This short sequence documents the hot repousse work done to create the stylized deer forms used in the gates portrayed in the gate section of this site.
The technique uses fairly simple tools in accurate alignment to create a bold topography that is then manipulated to a simple bas relief. The sheet material used in this case is 3/16” thick mild steel plate. After careful layout according to full scale drawings, lines are set into the steel with various butcher tools driven both by hand and power hammer. This allows the intended lines to be not only easily seen, but also easily “felt” when the hot work is done. Once the butcher layout is completed, manageable areas for the hot work are heated, either in the forge or with an oxy-propane rosebud torch.
The core of this technique lies in the conceiving of the steps in the surface topography required, and in the special tooling designed and used to accomplish them. Top and bottom tools are forged to deliver slightly offset forces to create the steps, and are specific to the thickness of the material being worked, as well as to the types of lines (straight or curved) to be made. The tools are held in alignment by a specially constructed deep C shaped tool holder. This framework can be bolted to a solid block and the tools driven by hand, as seen in the shots showing the rough forging of the deer’s head. For longer runs on big sheet is isn’t possible to hold both the sheet and the hammer, and the work is too large and hot to have your hands above the work area. In this case the entire C frame is mounted in an old Chicago Pneumatic 80X stationary riveting hammer adapted for the purpose. The same basic idea could be applied to other machines.
Once the basic step topography is accomplished with the various offset tools, hand set tools are used to refine the lines and offsets, as well as planish out the original tool marks. Final shaping is done with a rawhide mallet or steel hammers over wood blocks.
The result of this work is to have a nice relief form that is durable and self supporting for use in gates or other architectural work. All with simple tools and no special molds or backing materials.