Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blacksmithing 101: The Bending Fork

Hello my dear readers, welcome back to the next installment of Blacksmithing 101: The Bending Forks.

There are several ways to bend metal. Easiest is to use a horn or a bickern on an anvil. However, what if you don't have an anvil or a bickern?
Well! That is where the bending forks come in!

What are bending forks? Most simply, and made with the basic tools of hammer, anvil, forge, blower, and tongs(or even not, actually.), is the U-shaped piece of metal.
Behold, plate 1:
Thus, we can see that this is a piece of round stock, bent into a U shape. Make the material as thick as that you are bending. Example: 1 inch stock to be bent needs a 1 inch thick bending fork, with a 1 1/8" opening between the two uprights. So, match material and opening length accordingly. 

Next, stick this puppy in a vise. (you can also weld a shank on it for use in a Hardy Hole, but I am assuming that you don't have one. You probably have a vice, even if it is only a small machinist vice. [Also, you might have smoking as a vice. That is bad and harmful. Quit.])
Plate 2 shows the forks stuck in a vise. Here it is important to note: 
1. and 2. are the points of contact of the hot metal with the forks. They provide a fulcrum point, on which to bend the metal. point 1 will give only if it is hot. We are turning point 2 away from ourselves, towards the forks. 
It will bend like this: 
Plate 3 shows the bend at 1. Thus, you make a good bend on the metal. 
( don't you love the wonders of MS Paint? It truly is a great function! 

Note: The more snug the forks are to the material, the better and tighter the curve. It is all about points of contact. It will bend at those area, when hot, because of the pressures applied. 

So, the next question is, How do I make these? Well, my grateful reader, you take a rod about 5 inches long, and make a right angle bend in it. Then, flip that over, and hammer the right angle bend towards yourself until you have a U. Then, finely adjust it hot in the vise, by inserting the appropriate sized rod into it and wiggle-waggling it until it fits properly. Then, air cool. No need to quench, this is not a high stress tool. 

Here it is, in use! 
It is used to bend metal! Experiment yourself, and you will find how to best use it!


And, you can make every bend under the sun with it! Here are some S hooks, which were all bent (unevenly) using the Bending Forks.


A simple, beautiful hook, bend with the forks.


Two matching pieces, bent using the bending forks. 


Here's a good video detailing this whole blog, if you're still confused. 


Happy Hammering! 
God Bless!