One of my goals in writing these articles is to create a library of step-by-step guides for the projects I have worked on in my own personal smithy. A sort of “activity book” for those looking for something new to create in their workshop, or even someone just wondering “how did he do that?”. I have been blessed through other blacksmiths posting their own guides and I thought now is the time for me to give something back. So, welcome to my first submission to this brand new library: Forging a Leaf Hook – a step by step guide.
So, you’ve seen the leaf hook that I have posted on my website and thought you’d like to give it a try. Well, feel free! It’s a fun and educational way to pick up new skills and add something different to your repertoire of projects. The leaf hook is a very simple design, and doesn’t require the use of any really advanced blacksmithing techniques. Therefore, I have classified this project as “easy”.
I will lay out the process to forging this item in a series of steps to make it simple to follow along in your own forge.
Step 1: Cut your length
Cut a piece of 3/8 inch round steel to length (approx 12 inches long) using a red-orange heat and cutting off with your hot cut hardy tool.
Blacksmith’s tip: there are several ways you can mark your steel when you are measuring for a cut. One method is to lay your steel ruler on the face of your anvil aligned with the back edge and measure out your desired length of the steel. Then, using the sharp edge of the back of your anvil, you can lightly mark your desired measurement by striking the steel against that edge with a hammer. It will make a visible dent that you should be able to find easily even after heating to an orange heat. Another method for marking is using something called “Soap Stone”. It is a stone that is naturally soft, leaves a clearly visible white mark (almost like chalk) against a steel surface, and is very resistant to heat. This mark will remain quite visible even after enduring high temperatures in the forge fire.
Step 2: Forge a sharp point
Take a good orange heat at one end of your steel, then forge the tip to a shallow point. Use the far edge of the face of your anvil, holding the steel at about a 45 degree angle and use light hammer blows to bring the tip of your steel to a point. Rotate the steel back and forth with quarter turns using even hammer blows to bring the steel to a shallow sharp point. velcro manufacturers This is going to end up being the leaf end of the hook.
Step 3: Create a “shoulder”
Now we will bring that pointed end to another orange heat and create a “shoulder” about 1 inch back from the tip. To do this, measure (or just eyeball it) back 1 inch from the tip that you forged and place that spot at a 45 degree angle on the far sharp edge of your anvil face. Using medium blows, strike the steel with the hammer face half on and half off the anvil. This will forge a ledge or “shoulder” into the steel. Rotate the steel a quarter turn and continue forging. The idea is to create a much narrower diameter section that is going to become the “stem” section of the leaf, leading into the vine.
Blacksmith’s tip: Try to work quickly so you can avoid taking too many heats. Taking more heats increases the scale that forms causing you to lose mass. Each heat also increases the chances that you might burn off the leaf at this delicate end as you continue to thin out that steel. If you see sparks jumping from your steel, you have begun to burn your steel. Try to avoid heating to the point of sparking.
Step 4: Draw out the stem
Taking another orange-yellow heat along about a 2 inch section (just behind the leaf where you’ve started to form the stem) bring the piece back to the face of the anvil. Leaving the unfinished leaf section hanging off the back edge of your anvil so you don’t damage it, begin drawing out the stem portion. Create an even taper about 2 to 2 1/2 inches long using overlapping hammer blows starting from the back section of the heat and working towards the stem. Make quarter turn rotations to draw out the stem evenly all along its length.