box hardware

if u got a minute...
I make wooden boxes as a hobby and would love black iron hardware (hinges, latches, knobs). Would I need to have extensive learning and a complete
blacksmith shop to make such items? Or can I buy black iron sheets and cut and hammer it out? Maybe heat it some to bend it?
sorry if I am being naive....just thinking out loud and would appreciate your input.
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Speaking as someone who used to think he was a boxmaker and woodworker, I have to warn you that metalwork can be very compelling. You may end up making wooden items to aid your metalwork...
Knobs and handles aren't too hard, hinges will take some practice. You will best learn this craft by working with and watching others. I strongly recommend you get in touch with a local blacksmiths group.
If you're in the US, take a look here: http://www.abana.org/affiliates/affiliate_list.shtml There are certainly smithing groups not associated with ABANA, but the above will get you started. Go to some events/meetings and get your feet wet. Take a camera and notebook, even to just a business meeting.
An excellent book (if you were going to get just one): The New Edge of the Anvil by Jack Andrews You can get this book and just about every other one in print from Norm Larson ( snipped-for-privacy@impulse.net).
Steve Smith
lucky1 wrote:

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wrote:

Just do it. The first attempts won't be so good, but you'll get better.
The investment in tools, skill and materials is small - very easily within a home workshop's capabilities. Of course there are several techniques, and some need more support than others.

Definitely not. You can make a lot of hardware, especially in the sizes for small boxes, just by working it cold.
Here's a box I made last Xmas. http://codesmiths.com/shed/things/boxes/sarah / The hardware for that is steel sheet, worked entirely cold, and it only took me an evening to make two sets.

If I had the time, I'd love to do a book with a title something like "Metalwork for Woodworkers - How to make custom hardware for your wooden projects". But that's a little ambitious for tonight !
Look back in a few days - maybe I'll have a moment to write something
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Andy,
Thank you.
Very impressive work. I like what you've done and that is very similar ironwork (and woodwork) to what I'd like to do.
So, how do I just do it? What type of steel/iron and in what form...sheets? How do I cut it? Bend it and otherwise form it?
What tools would you suggest for starting? Minimal here.
Would it just be easier for me to buy the book you've suggested on your site? The Artist Blacksmith: Design and Techniques
Again, Thank you for your input.

(hinges,
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"mild steel" is what you'll find for sale at the hardware store and the pipe+steel suppliers. Everything else will have a label on it explaining some odd alloying etc (they'll have to see?;) to justify the EXTRA high cost. :)
The book's definition is "steel = iron + carbon".
If that's the case "mild-steel" ain't steel it's "modified iron". The modification, and an important one, is the addition of manganese and the lack of carbon. Some old-farts still call it "iron" instead of "steel" or "mild-steel".
Alvin in AZ
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snipped-for-privacy@XX.com wrote:

Alvin,
You're de-clarifying this for lucky1.
lucky1,
Mild steel _is_ technically steel. It's what lay-people think of as iron. When most folks think of 'steel' they imagine the hardenable stuff tools and knives and swords are made of.
Mild steel is not particularly hardenable. That's OK for the hardware you want to make. Mild steel is the stuff you want. Hinges and latches can be done without heat, with the possible exception of a black, fire-scale finish. For that you'll need to heat the finished pieces to glowing and let them cool in the open air.
Knobs might be another matter, depends on the shapes you have in mind.
You'll need a hefty vise, a drill, some files, a hammer or two, and a hack saw and/or shears to get started. Oh, and a bunch of metal to practice on.
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wrote:

Just do it. The first attempts won't be so good, but you'll get better.
The investment in tools, skill and materials is small - very easily within a home workshop's capabilities. Of course there are several techniques, and some need more support than others.

Definitely not. You can make a lot of hardware, especially in the sizes for small boxes, just by working it cold.
Here's a box I made last Xmas. http://codesmiths.com/shed/things/boxes/sarah / The hardware for that is steel sheet, worked entirely cold, and it only took me an evening to make two sets.

