Fire Place Tools

11.22.2019 / Tutorials

By Matthew Parkinson

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Section 1: Basic operations

Drawing Out

In blacksmithing jargon the term drawing out means to forge the stock longer and thinner. This is the most basic operation and one that almost every blacksmithing project will use. In this case we will be drawing out to a point.

When drawing a point, always begin by drawing the shortest point you can and then forging out a longer taper from there.  It is quite easy to make a taper longer but almost impossible to shorten one.

To begin, take a forging heat (a bright red or orange heat). Standing at a 45 deg. angle to the anvil, lay the stock across the narrow width of the center of the anvil. Lift the bar so that only the point of the bar is on the anvil (near the far edge of the anvil). Now strike the end of the bar at the same angle that the bar is held from the anvil.  After two or three blows, rotate the stock 90 deg. and repeat until the point is forged in. To lengthen the taper decrease the angle that you are holding the bar and the angle you are striking at, and work the blows up higher on the bar.

Common Problems

  • Bar is bending – increase hammer angle and strike closer to end of bar or decrease angle that the bar is held on the anvil.
  • Point not centered – adjust by changing the angle the bar is held on anvil and push point over with firm hammer blows.
  • Cross section of point not square- this is caused by not rotating the bar a true 90 Deg. or from hammering one facet at an angle. To correct, forge down the high side on the diamond and then re-forge the point at the correct angle.
  • Cold shut (fish mouth) – A cold shut is when the metal folds over itself during forging forming a crack. A cold shut that occurs at the very end of the bar is called a fish mouth. To correct, cut out the cold shut and re-forge the point. To prevent a cold shut, do not forge one set of facets too thin before rotating and forging the other two facets.  This can also be caused by errant hammer blows peeling off a small section of metal. Fish mouth is caused by either not striking hard enough for the size stock being worked or the incorrect angle used when hammering.

Bending on the Horn

For bending over the horn, a cool forging heat is used (red to dull orange). Place the bar to be bent over the horn of the anvil and strike just forward of the center of the horn to bend the point down. To bend the point up, strike just behind the center line of the horn.  A slight downward pressure on the bar will help hold it in place on the horn. For a tighter bend, work farther out on the horn, for looser bends work on the wider section of the horn. Only the area being bent should be hot, to long of a heat and the unsupported bar might bend in unwanted and uncontrollable ways. By working back and forth on the horn, the bend can be adjusted until a perfect radius is achieved

Decorative Ends/Setting Down

Most traditional ends on forged ironwork are done basically the same way. A bean end , flame tip, spear, or leaf point  only differ in how the end is prepared before setting down and  how the material is moved from there.

For a flame or spear point, a short taper is forged on the end of the bar. Next a forging heat is taken and the bar is set on the anvil so that only the very end is on it (just a little past the end of the taper.) It is then set down by striking with the hammer half on and half off the anvil (this forms a step in the bar and isolates the material that becomes the decorative end). The offset material is flattened, forming and shaping the end. For greater width, a pass with a cross peen is used to push more of the material out to the sides.

Common Problems 

  • Not getting a hard line on the offset- when offsetting the stock strike with the face of the hammer half on and half off the anvil. Use a hard blow and press down on the stock with your tong hand to keep it from shifting.
  • Narrow end – for greater width strike the edges at a slight angle and then strike the center   to spread the width or use a cross peen to move the material out to the sides, following with the flat face to flatten.


(no longer used) When offsetting for this project  two bends are needed, after bending the offset can be set in using a piece of stock laid on the face of the anvil to forge in the offset.  At a bright forging heat lay the offset on the bar and hammer, strike with the face of the hammer half on and half off the edge of the bar on the anvil to set the corners then use a cross peen to draw the metal out wide. Flatten with the flat face of the hammer to complete. The thickness should be ½ the parent stock size.


