This article is about the most basic process in forging, “drawing out”.
Drawing out is exactly what it sounds like; you are drawing the metal out of itself, making it longer and thinner.
It is important to remember that hot iron moves in the same way that a stiff clay moves. If you have ever played with plasticene or modeling clay, you know that you can pinch the clay between thumb and forefinger and cause it to move forward. This is the same thing that is happening between hammer and anvil. The more radical the pinch point – that is, sharper - the more movement of the iron. Since the hammer face is slightly rounded and the horn of the anvil is rounded, you will get more movement by drawing out on the horn than on the flat face of the anvil.
An even, more extreme movement may be achieved by working the iron over the edge of the anvil, but it will have to be hammered back smooth by rotating the red-hot iron under rapid light hammer blows on the face of the anvil. Working over the edge will leave deep indentations. This is an important skill to learn; one that you will use almost every you time make something at the forge.
For practice, take a piece of 1/2 inch or 5/8 inch steel, 6 inches long and see how long and thin you can draw it out. Practice smoothing it out ‘til you have a long graceful taper, ending in a needle sharp point.
As you are drawing out, it is easier to draw out square, then turn the piece 90 degrees as you work it.
It is easier to see your progress and the piece can be rounded out again by first hammering on the diagonals then rotating under light hammer blows.
God Bless and Happy Smithing!
For a visual example, watch the Forging A Drive Hook video also on this website.