If I had the time, I'd love to do a book with a title something like "Metalwork for Woodworkers - How to make custom hardware for your wooden projects". But that's a little ambitious for tonight !
Here are some ideas. _Please_ come back with more specific questions.
    Approaches:
You can make hardware in several ways, or combine them. Here are some broad categories:
- Cutting sheet - Cold-forging thin bar - Hot forging bar. - Machining solid bar - Casting
Sheet is quite easy to work, but investment in machines makes production easier and quicker (I use a plasma cutter). Decent tinships/shears help a lot, especially for softer metals, but they can't cut tight corners. You're likely to be doing plenty of coping saw work, which works fine but is admittedly slow.
Thin bar can be simply bent cold to form handles or eyes for hinges. This is a technique for steel, up to about 1/4" diameter.
Above 1/4", you're starting to look at heating the bar and working it hot.This also allows techniques like drawing the bar down into a taper, or forming tight curves right at the end.
Machining from solid bar could be as simple as filing pegs onto the ends of a bar to fit it into a hinge, or as sohisticated as using a lathe to turn knobs from solid, or a milling machine to make thick brass hinges.
Casting is a common commercial process, but adventurous for the home workshop. Practical though, in bronze.
In the pre-industrial era, sheet was rare and expensive. Hardware, if any, would typically be hand-forged from bar. Bars might be worked down into thin sheet (the well-known strap hinges are an example) but these would often vary interestingly in thickness (rare today), yet wouldn't be cut from the large equal-thickness sheets that are so easily obtained today.
    Materials:
Steel, brass, copper are good choices. Materials you can't easily use are iron, stainless steel, aluminium, bronze.
Brass was the favoured material for fine furniture in the 18th century. It won't forge, so it was either cast or sawn from sheet. Brass is usually finished by polishing to a shine and then lacquering.
Copper is similar to brass, but was rarely cast and is slightly more easy to forge, usually cold. Both are soft and easily sawn. If you're lucky, you might find some bronze to work with, which is excellent, but hard to locate. It's perhaps best known to furniture makers through the American Arts & Craft work of Stickley et al. Copper is usually patinated (coloured).
Steel has advantages of strength and cheapness, but this can also make it harder work to cut to shape. It cold forges well in thin sections, but perhaps the most interesting techniques are for hot smithing. There are a range of finishing techniques, often unappreciated.
Iron is effectively unavailable, but you can substitute steel. Some reproduction work may need either real iron, or careful patination of steel to match it.
Stainless steel and aluminium are 20th century materials that are plainly part of the "machine age". You can use them, but they're less appropriate to craft hand-work.
    Techniques:
Sheet is usually a case of cutting to shape, and maybe a little folding or rolling to make hinges. It's often used as an escutcheon plate, with the hinge itself made of bent rod or thin strip.
Cold forging is pretty obvious, but you will need to anneal non-ferrous metals after a lot of work. This is easy, using a gas torch or the kitchen stove.
A good guide to metalworking on this scale is Tim McCreight's "The Complete Metalsmith" <(Amazon.com product link shortened)>
Hot forging is the technique of choice for heavier steel and iron, maybe for bronze too. Smithing is a little complex to go into here. Also most smithing involves a little cold working to finish things, so you're probably well advised to learn some of that first.
Machining needs machines, so that requires money and dedicated workshop space. Although you may find a lathe useful for some parts, there are few designs where you _must_ use one - most could be re-arranged to avoid it.
I'm not going to discuss or encourage casting at this point.
    Tools:
Hand tools first, basic saws and files. Buy good files ! They're much better than the cheap market-stall grade. Equally for hacksaw blades. A full-size hacksaw is better than a junior hacksaw, simply because you can buy Bi-Metal HS blades You'll probably find a coping saw useful too, and get a range of blades because metal and wood are quite different.
Heating. Start with a disposable cartridge torch (cheap), then maybe move up to a propane cylinder on the floor and a propane / air torch on a hose (affordable). Either of these allow annealing and silver soldering. Bigger and better torches do it more easily.
Get some firebricks and make yourself a hearth http://codesmiths.com/shed/workshop/techniques/hearth.htm or else use an old oven door / liner.
    Finishing:
This is as important as shaping. It's a particular interest of mine, but many people shy away from it.
Brass is finished by polishing and lacquering. I'd suggest a mixture of Garryflex block (rubber with grit in) and 3M plastic abrasive pads. get plenty of all and always have the full range of grits on hand. They're cheap and it's silly to waste all that effort for having the wrong polish.
The best lacquer for brass would be to begin with an aerosol sold especially for metalwork. Getting a good finish is tricky, so use an old cardboard box as a spray booth, get the room as dust free as possible, and follow the lacquer maker's instructions carefully.
Copper needs to be patinated. It won't stay bright and pink, so you need to do something deliberate with the surface, before it goes off and does its own thing. There are some huge books on varied recipes for these - usually either slightly scary chemistry, or heat and vegetable oil. Experimentation is good, or ask me to post some of my favourites.
Steel can be polished, or it can be dull. You can keep it silver, or blacken it.
Polishing steel really needs power tools, although the Garryflex will get there soon enough. Lately I'm using plastic wire brushes in a drill, with grit-embedded bristles. They're gentle, but polish rather than burnishing, as steel brushes can tend to do.
I've already got pages up on bluing steel, but the easiest beginner process is a cold blue (actually more like black) like Birchwood Casey's from a gun shop. Just like it says on the bottle, cleanliness is everything - clean well, then degrease with alcohol or acetone.
Hot-oil bluing or blackening can be good for larger pieces. Heat, apply oil, repeat. This _will_ catch fire, so work accordingly. Use clean engine oil for blues, old engine oil for black, vegetable oil for browns.
Metal should be waxed after finishing, using a hard wax like Liberon's neutral coloured wax, or else Renaissance Wax.
    Styles:
Learn something about styles before you set out.
There's a good book, "Treasure Chests" with a couple of less-good boxes inside it, and even on the cover.
http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/P/156158651X.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg
Now to my eye, that chest is uined by ugly hardware that bears no relation to any real past history. Do some study and don't make the same mistake.
Learn what Japanese tansu hardware looked like, and what it was used for. There's a lot of ugly "modern Western" tansu around these days too. Learn what Chinese looks like, and how it's different from Japanese. Learn how medieval Europe evolved, and don't try making a "Viking padlock hasp" or something equally anachronistic (or at least do it deliberately, and knowing what you're doing). In most cases, the materials and manufacturing techniques are as indicative of the period as the style is.
    Sources of information:
Google, especially Google images.
Amazon, bookshops, second-hand bookshops (any old picture books of antiques or church architecture are worth looking at). Anything published by Dover Press.
Museums, galleries, old houses.
--
Smert' spamionam

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On Tue, 13 Jul 2004 01:26:21 +0100, Andy Dingley wrote:

Please do. I eagerly anticipate the announcement of your book's publication. I've been snipping and pasting tidbits from this forum for my own use; a real book by a real expert would be so much better.
--
"Keep your ass behind you"


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Luckyl,
If you "cut it out" of sheet steel (iron is not available in sheets), it'll look like sheet-metal. If you cut it out of iron bar stock, it'll take a heavy shear or heat it in your forge and cut it hot - it'll START to look forged. Forged corners, hinges, hasps, etc look neat on hand made boxes because anything forged looks neat compared to mass-produced, sheet-metal stampings.
Contact your local affilate of ABANA for classes: http://www.abana.org /
lucky1 wrote:

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