Duck heads by Jock Dempsey Duck, Goose and Swan Heads

Demonstration by Jock Dempsey

December 26, 2001

Figure 3
Click for Detail
Duck heads are a popular motif for fire tool handles and other decorative ironwork. Duck, geese and swans are all similar enough to say they are the same when rendered in iron. If you want to try to make different types then you will need to study the subject matter closely.

The shape of these water fowl heads is purely sculptural and is relativly easy to forge.

Figure 2
These andirons were forged from 1" (25mm) square bar stock. I have seen duck heads forged on bar as small as 1/4" (6mm).

Figure 5
Starting at the end of the bar forge a one sided taper the same width as the bar or a little narrower.

Then taper the top corners as shown to make the head a little taller then the bar.

Figure 6
Then radius the area between the bird's bill and head. Use the anvil horn or a swage.

Figure 7
Once the perpendicular axis is radiused work the corners back as shown to start a radius on the front portion of the bird's head.

Figure 8
Then radius the top of the head in one axis cleaning up the lines

Figure 9
Radius the front corners of the bill and dress to the same width as the head. Be careful not to make the bill too thin as we are going to saw the mouth slit.

Figure 10
After the front portion of the head is forged then taper the neck behind the head. Previous forging has made the head a little narrower than the bar and a bit taller. At the corner the cross section of the neck should be the same height and width (square).

Figure 11

Figure 12
Now dress the corners of the head and neck with the hammer making chamfers as shown, then making round and rasping if necessary. The bill should almost be rectangular in section then flat on the botton where it blends into the head.

Figure 13
Now we make the nostrils and eyes. The nostrils are made as dents made with a large cape chisle or the end of round punch or bar with fairly sharp edges.

Figure 14
The eyes are each punched with an eye punch. Details about making the punch is in our iForge demo #65 on Matrix Punches Figures 15 - 18. I followed the eye punch with the corner of a cold chisle to make some extra slope at the back.

Figure 15
When all else is done saw the mouth slit. After sawing bent the lower bill down a little. On smaller heads you may use a hot slitter (chisle) or just incise lines around the edge of the bill to indicate the seperation.

Figure 16
When done you take a good heat and bend the neck as needed.

The dashed line shows the difference between a common duck and a "wood duck" that has a taller head and a little top feather on the back of the head.

Figure 17
If making these heads in round or small bar stock start with an upset then push material back into the head when making the bill fillet followed by tapering the neck. Then proceed as above.

Figure 18

Figure 19
I've seen duck heads used for handles, fire set tools, hooks and other objects.
Ducks in a Pond firelplace. Copyright 2001 Jock Dempsey
Figure 4
Click for detail
One of the designs from my sketch book was a free standing fire place with a series of these for "andirons". I called it "Ducks in a a Pond".

(Click for full size drawing)

Comments, Questions?
About what dia. eye punch for piece made from 1" stock?
Steve C
very nice! thanks
I like them I amd thinking they would look good on feet for a candlestick.
good demo jock
Theyre kinda charming Guru...Thanks!
Question is, how do you punch the second eye without flattening the first?
Very nice piece of work Jock.
Leah, the end was about 1/4" by 5/16" and produced a hemispherical eye.
Punching the eyes on the second side is not a problem as the eyes are inset.
Nice demo, I like your sketch of the fireplace,would look real neat
The Ducks in a Pond fireplace is just waiting for a customer!
eal nice got some great ideas
Nice demo Guru!
Guru, does that fireplace have a smoke shelf and a huge stack?
Pete. Just a big stack (12" dia at least). I was going to look at some commercial versions before building it.

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