2019 February 14    Metal & Shop   Blacksmithing

Introduction


In Lamp Bracket Part 2, I re-worked that into a coal rake with a decorative twist. 

During that attempt at forge welding, I realized how useful it would be to have a proper spoon for the borax. 

So I made one.


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In This Article


The Material

Drawing To Square

Square Taper

The Spoon

Decorative Twist


Conclusion




The Material


This was originally a piece of 5/8" round stock that I obtained as scrap.  I think it's mild steel (very little branching on sparks).

First I drew some of this material into 7/16" square stock.  So there was about a 5" piece of this, just waiting to be made into something.

It had a lot of dents and valleys in it, though, because I hadn't got done hammering it smooth. 


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Drawing To Square


By the time I hammered the valleys out of the material, it was about 3/8" square stock.

Converting 5/8" round stock to 3/8" square involves a lot of hammering!

For straight-sided pieces, you can avoid that by just starting out with the correct size. 


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Square Taper


Now we get to the time-consuming part:  drawing it down to a uniform square taper.  This is not something you can shortcut, really;  it's a lot of work.

There also has to be a section on the end, a short length that stays at full thickness.  This will become the bowl of the spoon.  So, the square taper goes from the full thickness of 3/8", gradually down to about 3/16", then abruptly back to 3/8" again for a short distance. 

That short length of 3/8" material will be hammered out to make the spoon bowl.

The trick is to guess how much material you'll need for that.  If there's too much, you can always grind or file it off later.  If there's not enough, you'll have a spoon bowl that's too small or too thin.  A flux spoon can be tiny, though;  a quarter teaspoon is sufficient for small forge welding.  (If you're forge welding 1" steel cable into billets or something, then yes you'll probably need a bigger flux spoon.)


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The Spoon


You can make a spoon form in the end of a log, carving out the shape you want.  This could last for several spoons, depending on the wood. 

If you'll be making spoons more than occasionally-- or you want to make matched sets of them-- then by all means order yourself a swage block.  It'll last practically forever.  (Try this link also.)  In those results, you should find some blocks that are newly-made in USA. 

Hammering iron into a spoon-bowl shape is theoretically not that difficult... except for one thing.  If you're not careful, it'll crack at the thin edges.  To reduce the chance, have the metal at a bright orange heat.  It cools fast;  don't try to hammer too much in one heat.

It helps if the finished spoon bowl is at a right angle to the handle.  That would be useless on a regular spoon;  here, it's a feature.  It keeps you from having to pick up and tilt the jar while getting the borax.  That means, possibly, that you won't have to set down the workpiece. 


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Decorative Twist


I used an adjustable auto wrench and a bench vise. 

For mild steel, heat the workpiece to moderate orange, then clamp in vise.  It should still be at a red heat by the time you're ready to apply the twist. 



Notice also the corner edges are flattened just a little;  do this before making the twist.  An 8-ounce hammer and light taps at red heat should be sufficient to knock down the sharp edges.

As you can see in the first picture (top of page), this spoon also has a flat handle.  You can do that step last, as long as you don't accidentally ding up or dull the edges along the twist.  Hammering out flat handles takes some practice, because very often the metal will draw out unevenly. 


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Conclusion


This, along with a coal rake, is a great project for building the basic skills.

And, they're useful tools when completed.

So there you have it:  a borax spoon with a flat handle, a decorative twist, and about a 90-degree angle for convenience.


Thanks for reading!







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