Take a forging heat. Locate the punch where you want the hole and strike a hard blow to the punch to set it. Drive the punch 2/3 of the way through the part and then remove the punch. Cool the punch and flip the part over. Locate the hole by the cooler area that should be visible where the punch was driven in. Center the punch on the cool spot and drive it the rest of the way through. Next place the part (with the punch still in place) over the pritchel hole in the anvil and drive out the slug.

Common Problems

  • Ιf punch is sticking in the hole – this is caused by the end of the punch mushrooming in the hole. To prevent this, cool the punch more often and use a lube when punching (oil, coal dust, grease, etc). To correct, cool and re-sharpen the punch and try again.
  • A sharp punch is one that has square edges and a flat face; it should not be domed, rounded, or pointed on the end.
  • Misshaped hole – the punch was misaligned. To correct, drive the punch in a bit deeper to drift the hole to shape.


Drilling is used in place of punching when a more accurate location of the hole is important, lay out the holes placement and using a center punch mark the location with a single firm blow of the hammer. Then using an appropriate sized drill bit drill the hole using a hand drill or drill press.  The key to drilling steel is a steady pressure on the drill bit until the hole breaks through to the other side; then lightening up on the pressure just enough to continue through. A sharp bit is key to a clean and round hole.  Backup the item to be drilled with a piece of wood or clamp the piece in a vice to be drilled.


To figure out the length of a rivet add 1-1 ½ times the thickness of the rivet to the width of the joint. (IE. using a ¼” rivet to assemble two pieces 1/8” thick would be ½”-3/8” long rivet. If making the rivet from round stock the size should be 2 ½ times the thickness plus the thickness of the joint.

For a tight rivet joint drill or punch the holes and set the rivet in place, backup the head side of the rivet on the anvil and strike with hard blows using the flat side of the hammer until the rivet is firmly set. Use the peen to dress the edges of the rivet into a head, flip and dress opposing side with the ball peen to match.

For a slip joint rivet, drill  or punch the holes and insert the rivet, use a ball peen to set the rivet using firm blows, walk the blows around the sides of the rivet to dome the head and push the material out to the sides. Flip and dress opposing side to match.  Alternately light angled blows with the flat side of the hammer can also be used to set this type of rivet. The goal with this type of rivet set is to move the material on the top of the joint, without swelling the material in the middle of the joint.

Forge Welding

Forge welding depends on three things to be successful. First: a perfectly clean joint (no scale or other contaminants).  Second:  a totally inert atmosphere.  Third:  complete contact of the mating surfaces. These three things are put in place via the flux and heat. At welding temps the flux will strip away the oxides on the surface and reveal a clean surface below. The flux will also seal off the joint creating an inert atmosphere.  When struck, the metal will push the flux out of the way and come into perfect contact. This kind of welding is also call solid state welding.

To forge, a weld scarf must first be forged on the two sides of the joint. The scarf ensures that the flux will be forced out of the joint and not be trapped in the weld.  Next, a heat is taken and the joint is wire brushed until cool (this removes much of the scale giving the flux a helping hand). Then the joint is re-heated to a dull red and flux is applied to the joint.  In a CLEAN fire the joint is heated to a bright yellow heat and quickly taken to the anvil. Strike the center of the joint with a good blow to set the weld and then work the joint with firm blows until it is to shape or has cooled down to a red heat. If the weld took, the whole joint should cool at the same rate. If there are cool spots, these are areas that the weld did not take. Wire brush and reflux any areas that didn’t take. Take another welding heat then reweld any areas that didn’t take and then finish forging the area to shape.

Common problems

  • Weld looks good but fails when forging to shape- this is due to flux trapped in the center of the joint. Use a slightly higher heat and reshape the scarf to allow the flux to escape.
  • Weld will not take- this can be caused by many factors.  Most common problem is a dirty fire that allows too much air getting to the joint. Other common causes are not enough heat, too much scale in the joint for the flux to deal with (reflux and try again), not enough heat/ heat did not reach center of joint.

