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I Forge Iron


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Posts posted by bigred

  1. Just getting started on my first self-build propane forge and I have been doing a truck-load of homework re the design and operation . If I have managed to upload the pic you will see the set of two commercial burner outlets into a large new kiln - notice the shape?


    I am assuming this shape is so as to avoid 'hotspots' and to introduce a vortex which will more evenly heat the kiln? I now wonder whether there is room to improve home-built small forges incorporating this modification - or do you think that it will only be useful in an upscaled space? if anyone has any techy info in this regard I would be grateful for a heads-up


  2. Hi Dan,


    Folks here have adequetly covered most of your questions or pointed you in the direction of where to track down the info on IFI.


    I can offer you some perspective on your last question (how much money etc...on a self-employed basis) because I live in the UK and earn my living from the metalworking trade.


    First, and most importantly, you will have to cover more than simply Blacksmithing to work in the metalworking industry in the UK. Most traditional smithing is now done by 'fabricators', using mostly machine manufactured components, especially in the areas of railings, gates, security screen etc, etc. It is pointless to try to compete in this area without also developing a wider range of welding and Fabrication skills. The high end of this market where ironwork is still produced or important historical ironwork repaired in the traditional style, is inhabited exclusively by formally trained and experienced specialists who have served a formal apprenticeship (English Heritage and Historic Scotland amongst many others will only commission work from formally trained pro's).


    HOWEVER, there are a couple of areas where 'pure' blacksmithing is still practised and can be quite lucrative, AND is within the reach of self-taught, informally trained enthusiasts. Some of the best 'artistic'  work I have ever seen (and which is beyond my meagre capabilities) has been produced by talented, self-taught individuals, who simply have a god-given talent for beating hot metal into beautiful things - are you perhaps a potential blacksmith artist? The other area is one you mention yourself in your post - that of knife and sword making. This is an area where some quite stunning (and equally lucrative) work is being done by self-taught bladesmiths.


    I can make 35k in my bread and butter weld/fab/smithing day job and around another 10-12 in the craft/art market. You can put together a basic pro set-up S/H for arond 6k and there is enough work (even in these straightened times) to begin earning straight away.


    Hope this helps.

  3. Cheers Bigred. I really want to take the step into blacksnithing and I'm pretty excited about it. Funny that I'm going to be learning in Dutch as you did.

    NP J,


    Although i was a fresh-faced (ish) newly qualified tradesman, it was only when I went to SA that I discovered how little I really knew; but, as others have observed, folks are usually only too happy to help you out when they see you making a genuine effort to master their language.


    Afrikaans is derived from Dutch though there are some differences (except the swearing of course, that seems to be a universal language)


    Keep us posted on your prog mate.

  4. hi J,


    I think you will be fine, Blacksmithing being what it is (a practical hand skill) you will get sufficient info from demos to get the basic idea of what you are doing. Your rudimentary conversational dutch will be more than adequate to assimilate some of the basic theory i.e. hardening and tempering, materials technology etc.


    I left the Uk monolingual in the 80's and went to work on the South African gold mines where Dutch was the first language; right from the get-go my rudimentary understanding of the language along with some universal sign language was sufficient for me to pick up the necessary extra skills the job I had demanded.


    Best of luck mate

  5. I have found progeCAD (google it, you can get a free to use copy at their site) when designing any kind of ornamental work brilliant. Takes an hour or two of work to learn your way around the software but when you have mastered the basics designing any kind of ornamental work is a breeze. A further search for .dwg ornamental CAD files will turn up loads of scaleable ornamental iron products (i.e. those sold by the likes of Brundles) which you can import directly into progeCAD and scale to fit the frame of any wrought iron artefact.
    You do not actually need to use the ornamental products, you can simply manufacture them yourself, but it is the flexibility to design ornamental iron work without being some kind of freehand artist, that is the beauty of this method - it may not compare to ornamental pro or fabCAD but it is free while the others range from 300 to 6000 sovs.

    I may not have explained myself well here but those of you who do a lot of ornamental work will appreciate how difficult basic design work can be in wrought iron - and then to get that across to the customer unambiguously.

