Forging a Simple Leaf Hook

Here is a way to forge a leaf hook. These are quite popular, and can be made quickly with some practice.

I start with some 3/8″ round bar cut to 9″.

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After heating up the bar, make a small square taper at one end of the bar. This will be the tip of the leaf. After that, isolate about 3/4″ from the tip of the taper back by hammering two fullers on the corner of your anvil 90˚ from each other.

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Draw out the bar for about 2″ from the fullers back. You can clean this up later. Next, to make the leaf shape, with the corner of the isolated bulb pointing up, hammer the piece down flat. Use the peen of your hammer to widen the leaf where needed.

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Next, chisel in on the leaf the veins. I like to use a chisel with a rounded edge so that I can walk the chisel along as I hit.

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Now place the piece back in the fire the other way around to start the hook. Forge a square taper on the end and draw out the bar so that a smooth even taper is made from the end to about 4″ in length. Next, round out the taper by forging out the corners — square to octagon — octagon to round.

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Next, forge a “curly-Q” at the end of the taper.

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Now you’re ready to bend the hook. You can do this around the horn of the anvil, but if you are making several hooks and you want them to be the same, it is good to use a jig with a bending fork.

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Next, I like to flatten a couple of points to allow for screw holes. I drill the holes, but not before countersinking them at the anvil. I flatten out the sections using a guillotine tool with a flat die.

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Now you can draw out and cleanup the stem between the leaf and the holes. Make the stem as skinny as you like, but make sure you will be able to bend it.

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Using scrolling tongs, twist and turn the stem as you see fit. Also, using a v-block and a small cross peen hammer, create some folds in the leaf to make it more realistic looking.

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Heat up the whole hook again and place into a vice. Use some tongs or pliers to straighten up the hook and make any changes you want. Then, give the whole thing a good wire brushing to remove scale. Now is a good time to file away any rough spots you don’t want.

While it is still hot, apply some kind of finish. I use a beeswax and coconut oil mixture.

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Let it cool, wipe off the excess wax, and drill your holes. And it is done. I like to brush the leaf with a brass brush to give it a golden look.

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Happy forging!

Related reading: Forging a Wall Hook Rack

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Forging a Wall Hook Rack

Here is a good forging project for any blacksmith. It is a wall hook rack. It can be used to hang clothes, coats, or whatever.

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For the project I used a 20″ length of 1 3/8″ x 1/4″ flat bar for the backing, and 4 pieces of 1″ x 1/4″ flat bar each cut at 5 1/4″ long for the hooks. I used eight 1/4″ rivets.

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1) To prepare the pieces, start by marking the four 1″ x 1/4″ bars by punching center marks at 2 1/4″ from one end, and 1 1/2″ from the other end. This will then give you 1 1/2″ between the two punch marks.

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2) To prepare the back plate, center punch  2″ in from both ends. These are for the holes to be drilled to mount it to a wall. Drilling 2″ in from each end will make the holes 16″ apart, which will line up with studs in most homes. As this hook rack will carry a lot of weight, it is wise to brace it strongly.

Then, place center punch marks 4″ from each end, and 4″ away from those marks — creating four marks, each mark being 4″ away from each other. These punch marks indicate where each hook will attach to the bar.

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3) Next, you are going to heat up the four pieces of 1″ x 1/4″ bar and, where the punch marks are, fuller them down to about 3/8″ thickness. It helps to have a guillotine tool for this job. I bought mine from GS Tongs. You should check it out.

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4) Now you need to draw out each end of the bar from the fuller to the edge down to about 3/8″ x 1/4″ thickness. Then, round out each drawn out section. These will be the hooks. One section is longer than the other. That will be the bottom hook. The section left flat in the middle will be the rivet plate for attaching to the back plate. Be carful when drawing out the end sections not to hit the center section.

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5) Next, drill two 1/4″ holes, in line with each other in the center plate. Do this for all four hooks and make sure the two holes are all the same distance from each other for each hook.

Then, using those holes, mark out where to drill on the back plate, lining up everything perfect for the rivets.

Also, on the back plate, drill out the two holes for the mounting screws, appropriate for the size of screw you want to use.

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6) Now, place the four hooks back in the fire for bending. Start with the top hook, which is the shorter of the two drawn out sections. Place the hook in a vice holding firmly to the flat middle section. Hold the tip of the hook with tongs and hammer down to form the hook as shown below.

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With the bottom hook (the longer section), curl it around as you would any “J” hook, on the horn of the anvil or around a bending jig. Don’t block the drilled holes.

Clean up all rough areas with a file.

7) Place the back plate in the fire. Knock off the edges to give the bar a less manufactured look. Next, place the bar in the vice and upset each end a bit — again, for a nicer look.

Grab a counter sink and counter sink the mounting holes. Then flip the plate over and counter sink the back side of each 1/4″ rivet hole. The rivets will be hammered flush with the back plate and the counter sink provides a space for the rivet to fill in to.

Now is a good time to add a touch mark if you want.

Clean up all rough and uneven areas with a file.

8) Now, it is ready for assembly.

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Cut the rivets so that a 1/4″ sticks out the back of the back plate. Normally rivets are cut to twice their diameter, but as you will hammer them flat and flush to the back of the back plate, you need them to be shorter.

