Growing up with a Farrier for a father allowed me a unique look into the ways handcrafts and metal workings can be done. On top of this, a curiosity was created within me; to learn how to use the tools of this trade, and create something with my own two hands.
Asking my father about possible projects resulted in many ideas, yet we ultimately settled on making wall hooks. These hooks, while requiring basic metal forging training and knowledge, are relatively simple and easy to make.
We spent a total of four hours on the project and completely finished two separate sets of hooks. If the temperature had not been hovering around 0, however, this process would have been shortened dramatically as the metal would not have cooled as quickly.
Step 1: Tools and Required Materials
Depending on your desired appearance, you would be able to use a wide variety of metals for this project. Going through this, we were shooting for a very rustic, old fashioned style. To achieve this, we utilized the following materials:
- 1- 1/4 by 3/4 in. Steel Flat Bar Stock
- 2- 1/4 in. Steel Round Rod
- Solid Copper Grounding Rod 7/32 in. Diameter
- Bee's Wax
- Propane Gas Forge
- Shop Anvil
- Hack Saw/ Cut Off Blade
- 1/4 in. Tongs
- Ball Pien Hammer
- Cross Pien Hammer
- Drill Press/ Hand Drill w/ 7/32 in. bit
- Bench Grinder
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Center Punch
- Bolt Cutters
Step 2: Preparing the Metal
To begin, we have to get the metal to a workable size and heat. These lengths can vary to your unique specifications, but we settled on cutting the flat bar stock to 6 in, and the round steel rod to 5 in. Don't worry about the copper ground rod at this point, we will come back to it.
Step 3: Shaping the Metal
Shaping the Bar Stock
When shaping the bar stock, begin approximately an inch from either end with the cross pien hammer. Hammer from the center out, flattening the ends of the bar stock. Once the desired length and thickness have been reached, swap over to the ball pien hammer. Focusing on the area already shaped will create an old fashioned look and feel to the base of the hook.
Shaping the Steel Rods
To shape the steel rods into hooks, you start by hammering the rod into a point through a gradual slope. Once the desired slope and length is reached, use the horn of the anvil to form the hook itself. After finishing the large hook, you have the option to use pliers to add a second loop into the end of the hook. This loop will help clothing not be snagged on a sharp tip. Once the hook has the desired shape, use a ball pien hammer to flatten out the top end of the hook. This is where the hook will connect to the bar stock.
Step 4: Punch and Drill Holes
After the metal has been shaped, it is time to set the holes to connect the pieces. We chose to put two hooks onto one bar stock, which means that we will be drilling 6 holes in total: four on the bar stock and one on each of the hooks. To start, use the Center Punch to set where each hole will go. When doing this yourself, feel free to try and put a varying number of hooks on each bar stock. Once done with the Center Punch, it is time for drilling. Using a 7/32 in drill bit on our drill press, we easily added in our required holes.
When making these holes, make sure to use the same sized bit and copper grounding rod. This will be important in a few steps.
Step 5: Clean Up Metal
At this point, we are nearly ready to put everything together. If you would really like to, you can skip this step. However, I would not recommend it, as the metal will potentially be rough and sharp. Using a wire wheel to polish the steel cleans the surface of the metal, as well as removes much of the scaling left over from the forging process. Use the grinder to smooth out the edges of the pieces will not only give the hooks a cleaner overall appearance but decrease the chance of something being caught or torn on the metal.
Step 6: Cut and Hammer Copper Rod
It's finally time to put everything all together. First off, you need to cut your copper rod to size. We did so by lining it up with the bar stock and hook and then using bolt cutters to cut to size. You will need one cut piece of copper per hook, not one for every hole in the bar stock.
Once you have your copper cutouts, you can connect the pieces together. Fit the cut copper section through the holes in the hook and bar stock and lightly hammer it together on one side. Before hammering too hard, flip the connected pieces and hammer from the reverse side. Repeat this process until the copper is flush with both sides. At this point, the hook should be held to the bar stock, as the copper has expanded to hold both pieces together. Repeat this until every hook has been attached.
Step 7: Apply Bee's Wax
The final step is completely optional and serves to preserve the quality of the metal.
To begin applying the beeswax, you will want to make sure the wax has been heated. There are several ways to do this, but due to the extreme cold we were dealing with we had to use a somewhat unique method.
Once we completed constructing the hooks, we came inside and placed the hooks in the oven for a short while, in order to heat the entirety of the metal. Once it was heated up, we set the metal in the beeswax, to both heat up the wax and begin application. After setting for a brief period, use a rag to spread the wax across the entirety of the metal.
Once covered, the metal will be increasingly resistant to rusting and will stay in its current state for a longer period of time.
Step 8: Enjoy Final Product
There you have it, fully constructed and operational metal wall hooks! From this point, you can use them as decoration, or find a nice place on your wall for a new coat hook, key holder, or hat rack. The example hook is a very basic and minimalist design, so feel free to play around with different designs. Metal is a surprisingly forgiving material to shape, so don't be afraid to try something new.