by: Jennifer Horn MABA and MHA member
Anatomy of a wine glass:
Bowl- is the upper section of the wine glass that holds the wine. Button- is the piece that joins the bowl with the stem. Stem- is the lower part of the wine glass that enables it to be held. Foot- is the base of the wine glass that enables it to be free standing. Materials Needed: flat stock, square stock, stem-less wine goblets, glue.
Tools Needed: something to cut steel with (chop saw, hand held cut off wheel, hot cut, etc.), something to decorate steel with (punches, stamps, letters, chisels, fuller, anvil devil) hammer, tongs, stud punch, wire brush, forge, anvil, swage block or similar tool-be creative, striker (optional), vise, welder (optional), safety glasses and ear protection.
Determine the steel you will need for the job. These are wine glasses … they should be relatively light, proportionate to the size of your hand, balanced in their own proportions and to that of the glass bowl. So , I have chosen 1/4″ x 2″ flat bar to become the foot of the glass. I choose 1/4″ x 1-1/2″ for the button attachment. The stems are 1/4″ square stock.
Cut materials to size. The flat bar for the foot is cut into 2 inch squares and the 1-1/2″ stock is cut into 1-1/2″ squares for the buttons. You need to have nice squares. The 1/4″ square stock for the stems will end up being 3 inch lengths for my wine glasses, but for now I’ll start with 15 inches of 1/4″ square stock. I don’t cut that right away since I like a longer piece of steel for handling while I work. I’ll lay out my stems on one long piece and cut them at the end of forging.
Decide the design. This is where you use your head …. And try new twists, or make new stamps for patterns. Challenge your thinking. The more you practice, learn and observe means the more ideas you will have and the more design possibilities arise.
Forge the buttons. Again, you get to visualize what you want the button to look like. For this project, I wanted the button to be similar to the size and shape of the bottom of the bowl. I want the bowl to be in the center of the button and have a similar radius. I could have used a grinder and just removed the corners to create a round button, but I had more time and energy and wanted to challenge myself, so I forged the buttons into circles. This is a little tricky because you are actually upsetting the corners back into the steel and the area you hit with your hammer will get thick. Keep forging, round and round as you go. In order to do this, hold the square on the anvil so that it is in a diamond orientation. Striking the comer with the hammer will begin to flatten the top and the anvil will begin to flatten the bottom. Keep forging. Y ou actually will be turning a square into an octagon. Then the octagon into a hexadecagon (sixteen sided shape), and so on until there are no flat sides or points at which time it has become a circle. Continue to flatten your piece and maintain steel stock dimensions. Move your tong hand up and down rolling the piece on the anvil and continue striking with you hammer, always thinking about round and always hitting where there is a point. When you have solid contact between the hammer and the metal and the metal and the anvil .. something is happening in both places. This is forging. Now is also a good time to put a little bevel on the outer edge of the button. In order to do that, use your hammer to knock the edge of the circle back into itself. Your hammer blows will be towards the mass of the metal.
Create the holes in the buttons where the stem will be inserted. I used two different size farrier stud punches, 5/16 and 3/8.
Stud punches are used for making holes in horseshoes where traction devices can be inserted. If you don’t have stud punches, you can use anything that will make a round hole or you can drill holes. I like the stud punch method because it helps me advance my skills as a farrier. This is a good time for me to practice making holes without messing up a bunch of horseshoes. I find it is actually faster than drilling. Stud punches work much the same as nail punches in regards to steel displacement and slug removal. Find the center of the button do this with a measuring tool or eyeball, mark it with a center punch. Then coming out of the fire hot, place the stud punch on the center dot and give one good solid blow. This should set the tool, but always double check and make sure the punch didn’t jump or bounce off mark. Then, continue to give a few more solid blows to the punch until you feel it really come solid. That’s when you know you have bottomed out on the steel. Pull the punch out and quickly cool your tool! Flip the button over and flatten the piece again. You will be able to see the circle of the punch on the back side and by now the steel will be cooling down in temperature to a black heat. Keep moving… you want to place your stud punch right in the center of the backside where you can see the circle and drive the punch in the opposite direction shearing the little round disk out of the hole. Sometimes you have to flip the steel over and push it back out the other direction. This takes practice and I like practicing on these projects. These first holes are made with the smaller of the two stud punches. I then use the large stud punch to create a countersink hole. It will create a little material displacement, but don’t worry, you’re still going to hit it some more! Make sure that you put the countersink hole on the surface that will be against the bowl. Last step for the buttons is to give them a concave shape. I’m fortunate to have a swage block. A swage block is a large hunk of steel with various shapes, sizes and bowls around all the surfaces designed for forging.
