Forging Ahead I.

By Ryan Ridgway

Photos by Gary Smart

If you own a horse, chances are that you have an unending supply of horseshoes waiting for the last set of hooks you made to wear out—after all, there is only so much wall space in a barn and house. With a little heat from a forge, a hammer and an anvil, you can turn those horseshoes into great gifts and items to sell at local craft fairs and online. For those who are unfamiliar with blacksmithing, you will want to read up on anvils, forges and different fuels. There are many good books and internet forums available that are able to go into much further depth than I am able to in this article.

HOOF PICKforging-1312-04

Once you've cut a shoe in half, set the toe down by ¼ of its original width on the near side of the anvil, up to the first nail-hole. Setting it down is not required, but you get a cleaner transition when it is bent back 90 degrees before curling the pick. Taper the tip on the far side of the anvil to protect the anvil from hammer damage. To efficiently taper, hold the horseshoe at an angle to the anvil and match that angle with your hammer.
Once you’ve cut a shoe in half, set the toe down by ¼ of its original width on the near side of the anvil, up to the first nail-hole. Setting it down is not required, but you get a cleaner transition when it is bent back 90 degrees before curling the pick. Taper the tip on the far side of the anvil to protect the anvil from hammer damage. To efficiently taper, hold the horseshoe at an angle to the anvil and match that angle with your hammer.
Hold the shoe so that the tip you set down is over the far edge of the anvil, the high part of the step facing up and in line with the anvil edge. Bend the part you set down 90 degrees over the edge of the anvil, and then curl it back around over your anvil horn or a rod held in a vise. Now adjust the curve to suit your preferences.
Hold the shoe so that the tip you set down is over the far edge of the anvil, the high part of the step facing up and in line with the anvil edge. Bend the part you set down 90 degrees over the edge of the anvil, and then curl it back around over your anvil horn or a rod held in a vise. Now adjust the curve to suit your preferences.
The finished result, after cleaning the fire scale off with a wire-wheel. Apply either clear epoxy or wax/oil to prevent rusting. Leave the heel as is, or add a little flair with a horse head as shown. I will teach you how to forge a horse head a little later.
The finished result, after cleaning the fire scale off with a wire-wheel. Apply either clear epoxy or wax/oil to prevent rusting. Leave the heel as is, or add a little flair with a horse head as shown. I will teach you how to forge a horse head a little later.

BOTTLE OPPENER

forging-1312-08

Using half a shoe, begin by splitting the shoe between two to three nail holes, depending on the width between them and the size of shoe. Slit the hole undersized by approximately ½?­-?¾ of the finished size, as the tab of metal left on the cut end will become part of the volume of metal in the ring, increasing its diameter. After slitting, clean up any ragged edges to prevent cold shuts that will weaken the opener's ring. Cold shuts are areas where two pieces of metal aren't fused together—in this case when a ragged edge folds over into the ring without welding to the parent metal, creating a thin point.   Begin to open up the split by hammering your slitting chisel deeper. Continue opening the ring with punches until it will fit onto the tip of your anvil horn or mandrel. If you don't have an anvil with a horn, you will need to make a mandrel to round the bottle opener. A simple mandrel is a 2-3 inch rod pointed on one end and held in a large vise.
Using half a shoe, begin by splitting the shoe between two to three nail holes, depending on the width between them and the size of shoe. Slit the hole undersized by approximately ½?­-?¾ of the finished size, as the tab of metal left on the cut end will become part of the volume of metal in the ring, increasing its diameter. After slitting, clean up any ragged edges to prevent cold shuts that will weaken the opener’s ring. Cold shuts are areas where two pieces of metal aren’t fused together—in this case when a ragged edge folds over into the ring without welding to the parent metal, creating a thin point.
Begin to open up the split by hammering your slitting chisel deeper. Continue opening the ring with punches until it will fit onto the tip of your anvil horn or mandrel. If you don’t have an anvil with a horn, you will need to make a mandrel to round the bottle opener. A simple mandrel is a 2-3 inch rod pointed on one end and held in a large vise.
Force the end of horseshoe back into the ring with your anvil or mandrel. This will increase the metal for the ring, increasing its diameter to more than the original slit hole. Continue forging the ring until it is round and uniform but not too thin. You will be aiming for a ring size of approximately 1¼ inches internal diameter and 1?8 to ¼ inch thickness. Chamfer the edges by holding the horseshoe on an angle, so the inside corner is in contact with the mandrel and hammer the opposite corner. Rotate around the ring using light, overlapping hammer strokes to get a smooth finish.
Force the end of horseshoe back into the ring with your anvil or mandrel. This will increase the metal for the ring, increasing its diameter to more than the original slit hole. Continue forging the ring until it is round and uniform but not too thin. You will be aiming for a ring size of approximately 1¼ inches internal diameter and 1?8 to ¼ inch thickness. Chamfer the edges by holding the horseshoe on an angle, so the inside corner is in contact with the mandrel and hammer the opposite corner. Rotate around the ring using light, overlapping hammer strokes to get a smooth finish.
Create a lip to catch the edge of the bottle cap with a punch. Start back from the ring edge and set the metal down by half. Angle the punch towards the middle of the ring and move the metal ridge towards the center. As with the hoof pick, you can leave the heel as is, or add a horse head for added decoration.
Create a lip to catch the edge of the bottle cap with a punch. Start back from the ring edge and set the metal down by half. Angle the punch towards the middle of the ring and move the metal ridge towards the center. As with the hoof pick, you can leave the heel as is, or add a horse head for added decoration.

Tips

  • To make these projects, start by choosing an iron shoe that is not too worn in the toe and cut it in half. Working temperature, as shown is so that the metal glows between bright orange and dark yellow. If it is too cold (dull red to dark orange) or hot (bright yellow to white and sparkling), the metal will become brittle and prone to breakage.
  • For a food safe rust protection on your forged items, apply paraffin or beeswax when the metal is hot and allow it to cool. For a blackened finish, heat the metal until it the wax smokes and allow it to burn on.
  • Help supplement your farm income by selling online. There are many great websites such as www.Etsy.com and www.Meylah.com that are tailored for small hobby businesses.
  • Cold modelling clay is a great way to practice these projects and proportions, without wasting shoes if you have a limited supply. It moves like hot metal and can be reshaped if you make a mistake.
  • For a smoother finish on your forged pieces, round the edges of your hammer and anvil and keep their faces dent free.

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