Looking For Advice On Drawing Clips

Q: Am I the only person who struggles with clips — especially side clips. I have no problem drawing the material without distorting the nail holes, but after I am done drawing out the material, I am left with an extremely straight branch or a “mule shoe.” Does anybody know how to avoid this dilemma?

—Chris Diehl

A: Don’t feel bad. You’re not the only person who has struggled with clips over the years. Just the other day, I came across some shoes that I made at school (shoe that I was quite proud of at the time). My clips were atrocious, but as with all things related to our profession: practice, practice, practice makes perfect.

I’m not sure how you pull your clips, but regardless of what method you use, it sounds to me like you are inadvertently straightening your branches because you aren’t focusing your hammer blows correctly when you’re drawing out your clip.

Here’s how I pull most clips:

  1. I like to take a short heat over the area where I’ll be clipping (excessive heat over the length of branch will encourage the branch to deform).
  2. Using the off face of the anvil, I scoot about 3/16 inch of the shoe over the edge, elevate it just enough to get my tongs off the face of the anvil and strike down and into the edge — as if I were trying to destroy the anvil edge (I use a 2 1/2-pound cross-pein hammer).
  3. Once I get a…
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