USING A FORGE TO CREATE TENACITY
In late 2004, Kevin began working on a 11-panel project, a vine fence that serves as a low wall around a patio (see Tenacity). Each panel took about 10 hours to create. Although he has worked extensively with acetylene, arc and MIG welders, as the project got under way it became apparent that a forge would be a huge asset in shaping the larger diameter vines.
Each panel has two main vines, which actually carry through the entire fence, with each beginning at the same height as it ended on the previous panel, on the other side of the stucco pillars that separate and support the panels. Those are each 1" in diameter. There are also rods that are 5/8", 1/2" and 1/4" in diameter. While the two smaller sizes can be shaped cold using the pipe bender (a remarkable process in itself), using the acetylene torch to bend the larger sizes became inefficient and expensive. Thus the forge joined Kevin's tool arsenal.
After studying several books on the subject as well as several Web sites, Kevin purchased the forge from Centaur Forge, and then began using it. He is able to work on two pieces at a time, alternately heating and bending them. He is also able to make the mounts, or "saddles," in which the main vines are supported in the forge.
The first photo shows the top of the forge. In the photo, it's being used to heat up the two main vines of the sixth panel. Because Kevin is working with such long pieces, he made a modification to the forge. Originally, it had an open area to the right, allowing the pieces to nestle down into the fire - on one side. Using the plasma torch, his lovely assistant opened up the left side similarly. (scroll down)
The second photo shows a closer view of the cutouts on each side of the forge. Also, it provides a close up of the "heat shields" Kevin improvised. Simple pieces of plate steel scrap (and you can see these are getting a little tired!), they are just propped up in the firebox to keep the heat in. You'll notice the one on your left is being held upright by a large clinker. Speaking of clinkers, the coal comes from Centaur Forge, too. It's particularly clean burning, but there are some clinkers, which are the impurities left behind. (scroll down)
The third photo shows an even tighter close up of the firebox. Interestingly enough, the flames are not as noticeable when working as they are in these photos! You see the two vines, and also, to the left of them, a small piece of flat steel strap. That is one of the saddles that the vines will sit in to hold it up on the pillar. Kevin uses a piece of 1" scrap vine rod to wrap the red-hot strap around, then uses a hammer to further shape it. (scroll down)
Photo four shows our hero, Kevin, removing the steel strap from the fire with tongs. With three pieces in the fire at any one time, Kevin is kept pretty busy! (scroll down)
The fifth photo shows Kevin bending one of the vines. Now that the metal is red hot, he's using what is called a "hardie" as an extra hand. Shaped like a tuning fork with a rectangle base, a hardie fits neatly into the anvil. You'll also notice the vise to the right of the anvil. The vise is used for various tasks, including holding the scrap of 1" to shape the saddles around. Kevin also uses it to straighten out the copper pipe that he uses to plan the path of each vine.The forge is to the left. (scroll down)
The sixth photo shows a close up of the red hot part of the vine in the hardie. (scroll down)
Photos 7 and 8 show how the forge is used to make the "saddles" that the main vines sit in. Kevin designed this approach to minimize the superstructure of the fence. Yes, each panel could have been contained in a rectangular box, which would then have been hung on the pillars. By using these small and unassuming saddles, however, he was able to support each panel while making it look more like the vines were growing right through each pillar.
Each saddle is made of a curved piece of 1/8" metal strap with a large washer welded to the back. The saddle is screwed into the pillar, and the vines hang from the saddle. The weight is all that holds them in place, but then, they're heavy! (scroll down)
These two photos show how Kevin bends the saddles after placing each straight piece of metal strap into the fire. Once each is red hot, he pulls it from the fire and, holding each end with a pair of tongs, wraps it around a piece of 1" vine. A little hammering, and the fit is snug. The washers are welded on later. (scroll down)
The final photo shows the two main vines for Panel 6, which Kevin created in the photos above.
Now check out Tenacity to see the finished product!
You can also see a video about using the forge on YouTube.
If you'd like to see something special like this unique fence in your yard or office, contact us for more information on how easy it is to have something that makes your space an oasis.