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I Forge Iron

Medieval Box Padlock

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I managed to get some forge time in on a visit home this summer, and I had this all planned out. Naturally it took longer to make than I anticipated (a year without being in the shop!), but I got it done in the time I had.

It's based on two locks, one found at Coppergate, York, and the other at Castle Rising, Norfolk, both dating around the 12th-13th centuries. Both those locks were of copper alloy and smaller, but I made mine from 14 ga. sheet steel. The originals also had a small cover that swung over the keyhole, but I decided to forgo that detail on this lock, though I may include it on the next of this style I make.

The hoop of the box was forge welded at the bottom after forming the top and cutting the hole for the bolt. The hoop, fin, and faces were then brazed together in the fire, though it didn't take between the back face and hoop the first time. The keyhole and hole for the keytip were made near the end, though the bolt and key were made and rough tested before brazing.

The spring is riveted to the bolt, and the plate which covers the hole in the case when it's locked was brazed on.

The key was made in two parts, bit/shank and bow. The bit was formed and the wards cut, then the back of the shaft was split. The bow was forge welded closed, then forge welded to the shaft.

The whole thing is coated with linseed oil a couple times, it gave it a dark, aged-looking patina. I like the effect.


The locking mechanism is the same as the barrel padlock I did before and wrote up a blueprint for, but the way it's unlocked is slightly different, a twist key instead of a slide key. I've got all kinds of idead for projects with different styles of locks, from Roman to medieval, but they're dependant on getting in a shop.


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