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I Forge Iron

Mid-ball swage


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Apologies if this has been covered - I tried searching but after about 30 minutes I gave up and started this post.

I'm wondering how I would create a spring swage that would create a mid-ball. So you insert a square bar and it creates a round spindle looking thing - round ball in the center with rounded ends meeting each side. I hope that makes sense. I can sketch something up if I need to.

I'm making skeleton keys. I really love the ball segmented look. Since I intended to do this semi-frequently, I thought it would make sense to make a spring swage. 

All the swages I've made have been done from an existing shape. So - if I want a 3/8 round then I take a 3/8 round bar and smash it into a hot block halfway. 

So for this one - I'm looking at the shape and thinking: I could give a round bar a blunt taper & round that up (so basically like a tapered punch?) and use that as the thing to smoosh for either end. But how to get the ball impression in the center?

Or how do I hand forge this design so I can create a master that gets smooshed?

Or am I going about it all wrong? lol

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Something to keep in mind is that you don't need a spring swage that exactly matches the final shape you want. You can make a swage that matches the cross section, and then rotate the workpiece within that swage. 

In other words, if you want this profile:


Make a pair of swages shaped like this:


Note that that the width of the swage is the same as the height of the detail and the groove is the shape of the round ball. Weld the swage halves to whatever spring you want to use, making sure they line up. (You might want to add a stop block of the desired thickness of the stem, so that you don't squeeze the stem too small.) Then heat up your workpiece, put it between the swages, hit it, turn 90, hit it again, turn 90, hit it again, and keep going (reheating as necessary) until you have that profile as a square. Then rotate it 45 degrees, hit, rotate 45, hit, rotate 45, hit, and keep going until you have that profile as an octagon. You can then work it down to round by turning it to whatever is the highest point, hitting, and rotating until it's rounded off.

Make sense?

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As a bonus, with this method you can make a faceted “ball” and if you want it as a finial, just cut and file the excess off the in wanted side.


(this was a from a 1” diameter swage, so not exactly mini…)

Keep it fun,


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