Sunday, July 26, 2015

A failed tool.



I was looking for more information on making basket twist handles. I Googled “basket twist handles” and two of the search results took me to my own blog.
I think I have to make a disclaimer at this point. I AM NOT A BLACKSMITH and I don’t claim to be one. I have too much respect for the Blacksmith art to to make that claim.
I am just a guy that likes to play with hot metal. Some times the things I try to make turn out and some times they don’t.

Trying to make a swage tool: 

I wanted to try to make a metal forming tool to reduce the end of a 1/2” rod to 3/8” diameter.

A thought that this type of tool was called a Fuller but after further research I learned that a Fuller is used to make a notch in metal such as the Fuller or Groove on a knife blade.

What ever you call it, here is the tool that I tried to make:

I dug around in my scrap metal pile yesterday and found a nice piece of 1” X 1” steel and a piece of 5/16” spring steel rod.. This will be turned into a tool if I am real lucky.


I cut two 1-1/2’ pieces off the square stock; these will be the jaws of the tool.


the next thing to do was to make the spring. It might have been better to make the spring last as I had to reshape it later.


Making the jaws:

I decided that the jaws needed to have a groove on the outside where I could set the ends of the spring in the groove to weld it to the jaws. 
(I think it would have been better to drill a hole in each block to insert the end of the spring into and welding it there.)
To do this I clamped the jaws in the vice on my drill press and drilled a 5/16” hole between the two blocks which makes a groove in both blocks half the diameter of the 5/16” rod that will be welded to the block.

Here is the piece on the drill press.


You can see the grove on the side of the block.
The hole that is being drilled in the picture is my first mistake. That hole was supposed to be perpendicular to the grooves on the outside. Oh well, I can drill the correct hole after the spring is attached.

Here is my setup for welding the spring to the blocks.


Once the spring was welded the next thing to do is to add a “Hardy” to the tool so it can be held on the anvil.
A Hardy is a square piece of metal that goes in the “hardy hole” (the square hole) in the anvil. It is part of any tool that is used on the anvil.

I found a nice piece of 3/4” square stock which is the size of my anvils hardy hole and cut off a 2” piece which I welded it to the tool.


After the hardy was welded on, the next thing to do was to heat treat the spring.

I put the whole thing in the forge and got it nice and red hot. Then I quenched it in cold water. Ok,  so now the spring is hardened. The next step is to temper the spring.
I fired up my plumbers pot and began heating the spring slowly until the metal began to turn a nice blue color. As soon as the whole thing was blue I quenched it in cold water.

Now I have a spring swage die? I’m still not sure what its called.


As I was inspecting the tool later in the evening I noticed that the jaws didn’t quite line up. I took the tool back to the anvil and tried to adjust the jaws. In doing so I broke the spring. 



Oh well I guess I can still use the swage, I’ll just have to hold the top jaws by hand..
Maybe I can fix the break but it may just break again.

Okay, that was my adventure in tool making. I hope we all learned something.

1 comment:

  1. The tool you made seems to be quite useful for you. And the fact that you used scrap metal for it, makes it a very wise project. Too bad it wasn’t sturdy enough, and that it broke when you adjusted the jaw. Well, you could always look for spare scrap to fix it, I guess.

    Rosemary Bailey @ Wabi Iron & Steel Corp.