the fuller side on the trailing edge of the chisel. 

Pnut

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9 hours ago, Bantou said:

Tonight’s lesson was that holes should be punched before the finials are made; if the hole is less than 2” from the tip of the finial. I had the piece completely done with the exception of punching the hole and melted part of the main beam off trying to get the hole hot enough to punch

That's when you switch to using a drill...  You had plenty of width and didn't need to punch. 

If you do punch there is certainly no need to go above yellow/orange heat for such a thin stock.  The real key that beginners struggle with is waiting to let the stock cool enough so that the plug shears cleanly away when back punching after punching the stock on the front "bottoms out" on the anvil.

21 minutes ago, pnut said:

I'm going to make a slitting chisel like the one pictured in Vol.I of The Skills of a Blacksmith

These are great tools.  I try to have one with me whenever I do any ornamental smithing.

On 5/3/2021 at 10:05 AM, ThomasPowers said:

Another way you can go is to start the taper before you cut down the middle of it and complete it on the individual pieces.

This is a great idea for keeping symmetry and most likely the way I would do it.

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