Copper Vessel Repair and Tool Making

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Copper Vessel Repair and Tool Making

While at the SOFA QuadState Roundup in Ohio last weekend, I purchased a couple of outstanding copper vessels from the featured demonstrators, the Maestro Ignacio Punzo Angel family of Santa Clara Del Cobre, Michoacan, Mexico. Unfortunately, the TSA goons searched and re-packed my bag and one of the vessels was damaged on the trip home. A nasty big dent way down deep in the thing. Hey, "no problem," says I; after all, raising holloware was my specialization in college. Just one tiny fly in the ointment - I could not locate my snarling iron to bump out the dent down in that vessel.

Well, since I now call myself a blacksmith, I set about forging a snarling iron to do the repair with. The iron came out very nicely, as did the repair. I can now give the vessel to my brother and sister-in-law for their housewarming present.

For the curious, the iron is about 18" long, overall. The shank is sized to fit my big Nimba anvil, so it's a bit big for the Gesswein stake holder. Works just fine, though.


webminster's picture

I'm assuming you struck the

I'm assuming you struck the inside of the stake to "push" the dent out while the ball end was centered on the dent. Right?

Very nice stake Rich!


Rich Waugh's picture

QuiQue, Yep, the iron is

QuiQue,

Yep, the iron is struck downward, about 4-5" from the first bend, causing it to spring back up inside the vessel and whack the dent out. The dimensions and taper of the snarling iron shaft determine how snappy it is, and where the best placeis to hit it for the right snap. Of course, as with raising and planishing, the trick is to know exactly where the ball on the iron is located, so you don't put bumps all over the pot where you don't want them. For those who are interested, I have a solution to this problem that is nearly as handy as having X-ray vision.

If your stakeholder is very securely mounted, so that the stake stays in exactly the same spot all the time, it is simple enough to rig a "target projector" to locate the exact point you should be hitting. Just mount a small, low-power laser pointer on the ceiling so that you can beam a spot on the contact point of the stake. Then, when the metal is between the stake and the hammer, the spot from the laser is exactly where you want to hit. It changes the raising, planishing, snarling process from a hit-n-miss, trial-and-error process to one more like precision surgery. I really wish I'd thought of this thirty-five years ago when I was just starting out - what a difference it would have made on those first pieces!

Hope this helps a few people. Ideas should be shared.


webminster's picture

That laser beam thingy is

That laser beam thingy is quite an impressive high-tech way to work such an ancient method of metalworking. Isn't it wonderful to live in this day and age? Thanks for the tip and the explanations!


Bill Roberts's picture

I agree, what an excellent

I agree, what an excellent idea. I was doing some leaf work with some new hammers and a stake and THE LASER idea is EXACTLY what is needed to speed up the process. I'm relatively new to this approach, having done the majority of my leaf work under a treadle hammer. The Laser would enable me to know exactly where the stake is at all times. RICH, it's simply ingenious. thanks.

 WELL........now you've done it, Gene.  I spent ALL day yesterday playing with leaves. After seeing your hammers and stakes, I went out in the shop to find the leafin hammers I had. They were just roughed out so I had to finish them, mount to handles and mLeafin' :): WELL........now you've done it, Gene. I spent ALL day yesterday playing with leaves. After seeing your hammers and stakes, I went out in the shop to find the leafin hammers I had. They were just roughed out so I had to finish them, mount to handles and m


Rich Waugh's picture

Bill and QuiQue, Thanks for

Bill and QuiQue,

Thanks for the compliment on the laser idea. That's one idea I'm actually pretty proud of. I've had many more that weren't quite so good. (grin) I can see several uses for it in the shop.

Still, my favorite dumb use for a laser is the one on the Harbor Freight jig saw. Every time I think of that one I laugh, mentally picturing some poor schlub trying to cut a smooth arc with that damn laser beam blasting out there in a perfectly collimated straight line. Talk about a classic example of gimmick marketing!


