The Trellis Project 02: Forging a Hook

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Intro: The Trellis Project 02: Forging a Hook

Hello all!

I've noticed that a lot of people in my community have dreamed about getting into blacksmithing and forging, but feel as if it's somewhat beyond their skillset, that the proper equipment would be difficult to locate, and that it would be hard to find adequate space for that kind of metalworking shop. I'm hoping that the Trellis Project can help to change that - it's a small modular jig system for shaping steel, simple to use and easy to build using tools that are readily available at most makerspaces.

A hook is a useful thing to have around the house, and the making of it involves one of the most fundamental blacksmithing techniques - drawing out a bar to a point. It also involves the creation of a disk, one of the most fundamental tools for using on the Trellis. This makes it a perfect first project!

Learn about how to build your own Trellis here (https://www.instructables.com/id/The-Trellis-Project-01-What-the-Trellis-Is-and-How/), and learn about how to build a disk for it here. If you've got those two things you're ready to roll.

Step 1: Mark Out Your Peg Holes on the Baseplate

Before you bend any steel you're going to need the holes for the pegs, and those holes are going to need to be in the correct places. This step is about that process.

Place the frame onto the baseplate as represented in the Pictures 1-2. After doing this, place the "A" Ruler into the frame at 1.10, and use a center-punch to make a dimple at hole A8, like in Picture 3. Make similar dimples at points 1.9/A6 and 1.6/A11 (represented in Pictures 4-5).

Now use the "B" Ruler and the center-punch to make dimples at 2.3/B13 and 2.3/B14 (shown in Pictures 6-7), leaving you with all of the dimples you need (Picture 8). At this point you'll be ready for the next step.

Step 2: Drill Out Your Holes

Now you're at the point where you can drill into the baseplate. To begin with, you can remove the frame and the rules and store them away - their work here is done.

Clamp the baseplate down to a table like in the Picture 1. When it's secure, drill the dimples out with a 3/8" drill bit, like in Picture 2. You should be able to use a hand-drill to do this - I did. Picture 3 shows the final baseplate.

Using a drill press is also an option. However, if you do this you must be totally sure that the baseplate is secure and that if it were to come loose the movement of the drill press wouldn't cause it to hit you, because that hurts.

Step 3: Drawing Out Your Steel to a Point

Grand! Now that the Trellis has its holes in it you can move on to working with the steel.

The first thing you want to do is draw your piece of steel bar out to a point, as shown in Picture 1. There are two ways that you could do this.

The first is through drawing it out (also known as forging a taper). Drawing out is one of the most basic techniques in blacksmithing, and it is simple enough to understand and do, but not simple to explain in writing, at least not for me. Rather than reading my confusing explanation, I would reccomend watching one of several wonderful tutorials on this available on Youtube. The following video is just one of many.


You don't have to have an anvil to do this either - a flat steel surface is all you need. You could use a piece of railroad track, a section of I-beam, a sledgehammer head fixed into a lump of concrete, or even a simple piece of steel block bought from a junkyard. Pictures 2-5 are all examples of makeshift anvils. Maximillian The Ruthless has a pretty great Instructable on makeshift anvils as well (https://www.instructables.com/id/Improvised-Anvils/).

If you prefer not to forge out a taper, you could try the second option. This is using an angle grinder or a file to make your point. To do this, you would simply fix your bar in a vise and shape it with your tool.

Either way you form your point, make sure to round out all of the sharp angles when you're finished up. From the point where the bar begins to narrow to the tip it should be rounded. Everything before the point where it begins to narrow should be square.

Step 4: Create Your First Bend

The first bend you create is going to end up being the ornamental curl on the end of the hook (Picture 1). Start by securely clamping the Trellis down onto a table as in Step 2.

To make this bend put two pegs into the holes at 2.3/B13 and 2.3/B14. There will be a small gap in between them. (Pictures 2 and 3).

Now heat up the tapered end of the steel bar until it's a bright orange color and place the tip of it into that gap (Picture 4). You'll be able to bend it into a curve quite simply and with little effort (Picture 5). Because the tapered end is thinner than the rest of the bar it will cool down faster, so take more than one heat to do this if you need to. You'll know that the bar needs to be reheated when it is only glowing a dull red (Picture 6).

You should end up with a curve like the one shown in Picture 6.

Step 5: Create the Crook

Next, you're going to use that bend you just made to help you to make the crook of the hook (Picture 1). But before you do that you need to shift the pegs around and add a disk.

Remove the pegs from 2.3/B13 and 2.3/B14. Place pegs into 1.6/A11, 1.9/A6, and 1.10/A8. Also place a 5cm or 2" disk onto the peg in 1.10/A8 (Picture 2). Reheat the tapered end of your steel bar, and ensure that about 20cm or 8" of the bar behind the curve is also heated to a bright orange (Picture 3).

