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Commisioned Pennsic fire poker - Doug Ayen's Blacksmithing Blog [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Doug Ayen

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Commisioned Pennsic fire poker [Jul. 25th, 2005|03:19 pm]
Doug Ayen
[mood |accomplished]

A couple of weeks ago, a coworker asked me to make her a fire poker for Pennsic. One of the problems she'd been running into was at their campsite's firepit, where her friends told her she was going to set her dress on fire if she kept getting that close to move logs around.

Hence, the Pennsic Poker.

I started with 6' of 3/8" round steel rod. First, I made a loop on the end using about 8" of the steel. This formed the basic structure for the poking-end of the poker. I forge welded the loop closed then cut the loop in two about 1/3 of the way around the loop. This gave me the material for the long pointy bit and the shorter hook. I forged out those bits to give them the proper shape and pointedness, and started in on the shaft.

While I could have left the shaft plain, that would be boring. Instead I heated the shaft and hammered it enough to give me an octagonal cross section, then used the twisting wrench to give me a twist and counter-twist pattern of fairly tight twists, switching twisting directions about every 10". Using a wooden mallet, I straightened out the shaft and did the final adjustments, and was done with the metalworking.

As I wanted a wooden handle on this piece to give it a more finished look, as well as giving people a relatively insulated place to grip the poker, I glued up a few pieces of walnut to create a "T" shape, with the long skinny part about 1" square and the crossbar about 2" x 2" x 2".

I let the glue cure overnight, then this morning chucked it into the lathe and turned the handle. Pretty simple design, a straight, smooth handle about 18" long tipped by a simple finial. I like using the lathe, though somehow I'd managed to burn out the fuse on it, and had to make a quick trip to the hardware store to get another fuse. I sanded the handle to 400 grit on the lathe, applied a coat of wax and buffed it in, then repeated.

Final assembly was done by drilling a blind hole 6" deep into the handle (don't try this at home, unless you like drilling out the side of your handle). Long experience, a decent drill press, and the use of a square and a milling vice let me get the hole started using a standard 3/8 drill bit, then switched to an extension bit and drilled in the rest of the way. I did some finish sanding, added another coating of wax, then applied glue to the shaft and used a disposable brush to put a bit of glue in the hole, then mated the pieces together. As I used Grizzly Glue, a polyurethane glue of tremendous holding power and impressive staining ability, I now have dark brown stains on my hands which even scrubbing with mechanics soap and a pumice stone couldn't remove -- but that shaft is not coming out of the handle, ever. You'd have to break or burn off the handle to separate them now.

To highlight the twists, I gave the shaft a quick sanding to brighten up the raised bits, then gave the shaft and handle another coating of wax to help retard corrosion.

Overall, the piece is about 7' long, and my client seemed very happy with the results. It's always sad to part with a piece of my handiwork, but I think it's going to a good home.

Pics should be up late tonight, assuming I remember.

--doug
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: jennifoot
2005-07-25 01:59 pm (UTC)
Can't wait to see the pics! (or the item in person if it's for who I think it's for)
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[User Picture]From: alumiere
2005-07-25 03:34 pm (UTC)

yep - it's for us

you'll see it in camp in a short while ;)
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[User Picture]From: alumiere
2005-07-25 03:33 pm (UTC)
thank you - it is awesome, and i'll try to remember to take some pictures of it in use :)

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[User Picture]From: vvalkyri
2005-07-25 05:29 pm (UTC)
Wow. Sounds lovely.
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