Down'n'dirty Blacksmithing/Project 1

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Objective: Using the techniques you developed in exercises 1-5, make a simple "S" hook.

Functional Description[edit | edit source]

An "S" hook is called that because the stock is shaped to make a figure "S". These handy hooks have been around for centuries. They were used a great deal in the home hearth to adjust the height of a pot over the fire. They find uses in the modern household as hangers for plants and other odds and ends.

Functionally the "S" hook will work with two bends in the stock in opposite directions to make the characteristic "S" shape.

The challenge you will encounter in this project is that you will need to use locking pliers to hold the metal when you work the second hook into the other end.

Tools and Materials[edit | edit source]

  • Forge
  • Anvil
  • Hammer
  • Locking Pliers
  • 3/8" round or square stock at least 14" long

Steps[edit | edit source]

1) If the stock is longer than 14" mark it 14" back from one end.

2) Heat one end of the stock and work a curve into one end that is roughly 2" in diameter leaving a 1" gap between the end of the hook and the stem.

3) cut the stock at the 14" mark if necessary

4) dress the cut end if necessary

5) work a second hook into the other end holding the metal with the locking pliers

That will function fine. And we suggest you make a plain one first to get the feel of it, but the next project will challenge you to "make it pretty" and use more of what you have just learned.

There are two challenges you will likely encounter in this project: 1) Working with the locking pliers and 2) Getting the right length of stock.

In the exercises we've had you work with longer pieces of stock and cut off the end when you're done with the exercise. With the "S" hook you will start with stock longer than necessary, work the first curve, then cut it off with enough stock to complete the second curve. Unless you make a very long "S" hook you will have to use the locking pliers as tongs to hold the stock while you work the other end. Working with pliers or tongs takes some getting used to. The stock handles differently, and you'll have to keep an eye on the grip so that the stock stays put in the pliers.

As for the second challenge, this will be your first exposure to determining how much stock you will need before you begin the project, and the double curve presents something of a challenge.

We're going to make a "S" that's about six inches from top to bottom. For some reason there seems to be a desire to start with 6" of stock or maybe 12". And then one starts thinking it through and realizes they need something else.

Let's refine what we're after: a 6" overall "S" hook with 1" radius curves at either end.

So 2 curves with a 1" radius is about 2" of overall length. 4" of stem to make 6". Now the 4" of stem is pretty straightforward, but how much more metal will be needed to make 2 curves with a 1" radius?

Math to the rescue (and the fact that this is not an exact science).

Remember pi? 3.14159, etc.?

Circumference of a circle is 2 x radius x pi. Or diameter x pi.

OK, you say, but we aren't making circles.

No but we're close.

Pi for blacksmiths can be simplified a bit to "three times and a bit".

If we were making 1" radius circles we'd need 6" of stock. 1" radius = 2" diameter 2" X pi = 6+" (a bit more than 6.25" actually)

So 6" or so to make a 2" circle, but it's not a full circle, we'll want a gap of maybe 1" so it will be an "S" instead of an "8".

So call it 5" to make a hook with a 1" gap between the end of the hook and the stem. Two hooks = 10". Add a 4" stem and it's 14" of stock to make a 6" "S".

That's for a simple "S".

Next Chapter: Project 2: A Fancy "S" Hook