During the three days before my birthday, I had the somewhat unusual present of a short course in blacksmithing at Cold Hanworth Forge, just north of Lincoln. Arriving at the forge I met my teacher Bob Oaks, who showed me around the working forge.
He then showed me a variety of things that I could create during the course. I choose the large ornate bracket, as it looked the most complex and I wanted to learn as much as possible. The bracket had a variety of different finishes to each component, all of which required different techniques. After watching the first process, I set to work on creating the leaf and other details at the bottom of the bracket.
My tutor created each piece alongside me (though much faster) and when the three section were made they were then welded to hold them in place for fire welding.
Fire welding was the one technique I was not taught in the process of making my bracket as you have to be very fast and experienced to successfully fuse the pieces together.
After fire-welding the first three pieces, the next section created was the backplate. I found this part the most difficult as it involved splitting part of the plate with a chisel and a sledgehammer. After the split, the two halves were shaped round the anvil.
The other end of the back plate was then shaped and drilled to allow for the rivet attachment of the supporting bar. The end of support bar was heated and shaped into a point and then curved around the anvil. The twist in the centre was created by flattening a section into an oval, heating the piece again, quickly securing it in a vice and using pliers to turn it 270˚.
The centre scroll was completed again by shaping the end into a point and beginning the curve around the anvil and then using a bending fork to shape the tight spiral. The general curve was achieved bending the iron in small increments along the centre of the bar. The support bar and lower part of the scroll were attached with rivets and then the bracket was secured in a vice ready for the wrapped join at the top. A thinner iron bar was again shaped to have tapered edges and then it was heated (this time with a blow torch) and the start of the wrap was hammered into shape. I then used a pipe to hold the metal bar as it was heated and wrapped tightly around the two larger bars.
Overall I really enjoyed the course. It was really interesting working with materials and techniques I was unfamiliar with. I definitely feel like there is a lot more to learn judging from the amount of tools covering the walls of the forge.
(I forgot to take a picture but it looked very similar to this)
Here is the final bracket, ready to painted and hung.
You can find out more about the course here.