Rich Waugh's picture

QuiQue, Thanks for the

QuiQue,

Thanks for the compliment on the stake, by the way. I really believe that tools that are visually attractive are also better working tools. If nothing else, they're a lot more pleasing to own and use than ugly, mass-produced, ungainly-looking things made in the most economical, if not effective, fashion. After all, if I'm supposed to be a metalsmith, shouldn't I put at least as much effort into making a decent-looking tool as I would into making a trinket to sell? I think it really only took me an extra thirty minutes or so to make the nice flared stop collar and get a smooth taper and transition. It was worth it, to me. :-)

In the case of the snarling iron, it actually works better if the shaft is properly and consistently tapered, the same way a good fly rod has a better action when tapered correctly. Since the ball on the snarling iron has fairly small mass, you need the velocity to make it effective; the old F=MV applies here. A good taper yields a higher velocity, thus greater effectiveness.

Rich


visitor's picture

Rich, That is a brilliant

Rich,

That is a brilliant idea to use the lazer. I always have to use optical recall to get the stake into position. Am envious of your large ball snarling iron. I personally think you need to make them for us all in a half dozen sizes.

Congratulations! Do you have images of the Santa Clara vessels?

Fred


Rich Waugh's picture

Fred, Thanks for the

Fred,

Thanks for the compliments. I've used optical recall for so many years that I'm comfortable with it, but for someone starting out it sure can be tough. The laser target should make life easier for them. I'm getting so I like it for me, too.

I have to make a full set of irons for myself first, then I'll be sure to "take under advisement" your request. (grin) I do love making tools, though. Some more raising stakes are next on my list, I think. Give the power hammer a little exercise.

I have pictures of at least one of the Santa Clara vessels, but I am ignorant of how to put it in this post. I'll do a separate post for it.

Rich


Fred Zweig's picture

Snarling irons

Rich,

Please take the time to show us images of your set of snarling irons. (I'll we anxiously awaiting my set soon).....

Did you weld on a ball bearing or is the ball forged as part of the tool.

Fred

Fred Zweig
Metalsmith


Fred Zweig's picture

Snarling iron

Rich,

Is the ball on the the end forged on or is it a welded on bearing? I really love the look of the iron. Can you show us images of the set of snarling irons you have made?

Thanks,
Fred

Fred Zweig
Metalsmith


Rich Waugh's picture

Fred,You'll have to wait

Fred,

You'll have to wait for the images of a full set of snarling irons, as that one is the first of a new set. My older ones are cobbered-together things made ad hoc as quickly as possible, and look like it. No way will I put photos of those pos out for people to see! (grin) As I get other irons done, I'll post them, along with scale drawings with dimensions for those who want to duplicate them.

As for the ball on the end of that iron, while it certainly *could* have been a welded-on ball bearing, it is not. The entire iron is a one-piece forging, made from a salvaged Nascar racing axle. That steel is pretty close to 4140 in chemistry, and makes excellent stakes and hammers. I just prefer to forge things, rather than glue them together, whenever possible. It just seems more elegant to me.


warren's picture

Nice iron

Rich,
I am just getting around to comment on the nice snarling iron you made. They are a nice tool to have to bring out the dents or what I mostly use for is to put a raised area on a vessel so I can go back and chase in a design.
Like in your last comment some of them have been made pretty much on the fly to just get the job done. I have not had the chance to make any fancy ones yet, not that much into forging. But the one I use the most is from a tire iron. Cut the nut end off and put that end in the vise. Other end just curled it up a little. No pictures because it looks like crap.
By the way, what is the diameter of the ball? Looks kind of big and I think it might be hard to get down around the bottom edge of a vessel.

warren
http://www.flickr.com/photos/metal_recipes/


Rich Waugh's picture

Warren, The diameter of the

Warren,

The diameter of the ball end on the snarling iron is about 1-1/4". That iron is for bumping out, not for getting into corners. You really need to have several irons of different shapes and countours, to do all that can be done. Or, you can make one or two and modify them on the fly. Since I favor nice-looking tools, I make them as I need them and don't usually modify them much, if at all.

Rich