  6. Don't presume Dan, you don't know me - No, a plater isn't as you describe but those, THE TONGUE IN CHEEK (you are tryin' to see what is not there,) riposte at the end of the post you refer to was aimed at, will get it B)

    My position began as 'those who offer a commercial service should have the qualifications to provide that service to a min safe standard and to a min standard of quality of workmanship'. I say again, virtually every person who has read this post, had they to be commissioning a service from some business, would never chose an unqualified practitioner - if they knew the person quoting for the work had no formal qualifications.

    Can't you see that it is the erosion of the necessity for qualified tradesmen that is leading to the lack of opportunities for those who come after us? (this particularly refs the UK as I now understand the US system of formally training craftsmen is in a worse decline than ours). If the trade is allowed to be fragmented and unqualified (rather than unskilled) 'work trained' (in the sense of being trained up for perhaps one particular skill of the trade, thus obviating the necessity to train an apprentice) people flood our markets, this decline will continue andf the formally trained artisan will disappear - all I am doing is defending the integrity of the trade I love.

    Yes you are right I was trained as an industrial blacksmith but never a jobsworth - and now, for the last couple of years, no different to you (one man op),Think for a mo what you are all saying - that anyone whol likes can call themselves as they please - what then is the point of any formal training. just make up in your mind what you are and you're it :mellow: .

  7. Ok here it is - I served my apprenticeship at Cameron Iron Works in Livingston in their forged products division from 1972 -1977. I have apprenticeship papers from the company and I have a full Technical Certificate in fabrication engineering (The Old HND Cert). I am quite happy to post these qualifications on this site in a checkable format, if those who have a need to see them do likewise. However to instruct me to ante up to satisfy the hungry mob is unjustified, biased and I, much like most of you, had the tables to be turned - have no immediate intention of doing so.

    I will add though that, I have nothing to fear re my work and I have little doubt that in the course of interacting on this site, I will be posting examples of what I do and perhaps pix to exemplify points of view which I might contribute.

  8. Keep the topic civil as the site guide lines apply to the entire site. If in doubt the short version is no fussing, no cussing, and no personal attacks, stay away from discussing religion and politics.

    Many times when a topic generates a heated discussion, we ask you to provide references to back up your opinion. Bigred, you have been requested to attach images of your work. Now might be a good time to do just that.

    The topic is about being qualified and i would be more than happy to post my qualifications on this site if you were happy to do likewise?

    I have been the one maintaining civility here in the face of much trolling but you decide to wade in on the side of the unhappy mob? For a simple assertion that those who work in the public domain should have the formal training to competently do so? And please direct me to the other requests you have made of members to get 'em out?

  9. Jonathan Swift would have a field day in here, my new target er friend! Bigred, you have posted on this forum 31 times and counting..................and yet you know me well? Interressante, as the French would say!

    :unsure: :unsure: :unsure: oh please Stew no - y're not going to pick on me are you - what will I do
  10. Awe Shux Stew You as well :( ? an you a blacksmith to :(- Talk 'bout Turkeys and Xmas :lol: but I suppose it takes the heat off you - I've seen some of the vitriole poured on your head for much the same temerity - an' here you are using your bladesmith skills to ease in the knife :( :( :( :( :(

  11. Hi McB,

    I would guess that if you and I were just regular peeps thinking about having work done we wouldn't expect to have to check on the qualifications of the person offering the service - if we were to check the bona fides of evey single service provider we used in life we wouldn't have the time to do anything else. Problem here is we aren't just regular peeps and perhaps have an emotional interest in this which blinds us to the truth of what we would do if this were any other service we were talkin' 'bout but 'smithin.

  12. I was going to continue to answer my detractors here but its taking too much time and most of the stuff is either childish or misinformed out of the lazy habit of not reading the thread from the beginning. Notice again how many indentured 'smiths are on here putting the boot in :rolleyes: And to all of you who didn't have the nads to defend your craft I hope you lose the next job to a plater :angry:

  13. Ditto the multipost thing AV - Perth is a beautiful part of Scotland - but then most of Scotland outside of the central belt has something to recommend it ^_^

    I would suggest there is quite a diffence between us - you are an artist and I am a jobbing smith and sometime fabricator, I would suggest, from what you say, that you have the necessary training to do what you were trained for - artistic expression. I don't think I will be running into you any time soon quoting for a couple of hundred yards of Ind fencing :D

