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Hay Hook


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Looking for input on design and forging of a bale or hay hook.  Its a pretty simple tool that has many uses for handling heavy bulky items such as logs or hay bales, of materials you can sink a hook into. There are a few geometric nuances that affect its effectiveness, such as pitch of the hook, shaft length, weight/diameter of shaft, point taper etc.  What I am mainly interested in though, is how to forge the thing with a design that both works well yet is not overdone and time-consuming to forge. . 

 

I made one that works ok, but I don’t like the feel of the shaft between my fingers, even though I flattened it to about 4 or 5 sixteenths.  I need to improve the wood handle shape and fit some, so this is just a trial.  Here it is.

Hook.thumb.jpg.2e19a2372a9c6d4f484350f4f45c8850.jpg

 

Longshoremen used this kind of tool for years and have no doubt found a design that is effective.  It has a different style of handle.  Here is an example I found on the internet:

1334494796_LSHook.thumb.jpg.bc95c2121f570824c001d91c33b84dc9.jpg

I am going to try it, or with a handle something like it, but I am still awkward with my forge welding.  I want to sell these tools, and therefore need to have an efficient process to fabricate them.  I want to present them as traditional forged work, and so don’t want to arc weld the two pieces together.  I suppose I could split the shaft bar and splay it, but I’d have to start with a fairly thick, heavy shaft I think, which adds weight.  Maybe that is ok, but I don't think weight is needed or desirable

My goals are:

1. Traditional construction

2.  Comfort

3.  Efficient use of material

4.  Efficient fabrication

 

Anyway, before I spend hours and hours trying to get to a viable way of making these with my goals in mind, I’d like some input from experienced smiths as to how they would tackle it.  If I need to up my forge welding skills then so be it, if that is the best way.  Maybe there is a better design than what I showed, and any input on that would be helpful as well.

 

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Continue your "entrynet" search just for hay hooks...must be gobs of pictures of them. (unless you have already done that...)

Your hook looks great, just don't know how functional it is.

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Have you seen this design? (not my image):

image.jpeg.29a156c25f2267b20e76c991327a46ad.jpeg

I don't know how ergonomic it would be, but it would not require any forge welding or splitting so it might be worth a try making one. I also saw an example where the end of the handle loop was forge welded back into itself to make a closed loop.

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6 minutes ago, arkie said:

Your hook looks great, just don't know how functional it is.

Its functional (I just got thru my first cutting of hay).  I just don't like the comfort with my design.  Might try a bit thinner shaft below the handle.

 

4 minutes ago, Chelonian said:

Have you seen this design?

Yes, that is plenty simple and I am sure it works ok.  I want a fatter handle though.  Would like to use wood.

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I like the idea of a wood handle as well. Check out this design by Phoenix Forge. It does require some splitting and drawing out, but because of the clever use of flat bar and twisting it 90 degrees, it looks like it could be made fairly efficiently.

 

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You're REALLY over thinking hay hooks.. The through the fingers type is easy but really uncomfortable to use for more than one or two bales. Flattening the through hole makes them downright painful if they twist even a little bit.

My preference has 3 parts. The hook, 1/2" mild is more than enough but you can use much thinner if you use a medium carbon like coil spring and do a spring harden/temper.

Form the point as you wish, forge and grind is fast and easy, turn the hook and swage a tennon on the shank end. 

The "bale" is nothing but a piece of mild steel strap 1/8" x 1" is probably good but make it what you're comfortable with. Punch the hole for the hook shank making it snug and put a chisel divot in the hole to lock the hook when you pein the tennon down. 

Same for the handle in the bale though I like all thread or a long carriage bolt so it's easy to change wooden handles. 

Be sure to round and chamfer the ends of the bale and all the edges, they WILL be rubbing on the people's hands and you don't want hot spots.

When you connect the hook to the bale leave 1 1/2 x the diameter of the tennon protruding through the bale to provide enough steel to make a good size head. When you HOT pein it the tennon will expand to fill the mortise and the chisel mark. Filling the chisel mark locks the hook so it can't rotate. Pein it flat or a low smooth dome so it doesn't rub large hands raw.

Heck, sand the whole hay hook smooth so there are NO hot spots anywhere. 

Hay hooks are good beginning projects, they combine a number of basic techniques in a whole and require a degree of precision that shouldn't be daunting. I drove my metal shop 1 instructor crazy making hay hooks. I made a pair for us and other people in the horse community with through the fingers hay hooks wanted them. I was making pretty good money on them for a jr. high age kid.

Was that clear enough? If not give me a shout.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Frosty, since you have made and used your design which should be "blister and sore spot free", I would be interested in trying your design out.  I had a bit of trouble following your directions, so would it be possible to post a picture or drawing so that an old duffer can better visualize them?  I surely can see where the flat parts could really work on your hands.

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Not my picture but back in the day, I have made these D-Handle hooks that are fairly easy. I used 1/2 inch square stock, drew the hook end round and tapered. For the handle, split the stock the distance needed for it with the band saw. I make the flat stock there octagon to eliminate sharp edges and shape the D. Last step put in the twist and attach the wood handle.

