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Old 05-10-2020, 01:51 PM
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Default Farrier Rasp and Silver Belt Buckle

I cut an old rasp up and used it to make a silver mounted belt buckle awhile back and figured I'd share some pictures now that I have time to upload them.

This rasp is probably 20 years old and rusted up terribly, but I hadn't managed to make myself throw it away because honestly the new rasps don't seem to cut any better than it does after a couple months (and I'm not using them full time). I finally decided that I have enough back ups to my back up and that I should use it for something other than extra weight in my trimming box.

I used a wire wheel to get most of the crud off, cut 2 slabs off to rough size with an angle grinder, and stuck them in the forge. I heated them up to bright orange and then shut the forge down and let them cool off slowly to anneal them.

After that I knocked the teeth down a little bit and then laid them side by side and traced my pattern on them. I cut out the interior of the pattern while they were separate pieces and then welded them together before cutting the outside profile.
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Old 05-10-2020, 01:55 PM
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The next step was to dome the buckle. I think most guys use a press and a premade form for this but get by with a hammer and a piece of channel that I put a shank on for the hardy hole in the anvil. Using the round face of the hammer and moving the part around over the channel lets me put whatever curve in it I want.

After it was domed, I made a heel bar and a stem out of some welding rod that I knocked the flux off of and welded them in place. I left the stem extra long figuring I would trim it and adjust the shape after the buckle was closer to finished.
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Old 05-10-2020, 02:00 PM
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After some clean up it was time to cut out the silver. I'm actually using nickel silver because I am cheap, and still experimenting with all of this. It seems to be much harder, and not as bright as sterling but I think the results are acceptable for the time being.

I made a paper pattern that accounted for the curve in the buckle and then sketched on it until I had a shape I liked. I wanted to hide the weld, but still show off the rasp texture on most of the buckle.

When I got a shape laid out I cut it out with a jewelers saw, and then had to form the silver to match the curve of the buckle. Then it was ready to solder.
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Old 05-10-2020, 02:14 PM
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I used silver bearing solder and liquid flux. It's not the super high grade stuff, but it seems to be plenty strong for the stuff I am trying to do.

The first step was to tin the back of the silver. I used a combination approach on this, and first pre-heated the silver and the brick it was sitting on with a small propane torch, then used a soldering iron to spread the solder around on it evenly. With the piece being curved, I have found that trying to make it flow with just the torch makes it wet out too much and it all runs to the middle and you never get the edges. This approach worked out pretty well.

After the silver was tinned, and had cooled down, I fluxed the buckle and clamped the overlay in place. Then I heated the buckle from the underside with a propane torch until the solder flowed again. I added a little more around the edges where it needed it and then let it cool off.

The next step was to clean it up. I used a wire brush first, and then hit the silver with a 400 grit belt on my belt grinder. That is the bonus to using 16 gauge nickel silver instead of .020 sterling.

The steel got a coat of cold blue and then everything got shined up again. I really should have called it done at this point but I wanted to experiment with some hand engraving.

I've been meaning to come up with some kind of engraving vise and so far I've had a bunch of ideas but never followed through on anything. For this, I decided to use a truck rotor and weld a plate to the top of it, with a tapped hole for a hold down. I can clamp the rotor to the table if necessary, but rotate it anyway I want, and it holds the piece op off the table a little bit. I should be able to use it for multiple projects just by adding holes or making new hold downs. I used a piece of aluminum for the hold down so that it wouldn't mar the buckle.
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Old 05-10-2020, 02:22 PM
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I used home made gravers to put a little bit of a border around the outside edge. Most people I showed it to seemed to like it better before the engraving but I'm happy enough with how it turned out. From the distance you'd normally see a buckle it doesn't look bad at all, even if its a little rough from up close.

As I read more about it, nickel silver is much harder than what most people engrave by hand, and working on the domed piece made the wriggler tend to try and walk off the edge. If I do it again I will make a taller stand off to go under the buckle as this one still had me running into things with the graver handle at certain angles.
I got a small sheet of 16 gauge pure copper this week and some more solder and I'm thinking I will try something similar with a copper overlay. Copper should be much softer to cut with hand push gravers.
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Old 05-10-2020, 05:53 PM
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I think the engraving is a nice touch.
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Old 05-10-2020, 06:35 PM
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More neat work The idea of using an old rasp to build a belt buckle would have never crossed my mind in a million years. But, it came out great I like the look.
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Old 05-10-2020, 08:09 PM
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Quote:
softer to cut with hand push graver
Matt, not knowing just how much 'graving' you do, it's good hand/eye training to do by hand. After a year or two, it's time for something beefier.

I made a nice vacuum graver, like the pro dudes buy for a 1k or so for the complete deal. Mine cost about $200 all said and done. Works just like the hi dollar sets. Very happy with it.

As far as a vise for graving, the best simple vise I've got in use now is made using a bowling ball. Just happens to have my name on it. Like I'm going to go bowling at this day and age.

Do a search for the ball vises, you'll love it once you make it. Very steady and sturdy, no matter what I set in it. Easy simple build.

Nice work dude. Very nice.
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Old 05-11-2020, 12:04 AM
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Wow! Wonderful work Matt. Know all about not wanting to throw out the old rasps. Lot like an old hoof knife. They do so much work and fit the hand. My question is, how is the tongue of the buckle kept in the center? Also, how heavy?
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Old 05-11-2020, 05:58 AM
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that is pretty darn cool. Nice work and great fashion sense.. Sharp..
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