Tag Archives: forge

Forging Ahead with Props

Stormbreaker – Avengers: Infinity War – MAN AT ARMS: REFORGED – If you’ve seen the new Avengers film, you know that Thor gets a pretty awesome new axe. And if you watch “Man at Arms”, you know they forge famous pop culture weapons from real steel. So buckle up as the team at Baltimore Knife Company fabricates this mythological axe/hammer combo fit for a god.

Hong Kong Court Convicts Props Master for Possession of Fake Cash – A judge in Hong Kong has convicted two film crew members for possession of fake cash from a film. Though the bills were clearly labeled as film props, and were not even attempted to be used as real currency, the crew members were still given prison sentences. This is a chilling verdict for members of the Hong Kong film industry, which is seeing more and more interference from the Chinese government.

“Costume-making Is Dying. We Can’t Get the Skills.” – The head of costumes at the Royal Opera House in London is finding it hard to staff her shop with skilled artisans. I have heard similar rumblings in the world of props. Despite the rise in hobbyist prop makers, actual professional positions are getting harder to fill. Do we, as an industry, have an obligation to train the next generation of prop artisans?

An Award For The Best Prop? – Aurelie Gandilhon asks why there is no category in any of the major performing arts awards for best prop.

New Behind The Scenes Look At The Art And Practical Effects Of ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’! – Check out all these photos and video of the animatronic dinosaurs used in the new Jurassic World films. Even though they do a lot of CGI replacement for the final film, they still build full-scale dinosaurs for filming.

Forging the Sword from the Hobbit

I’ve pointed out Tony Swatton’s video series in the past; he is a blacksmith for film, television and theatre, and in this short series, he recreates famous weapons from films, video games and other pop culture using real blacksmith and metal-working techniques. If you haven’t seen it yet, this is a great one to start with: Swatton forges the sword “Sting” used by Bilbo in The Hobbit.

Blacksmithing

This past Saturday, I headed out to Efland, NC, where Dick Snow was teaching blacksmithing. It was another meeting with the Alamance Makers Guild (the same group that visited Roy Underhill’s shop last week). I’ve done various metalworking projects before, but never straight-up blacksmithing.

Dick tends the fire
Dick tends the fire

Dick had his coal forge fired up that morning. He also has a propane forge. He was telling us that while a propane forge does not need tending like a coal forge, a coal forge can get much hotter. You need that extra heat if you ever want to forge weld. We weren’t doing any of that, though; our lesson that day was making nails.

Cutting the rod on a hot-cut hardy
Cutting the rod on a hot-cut hardy

Dick teaches nail-making to new blacksmithers because it encompasses three of the basic techniques used in almost every blacksmithing project; drawing the steel out into a taper, cutting it to length and hammering it to give it a head. In the photograph above, you can see him cutting a red-hot rod on a hot-cut hardy. Sometimes called just the “hardy”, this tool is basically a wide cold chisel that sits in the anvil’s hardy hole. The tool sitting on the left of the anvil is the nail header. Because the nail is tapered, it only fits through that square hole to a certain point. You cut the rod a little above that point, then smash it down with the hammer into a mushroom-shaped head.

Dick teaches Ben proper hammer technique
Dick teaches Ben proper hammer technique

I would say the trickiest part of blacksmithing is all of it. I usually think of metal as the material you use for precision machining, and other materials are used for more organic and artistic construction. Blacksmithing, on the other hand, is where metal is used like a fluid, sculptural material. Even something as simple as making a nail is difficult to do consistently, at least at the beginning. I made about 6 or 8 nails, and none of them matched each other.

Refreshing the fire
Refreshing the fire

I’ve often thought it would be cool to use hand-forged nails in the furniture I build. You can find plenty of plans to make your own forges online, all the way down to a tiny brick-sized forge which can only make nails.

Hammering out a taper
Hammering out a taper