I made one out of two pieces of 1/4 inch round. Forge welded the rods together to form the hook and twisted the round for the shaft then forge welded the rods together leaving enough stock to form the D. The friends that I gave them to loved them. Admittedly the twisted round stock took a little longer with the forge welds.

1380684696_twistbalehook.jpeg.39cca6530521927658487556b36395c2.jpeg

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Made a hook that I think follows Frosty's description.  I used a 15" long piece of 1/2" round mild, 1/4"x1"x10" of flat bar, and 1-1/8"x4" oak dowel.

The chisel divot is a good idea.  Hadn't heard that one before.  I used a tapered square punch instead, driven in just far enough to leave four good notches.

The hot peened end of the tenon got a bit wonky.  Next time I will probably use a 3/8" rod to hold the handle, peened at both ends, or maybe something with a little more old-style look than hex nuts.  So some improvements are in order, but otherwise, I think this meets all my goals.

Thanks Frosty and the others who chimed in with ideas.

IMG_1771.thumb.JPG.0cd47c1310e7231777265097bc257622.JPG

IMG_1773.thumb.JPG.64e076ef8e57c92975d1bf287b5f0fa9.JPG

 

23 hours ago, Frosty said:

You're REALLY over thinking hay hooks..

Well at least this time I asked for input.

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By GEORGE I think you've got it! 

I don't understand the why you bent the hook shaft back like that. It seams to me it puts the balance almost on the tip of the hook. I made them with a straight shaft so when you lifted a bale the balance pulled the hook tight into the bale and the strain was a straight pull on your hand and wrist. 

Arkie: If you straighten the shaft and tweak the hook a little closed, the above pic is about what I was selling in (middle) jr. high school.

Frosty The Lucky.

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gmbobnick, that's a nice looking hay hook.  I might copy that.  I wouldn't worry about the bolt and nut being a distraction.  Blacksmiths made bolts and nuts; besides it's easier to replace the handle should it get damaged.  There are sources on the entrynet for square headed bolts and nuts for a more "authentic" old timey look.  Good idea with the square punch to keep the hook in place.

Frosty, (and gmbobnick) thanks for using his picture to explain what you were describing on the construction of your hay hook.

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I lucked into some long carriage bolts for the handles They were nice and smooth. 

Yes you want the handle attached with nuts so you can replace the wood handle easily every 20-25 years. Usually they'd get forgotten outside and the wood would weather and get rough. Darn kids never put anything away.

A square punch, chisel cut, just something to make the mortise out of round so the hook can't rotate on the handle. They're all good.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I'm debating if the new search function is better or worse lol. Also it was saying busy uploading media when I hadn't yet. Had to edit to add pictures. 

Anyway, I'm up in my shop and thought about this as I have a few old bale hooks hanging around. Some are like mentioned already. One is forge welded at the shaft after the handle. 

I have another couple hooks I believe are harness hooks that are forge welded at the actual hook. Just some other ideas and possibilities. 

20210707_212016.thumb.jpg.17ebc2736840478f07de778ea88f3f05.jpg

20210707_212028.thumb.jpg.15d5e9de1d6ea56fe8b17bb69e25db1c.jpg

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20210707_212143.thumb.jpg.81e7794e36303f47d4630f3d0e3a7185.jpg

20210707_212154.thumb.jpg.e8a74f667949ea00b29738130768cf31.jpg

 

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On 7/3/2021 at 11:17 AM, Chelonian said:

image.jpeg.29a156c25f2267b20e76c991327a46ad.jpeg

I don't know how ergonomic it would be, but it would not require any forge welding or splitting so it might be worth a try making one. I also saw an example where the end of the handle loop was forge welded back into itself to make a closed loop.

Of those posted so far this is closest to what was commonly used when small squares were fed in Texas.  The point is at correct angle but loop shouldn't start to curve back/offset to rear.   Another twice to three times as long is used when loading bales on trailer.  Short hook in end of bale closest to you and long hook on far end.  Wood handle look's and feel's good but a 3/8ths pipe is much faster to install and in real life no one haul's hay without thick gloves so feel is no different.  Wait until handle is finished before drawing point out and curving.  Much simpler to bend hook 90* to handle than keeping handle 90* to hook as handle is bent.  Try one without welding tag end of rod to shaft.  I've seen dozens used for years without being welded.  Probably depends on steel.  You don't want pipe to swivel because that will increase arm motion required to "set" the point in bale.  While rod is soft and last bend is made at pipe end, give it a hard blow to tighten friction between rod and pipe.   Leather chinks or apron are recommended add on sales if you happen to be into leather work. 

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11 hours ago, Leather Bill said:

Of those posted so far this is closest to what was commonly used when small squares were fed in Texas.

Good info on hooks in actual use on the farm/ranch.

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You might find a small interest from those in the nursery business in a modified hay hook.  A lot of ball and burlap trees have wire mesh type baskets.  Having a hook about 18” or so comes in pretty handy.

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