These gates are made entirely of a very fine grained wrought iron, which allows for very sensitive forging, especially of the delicate grape leaves. Wrought iron can be worked effectively over a greater heat range than mild steel, which means you can start very hot, and finish relatively cold. Because grape vines typically include leaves of many sizes, this project incorporated many different sizes of initial stock. This slide sequence begins with 5/8” square bar stock.
First the tip of the bar is pointed with both power hammer and hand hammer at anvil. Depending on the size of the finished leaf desired, a mark is made accurately at a specific distance from the tip of the bar, in this case 2 ½”. At that mark, using fullering dies in a thirty five pound air hammer, the stem of the leaf is roughed out. Forging proceeds to a cross section of 3/16”, after which the square section is made to an octagon. The mass for the leaf blade is now isolated, and the square section is tapered slightly to the tip. That mass is flattened to about one half it’s original thickness, and then carefully fullered on edge to establish the general mass positions for what will become the lobes of the leaf. At this point you can see that the blank has lengthened considerably to about four inches.
Now, working on the flat under the gentle drawing dies of a 130 pound air hammer, the leaf is broadened on each side, leaving a central vein for structure and symmetry. Once the lobes have expanded out some, back to the small hammer with more acute fullering dies to precisely draw and thin each lobe.
At this point the form is worked intentionally out of symmetry to add gesture to the leaf. After roughing the shape under the power hammer, a softly radiused cross pein hammer is used to finalize the form and thickness, which can be seen also lengthens the entire leaf. Finish forming is done with a rawhide mallet over a ball stake, and the stem is cut from the bar, which is now pointed and ready to begin the next leaf. Please check out ther detail photos of the finished gate to see the final result.