As we work our way through the basic techniques, the next skill set you need to develop (once you’ve got the hang of drawing out) is spreading. This is the process of taking the original stock and, by heat and hammer, making it wider and thinner; spreading it out.

If we use the analogy of modeling clay, you know that if you apply pressure to a piece of clay with thumb and forefinger, the clay squirts out in all directions. The same is true of the hot iron when the pressure of a hammer blow against the iron and anvil is applied. Depending on what you are planning to make, the process of spreading can be applied quite differently.

For example, if you are spreading the top of a thumbnail hook, to receive a hot punch hole, you would use the face of the hammer on the flat face of the anvil to simply squash the end of the rod flat. You can gain width by working from the center out to either edge of the flat area and I encourage you to practice this with different sizes of stock to see how big an area you can create.

If you were wanting to create a wide fan-shaped terminal to create a fishtail scroll, your initial blows would be with the face of the hammer, but you would then switch to the cross- or straight-peen hammer and work from the center out to either edge, moving the hot iron back and forth to fan the material out.

Again, try this with different sizes of stock to see how wide you can make your fan. It should taper out evenly and gracefully from the parent stock to the widest length at the terminal edge. Have fun with the process.

Blacksmithing is a journey, not a destination.

Happy smithing and God Bless.

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