Our friend Charlie McKinney hasn’t been here to offer his two cents on the renovation of BARn. But there have been many times since we started our work that we have thought of Charlie and what he might say or how he would be involved in what we are doing. In honor of our good friend and his love of the Ozarks, we have named our amber ale after McKinney Eddy on the McKinney family farm, not too far from the home, studio and blacksmith shop where Charlie and his wife, Marian made a home and living together for many years.
After we put the giant wood doors on the front of the BARn, Brian came up with the idea of forging our own handles for the BARn doors. If you’ve followed this blog since its inception, you know that there’s the usual way to go about doing a lot of things. There are plenty of steel handles available at home improvement stores. But that would be way too easy, and besides, it’s been done before. With much help from Marian, a little Charlie channeling and in his honor we had a BARn handle forging weekend.
Marian, Calum Learn, Brian, Andy and I spent Saturday and Sunday afternoon taking four 12 inch pieces of square steel and crafting them into four unique, forged handles for the BARn door.
Marian demonstrates the technique for heating the first piece.
When the piece was red hot, another hand vise was attached to the top, cool part of the piece and with brute strength, was turned to put a twist in the middle of the handles.
Andy helps twist this piece.
Brian and Marian square up the twist.
The pieces were then heated until yellow hot in the Whisper Daddy, a small, propane heated forge.
Brian slides a handle into the Whisper Daddy.
When the handles are hot enough, they are removed from the forge and placed under the power hammer to add additional design elements, taper the remainder of the handle and create a flat piece at each end of the handle so they can be attached to the doors. This did not happen in one heating and one use of the power hammer. The pieces were heated and worked, heated and worked. As the pieces would cool, we would have to reheat them to continue to work on them. Sometimes the anvil and hand hammer were used to fine tune the work on the pieces.
Brian places a piece under the power hammer.
Brian uses the anvil and a "Charlie" hammer for fine tuning.
Tapering the handle with the power hammer.
Hammering the ends of the handles.
Four handles at the end of day 1.
Marian removes the pieces from the tumbler which removes fire scale.
The ends of the handles are heated in the Whisper Daddy.
We decided to stamp the handles. The tops of two handles were stamped with the initials “PRBC”. The tops of the other two handles were stamped “2010” for the year we established Piney River Brewing Company. At the bottom of one handle, Marian allowed us to use the McKinney Forge “touchmark” since we collaborated with her and Charlie’s tools to make the pieces.
Joleen did the stamping in the hot metal.
Brian applies the McKinney Forge touchmark.
Andy does a little artistry of his own with a piece of soapstone and one of Charlie's anvils.
After stamping the ends of the handles, they had to be heated again to be bent around one of Charlie’s handcrafted jigs.
Brian and Calum bend a heated handle.
Four bent handles.
Flattening the end of the handle.
Brian uses one of Charlie's bending forks to add some final tweaks.
We took four handles and a lot of weekend satisfaction home this evening. Brian’s taking the handles to his shop at Grace Manufacturing where they will be cleaned up with a wire brush, and he’ll put holes in them to hang them on the doors.
We’ll show you the finished product in part two of this blog.
Much thanks to Calum for his assistance. Calum, a student at UMST in Rolla, is a long-time friend of Marian’s. His father taught Marian how to blacksmith, so Calum had plenty of skill and thought to bring to the project.
Thanks also to Marian for allowing us to play in the blacksmith shop for the weekend. It was so much fun! Check out Marian’s personal work at http://www.mckinneyforge.com.
If you want to see all of the photos from the weekend at the Forge, check out the photos on the Piney River Brewing Company Facebook page.
And stay tuned for Part II.