  14. Hi to you too Dan

    First off I never at any point mentioned any guild - perhaps if you took the trouble to read what i had written you might have saved yourself at least making this point :o given I never mentioned the Guild then whether it was a racket or not is moot :P

    I agree entirely with your second point i.e. it is high time we regulated the trade, that way you are getting at least some guarantee of quality - I have absolutely no problem in competing on a level playing field. I find it very strange that, in virtually any other area of our collective lives we will always spend our money on the best quality we can afford ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL. As consummers I would bet my shirt that each of us, being honest, would always choose the qualified man over the self-taught man GIVEN THE CHOICE. So If my views are too extreme then I would suggest that a compromise position would be that the prospective customer should always be in an position where their choice is informed.

    Most customers take as given that anyone offering a service is fit to do so - they would be surprised and I bet shocked at who is able to call themselves by whatever trade appellation they like. However good the ubqualified spark is you are NOT going to let him connect up your cooker. To argue as you have is to have no quality barrier to anyone who wants to do anything - even if in their lack of knowledge they could end up hurting someone?? Isn't it a case here of shooting the messenger? Those who have no basic training arguing against its need? You are havin' a laf mate :blink:

    As to qualifications and training, in England I don't have current knowledge (it is another country after all :) ) In the sixties and early seventies when I served my time, the college courses were either the old EITB fabrication welding and blacksmithing or the City and guilds of London Institute (of which I am a proud Life-time Licentiate)214/1 and 215/2 Fabrication and
    welding Engineering route. The practical work in the trade being work and employment based and completed by continuing assessment under one or two journeymen. At the end of which proces one was awarded the Certicicate of competency from the awarding trade body (EITB in my case) and of course your trade "lines" from your employer, giving a general o0verview of the type of work and in which trade you trained. The college based work was completed over 4 years and an optional 5th college year for a "Full Tech" or full technical certificate in fabrication engineering and.....yep you guessed it... :P

    And 3rd - if you think that a few rules to safely use machines and common sense are all that is needed then you aren't fit to be in the trade

  15. Frosty, Hi,

    I completely agree, I sort of alluded to it early on in the thread when it kind of dawned on me that I was looking at this upside down. This is a place of artists, Hobbyists and enthusiasts with a few pro's (none of whom are here putting the boot in you might notice ;) )- not the other way round.

  16. Hi Coot,

    I was not in the UK for most of the 80's so I will just have to take your word for what it was like but it isn't a place I recognise

    I hear you mac - just a different culture I suppose - I would like to see more regs and find it hard to understand how that can be a bad thing. No doubt my view might be different if I had been born in detroit ;)

    Congradulations on being well qualified on your side of the pond, you've worked hard for that and I respect you for it.....please be mindfull that in the 1970's, 'unschooled smiths' in the US were responsible in large part for the renaissance of blacksmithing as an art and trade. I,for one, am glad to have the freedom to do what I want, when I want, how I want. I prefer to set my standards rather than that of a cast system. If a customer likes it, they buy, if not, they won't. History serves proof of that founding freedom of thought and action in 1775, 1914, and again 1939. That's said, welcome to Iforge.


    Hi Keith,

    Don't you mean 1917 and 1941 :rolleyes:
  17. Hi Bash,

    I find it hard to disagree with one of the 'Scrapheap' Team :D Massive, massive fan of the show - it was always an ambition to have a pop but could never get up the front.

    Great work man :D

    Make more of things than they are ? so far there is nothing......... sweetie

    :wub: :wub: :wub: :wub:

  18. I'm sure I not only speak for myself when I say I would like to see some of your skilled workmanship. I think it will be a valuable
    learning experience for us all. No need to divulge any "secret methods" just a few pics to show us what a formally trained blacksmith is capable of achieving. What say you ?

    Hey Larry,

    Try that man-trap on someone stupid enough to fall into it :P

    When and if I post it will be at my own behest at not at that of someone obviously looking to make more of things than they are.

    Calm down dear - as we say ;)

    Mod Note: LarryH has a vaild point on asking to see your product. We have seen nothing of your work, most of the others posting here have shown their work.
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