• Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited



  • Rank
    Senior Member

Contact Methods

  • Website URL

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Not Telling


  • Location
    Loveland Colorado

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.


    Used tools

    I wasn't able to make it this year either but I heard everyone had a good time.

    Used tools

    Glenn, JHCC, Thanks for the correction, it's good to know post vices aren't extinct! Das, to be fair, there are 6" machinist vices that are significantly less expensive than an industrial grade Wilton. At the hobbyist level and without stupid abuse, the cheaper vices would still outlive a couple of generations. Ultimately you're right about quality being costly. Dillion, you're on the right track but just asking isn't always enough, what you need are knowledgeable friends looking out for you. A good friend was at the hammer-in before I showed up and got to talking with the guy selling the blower. If my friend hadn't stepped in, I would have lost the opportunity because I got there after the seller had left. My friend convinced him to come back the next day, and I was there to meet him with cash in hand. There's no cell reception at the hammer-in and it's only four days a year so getting any two people together at the same time and place is harder than it might seem.

    Used tools

    Building on Thomas' comment, there's a huge difference between online asking price, and what things sell for in your area. Luck isn't evenly distributed. Online it'll sound like everyone has a $40 post vice or three yet the prices on ebay or c list are ten times higher. Blowers are the same way. I went to a hammer-in every year for nine years straight with an eye out for a blower and a post vice. I got lucky about five years in when one smith bought a very pretty post vice (for $200) then sold me his old one at $65.00. Both vices were 4". It took nine years to run across someone selling a larger (Buffalo 400 series) manual blower that wasn't a complete basket case. To the best of my knowledge, its the only blower sold in those nine years of hammer-in. I gave $150 for it the same week that a non-turning one with a chunk of housing broken off sold on e-bay for $250. Don't get the wrong impression, I was always looking for a vice and blower, I just happened to find ones I could afford at an annual hammer-in. I would agree that a post vice is a huge benefit, especially to someone starting out. I'm not aware of any current manufacturers of post vices. It's one of those tools that seems like a luxury when you're starting out, but I think it's actually more useful to a rookie than anyone else. Excellent tongs are the same way. As a rookie, I spent more time picking up dropped stock than anything else. I wasted tons of effort trying to hit a moving target. A block of mild steel is relatively easy to come by and it works admirably as an anvil substitute. If you have any intentions of using salvaged steel, a post vice will be one of the most-used tools in your shop. Even really simple projects like punches, chisels, and drifts will be vastly improved using a post vice. Hot rasping doesn't get much commentary but even a rookie can "clean up" a lot of minor errors with a few minutes of effort. Check out farrier competitions on youtube, to see masters at work. The final result looks like it was machine finished.
  4. MC, you mentioned that it was good that these tools are getting saved and I agree. As I read your comment, it dawned on me that in many cases, the sale of this specialty equipment typically involves networking. People who are too old or infirm to continue blacksmithing are meeting younger people with similar interests who are likely to appreciate their insights. I have a few older friends that started out this way. There's a local antique store that is organized by consignment booths. One of which is owned by the widow of gent I purchased a forge from. He spent his retirement going to estate sales looking for tools to resell at the antique store. Sadly I didn't have much time with him before he passed, but he was a wonderful person. I still encourage folks who are starting out to patronize his widows booth. In my experience, the smiths looking to "hang up their spurs" tend to be less concerned with competition, status, or money. Before I met him, I was running into a lot of insufferable curmudgeons who were very discouraging. He just enjoyed connecting people with tools. The prices were always very reasonable, and his garage was full of old equipment that he was restoring. He was the sort of guy who would wire brush a good but rusty old cross pein hammer head, re handle it, then charge a rookie $1.00 for it.

    Inspired by Mark III jabod

    I had the same trouble with store bought coke. It was shocking how fast the fire would go out without air blast.