Section 2 Fire place tool set

Materials list

  • Approximately 12’ of 3/8” sq mild steel
  • 2 pieces @ 14” 2 pieces @18”
  • 1 piece @ 36” 1 piece @ 30”
  • 8- ¼” / ¾” rivets or 8 pieces of ¼” rd 1” long
  • 18 Gauge mild steel sheet pre-cut to form shovel head.


Begin by bending a 6-7” section over the anvil or in the vice.  Forge this bend into a hard 90 deg corner, then bend the 6- 7” section to form a centered loop over the horn of the anvil. (loop could end up approximately 2” in width.  Cool this side of the bar and heat the other end. Draw a taper about 3” long and down to a 1/8” point (or a little smaller) take another heat higher up and fold the last 4-5” of the bar (including the taper) back onto it’s self. Flux and forge weld the last 1” then draw a short point onto the end or the bar. Take another heat and clamp the point in a vice then bend out the first taper out shape to finish the end of the poker. Twists can be added at this time to decorate the poker this is also useful addition if the point is out of plane with the grip.


Form handle to match the poker on one end of 28” bar.

Draw a short point on the other end of the bar. Next set down about 1” of the material over edge of the anvil and form the decorative end. Bend over the decorative end 90 Deg to the bar bend a curve just behind the end to bring the flat of the decorative end to just a little short of parallel.

Using the vice bend the pre cut shovel blank. Bend the first of the width bends, then the two narrow tads, bend the sides up, next the second of the width bends and finally fold the first of the width bends down over the two tabs.

To assemble drill two ¼” holes in the decorative end, align the handle with the shovel head and mark the location of these two holes. Drill matching holes in shovel heads. Finally rivet the two pieces together.


Set down the ends of all for bars (2@14” 2@18”) about 3/8” back and forge in a bean end that is set to one side and about 3/16“ thick (all four should match). Mark all 4 bars at 5” and 6” with a chisel; bend an offset of about 3/8” into all 4 bars in between the chisel marks. So that the high side on the bean end is also the high side of the bend. (again all four should match) set down the offsets to about 3/16” thick (set down to the same side as the bean end.

Trim the ends of the two 18” bars even, if needed, then bend the ends of the bar into loops forming the grips offsetting the loops to the high side of the offset.

Lay the two handle sections in place so the offsets overlap to check the fit. File the joint flat and the ends of the offsets so that they meet but still allow free movement. Mark and drill the center with a ¼” bit use a rivet to align and recheck the fit, filing as needed. Use a caliper to mark the center of the holes in the bean ends (approximately 6” from center of rivet) use a square to mark the hole in line with the edge of the 3/8” section.  Drill marked holes ¼”. File bean ends to shape and flat the inside, filing the shoulder of the joint square to allow for free movement. Mark and fit the offsets of the last two pieces the same way, then mark and drill the bean ends on this pair also. Check the fit of the bean ends by using a rivet to form the joint. File as needed. Trim the ends of the tong side even if needed and forge ends roughly to shape. Rivet the offset joints then heat the joints in the forge next quench and move the joints back and forth to free them. Rivet the remaining joints and free them the same way.  If needed, re-forge the tongs even and to final shape to complete.

Alternate method for tongs

Use strip stock ¼”/1/2” or 3/16”/1/2” cut four pieces 2@ 18” 2@14”. match drill all 4 pieces using a 3/16 drill bit, drill holes placed 1/2” in from one end and then another 6” on center from first hole.  De bur then rivet the center most holes of both pairs together. Line up and rivet the two bars together. Next  Heat and twist 90Deg just beyond the rivet on the side that IS NOT drilled twist toward the direction of movement to allow the tongs to open. Line up and rivet the two bars together. Heat and realign the ends forge the shorter ends into pinchers and the longer end into grips.

Recommended Reading:

  • Alex Bealer
    • The Art of Blacksmithing
  • Jack Andrews
    • The New Edge of the Anvil
  • Wayne Goddard
    • $50 Knife Shop
    • Wonder of Knife Making
  • Jim Hrisoulas
    • The Master Bladesmith
    • The Complete Bladesmith


Machinery Handbook – (Pub.) Industrial Press