For my 4th Wednesday workshop I chose to be inducted on the forge. I have done quite a lot of metal work previously to the course. However, I hadn’t done much actual forge work in terms of shaping steel bars into practical forms. I found its actually quite a tricky process and involves a lot of work to get the metal to do what you desire.
First we needed to heat up the steel bars to red hot to then start working on them in the anvil. The shape we were trying the achieve was a simple circle using the curve on the anvil. This took a long time and was all about hitting the metal in the right place to get it to bend around the anvil in the right way. You also don’t have very long to work the metal after taking it out of the forge because it cools it down quickly, so it was a lengthy process.
Once this was complete we twisted the metal into a spiral shape by heating it up (making sure we quenched the end with the circle in it) clamping the metal in a vice and putting a rod through the end with a circle now in it and twisted it round whilst making sure we pulled away from the vice to keep the metal as straight as possible. The effect is rather please as you can see below.
The final stage was to cut the the rod down and then I wanted to make it into a spoon which involved flattening the end of the rod and then curving it into the spoon shape. This proved to be a lot more tricky than I expected. I hammered the steel too thin so when I came to rounding it into a practical spoon shape the steel actually broke and cracked in various places. The other thing that I found really tricky was to flatten the steel in a even spread as you are hitting the steel hard, getting an accurate blow on the steel takes a lot of practice. You can see the slightly disappointing result below.
Overall I enjoyed the forge workshop, and I love the hard work of the forge and anvil, there is something that really connects you with the material when there is a lot of effort required, but I think I need a fair bit of practice to become more confident with shaping steel using the forge.