    Horrible anvil joke

    Steve, I honestly think that should be your signature line! That reminds me of this company's monument sign that has the removable type part. They wrote: "Family owned business You shut up! No you shut up."
  7. Frosty, I wouldn't say that BBQ came to mind. You've got me wondering if Alaskans just toss their Yeti onto the grill hair and all!
  8. Another thought that comes to mind is that blacksmithing can quickly lead to tool collecting. Once you're onto the channels where such things are for sale, it's easier to come across deals on upgrade equipment. I know several smiths who have collected multiples of everything. Few of them actually use their starter equipment because they've got nicer stuff. I would imagine that a complete rookie setup is a much easier sell because most of the potential buyers a given blacksmith knows, already have their beginner equipment. I suspect few rookies would buy an affordable leg vice if they didn't already have something to use as an anvil. Same story with a blower. That equipment can seem like a luxury to someone who needs a hammer. Buying a complete kit means the rookie can get to beating hot steel right away with equipment that demonstrably worked for someone else.
  9. This post reminds me of a long day at work as an apprentice electrician. We were upsizing the electrical service to a house with a basement. The existing feeder cable was routed through the basement wall and into the panel. We needed a larger hole through the cinderblock wall to allow the larger cable. I dutifully measured twice both inside and out. The cable came up out of the meter, through the wall, and then down into the panel. I started hammer-drilling above the existing cable from the outside which was a muddy slope. I got about two inches into the wall when a brilliant white spark leaped out of the hole and straight into my chest. It hurt something awful but I kept my composure and pulled the drill out. As I set the drill down, I noticed a spot on my shirt which turned out to be a hole. I pulled my shirt up and found a little cup-shaped piece of copper colored metal burned into my chest. I popped it out, thankfully it cauterized the wound, but I still have a scar from it. Still wondering what happened when I noticed that two thirds of the carbide tip of the drill had burnt completely away! I figure I was struck by the brazing material. It turned out that the original electrician had installed the cable in the meter, stuck it through the holes, then pushed the slack up into the web of the cinderblock to save the time in cutting it. When I drilled through the wall, I clipped one of the main feeders for the house! Until then, it had never occurred to me that someone would do such a thing. Thank goodness I was using a double-insulated drill!
  10. Anvil, I don't know about the anvil "bubble" bursting, but there are some signs that the real-estate bubbles in major cities are bursting. The knock-on effect will likely involve a whole lot of people selling off cumbersome equipment so they can move. I read today that pending home sales have been in a slump for six months straight. Over the last six months, I know at least three families who sold everything they could part with to fund a much less expensive life elsewhere.

    Giant piece of steel

    #1 Don't burn toxic stuff. Being too cheap to buy mild steel is a terrible reason to risk harming everything in your environment. #2 High carbon steel can be significantly harder to forge than mild steel. Not, theoretically harder, or philosophically harder, harder under the hammer at all heats. I think it's just terrible to learn on and I'm speaking from experience. #3 Building skill with mild steel will progress further and faster because it's harder to burn, easier to move under the hammer, and it's available in a huge variety of sizes. #4 It really, really, really, pays to start projects with stock that's close to your finished size. I've spent a month of Sundays struggling to draw things out only to burn the stupid project in half because I was too tired to pay attention.

    Tool bag/box

    I put one of those retractable key keeper things that janitors use on my apron. It's got my silverstreak pencil taped to the end so I never have to go looking for it. I've never tried, but I'm pretty sure that it would retract with a reasonably sized caliper attached to it. Protip: If you put the key keeper on "backwards" to where the tool is trapped between you and the apron, it won't dangle when you bend over, yet it's plenty quick to haul out when you need it.

    One dog I'd never ever trust!

    Seems like masons could have built-in a stone ladder, or at least the necessary embeds to allow a climbing platform to function. Lots of security ladders stop 10' off the ground so it takes a ladder to get to them which keeps all but the most enterprising kids off. The whole thing reminds me of a currently manufactured van. Every feature appears to have been thoughtfully designed by someone who passionately hates drivers. Yet, just like the Chimney job, there's somebody perfectly happy to make their living with it.

    Who pays the price for being wrong?

