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20 gauge shackles

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An Idea came to me reading on Keith's build log here regarding the flattening of the ends of fine gauge wire.


By melting the end of the wire




we also create an annealed ball which can be flattened with a pair of smooth pliers






A watchmakers pivot drill was then used to drill the hole by hand the hole is .022"




Drilling the holes was the hardes part of this project.





I am pleased with the final outcome but this will need a little practice to finesse the shape of them for further use.






This method will most likely work with some heavier gauge wire which will eliminate having to use the lathe to create the ball ends.





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Nice work on your shackle, tricky way using heat to form a ball to upset the ends of the body creating more material where needed on the ends..

I have seen shackles made using flat iron. Made by heating one end in the forge and driving a hole through it with a hole punch, then heating the proper place again on the forge and driving the same hole punch through, then after reheating, bending it to the u shape they usually are, all are not u shaped. I have seen  some that were reheated after forming and hole alignment adjustments done go back into the forge and having the bottom of the u rolled outward. A bunch of them around here, some made using the forge and anvil and others that came with early equipment and wagons that were punched out of sheet. Throw this out, not as criticism but maybe someone can use for their project. Most shackles pins are usually not much smaller in diameter than the body of the shackle, the flat type seem to use smaller pins, some with collars. Nice work on your shackle.


Edited by jud
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Thanks for the likes

Bob Thanks it has taken a while to learn to be gentle with the torch

This is the torch set up that I have, it just uses acetylene and air is entrained through the handle, the only adjustment needed is the gas.

John thanks and yes do give it a try I am interested in how well it works with different torches I did an experiment this evening to see what the best tip is for different diameter wire.


I set them all up on the 1/4 inch steel bar to act as a heat sink, I had to be very careful not to blow them off with the torch. Originally I had set a second bar on top but it worked far to well as a heat sink, and I did not want it to work in reverse by getting too hot. I used the #1 tip in the torch for the .020" the .028" and the .032" I used the #3 tip for the .062" rod




the .020" showing the flattening on one of the set I used the same blue pliers as before to squeeze the end flat.










As you can see it will take a little practice to get the flattening sorted to be consistent, I will likely use the small vise and use a mark on the rod.

I was not up to drilling the holes tonight so will tackle them in the morning.




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Try holding your steel wire in a vice or vice grips that you don't mind getting black and heat the upper end which is close to the holder with your torch, when a yellow-oringe color tap the end with a small hammer, it's called upsetting in blacksmith language, ( Upsetting is the process of making metal thicker in one dimension through shortening in the other. One form is to heat the end of a rod and then hammer on it as one would drive a nail: the rod gets shorter, and the hot part widens. An alternative to hammering on the hot end is to place the hot end on the anvil and hammer on the cold end.). You can find a lot about it on line. The blacksmith neither burns or melt the material he is working with.


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Jud I understand the principles of forging techniques with iron and steel. I am not using steel for these very small shackles but Brass. The process you outline works very well on larger scale pieces of metal but is very difficult to achieve with 20 gauge brass wire, in fact the grip needed to hold the brass and either tap on the "cold" is enough to deform the brass in the first tap and also begins to work harden it at the same time, whereas by holding the brass wire in a vertical position which I did this morning the results are a consistent capillary type balling of the end using a simple soldering torch with propane or butane, all in one operation in seconds.


I also found it works best if the metal is cold so after each end is balled then I quench it in cold water before rotating it to ball the opposite end. 


the first pic shows .028 diameter brass balled at both ends in the spring tweezers




This is the torch I used for this mornings test it is a pencil flame I used the only bottle I had around the shop.




the results for the balling were quite consistent and with a little practice this would become quite a fast way to accomplist this task




The fine copper was more difficult to do than the brass, in all likelyhood because the alloy of copper zinc and tin melts at a lower temp than the pure copper but it is only a guess on my part based on empirical results.



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Michal, my comments were not aimed at you but at those who were saying they couldn't create the ball. I was under the impression you were using steel, although some of your photo's looked like it was brass. I must have had jay's need for steel wire imbedded..


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Thankfully, my J Class at 1:28 won't be requiring components of this size - and if at any point it's determined that they are needed, well, how does one put this politely? A little accuracy will be missing!!



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  • 3 months later...

Hi Guys,


I read this post and tried to replicate it with brass rods of various gauges using a Bernzomaticatic torch with out much success. Acetylene is way outside of my comfort level and budget. I'm a real neophyte when it comes to working metal at any scale. I was able to achieve a level of success using this technique.


By far and away the biggest problem I faced was making the with flattened ends with overall lengths of equal size. My solution was to cut the rod to length first. I then annealed an end and put it in a vice grip to squeeze it flat. I annealed it again and then put it into a second vice grip set even tighter. I annealed it one more time and smacked it with a center punch with the end ground flat. I repeated on the other end, drilled the holes, annealed the piece one more time and bent to shape. I takes a lot of steps but it worked.




Edited by Perls
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