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Excerpt from
Issue #198 July 2007


Have you ever had to drill a centered hole in the end of a shaft without the use of a lathe? If you’re like me, it probably took about three trial and error attempts to get it “close” using a drill press. I was presented with this challenge again recently when I had to drill a shaft for a taper bit, part of a hand-crank hole tapering machine I needed. This time I concentrated on setting up everything perfectly square, and used a dial caliper to check my progress. (The price of these calipers have come down significantly and it’s easy to find a good one for about $20). If you don’t own a lathe or mill, the drill press is your next best choice for limited machine work. It just takes a little more time and patience to make it work.

n the design process, one works through the general outline of a project first, getting the concept of "the box it fits in" before adding too many details. In the case of this corner detail, it is a part of a much bigger project you'll see in future issues of the Blacksmith's Journal. I wanted a corner that would be very strong and bold in appearance, but actually quite simple to make. It has to fit with the other details of the design to make the whole piece balance. When designing, I will many times make full size forging details so I will know in advance how much time I will actually spend doing the forging processes. It's a time to take notes on how much the iron will draw or upset and how the proportions of the chosen materials relate to one another. Will you need to use 3/8" material or 1/4"? All you questions can usually be answered if you'll make full scale pieces. When the design process is done, so are several pieces of good ironwork details that you will be able to hang on your shop walls and use for future reference.