Report on Tom Ryan’s Meet
At Koenig Iron L.I.C.

Report on the November 9th meeting at Koenig Iron Works in Long Island City, by Bruce Freeman

The meeting got underway at about 9:30 or 10:00. attendance was large, drawing from Long Island, other areas of New York State, and northern and central New Jersey. About thirty people attended, including a considerable number of professional smiths. Bill Gichner and a friend came the furthest, having left Maryland at 5 AM to attend.

Tom Ryan runs the architectural ironworks at Koenig Iron works, a very impressive workspace with equipment including a 100-ton hydraulic press, a Chambersburg self-contained air hammer, coal and natural gas forges, and crucible furnaces. Tom gave an introduction to the sort of work they produce. In the background was an impressive set of railings, including railings for a circular staircase.

Tom then gave a demonstration of blacksmithing, including forge welding and other operations and producing an elegant element that could be incorporated into architectural ironworking, a piece of furniture, or smaller projects.

From there he moved on to the making of a spring swage. He uses only mild steel for these swages. The pair of blocks were roughly 1.5" thick and 5" square, and were welded to a "spring" of half-inch round that was folded and rounded for the spring action. Having heated this to red, he inserted a master form of steel into this blank and hammered the blocks together under the air hammer, finishing off under the press. He then case-hardened the surfaces using the commercial material "Kasenit", quenching it quickly in cold water to harden the surfaces. Using a different such swage, he demonstrated its use to for putting an ornament on the center of a baluster, picket, or other element.

Tom also demonstrated pouring (casting) of aluminum, using molds that had been prepared ahead of time. He described how the master pattern had been made. When he broke open the flask, a nearly perfect reproduction of the original was revealed. He described the use of such elements in architectural metalwork, as a cost-effective method of reproducing existing hardware. The demonstrations were excellent. Any of the three parts of the demonstration could have easily filled an entire meeting.

The demonstrations were well planned and executed. Tom was a gracious host and he put a lot of effort into making it a successful meet. Many thanks to him for opening a commercial shop up to the NJBA and giving our members a feel for the scale work that is done there. We spent a lot on food and coffee that day but with the generous donations in the iron in the hat we covered the expenses for the day—L.B. Editor