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E-z grass snake.

This is just a fun sort of thing to make of no particular practical value.

You need about a 24-inch long piece of one-half inch construction reinforcing bar (aka rebar). It should be available in that size and length at most building supply outlets, If you have a choice between the ridges being just slanted or ones which are cross-hatched, go with the latter as the final effect will be much nicer.

Start by forging roughly about 1-1/2 inch of one end into a snake head shape. To flatten it sideways, use the cross peen of your forming hammer if you have one and then the hammer end to forge out the peen ridges. Remember, most poisonous snakes have triangular heads, while non-poisonous ones have more rounded heads. (Photo #1).

Next cool the head end and taper about 2 to 2-1/2 inches of the other end for the tail. To go from round stock to rounded taper the procedure is to first forge out the general taper desired into a square shape, then forge the corners to an eight-sided shape, then a 16-sided shape, then back to round. Remember here the tails on more poisonous species are short with a severe taper, while non-poisonous ones tend to be nicely long and tapered. (Photo #2)

(Old Boy Scout saying--roughly correct: Long and lean--it ain't mean. Short and fat--ain't where it's at.)

After you are satisfied with the head and tail, put curves in the bar stock. Remember there is no standard shape for the curves as they change repeatedly as the snake moves.

Shown are two bending forks for an anvil hardy hole. (photo 3) The one on the left is factory production while the one on the right is shop-made (and a whole lot cheaper!). Just find a short length of square bar sized for your hardy hole and weld on two short lengths of solid rod as shown, If you have Internet access you can find blacksmithing tools by going to and doing a search on the key word of "blacksmith." Many items available are not shown in the bid auction sections, but rather as buy-it-now auctions in eBay stores.

The forged out snake is shown on the shop floor. (Photo 4) It can be finished as desired. For example, the entire snake can be given a coat of dark green paint. Then the top of the ridges can be sanded or lightly wire brushed to remove the paint only on them. To prevent rusting of exposed metal, give the entire snake a coat of flat varnish. For eyes use drops of a suitable color nail polish. For a tongue, hammer out a length of copper electric wire, split one end and then glue it under the head.

This snake, and about 100 other projects, is contained in 101 Metal Projects for the Novice Blacksmith by A. A. Cannella. It is available directly from him for $29.00 postpaid from 1310 Walter Reed Rd., Cookeville, TN 38501. TWO nice aspects of this book are the well-illustrated instructions and how to build the tooling needed for each project.

Forging lesson

Hammer size and control: For most people a 2-1/2 pound blacksmith cross peen forging hammer is best. Used heavily it can act as a heavier one. Used lightly it can act as a lighter one. It is better to learn proper hammer techniques with a single hammer than using several hammer weights. For heavy forging, use the shoulder; for medium forging use the elbow and for light forging use the wrist. Always hold the elbow into the body to prevent inflammation of the tendons/ligaments in it. Otherwise you may end up with "Blacksmith Elbow" which, much like Tennis Elbow, takes about six months of very limited use to get over.



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Title Annotation:The smithy
Author:Scharabok, Ken
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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