John McPherson

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About John McPherson

  • Rank
    Grumpy Old Guy
  • Birthday October 20

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  • Location
    Charlotte, NC
  • Interests
    Full Time Welding Instructor/CWI, occasional blacksmith.


  • Location
    Charlotte, NC

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  1. I can't say that I know a lot of independent HVAC contractors, electricians and plumbers, but most of the ones I do know have a specialty truck or van ($25-75K new) filled with specialty tools and parts ($10-25K) and a shop that they go home to every night where they keep extra gear($?) Add business licence, insurance, bookkeeping/office/phone/accountant and a field assistant, and the overhead is significant, before you make a dime. Are there some jacklegs getting by with less? A beat up domestic mini-van, some basic tools in drywall buckets and a cell phone? Going to the big box store for every bolt and washer? Do you trust that guy with your home or shop repair? Is he licenced and insured? How long has he been in the business? The same dichotomy exists in blacksmiths. There are ornamental and job shops in industrial parks working from CAD files and booked months in advance, and there are guys that dink around in a shed. Don't expect the same price or attitude from both. The problem is, the public that either can not or will not appreciate the difference. That lady is one of those.
  2. Alan, I am just a dumb ol' welder (with a wall full of college degrees and certificates) so I am trying not to take too much umbrage with your implied put-down of other trades. Which is why I have not replied until now. There seems to be a world-wide trend of denigrating those who work with their hands. Are there some nit-wits in every field? Absolutely! The sheer number of patients who die by medical malfeasance dwarfs the number who die in traffic accidents in the US. Those MD's who are responsible are highly trained, highly paid, and high social status nit-wits and not unlettered tradesmen, but still nit-wits nonetheless. 50% of everyone in every field is below average. This is why we mandate licensing, certification, re-qualification at prescribed intervals, and other measures for everything that involves public health and safety from driving an automobile on up. There has to be some sort of floor below which we will not allow activity. Everyone seems to be acquainted with a least one lucky idiot (or conniving scoundrel) who always seems to stay one step ahead of disaster in their field.
  3. It certainly would be to me, and I already own a 330 pound anvil in that Southern German pattern. This fat guy would trade up in a skinny minute.
  4. Rylan, he means fleaBay. Look it up yourself, no advertising links allowed.
  5. I use it for convenience: it is stable for years at room temperatures, and transports well. I have no fixed shop, so everything has to go back in a job box at the end of each open air forging session. Or back in an SUV cargo area at the end of a demo. It resides happily in a thrift store find steam table tray that fits in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid. A yard sale cookie sheet will snuff out the flames if it gets heated to the flash point, and makes a handy drain tray for items as they cool. Is it the very best medium for all sorts of edged weapons? Probably not, or no one would go to the trouble of making vertical quench tanks full of Parks 50, or heated salt pots. If I was to go into business, my customers would expect nothing less than my best work at all stages of production. My conscience would allow nothing less. Adequate for blacksmith knives, punches, chisels and other small items? You betcha.
  6. Absolutely scale-able! Scaled down: artists turn willow twigs into charcoal pencils, and primitive campers make char cloth in Altoids tins and shoe polish tins. Scaled up, somebody once posted on turning a burnt-out (vandalized) dumpster into a room sized retort. 55 gallon steel drums, old water heaters and heating oil tanks are soooo last century. Find a tanker truck! (And take pictures.)
  7. I have never been able to locate and try out another anvil that is the equal of my 150 kilogram Euroanvil Southern German pattern with the upsetting block and side shelf. That includes the student anvils at JC Campbell Folk school, and many other places. Still have not tried a big Refflinghaus, Nimba, Fontanini, or Papa Rhino, so the jury is still out. I will never trust another student on it, so it stays locked away and hidden most of the year. Sacrificial anvils are fine for those who hammer like lightning. (Uncontrollable, unpredictable, always damaging, and never in the same place twice!) While I can work solo just fine on a 100 pound London pattern, 200 pounds is better. Not 2X better, but noticeably different. But I would want a much bigger anvil if I had more than 2 minutes of team striking with sledges. Same thing applies to swage blocks. If you are hammering on a 90 pound swage with a 2 pound hammer on a light shape, fine. But you really NEED a big industrial block for big work.
  8. The ornamental iron industry in the US is represented by NOMMA, the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association, and their trade magazine is The Fabricator. It is somewhat analogous to ABANA for artist blacksmiths, but the dues are much higher to weed out amateurs.
  9. When they pat me on the face with a backhoe.....
  10. I certainly would not want to hobble this thread with tales of unbridled escapades: 50 Shades of Hay.
  11. Heat it up again. Don't quench it, let it air cool and blacken. Hit just the high spots with a scotchbrite pad. Clear coat spray paint if the client likes the look.
  12. Oh no, much worse! The superheated oil will burn like a torch once it reaches the flash point, and boil over turning your floor into a lake of fire. Turkey Fryer fires ring any alarm bells? Also, when you pull a blade out too soon, the smoke can ignite, giving you a tower of flame. Right in your face and up into the rafters. I cringe *every* *single* *time* I see someone quench a blade inside a wooden building on video. Do it outside, in grass or on gravel. Keep a lid handy, and a big fire extinguisher. Water just spreads the flame.
  13. Was this the college with the hospitality program near a horse track? I think I met someone who came here on a SACS audit a few years ago.
  14. Tongs are not "enormous" until they are: taller than you are, crew served and the work is held up by chain hoists and overhead cranes. I would call those "standard" sized.
  15. They are still made by Yesteryear Forge, and also available on fleaBay. A quick google image or key word search should get you there, but we are not allowed to link directly to shopping here.