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Serena's New Thing

AUGUST -- Metalwork & Tool Making


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Ironwork is not something that I have the tools or equipment for, or any expertise in. Sure, I?ve seen the blacksmith put my horse?s shoes in his gas fired forge and make them hot so he could bend them, but I?ve never asked to help him out or anything.

Fortunately, Eorl Eikbrandr Solgyafi Naeturaudi is local to me and has a shop with a full working forge, plus lots of equipment and experience to match. I headed over to his shop and he began teaching me the basics.

I decided to try and make a simple pot stand that would be used to hold a pot over an open fire. I brought my silk reeling pot for reference, so we could make the stand to fit it. Eik drew a simple layout of what we?d do, and then he gave me a quick rundown of how to hold the hammer and what the ideal height of the anvil should be.

Then I was ready to pound hot metal!

His furnace is fueled by coal. When the coal gets hot many of the gasses, water, and other smoke producing by-products are driven off and the coal nuggets turn to coke. Coke is a much better fuel since it produces little or no smoke but still get very hot. Coke looks a little like coal except it?s dull and looks more porous than coal. The fire was already nice and hot when I got there, so Eik selected a length of square iron bar stock (just a straight piece of iron) and we put it in the furnace.

We both put on Kevlar gloves to help protect us from the hot metal. Once the metal was glowing red hot he helped me grab it with a tool and put it over the anvil. Then we pounded it over with a hammer.

Once we got a nice curve going Eik suggested we try another technique. We cooled the metal and then used different tools to bend it while it was cold. We clamped the first metal tool, which was shaped like a ?U,? into a vice to hold it steady. The second tool had a long handle with rods sticking out of the end. We put one end of our curved metal rod in the ?U? tool, and then put the other end between the rods of the bending tool. We pulled on the bending tool until the metal piece bent into a curve. I thought it would be hard to bend metal when it was cold, but since the tools give you great leverage it was pretty easy.

The hardest part‹once the metal piece was bent around in a circle‹was getting it perfectly round. Eik drew a round circle of the proper size on a piece of paper and then our job was to make our ring as round as possible. It took a lot of fiddling with it one way and the other with the bending tools.

The last thing we needed to do was prepare the ring so that it could be connected at the ends. The metal went back into the fire and each end was pounded so it was flattened at both ends. The idea is that each end should be thin enough that when they are riveted together the overlapping section is the same thickness as the rest of the ring.

Once flattened, the ring was worked into a uniform width all the way around.

After cooling the ring again, and making some slight adjustments with the cold bending tools, it was finished.

The ring still needs to be joined at the end, which can be accomplished by either riveting or forge welding. To finish the stand I?ll have to make one more ring and three legs, so there is still plenty of work to do.


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Next up For Serena's New Thing #3 ? Clockwork Mechanism!

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-- SK