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Old 02-02-2019, 10:22 AM
Matt Shade's Avatar
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Default How to Forge a Leaf

I tried to take some pics while I had the forge going yesterday. Taking progress pics in between heats can be difficult so they aren't the best pics but it gives you an idea of the process.

I made these using 1/2 hot rolled round bar. They seem like they would take a lot of work but they really go pretty quick once you get it figured out. If you keep the stem short and start with a warm anvil you can actually make one in 4 or 5 heats (probably 3 if you're Jen ).

First heat you need to put a square point on the bar. I stand towards the horn of the anvil, and hold the bar crosswise so that it is against the edge on the same side as my hammer. Tip the bar up at an angle and give the tip a good hit. Turn the bar 90 degrees with your wrist and hit it again. Turn it back to the original side and hit again. You only actually have to work 2 sides, as the anvil does the other 2 sides. So you can get into a fast rhythm and just rock the bar back and forth with your wrist.

If you work fast you probably have enough heat left to start separating the stem from the slug for the leaf.

Now you decide how long you want the leaf to be and hang that much off the side of the anvil. I stay in the same position at the horn for this. Now you hit with the center line of your hammer face over the edge of the anvil so that you are half on and half off. This will set a slug of metal off into a lump. Turn the bar 90 degrees and hit it again the same way, and the lump will be more pronounced. Keep turning the bar and working the slug farther off the edge of the anvil until your heat is gone.

2nd heat. Continue to refine the stem. As you edge the leaf farther off of the edge of the anvil and continue making half blows, you will create a series of lumps on the stem, but you will also be reducing it in size. When I get it reduced halfway I move to the horn of the anvil and start smoothing all the lumps out. Working over the horn will draw the stem out longer as you forge the lumps back into the stem and straighten it. If you work fast you can start rounding the stem at this point as well.
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Old 02-02-2019, 10:37 AM
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3rd heat and its time to flatten the leaf. Start on top of the anvil and just go to town on it, hitting it right in the center. As you reduce the thickness you can start moving your hammer blows around and changing the shape of the leaf a little bit. When it is close to size, I flip it over and finish it on the horn of the anvil to smooth any lumps out.

If you have heat left, switch to a cross peen hammer and use the peen to texture the leaf. I work at the edge of the anvil and hold the hammer on a diagonal, trying not to cross the center line of the leaf. Light fast blows are the name of the game here. You want to texture it without drastically changing the shape.

4th heat its time to crease the center of the leaf. I use a home made fullering tool, but you could do the same with a chisel. Just put a light crease down the middle. Light overlapping strikes are better here as you want a smooth line.
With whatever heat is left you can work on the horn and refine the shape of the leaf.

I hold off on shaping the stem or doing too much more to it until I am using it in a project at this point. If you hot cut the stem in the right spot your bar will already be 90% pointed for you to start making another leaf
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Old 02-02-2019, 10:44 AM
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Once you have a pile of them you can glue them together and make something neat

A purist would forge a scarf on the end of the each stem and then forge weld them together. I forge a scarf on each one and then zap them with a mig. I should have spent a little more time blending the welds out on this,but they really don't look too bad and its a lot easier than jump welding these parts in the forge.

I use a torch and scrolling tongs to finalize the shape of each leaf and stem. The bottom leaf on this has an extra long stem and its bent into a hook big enough to hang a coat from.
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Old 02-02-2019, 01:40 PM
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It looks damn nice to me!!!
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Old 02-02-2019, 11:08 PM
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Thanks Digr
If nothing else, they're fun to make. Its always good stress relief to swing a hammer
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Old 02-03-2019, 03:18 PM
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Looks good. Looks better than the ones I tried couple years ago. I cheated though, and made a die to go in the punching station of the iron worker at work, and an Oxy-acty torch. Customer was happy with the results, that is what mattered.


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Old 02-12-2019, 07:22 PM
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Nice tutorial Matt, well done.. I have never made a bottle opener and every 3-5years I make 1 leave.. Usually because I get asked about it..

I suck at it now.. They can be fun though
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Old 02-12-2019, 11:00 PM
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It's always good to see how others make leaves. My process is very similar except my leaves are shorter and wider. When I cut it off of the bar on the hot cut I work 2 sides at 90 degrees, and my point is mostly done.

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Old 02-13-2019, 04:49 AM
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different style of leave perhaps?

It is funny, but many never even look at a real leave to see what they are supposed to be like..


Way, way, way back.. Well way being determined by how old one is Is "Way" = 10 years?


I would go into nature take a few leaves I was interested in making and go practice..
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Old 02-13-2019, 07:19 AM
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Thanks guys

Coming up with some different styles is on the agenda. This leaf is very similar to my go to leaf on my leather work as well. I have tap offs/patterns made for it in 2 sizes as well as 2 sizes of oak leaf, but I need to come up with some new stuff. Might have to wait until spring when I have some leaves to look at though

I'd love to figure out how to forge the oak leaves, but I'm thinking they would go better if I hot cut them out of sheet metal instead of working from a bar. I'll have to experiment with that sometime.
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