(Mis)Adventures in Blacksmithing: Day 10

So this past weekend was the first time in nearly a month that I had the opportunity to do some smithing. I pounced on it. I decided that I wanted to try something a bit more complex than some of my previous projects. I wanted something functional, a tool, and thought “Why not a fork?”

Heating metal
Heating metal

When I say fork, I do mean the utensil used for eating, but I also mean fork in the strictest sense. I wanted to be able to make my fork out of one piece of stock, no forge welding, no regular welding. This meant, a fork with two prongs. In theory, it sounded easy. I would taper both ends of a round piece of stock, fold it in half, twine the halves together, and then shape the prongs.

In theory, it was easy. In actuality, its execution proved a bit more challenging.

Trying to fix a mistake
Trying to fix a mistake

I will go ahead and be honest. This project did not come out nearly as well as I had planned, neither did the process. Fortunately, I learned a lot, and my next fork will be better. So rather than just describe what I did (since it was pretty much wrong), I will just let you know what I learned.

 

1)     ¼ inch stock is really big unless you’re making a serving fork – get some smaller stock for a dinner fork. It will be easier to bend too.

2)     When you bend the stock in half, start the bend on the anvil rather than a bending fork. It’s less likely to slip, so you actually get it folded in half.

3)     Get the arms even. Seriously. If you get them uneven, it will throw the whole fork off, and you won’t really be able to correct it without redoing.

4)     Think the process all the way through, and think quickly on the fly. I had to change my approach and reset my tools several times.

5)     Twining the arms is easier from the top. My bending fork won’t currently fit in my anvil because I haven’t ground it down yet, so I use the bench vise to anchor it. Rather than the arms pointing straight up, I rotated so they were parallel to the ground. I got much better leverage, and the piece was much easier to keep steady.

6)     Get a new wire brush ASAP. There’s fire scale stuck all over this piece because my brush is worn out.

 

The lopsided fork
The lopsided fork…do better next time.

So yeah, I’m not proud of this, but I’m definitely trying again. Trial and error, live and learn. I can assure you I will be doing all six of these next time, and I’m confident the difference will be noticeable.

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