If you don’t have a swage block, make a little block of your own that you can drop in your hardy hole or you can adapt a chunk of wood (hardwood would be good). Place the button with the bowl side up into your round swage and use a top tool to drive the button into the shape of the bowl. I used a ball pien hammer for a top tool. Now, wire brush the heck out of the buttons and set them aside.
This might be a good time for me to mention a few things about striking tools. Whenever I hit another tool like a stud punch, I use the round side of my hammer. No matter what angle or direction my hammer comes in contact with the punch, there will be one spot where the force will be concentrated and less opportunity for my hammer to ricochet off with an ineffective blow. Also, keep your forging posture in mind, work in front of yourself and use your tools in line with each other, i.e. handles and/or reins parallel with each other.
Forge the foot of each glass. Again, get creative. I like to make different designs for each glass. You could make them all the same, depends on the look you are after. I used a straight hot cut to create lines in one foot. While I move the hot cut along the steel, I am constantly looking at the edge of the tool that will be creating the advancing line and looking ahead of where that line is going. I work in the direction towards myself where I have the best view and the tool does not become an obstacle for me to look around. I had a concrete bit of some sort in my shop that I picked up at a garage sale for $1 that has a nice star shape to it. I just drove that into the steel foot as well for a little decoration. Around the edge of the steel, I used a cross pien hammer with blows side by side to each other to texture the edge.
Another foot was created by beveling the edge of the square foot and defining the bevel with the hot cut line. I stamped a little daisy flower in the corners for decoration and one tiny heart. These are just simple stamps I bought on- line through a web site for craft jewelry. I hold them with my tongs because they are small and it burns my hand.
F or another foot I rounded off the corners as I did with the buttons, then I beveled the edge as well. Here is an example of combining different ideas and creating different looks. I then textured the flat surface of the foot with a home made texturing tool. The texturing tool is a little trick I read in an artistic blacksmithing article. The article suggested picking up old hammers, again at garage sales, and modifying the faces of them to create different textures. You can either swing the hammer or use it as a striking tool. Please keep in mind the different types of tool steel and the different dangers involved in changing their properties. Always wear safety glasses and be careful! The last foot in this set is what I call a Bliss flower design. It’s called that because of a very talented young blacksmith named Derrick Bliss who taught me how to build this design. It has become one of my favorites and I use it a lot in many different projects.
With a forging heat, the first step in creating the Bliss flower is to center the edge of the foot blank on top of an anvil devil. Strike the foot blank driving the steel over the anvil devil, creating a v shaped notch. Most farriers know what an anvil devil is, but in case you don’t, it is a piece of triangular shaped hard steel bar that we set on top of the anvil for cutting or marking steel. Do this on all four sides and then forge the piece flat again. I also beveled the edges and then used my hot cut to score lines across from one notch to the opposite side in all directions. Then mark partial lines from comer to comer in all four direction. Add a few extra lines for added decorations. Don’t forget to use your touchmark on the bottom of the feet, if you are proud of the work.
Now, it’s time to practice stud punching again. Just as you did with the buttons, punch holes in each foot. This time the counter sinking will be on the bottom of the foot, or side facing the table surface.
Design and layout the stems. Again, be creative and try stuff. Beginning with my 15″ piece of 1/4″ square stock I marked off four separate sections, each 3″ in length with one inch separating each stem segment.
I used four different styles of twists to decorate my stems. I will describe them. First, one of my favorite looks is the ribbon twist. This is created by running two lines with your hot cut or chisel. The lines will be as near the comer of the stock as possible, one on one side and the other on the other side of the same face. Mark the opposite face in the same manner as well.
