Twisting Tools and Twists

One way to make a decorative accent is to twist the metal. Basically, you heat the section of metal to be twisted, clamp one end in a vise, grab the other end with a twisting wrench, and twist. Direction is your discretion, except where the twist has to be made in both directions and then any decision is removed from consideration.

Some twists can also be done cold, but what fun is that.

One excellent source of information is the Old Dominion Blacksmith Association's article on twisting:  The Twist Class

Manual Twisting Machine
latern twisting machine

Lantern Twisting Machine

Automatic Twisting Machine

Types of Twists

There are a multitude of different twists and new ones being developed occasionally. Some of the more common are:

Stages of a Pineapple Twist

Stages of a Basket Twist
braid twist

Braid Twist
rope twist

Rope Twist
twisted rope twist

Twisted Rope Twist also called Corn-on-the-Cob Twist

stages of a stair twist

Stages of a stair twist (and reward in the upper right)
completed stair twist

Completed stair twist

Stair twist (aka Rubik/Cube twist) from the
Central Virginia Blacksmith Guild

More twists from the net (

Barley Sugar Twist

Incised square twist

Here is a tough one. Most blacksmiths are fooled by it but
the general public doesn't see the trick at all.
(Easy actually. It's three pieces. One is ¼" by ½"
and the other two, are 1/4" square. They were forge
welded on each end, and then twisted tightly.

A simple but elegant twist, round and square

Rope twist

This one is heated, flattened where the twist is to be
made, and then twisted a half turn. Simple, I think.

3/8 bar Swaged in a 3/16 tenon swage
on diamond and then twisted

pineapple twist

A wave. Bend bar in half,
taper bent end, unbend

Alligator twist on knife handle

Another alligator twist handle, this one places more emphasis on the texture. I really like that.

Another alligator twist handle, this one rounded more deemphasizing the texture

How to Make a Pineapple Twist
found at Diary of a Wandering Hen

Fig. A - Fig. E, from left to right.

Steps in making a pineapple twist:

  1. Mark a deep groove down the center of a piece of heated square stock. Make this mark on all four sides of the stock. (Fig. A)
  2. Place in vice and make a 3/4 twist. (Fig. B)
  3. Square all four sides on the anvil. (Fig. C)
  4. Punch another groove down the center of each four sides, as in step 1. (Fig. D)
  5. Untwist in vice 1/4 twist. Watch the twist to see if it looks right. True up on anvil with a wooden mallet. You now have a completed pineapple twist. (Fig. E)

Thorn Twist

Reprinted from the newsletter of the Mid-Atlantic Smiths, September 1985.

thorn twist
Do it the same way but without the chisel work and you end up with a thorn twist. They make good handles.
thorn twist instructions

Double Reversed Twisting Jig
Source: ABANA/Ron Reil's Page:

double reversed twisting jig

Another idea posted in Metal Arts Forum
The adjustable length twisting jig is a very useful tool for making double reversed twists in various sized bars. It will allow you to make virtually perfect twists every time, if you have the bar evenly heated when its placed into the wrench jaws. I like to use an old "Ford wrench" to make my double handled twisting wrenches out of. Using a double handled wrench will allow you to apply an even force to the bar and not cause it to be bent out of alignment during the twisting process. Be sure you use the right kind of welding rod when welding the high carbon steel wrench heads to the jig, or the welds will break off the first time you use the jig. I use "UTP-65" for all such welds, expensive, but worth every penny. Also, because your hands rotate under the hot iron during twisting, the hot scale that falls off will land on your hand and wrist. Beginners usually find this uncomfortable, but you will soon get used to it, and it causes no damage.

Twisted Tool Handles

Some of the neatest tool handles have twists built into them.

    Gee Mom, look what else I've found!

Wisdom of my father: "It takes more of a man to walk away from a fight than to stay and fight." Hit counter