I was going to just do the project and if it turned out good then I was going to tell you about it. After giving it some thought I decided to let you see the complete project; mistakes, screw up’s and all. That way we will all learn together.
Basket twist handles day 2:
First thing this morning I moved the anvil from the backyard to my shop. I haven’t used it in several years so I moved it out back. I figured I needed the room in the shop. Now it’s back.
Around 9:30 I went to the local Ace hardware store and bought three 1/4” steel rods 3’ long.
When I got back Patti was leaving to take Dina to lunch for her birthday.
They went to the Tides Restaurant at Bodega Bay.
I cut one of the 1/4” rods into ~ 5” lengths
A little lathe work.
Next I took two 3” pieces of 1/2” rod put them in the lathe and turned a nub on one end 1/4” diameter by 1/2” long. A real blacksmith would have heated the steel and hammered the end into the correct shape. The lathe works faster and I have one so I use it when I can.
Wiring the bundle together and tack welding:
Once I had that done I bundled all the 1/4” rods around the ends of the 1/2” rods and wired them together.
Once I got the rods all secure I tack welded the 1/4” rods to the the end of the 1/2” rod with the turned down bit in the center of the bundle..
Here I could have tried forge welding both ends to the center rod but instead I chose to arc weld them.
Here is my welding jig.
Below you can see them just tacked welded.
Heating the metal:
Now it’s time to start the forge welding process; I get the forge fired up and start heating the metal.
One thing I wanted to do was to make the two ends square.
Once the metal was nice and red hot I pulled it from the fire and hammered both ends square. This will give me something to grab onto with a wrench when I go to twist the bundle.
My first screw up:
Some how in all the excitement of getting the forge back running and all, I forgot a step in the process.
As soon as I got the square ends made and the steel nice and hot again, I put one end in the vice and a wrench on the other end and started twisting. Two of the 1/4” rods broke loose before I realized that I hadn’t forge welded them yet.
Ok, so I straightened everything out as well as I could then re-welded the rods that broke away.
Time for lunch:
By now it was time for lunch so I took a nice long lunch break.
While I was eating I was thinking that it was excessively hot in the shop when the forge is running. I didn’t remember it being that hot when I used to run it in there. Eventually It dawned on me why that was. In the past I always did my Blacksmithing in the fall and winter on cold days never in the summer.
I needed to do something about the heat and after a bit I remembered a small rolling table that I had made to house the metal chop saw and the belt sander. I think it is just the right size for the forge to set on.
After lunch I drug the table out, took the cutoff saw and sander off it and put the forge on the top. Then I put the propane tank on the bottom shelf.
Perfect now I can role the forge outside when I am using it and back in side when I am done.
Okay, now that, that was done I was anxious to start the forge welding process.
To forge weld metal you have to heat the metal to a very high temperature almost to the melting point. Flux is used to exclude oxygen from the metal and help with the welding.
Tap the metal with medium blows from the hammer; if it is hit too hard the almost molten metal will squirt out from the weld and the weld won’t take. It takes several heats to finally get something as large as the bundle of rods to weld together. Eventually I got what looked like a good weld all around.
I heated the whole thing again and when it was the right color I clamped one end in the vice and with a twisting tool on the other end I twisted the hole group of bars into a tight spiral then pushing against the axis of the rods, I untwisted them slightly to open up the basket.
Below is the result cooling on the anvil.
Now it is time to bend the end rods 90° so they can be attached to a plate that will be screwed to the barrel.
Screw up #2
I put the work back into the forge to heat the end so I can bend it. Of course the whole thing gets hot so when it is time to take the piece out and bend it, the center has to be cooled so it won’t bend also.
I took the work out of the forge and quenched the center all the way to just before where the bend is to take place.
I put the hot end of the rod into the pritchel hole on the anvil and attempted to bend it.
I guess I didn’t get the body of the work cool enough because when I tried to bend the 1/2” rod, the end of the bundle bent also and two more rods broke their welds.
Here is what it looks like now.
Okay that’s enough for today; I am exhausted, hot and sore. I had forgotten just how much work blacksmithing is. I’ll see what I can do tomorrow to fix the problem.
I’ll give it another try tomorrow.