This is a great time to practice developing our eye and learning to see distances and parallel lines in steel. Do nothing to the alternate sides. Bring the steel to a nice even heat this is important to get an even twist and design. Prepare your vise to be open just wider than the 1/4″ and have your 1/4 tongs ready as well. Bring the hot material to the vise and quickly tighten the steel in the vise. Make sure that you place the design area just outside the jaws of the vise. Use your tongs perpendicular to the stock to hold the steel and twist the stock. Pay careful attention to the orientation of the tongs to the vise. Count how many time twist you create. When you do this, there seems to be lots of scale that falls off, be careful and wear safety glasses. Use your wire brush and you should feel a smile come across your face.
The rope twist is pretty straight forward and simple. Mark the stock with a hot cut or chisel, this time right down the center of all four faces of the steel. Again, a great exercise in developing your eye and parallel lines. Same as the prior twist, prepare your heat, prepare your vise, and then twist your stock the same number of revolutions to create consistency in the stems. The area that changes is the area between the two points of contact. In the case of twists, the area that will change will be the area between the vise and the tongs, so pay attention to that.
Another stem, the eight corner twist, was created by forging the square stock into an octagon shape. This is created by working the corners to flat surfaces and creating an additional faces to the steel. Keep in mind the earlier lesson of the hammer forging the top surface and the anvil forging the bottom surface. Then twist the material in the same manner as previously described for the other stems.
The last one is the most difficult to accomplish of the four I’ve described, it’s the Pineapple twist. Begin as you did with the rope twist. In fact, complete the rope twist and then proceed with these instructions. Forge the faces of the rope twist back to flat. Yes, you’ smash all the work you just did and the faces will have lines, across them and the edges will not be crisp, but somewhat rolled and twisted. This is what you want. Trust me. Now use your hot cut to mark lines down the center of the faces again, as you just did for the first rope twist. Bring the bar to an even heat, run to your vise, tighten the stock, and untwist the stock (-important-) HALF as much as you twisted it to begin with. Taadaa! Feel the smile!
Clean the elements. Wire brush the heck out of everything and cut your stems into individual pieces. N ow is a good time to forge, grind, or rasp the ends of each stem on both ends to fit into the holes you created on the buttons and feet. I prefer mine to be snug enough that I drive them together with my hammer carefully.
Assembly & Finish. You can use the stems like tenons, upsetting the material into the countersunk hole riveting the pieces together or simply plug weld them together which, admittedly, is what I did. Although it lacks the skill of the traditional method it saves time. It is important that you rasp or sand the buttons to create a flat surface that will contact evenly around the base of the bowl. Lightly sand the surface of the glass bowl where the glue will be applied to create a good bonding area. Try to do it where the button will hide the glue and any sanding marks. Following directions apply high quality glue that will bond steel and glass. Glue the bowls to the newly forged and assembled stems. Fill the bowl with water so that you can use the water as a level to make sure you get the bowls on straight.
Apply your desired finish. There are lots of choices of finishes. This set is finished with an indoor acrylic floor polish, “Brite with Future Polish”. Brush it on being careful not to create bubbles and let it dry or you can blow it dry with your air compressor.
Test. When everything is dry and set. .. test with wine! And feel the smile that goes along with the gratification of your accomplishment.
- Try using a block of wood and a wood or leather mallet to straighten any pieces after the twisting so as not to leave hammer marks or destroy designs.
- Use the vise jaws to straighten a piece by squeezing the steel between the jaws.
- Use water as your friend when trying to control heated sections.
- Using a striker will prevent bending over repeatedly to pick stuff off the ground when it jumps off the anvil.
- By the way, if it jumps off the anvil and bounces a lot, it’s probably too cold to hit or you are not making solid contact between steel and the anvil.
- Wash with care, hand washing and drying immediately.
I have a good friend, highly respected Blacksmith and retired Farrier, Les Armstrong from Tamworth, England who has complemented me on this project. One area that I could have improved greatly on would be the choice of materials, in a true blacksmithing competition, my choice of materials would not have received many points. Les suggested I forge them from stainless steel. I have never forged stainless steel, but would like to try!
If anyone can share with me information about forging stainless steel, please contact me at (906) 632-3041 or Jhorn@lighthouse.net