millwright

Spring swedge use

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I have a friend that is building a fence around his historic home. He purchased a pile of 3/8" material to build his fence with He pre cut all the peices only to find out that no one carries a 3/8" size final that he likes. He approached me to forge a point or a ball on the ends of all the rods (about 350). I sugested he sell me all the 3/8" material at a loss and buy some 1/2" to build his fence,but he did not like the idea. My question is If I buy a 3/8" ball spring swedge and mount it in the hardy hole of my anvil will it be a 1 heat deal to swedge the ends or will I have to upset the material first then swedge the end? Will I have enough heat to dress each up a little after swedging? Is it a one hit deal or will it require multiple blows? I have never used a spring swedge, but I figured it would be faster than forging each (round) rod to a point. Let me know what you folks think.

Thank you,
J.W. Morris

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Millwright,
I'm not sure which finial you want to do from your question so I'll apply what little I know to both. For a simple point a tapering swage wouldn't cut your time down massively unless your hammer control isn't great, in which case it would, and after doing the first hundred you yourself might well be doing them in one heat ( with the quantifier of depending on the length of the taper, shorter taper = quicker ) If they're a square point as opposed to a round point then you've an even better chance.

Doing a 3/8" ball in one heat by hand with a spring swage really depends on how hard you can hit. When you say a 3/8" ball swage I'm presuming you mean the ball is 3/8" so you will end up with a neck prior to the ball and you won't need to upset the bar, but if you don't want a neck on the 3/8" then you'll have to upset enough material to fill a bigger ball swage.

Doing this much forging in one heat by hand is unlikely in my opinion. To upset and then forge a ball is a big ask from just one heat.

If you had a power hammer, a foot powered treadle hammer (sometimes called an Oliver) or even a willing striker then you'll get them done a LOT faster regardless.

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I think the ball swedge would leave you dissatisfied. if I want a ball on 3/8 round, I start with 3/4 round, forge the ball in my homemade swedge, and powerhammer the stalk to 3/8. another option would be saw some 3/4 x3/4 blocks, drill a short 3/8 hole in them, fit the 3/8 round into the hole, arcweld the blocks to the stock, and then swedge a 3/4 ball on the end. You could also get a nifty look by smashing the 3/8 stock really flat into a fan shape on the end, with maybe a gentle curve included. Each two curves could face each other to imply a round negative shape, with the next negative space implying a curved vee shape. Imagination is free, go crazy.

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Swages work much better with a striker with a sledge or a powerhammer than trying to single hand it with a standard 1 hand hammer.

Ornamental iron Fab shops sell mild steel spheres to weld onto pickets

I'd go with the "flad blade with curves" myself.

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My friend says he will serve as a striker if we decided to do his posts using a swedge. He is really looking for a "quick and dirty" solution to top off his fence posts. Any other solutions for a quick, high production, low skilled (me), way to top off a 3/8" round fence post

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you could draw them to a long taper and put a curly Q in them. ro punch a 3/8" hole and make rings. you could do the flat blade with curves and a spring swage to make it look like a fan. you could go by fleur d'les finials for the top and weld them on. you could split the top and make hearts. there is realy alot you could do with them or you could do 350 diffrent things. Skill does not matter I think if you pick something by the time you are done you are going to have alot more skill. just my 2 cents. :)

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Note that buying mild steel spheres is cheaper and a lot easier to weld than buying ball bearings. Save them for knives!

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You're right Thomas. I didn't put that in there. But the thought of buying "something round" was the point. But you are definetly correct on the mild steel spheres.

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