Decorative handrails.

Handrails can quite often be dull and municipal looking, but with a little consideration and experimentation a handrail can become a feature to the architecture of the building and not just a safety rail.
A well made set of stone steps finished off with beautifully forged metalwork,
neatly leaded in, looks like its actually grow out of the stonework.











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Blacksmith made casement windows.

Blacksmith made casement windows can be found on tudor to mid Victoria buidings and where made of wrought iron, the windows where either a fixed casement, which consisted of an iron surround with the leaded glass tinned to the frame, the taller windows
can have one or two saddlebars which are dovetailed into the edges of the frame, the purpose of the saddlebar is to
provide rigidity and to fix the leaded glass to by a soldered wire.
The opening casement consists of two frames , the larger frame is the frame proper which supports the hinge pintels
and the smaller frame is the opening casement, the saddlebars on the inner casement usually form a decorative back plate
for the swivel catches to rivet to, the original windows didnt have fastener along the bottom edge of the frame to hold it open
or shut, but instead had a cresent shaped stop outside with a spring, so when the window was opened it rode along the spring
and jumped off the end and became fixed against the stop, this engenious device stopped the frame rattling when it was open,
typical blacksmithing ,simple is best!
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Working with other craftsmen.

Working with other craftsmen is a very interesting and engaging experience, learning new skills and ideas and different perspectives , one has to keep an open mind, everyone has there own way of working to get to the end result.
Lately ive been involved with various ecclesiological works , the latest one being the door ironwork for Wetton church in the manifold valley, the craftsmen in this case was a very well respected cabinet maker
from longnor who works to perfection and is a very hard act to follow as regards detailed measurements,
not easy in forged steel as its not an exact science, the end result was very pleasing, and in my opinion
the best two materials combined, wood and iron.

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Victorian style lamp restoration.

The main reason for this victorian style lamp restoration was the 1/4″ iron rods that were designed to strengthen the corners of the lamp cage its self, had ironically caused the demise of the lamp, the mixing of the ferrous and non ferrous metals caused the copper corners to bend and buckle as the iron rusted beneath it, the glass then cracks and solder joints are forced apart, below is how the lamp looked after it was stripped down.

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These are the rusty iron rods removed.

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The cage has collapsed with the rods removed.

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The base which holds the lamp to the lamp post was also badly rusted, a new ring was firewelded
together and the arms were swaged to make half round section then bent and then riveted to the ring.

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The cage was resoldered together.

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A new reflector plate was made and fitted.

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And finally the lamp was glazed, sprayed and fitted to the lamp post and rewired.

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Wordsmith meets blacksmith.

On the bitterly cold morning of february 16th journalist penelope baddeley came to the georgian forge to interview me
For a feature in the derbyshire life magazine.
We talked for a couple of hours about all aspects of the craft of blacksmithing and the long road of learning of what it
Takes to become a blacksmith, shoeing smith and wheelwright, penny works in the old school way like me, prefering to take down
Her notes in shorthand rather than using a voice recorder, and keeping that skill alive.
Penny really captured my passion for the craft,inspirations and my quest to rediscover lost traditional techniques.
If you are interested in reading the finished article it is on page 122 of the april edition of the derbyshire life magazine,
In my opinion an excellent piece of wordsmithing.

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Fixing modern locks to period properties.

Today insurers require 5 lever mortice locks to be fitted to your property, otherwise they will not insure your home against burglary, which is fair enough, the modern 5 lever mortice lock is very hard to pick, whereas the old warded and barrel locks are relatively easy to someone with a bit of knowledge and a few crude tools.
The fitting of a mortice lock requires at best a 2″ thick door , for a strong job that is, but a lot of old cottages only have a plank and ledge door, which are probably 1″ thick at the most, so other than having a new door and frame fixed in, the answer is to have a hardwood box made for the mortice lock and strengthen it with steel.
the example below is bolted right through the door with coach bolts and decorated nuts on the inside, also the keep is covered with its own oak box and covered with decorated steel work, and again bolted right through the 3 1/2″ frame, all together making a thoroughly strong job.

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Animal heads

daz ironwork & tools march 15 012Some of the earliest use of animal heads in blacksmithing date back to the late iron age, one particular example is the Capel Garmen firedogs which have decorated  stylised horse heads with damatically forged manes , they date form 50 BC-50AD and were found in north wales.

Animal heads were also found on early medieval,viking and saxon church doors mostly as the termination of the hinge, but also the spaces in-between with other symbolic  elements, they were actually telling a story of folk law or biblical stories  often having the symbol of the cross and animal heads offering protection from evil .

Examples of these doors nationwide use similar symbols to tell the story, the tree of life depicting the gates of heaven , lattice work depicting the garden of eden , human figures and noahs ark- the fall and redemption, there are serpents , birds , dragons and fish, they all varied to some degree though , probably due to local pagan myths and illiterate blacksmiths misunderstanding biblical texts or his own variation on beliefs.

Today animal heads are still a popular embellishment for handforged work, mainly finding their place on fire side sets, gate finials and door knockers.
Below are a selection that I have made over the last twenty years.

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The painting of exterior ironwork, always, from my perspective seems to spoil the effect of the forged metal and masks the texture of the iron too, we go to great pains to design and execute a unique piece of work, which is both tactile and beautiful , only to cover it in paint, we can educate the client that the best way to preserve the natural texture of iron is to coat the surface with linseed oil and turps liberally, then wipe off the excess, the same effect can be achieved with liquid floor wax or beeswax.
The best natural patina effect can be found where the surface of the metal has been worn with the acidic perspiration of peoples hands, maintenance is quickly achieved by rubbing any rust spots with an abrasive
then recoating and wiping off , it takes considerably less time than applying a coat of paint and the effect is incomparably superior, however the process has to be done more frequently.
The work below is sited on mam tor and the patina is created by peoples feet walking on the work , which is fixed into the stones with lead, they have been sited there for approx seven years and show virtually no rusting, that’s amazing , as they are totally exposed to the Derbyshire weather

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Norfolk latch.

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The invention of the Norfolk latch during the early industrial revolution was seen as a nail in the coffin for the village blacksmith, the suffolk latch was in decline , and with it the masterful creative manifestations of the craftsmans mind that produced the latch artistry in a small and intimate way.

Heavy machinery was now casting and stamping out the norfolk latch components by the thousands, all that was needed now was for an unskilled worker to fit the three parts of the latch together.

The suffolk latch is made by hammering out the metal at the ends of the handle until very thin, this works well if one is trying to achieve a intricate shape , but in making the latch in the photo above,
depth was needed to forge the motif in relief , so this time , the design of the norfolk latch was the only way to go!.

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Horseshoes as charms.

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Horseshoes have been used as charms and protection against evil spirits from very early times,
iron nails were driven in to house doors to keep away the plague and pestilence , the custom of
nailing horseshoes above the door for good luck ranges all over the world, the majority of
doorways had a horseshoe nailed to the threshold.
The question is which way up should the horseshoe be displayed , well there are too schools of thought,
some say keep the heels pointing upwards to catch the luck, and others say the heels should point down
so the luck can run out in to the house, or on to the work being done, most old blacksmiths would hang
a shoe pointing downwards over the hearth for the last reason.
It is common today to give a horseshoe at a wedding as good luck , it is said to date from king of the
tuscans, whose queen had her horse shod with silver on her wedding day

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