    JLP, That's an excellent question. For starters, I would say that the single best approach is to avoid clients with low-budget jobs and high penalty contracts. "Helping" a broke client is usually bad business. If they can't/won't pay what you're worth, they can't/won't recognize the risk they're creating for you. Once you're already under contract it's just good policy to document absolutely anything that hinders workflow. Generate timely and consistent reports that are shared with everyone involved. If you're working for a GC, send a copy to the client or their representative as well. Be circumspect about starting a premature "blame war", but don't shy away from accurate communication. I've found that pictures do wonders for saying things diplomatically. Sometimes, I'll put arrows and notes on the pictures to draw attention to the issue so that laymen can understand what's going on. When you're asked to price change orders, put a deadline on the proposal. If you can't hold the project deadline without a go-ahead answer in three days, give them two days to make a decision. Wherever possible, avoid Friday deadlines because feckless clients and design teams will send a partial answer three hours after quitting time, then later claim they answered "that week". If the change order work would exceed your remaining time on the job, write in a provision clearly stating how much additional time the change order work will add. As your change order deadlines approach, send reminder emails to all parties the day before. If a proposal deadline expires, send a follow-up email explicitly stating that. If the client gives you a verbal approval, politely remind them that no work will proceed without a formal contract change. This is the single most common cheat in the construction industry. They "approve" change work off the record, then refuse to pay after the work is done. If you're up against a stopping point, communicate that to everyone involved. Take the schedule and work backwards to determine the last day you can get an answer and still make the deadline. Inform all parties that they're encountering a day for day delay on the project deadline from that point forward. Be sure to include all relevant documentation like the Request For Information (RFI), the day it was sent, etc. Don't volunteer to manage other trades, but be responsive and cooperative with them. Above all, be careful about things you don't know for certain. I've had projects where a trade wasn't performing and the rumors going around were scandalous compared to the truth. There are clients and Project Managers who like to "hide" whenever there's a problem. They don't answer their phones or emails, but they do make sure that site supervisors are loudly yelling to "just get it done". If they do actually communicate, they prefer to do so over their cell phone where you are the only witness to what was said. Be particularly careful about what you say on the phone because it's fairly common practice to have you on speakerphone without telling you who else is listening. Avoid giving any off the cuff prices because they'll be stripped of context and used in whatever way suits their interests. After such calls, I email a quick re-cap of everything that was discussed with special emphasis on my understanding. Where appropriate, I copy or blind copy the email to anyone who was mentioned in the discussion. Again, remember that rumors aren't proof of anything. Sometimes I'll ask the recipient to confirm my understanding of a particular issue. If they later take a different position, I can re-send the email with "second request" appended to the title. Some clients will quit dithering when they're aware that their behavior is being documented. Others will become more hostile because they feel "rushed". In those cases, I ask for a meeting and approach the problem differently. A lot of construction contracting is set up so that subs "do what they're told". Design teams tasked with solving the problem aren't suffering if the remedy proves too expensive. They can always claim the contractors are ripping the client off. I use the meeting to flip that relationship on it's head. "What can you afford?" defines the available remedies without all the needless pricing exercises. Listen to what people are saying. More than once a "simple fix" wasn't as obvious as I originally thought. Also, listen to what matters to the decision-makers. If you get your answer and your change order, it doesn't matter if the Client thinks they "told you what for". I'm paid to do work for money, not for correcting the Client about semantics. A word to the wise here, there's a fine line between allowing a slight misunderstanding and lying by omission. Don't do anything that wouldn't look good in court. Along those same lines, we sometimes encounter situations where the dysfunction jeopardizes the job. In those cases, we "make a deal" where necessary to get out of the jam and blackball those clients going forward. Hopefully that helps.
  15. I've spent most of my working life in the construction industry and it's a rare day when everything goes to plan. Mistakes, misunderstandings, or simple lack of thinking things through causes a whole lot of negotiation about what comes next. Change orders can be immensely profitable, indeed many businesses depend on them to be profitable. That being said, negotiations don't always land in your favor so it's important to understand what's at stake. I've seen situations that escalated because one or more parties lost sight of the bigger picture. For example, let's say the client is on a shoestring budget. The design team didn't get paid to investigate existing conditions, so lots of surprises are popping up. Further, let's say the client decided to purchase salvaged materials that turn out to be different from what they told the design team to include. So far, it sounds like this is all clearly the client's fault, and they'll have to pay to remedy the situation. Let's say this client is desperate to open on time because they would otherwise miss out on peak revenue season that accounts for nearly all their annual revenue. To protect themselves, the client required a payment and performance bond for everyone on the job and stipulated liquidated damages of $10,000 per day for being late. The client is in a tough situation, so they're particularly concerned about overpaying on change orders. This leads to squabbles that go on much longer than they should. To be efficient and productive, the work at issue needs to happen before other tasks so the job doesn't progress like it should. A lot of low-budget construction clients aren't very experienced. They're not concerned with how this squabble is affecting the overall job because they have contract terms and bonds ensuring their deadline. So who pays the price for being wrong? In situations like this, the immediate answer depends on timing. If the squabble drags on long enough, the client may call in the bonds to replace the contractors and get their project built. The replacement contractors aren't going to be cheap because they're getting paid for by the bonding agency who can (and likely will) seize assets to settle the exorbitant tab. Now I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV so none of this should be misconstrued as legal advice. I suppose it's possible that a contractor could win a case against the client, but that will take a lot of time and money. Keep in mind that said legal battle would probably take place after you've had assets seized by your bonding agency which likely preclude you from conducting business anywhere else. For most contractors, getting their bond invoked is an "extinction level event". I've seen situations where a particularly malignant client drove the project into delays, then used the thread of invoking bonds to demand extreme discounts. Over the years I've had several situations where it was considerably cheaper to pay for the clients mistake so we could avoid more costly problems. That's something to consider the next time the client wants to change something on the project. I've found that more contractors go out of business because of problems with a job they won, than from all the jobs they lost.