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Picture of Forged Shelf Brackets

This Instructable will walk you through forging industrial style shelf brackets. I have this theory that if blacksmiths of a bygone era had access to abrasive chopsaws and MIG welders, they would have used them. So while I'm using some equipment that is nearly 100 years old, this isn't exactly a lesson in traditional techniques.

Feel free to comment, I like to talk about my projects.

Tools and materials shown here



  • Little Giant 50lb power hammer
  • DeWalt abrasive cutoff saw
  • Craftsman floor standing drill press
  • HF Mig welder
  • Antique Vulcan anvil
  • Craftsman mechanics hammer
  • Rounding hammer ( Hammer on Kayne & Sons )
  • Propane forge
  • Tongs
  • Parker vise
  • Locking C-clamp ( Clamp on Zoro )


  • 1-1/4" x 1/4" flat steel
  • 1" x 3/8" flat steel
  • 1/4" rivets
  • Chemical patina
  • Lacquer

Step 1: Cut the material to length

Picture of Cut the material to length

This write-up shows making a batch of 12 brackets, so there is a good bit of cutting involved. My metal comes from a local metal distributor who receives the stock in 16' pieces. 16' is too long to fit in my truck, it can't be stored on end in my shop, and it won't fit under my fume hood, so I have the distributor cut all of stock into 7' lengths.

When it comes time to mark the work piece, soapstone in a soapstone holder works great when things don't have to be accurate. Mark at 14", cut, repeat for 12 pieces.

Statisticians talk about accuracy and precision. If you want to make a pair of brackets precise, but don't care about accuracy, cut them both at the same time. They might come out precisely 13-31/32", but will both be almost precisely the same. For artistic work, the balance and symmetry is more important than getting an accurate 14" cut.

What will become a riveted and curved piece is cut with the ends at a 45-degree alternate angles. For the 90-degree cuts, the clamp on the saw isn't even necessary. Just hold them in place, and slice. The rotation of the saw will push the work piece against the fence.

But cutting at a 45-degree angle is a different story. At 45-degrees, the cutoff wheel wants to pull the work piece forward, and will wreck the angle on your cut. The little clamp built into the saw is nice, but because the screw is pushing at an angle, it doesn't hold very tight. For making 24 cuts like this, it is easier to use locking C-clamp to squeeze the clamp against the fence.

Do you like the action shot with the sparks flying? That was tricky. I had to cut with my left hand, and take photos with the other hand, until I managed to hold the camera still enough to get a cool effect.

Where did you get your anvil?
jbrauer (author)  ZiggyBaggins2 years ago

Anvil came from a guy on Craigslist, it took a while for one to come up, but I finally grabbed one.