Insert the rivets, line everything up straight and in the correct orientation, and hammer the rivets down flat on the back side. You can hammer the rivets cold. As you are hammering, stop frequently to be sure everything is lining up properly. Hammer them down good and tight so there is no movement.

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And you’re done. Put a good finish on it, some beeswax or linseed oil, and hang it up. These hooks will last many decades to come.

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Happy forging…

Related reading: Forging a Simple Leaf Hook

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This project was inspired by a video posted by Black Bear Forge.

 

 

Visionary Leaders Vs. Masters Part One

A visionary leader focuses much on vision, mission, and passion. He wants to be an inspiration to his potential followers. He is big on teams and for the members of those teams to buy in heavily to his vision. For this reason he creates as many opportunities as he can to impart his vision to the team members. Team members are encouraged to lead themselves, and change themselves as needed to be effective team members. Those team members who do not sufficiently buy in to the vision become pariahs.

Aside from evoking passion in potential followers, the visionary leader does not have much to offer. He does not necessarily know the solutions to the problems his followers will face. Nor does he necessarily have access to the resources his followers will need. Rather, he encourages his followers to deal with those issues themselves.

As so much depends on the visionary leader’s public image for his success, those followers who are best at making him look good will be the followers most celebrated and promoted.

bsmithA master, however, does not concern himself too much with vision, or at least not in the same way as the visionary leader. He is on a mission, and he is passionate, but in order for him to lead, he doesn’t require his followers to focus so much on who he is or why he’s there. A master knows what needs to be done, he knows how to get it done, and he has access to all the resources needed to get it done. He knows all the problems his followers will face before they themselves ever encounter those problems, and he is there to provide teaching and guidance.

A master requires hard work and excellence from his followers. Those who do that will be promoted and celebrated. Those who do not become the pariahs. The motivation for the followers is not passion inspired by the leader, but rather passion inspired by the work itself, excellence, and an ever increasing growth in knowledge.

I suppose a good leader will have both a visionary side to him and a master side. But, from my experience, most leaders lean heavily towards one, depending on what field they’re working in. Visionary leaders tend to be found in the business world, or in Christian growth movements, whereas masters are found mainly in the trades. But there is no reason the master has to stay there.

Personally, I prefer to follow a master, and am trying to become one myself.

Read Part Two here

Related reading…

Platitudes Are Contagious: ‘Company Culture,’ Management Maxims, And Other Bullshit

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The Forge

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When blacksmithing, you can either work with a charcoal forge or gas forge. Both have their pros and cons.

The charcoal (or coke) forge is more traditional. You can get the steel hotter and you can be more selective in what parts of the work piece you heat up over the gas forge as there is more space to move the piece around. If you want to do any forge welding, the charcoal forge is usually the better choice. The charcoal forge is also messy to use and requires more maintenance.

The gas forge is clean and easy to fire up. Propane is usually not too expensive (depending on where you live of course), and a well made gas forge will be quite fuel efficient. A well built gas forge can get up to welding temperatures, but if one is using flux, measures must be taken to protect the lining of the forge. The opening of a gas forge, depending on how it’s built, can be restrictive on the size of work pieces that can be heated.

I personally use a two burner gas forge. I do have a charcoal forge, but most often the gas forge is more than sufficient for what I’m doing and it is quicker and more efficient than a charcoal forge.

Black Bear Forge is one of my favourite Youtube channels. Here they discuss the pros and cons of the two different forges…

The Anvil

I’ve recently gotten into blacksmithing. A couple of years ago I got into welding. Both these are an amateur interest for me. Working with metal is not only a practical skill to have, but can also be an artistic outlet as well.

The three essential tools of the blacksmith are the anvil, the forge, and the hammer. Here I will write a bit about the anvil. I’ll write more about the forge in another post.

Anvils are difficult to find no matter where you live, but they are especially difficult to find where I live, which is Cambodia. At first I just used a big chunk of cylindrical steel as an anvil, and that works if it’s all that’s available. A large sledge hammer will work as an anvil also. I searched high and low on the internet to find an anvil. It’s actually not that hard to find one online, and there are places in the USA that sell new anvils for reasonable prices. But in Cambodia? No.

But, I did eventually find one. An old Cambodian man had one and wanted to sell. I wasn’t available to see it before buying, but my father-in-law went and picked it up for me, and I just had to trust his judgment on it. When it was delivered to me it was covered in rust, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover after removing the rust that I had acquired a decades old Peddinghaus anvil.

Peddinghaus is a German company founded in 1903. They are known for making some of the highest quality anvils in the world. The particular stamp on my anvil shows that it was made some time before 1930. It is possibly 100 years old. The old man I bought it from had it for the last 39 years. He acquired it shortly after the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia thus toppling the Khmer Rouge government. Somehow the anvil ended up in a ditch on the side of the road at the time, and the old man found it. Who knows who owned it in the decades prior to that or how it came to Cambodia in the first place.

The anvil is 110 pounds, and while the face is perfectly smooth, it is curved inward a small bit from many years of use. Regardless, it still has many more years of use in the decades to come.

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