I need a few hundred of these s hooks out of 1/4" square bar or smaller:
I don't see a lot of problems about making the spiral or the bends, but to
make the ends flattened and flared like that, what would be the fastest
easiest way? Would pounding them on an anvil be easiest, or heating up the
end and then hammering?
Were I to need to heat the ends up, what way would be a feasible way? A
rosebud on a torch? Just an OA tip? A small forge?
I need to do a lot of these, and want them to come out nice. I will
probably use this on some other metalwork as well.
You need to go look at: www.anvilfire.com & www.keenjunk.com, both of
which are blacksmith sites. S hooks are the easiest things to make if
you have a small forge, propane or coal, and a vise, and a piece of
flat bar with a notch cut to the size of the stock. Look on
anvilfire, and they have a tutorial on S hooks somewhere. Please go
look, and investigate. Hot steel is like butter when hit. Only burns
like heck when it hits body parts. Or pants with cuffs rolled up.
A couple of years ago, I watched a Ladysmith crank these things out
at high speed. She had several heating in a propane forge at any time,
put the twist in first, then hammered the hot end flat, 1-2 smacks,
then bent the end around a jig, threw it in the forge to heat the
other end, and did the same to it. It happened so fast, I could hardly
believe it. She said that was all she did during her apprenticeship,
making over 60 per hour!!!
Heat the steel to a medium bright yellow, lay on anvil, one or two
smacks will flaten the end nicely.
Acetylene isn't cheap. Small forge is the only way to go. Time is
money in these situations.
Most deffinately look at the sites above! They are a wealth of
blacksmithing info. Also, go take a basic blacksmithing course, it
will save you a TON of time and Inurys! Best money I ever spent.
It appears to be a really big hourly rate, going by retail rates, but
you still have to factor in the time to prep the stock, fuel costs for
the forge at several pounds per hour ($$$), and then the final
cleanup. Fuel being the biggest factor. Cleanup is in a homemade rock
tumbler with some form of carbide grit, usually. I don't remember what
she said she made wholesale, but it wasn't anywhere near as much as I
would have thought. Still, it was a lot better than many smiths make,
and was well worth the effort.
Gary sez: "They're forged, ie worked hot."
A good definition of forging. A definition that extends to forcing "soft"
metal into dies, etc. in order to impart specific shape, like the blacksmith
does. And to some extent, the metal would become more dense, (harder?) when
beaten with a hammer, I suppose. But something I have always wondered about
Why does the media always show large pieces of white hot metal being
hammered and then the scene cuts away before you get to see what that
particular piece is being used for? Are they routinely hammer-forging the
workpiece for greater density, or is there another reason? Even round bars
are seen being hammered while the workpiece is rotated. Is all this just
showmanship being repeated time and time again, or is there some good reason
to always show large metal objects being beaten to (some other) shape?
Next question -
Do I buy a forge or make one? What type would be good for working this
small iron? I was thinking of one made out of a brake drum, probably a
heavy one from a truck. Should I use propane? Do the others use charcoal?
Sources to buy? I have several from Google. And several plans for building
Anyone have a forge? Like it/hate it? Brand name suggestions?
I'd probably make a forge and a steel jig so that I can bend the metal
around the form quickly. Those things were done on a production line which
means that the ol' anvil horn trick would have ended up being way too slow.
If you need a dozen or so for yourself, the anvil horn bit will do the job
just fine, flatten the end with a few good blows and the put the horn to
work making the curve. Throw the other end into the forge and get the next
One or a few, a O/A torch can do a decent job without too much cost.
Losing weight is easy! If you ever want to lose weight, eat and drink less.
Works evevery time it is tried!
I used a patent forge once, but all of my own forges have been homemade.
A brake drum can be made into a small coal or charcoal fired pan forge
very easily. A pipe Tee goes in the center hole to form your tuyre. (Pipe
plug on "down" end of Tee to form a cleanout plug, blower goes on the
horizontal end, and homemade grating, 1/4 inch plate with slots, on the
top end, which serves both to retain the Tee in the brake drum and keeps
the fire from falling down into the pipe.)
A *small* squirrel cage blower will supply enough air. You'll want to put
an adjustable sliding damper across the blower inlet to control the blast,
or electronically speed control the blower motor. A hand cranked blower
or bellows are other options, but a hand cranked blower requires a helper,
and a bellows is bulky. You have to have some sort of forced air for a coal
or charcoal forge, and you have to be able to regulate it. Too little blast
and the fire won't burn hot enough, too much blast and too much heat
escapes with the exhaust to let the forging cavity get hot enough.
Expedient gas forges are most easily made by simply stacking up
some firebrick on a metal table, and sticking the end of a normally
aspirated gas burner in the cavity (see Reil burner). If you want
something more permanent, you can line a metal shell with kaowool.
It isn't necessary to have a blower on a propane forge with a properly
designed burner, though if you use low pressure natural gas, you'll
need a blower.
Note that a closed form coal forge is possible, but not commonly seen.
Gas forges are always closed form, ie have insulated sides, back, and
top. That's because you can't pile gas up to form the heating cavity
the way you can with coal.
To get to forging heat, you have to have some way to enclose the
work and trap the heat. In a coal fired forge, this is done with the
coal. You coke up a mound, frequently dampened and tamped,
with the tuyre feeding a hollow center cavity (looks like a minature
volcano). That puts fire all around the inside of the mound, so when
you stick the work in there it'll get to forging heat. With a gas fired
forge, you permanently form the heating cavity out of noncombustible
insulating material. The gas flame swirls around inside this cavity to
produce the forging heat.
Gas forges are much cleaner, and quicker to get to working temperature,
than coal forges. Coal forges are more traditional, and more economical
if you need a *large* forge. Example, my father had a large pan forge,
4 foot by 4 foot. It would have been uneconomical to heat such a large
forge with gas. It was pretty cheap to run with coal. But it took half an
hour to get going in the morning.
One advantage of the coal forge is that you can shape and size the
heating cavity to suit the particular piece of work you're doing at the
time. That offers a sometimes tremendous saving of fuel. With the
gas forge, unless you've made an expedient one out of stacked firebrick,
you're more or less stuck with the cavity size you chose when you built it.
BTW, my father's forge had a water cooled tuyre. You won't need that with
a small pan forge for doing little decorative pieces. But if you start forging
100 pound pieces, you need the bigger forge, and you need water cooling
to keep the tuyre from melting. The air blast alone won't protect it from
the much greater heat produced by the big forge. (As usual, I'll note that
heat and temperature aren't the same thing.)
Make a small propane forge of some kind, the Reil burners work pretty
well. Mine is made from a 5 gallon metal bucket.
One downside of the coal burners is that metal can get too hot in them
and be ruined, so you need to keep a close eye on the forge. With
propane, you can leave several parts in the forge, heating, and not
worry about them. For production quantities, propane is the way to go.
My blacksmith teacher loves coal, but uses propane for his work for that reason.
The gotcha in making a forge is buying small quantities of refractory,
(firebrick, blanket, etc). Luckily, someone I knew had bought sizable
quantities, and was willing to sell small quantities to me. However, a
box of firebricks might provide all the refractory you need, especially
for the small parts you will be making.
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