Apprenticeship Session 6

With wreath season over and the craziness of the holidays behind us and all that brought to everyone involved, it was time to get back to the forge. So we had some half-finished candleholders that we needed to complete.

So we had left our candleholders in this state:

The half-finished candleholder from our previous session.

So what remained was to taper the stem and finish closing the socket for the candle. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, tapering the stem was the easier of the two but even that was a bit challenging because of the socket started at the other end. It was pretty easy to hang on to, but you couldn’t lay it flat on the anvil. So much of the tapering was done off the rounded edge of the anvil with 45º hammer blows so that you didn’t bend the stem. (I was doing it wrong for a bit and boy did it make a difference when I got that sorted out!)

So how to turn that fishtail into a socket? Seems odd, but much of the work is done right at the base of the socket or on the backside. By rounding the area at the base, the rest of the fishtail follows along and the edges just naturally close. To create the fishtail the work was done with the cross peen side of the hammer and on the table portion of the anvil. That only goes so far because you can’t get the hammer in there any more. That’s when it’s time to start working the base and backside on the top of the horn of the anvil.

Before, during, and after showing the round stock the half-made fishtail and stem, and the finished candleholder.

Rob put a twist in the stem of his candleholder, but I chose not to because I had a shorter stem and was really happy with the way it had turned out (and didn’t want to mess it up). It’s hard to believe that we started out with a piece of 5/8″ round stock and wound up with something that would look good on a dining room table. I guess that’s part of the magic of blacksmithing.

The finished candleholders. Rob’s on the left and mine on the right.

Rob finished before I did, so he started to work on our next project: a welded iron chain. We’ve done a few S-hook chains, but welding the link shut is a new skill that we are both excited to learn. Forge welding is going to be challenging. But it seems the links themselves aren’t all that easy either. Since all good projects start with a plan, Rob and Doug sketched out a few parameters before they began.

The plan for the forge-welded chain

I missed out on a few of the instructions (I’m sure we’ll revisit them next time), but at the end of the day, Rob had a good start on his first link. Take a close look at the way the ends overlap as that was a new way to scarf the ends that we hadn’t seen before. Looking forward to cranking out a few more of these and then finally trying our hands at forge welding.

The first link for the forge-welded chain.