Cap rail, just the right size

Going from a sketch to a final design is one kind of leap, taking the design in to 3 dimensions is another little journey of it’s own. Even though I imagine the shapes in 3d as I draw them, the heft and mass of steel is nice to explore.

Deciding on the correct size of bar stock to forge the cap rail from for my next railing, and also the newel post, led me to multiple test forgings in the last few days.


Above are samples of cap rail, sized to one heat length in the gas forge. The flat bar is hammered in to a die that makes the chamfered edge. I tried 2in wide bar first, both 1/2 in and 3/4 in thick, it was too wide. We had some 1/2 x 1-1/2 in flat bar in the shop so I tried that, too wimpy. I forged out some 3/4 x 1-1/2 to try, close, but still too little. I called my steel supplier and checked if 1-3/4in wide hot rolled flat bar might be available – they looked at me kind of funny and then called the steel mill – yes! In 1/2 or 3/4 in thick! Oh my! How delicious. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to use a chunky piece of steel.

So, before ordering the bar lengths I would need for this project, I had more test forging to do. I forged two bars to the right size, ran them through the die and nearly hit the roof at the perfection of the forged out 3/4 x 1-3/4. Oh my, I felt just like Goldilocks. That bar size squishes out to just about 2in wide with the chamfered edge and still feels chunky under your hand, just perfect.