by Roy Bloom, CJF
Let’s start with a few basic ideas on clips.
- In order for a clip to be effective it must have a stout base and taper to the tip.
- A rule of thumb; the clip should be proportionate to the stock. The width and height of the clip should be approximately the same as the width of the stock. This is not always true or necessary but it is a good target.
- The indentation made when producing the material for the clip should not go past the foot surface edge of the shoe.
The first step in drawing any clip is the production of the material for the clip, or making the bubble. There are a lot of different tools and methods to make the bubble, all a matter of personal preference. Ball peins, cross peins, custom ball peins or bobpunches are the most common. I’ve chosen a custom ball pein (clipping hammer) to use for this article.
The area chosen for the clip should be held over the edge of the anvil. There should be a small radius on the edge you choose, 1/8” or less, but be sure it is not a sharp edge. Hold the shoe at an angle over this edge with about 3/16” hanging over. If you hang less, you will not get enough material to draw the clip. If you hang more you will be getting too far into the branch and a lot of distortion to the branch or nail holes will result.
These photos were taken during a demonstration using a lead shoe. The lead is a good teaching device and acts very similar to hot steel.
Aim your hammer at the edge of the anvil and strike the shoe. Don’t glance the blow down the side of the anvil. This pulls the indentation too far down. Try to continue striking into the edge. Hammer control is necessary to achieve a clean indentation. If you hammer like lightning and never strike the same place twice, your shoe and indentation will look like some sort of storm took place. Continue the blows until the desired bubble is created. Your practice will indicate to you how much bubble you need for the clip you’re trying to draw.
Once you have your bubble, place the shoe on the anvil with the foot surface up and put the clip towards you. Hammer around the bubble to flatten the shoe. Having the bubble towards you allows you more control because you are using the area of the hammer face nearest you.
You are now ready to draw the clip, using the edge of the anvil. Position yourself at the heel of the anvil looking towards the horn. Position the shoe parallel with the edge and flat against the side of the anvil. The bubble area should be struck once or twice with the hammer parallel with the anvil face to set the clip. Then hold your hammer at a 45 degree angle so that the face is aiming at the edge. As the clip area is struck, the shoe is rotated away. This method leaves the face of the clip smooth and eliminates time cleaning up the outside surface of the clip.
Place the shoe on the anvil face and flatten. Flip the shoe and place the clip in the hardy hole. Pull the clip into the corner of the hardy hole and strike the shoe flat. Push the clip across to the opposite corner and strike a flat blow again. This sets your clip base.
Moving to the horn for your next step, place the shoe so that the area under the clip is solid against the horn and work the edge of the shoe. Make sure that the area you are working is always solid against the horn so that you don’t change the shape of the shoe. The final step would be to set the clip at the approximate angle of the hoof wall. This will make fitting much easier. You can dress the clip with a file or belt sander if you feel it necessary but your practice and hammer control will eventually minimize the need for any extra dressing of the clip.