Now quench the curved tip of your bar, but only just the tip (Picture 4). You want the curve to be cold and unyielding while the rest of the bar stays plastic. Hook the cooled tip onto the peg in 1.9/A6 and bend the steel bar around the disc in 1.10/A8 (Picture 5). Allow the peg in 1.6/A11 to stop the bend (Picture 6).

Step 6: Create the Eye

Now you'll be making the eye of the hook (Picture 1). This is the part that you'll use to fix it onto a wall.

Stick your bar back into your forge. This time you want to heat up the area that rests alongside the pin in 1.6/A11. If you need to, quench the crook but keep the rest hot, and fix it onto the disk as shown in Picture 2.

This is probably the trickiest part of the process. You need to wrap the steel bar around the pin in 1.6/A11 (Pictures 3). It may help to make this pin somewhat taller than the other ones.

You should end up with a bar shaped somewhat like the various examples in Pictures 4-7.

Step 7: Cut Off Any Excess Metal

In this step you'll be removing extra material. This can be a bit geometrically tricky the first time you do it so make sure to pay close attention to what you're cutting. Once you've done it one time it becomes much easier.

Clamp your piece of rod into a vise. I find that the manner shown in Picture 1 is the most appropriate.

Pictures 2 and 3 show where to put your hacksaw when cutting off excess material.

Hacksawing can be strange at first, so if this is your first time using one I'd recommend watching this video:


Once you've removed the extra metal and set it aside for another project later, you can take your hook out of the vise. It should look something like what is shown in Pictures 4 and 5.

Step 8: True the Eye Up

You'll have noticed that the eye is not quite lined up properly with the body of the hook. It's off the the side a bit, and the end of the steel is not quite touching the body (Picture 1). We want to close up that gap.

First, heat up the eye in your forge. Once it's a nice orange colour take it out and flatten the eye so that it's level with the body of the hook. Then hammer closed any gap (Picture 2).

Now heat up the whole hook. This is a good time to straighten out it out if it needs it. This is simple enough to do with the hammer and your steel block. You can even squish it straight by closing it into the vise while it's hot and squeezing it.

Now that your hook is straight, heat up the eye and a little bit of the body behind it to a good deep red colour . Once it's hot, place the eye onto the pin in 1.9/A6. Fix your tongs or visegrips onto the body of the hook, and pull it against the disk in 1.10/A8 until it looks fairly true to the body, and it looks like it wouldn't swing off-centre if you were to hang it on the wall (Picture 3). Pictures 4-5 show the hook before and after bending the eye true.

Step 9: Twirl the Curl

Ok, almost done! In this step you're going to be giving the tapered tip a more elegant appearance (Picture 1-2).

The process here is very simple. Heat up the tapered end a bit (Picture 3). Once it's an orange colour quench the crook but not the taper (Picture 4). Quenching the crook will remove the flexibility that comes with heat, ensuring that the crook won't deform as you tap the taper into a more elegant shape.

Hold your hammer very close to the head (Picture 4). As a general rule, the closer your hand is to the hammerhead the more control you'll have over where your blow lands, and during this step control is very important.

As you tap the taper with the hammer, a more aesthetic curl should begin to form. Lean into the direction that the taper was already curling and you should be able to get a nice shape with few problems (Picture 5). Alternatively, you could use a pair of needle nose pliers to make the curve more manually.

Step 10: Make the Twist

Alright, this is the last step before cleaning everything up!

First adjust two pairs of vicegrips so that they will easily grasp onto the eye of your hook, and set them down next to your vice. Then heat up the body of your hook to an ruddy-orange colour. When you take it out of the forge, quench the eye until it is hard and dark coloured again. This ensures that when you clamp your visegrips down onto it you won't make any marks on with the teeth.

Clamp your heated hook into the vise, and clamp the visegrips onto opposite sides of the eye (Picture 1). You're essentially using the visegrips to create a crank. Once they're clamped down, use them to make a twist in the body of the hook (Picture 2). Twist until it looks good to you and the eye is turned so that it will sit nicely on the wall (Picture 3).

Step 11: Cleaning It Up

And now you're done! The last thing to do is clean up the hook using a wire brush.

If you like, you can also heat it up in the forge until it is warm but not glowing and paint some beeswax onto it. The wax will turn the piece black (whenever you see steel that's been painted black, this is the look that they're trying to copy) while rustproofing it at the same time. Just make sure that you do this in a well-ventilated area, as the beeswax tends to smoke up.

At this point, you should have a grand hook, and the next one you make will be that much better.
If there are any improvements that I can make to this Instructable, please let me know in the comments!

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