Forming is any process that shapes the steel. When steel is hot enough, it can be shaped almost like clay using a variety of processes.
Hammering – This is the blacksmith’s most basic forming technique. A variety of surface treatments can be obtained by hammering different textures into the metal.
Some hammered textures in 1″ square bar
Chiseling and fullering – Using chisels, punches, and fullers of various shapes, a huge variety of decoration can be imprinted into the hot metal. This can be combined with other techniques to produce striking, one of a kind elements for furniture, railings, gates, and decorative pieces.
Bending – When a piece of steel is heated in the forge, we can bend it to almost any shape imaginable. This allows us to make scrollwork, radius bends, and any almost any organic or geometric shape.
Bending a hot bar on a scroll jig.
Twisting – There is a wide variety of twists possible, from simple to complex. Twists can be decorated with chiseling or hammering for different looks.
Some samples of twisted bar.
Upsetting and Tapering – These complementary processes either make a section of metal thicker and larger or smaller and skinnier. Tapers are a distinctive element of hand-forged ironwork. We have the capacity to taper materials as large as 3” square.
Tapering a bar on the power hammer.
Punching – Only a blacksmith can put a 1” hole in a piece of 1” stock. Punching is the technique that allows this. Holes can be part of joint, or they can be decorative elements in themselves.
Joinery is the basic process of assembling components into a whole. We use a combination of traditional and modern techniques.
Arc Welding – This is the modern standard. Quick and strong, but somewhat ugly. Welds can be ground and dressed to provide a cleaner look
Tig Welding – A neater and cleaner method of welding metals. Welds look very nice even without dressing. The preferred process for higher end projects.
Brazing – Similar to welding, but provides a much cleaner joint without leaving an ugly weld bead behind.
Riveting – To rivet two pieces together, a hole is drilled or punched in both pieces and a section of hot round rod is passed through and hammered or headed over on both ends. This provides a strong and decorative fastener.
Mortise and tenon – This is a variant on riveting, where the material for the tenon is forged from the bar to be joined. A very strong, very traditional method of joinery often used on high end furniture pieces, gates, and the like.
Collaring – This process allows two pieces two be joined with a decorative wrap. Lots of different materials can be used to form the collars, giving different decorative effects.
Wrapping – This is similar to collaring, except material is wrapped in a spiral several times around the pieces to be joined, giving a rope-like effect.