Bill Roy

Taking my time

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Hi, All

Two years ago, I finally decided to take up Blacksmithing as a hobbie and creative outlet. Its truly something I've wanted to do all my life. So, I joined several local guilds and began attending meetings. They are great. I signed up and took a 2-day beginner blacksmithing class at the Jacksonville Center in Floyd, VA - it was an absolute blast. I've surfed the web almost daily for info and tools. I've bought and borrowed books, and watched videos and DVD's, too. But with three teenagers and this economy things have been pretty tough financially. So aquiring the space, equipment, and tools to put together a smithy of my own has been an extremely slow process. Especially the major items - forge and anvil. Thank goodness I'm a patient man. Just a few more things and I will be ready to light up my forge and begin to move some metal.
I would welcome any suggestions (on any topic) for a blacksmithing beginner.
Thanks,
Bill

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I learned to learn the basics first. Learn how to draw out, upset, things like that before you tackle a first project. It makes it much easier, and faster than just trying to make something right off the hop. Take your time, be patient (doesn't seem like that'll be a problem) and most of all HAVE FUN.

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When you have a few extra dollars, beginner classes will greatly accelerate you learning process, and classes will also increase your understanding of safety during smithing. Beginner classes are offered frequently by the Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland (link to BGCM Classes), about 4.5 hours from Lynchburg, VA. I highly recommend taking a beginner's class at Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland. The Yesteryear School of Blacksmithing is likely much closer to you. Even though I have never been to Yesteryear, I feel that I may safely give them a high recommendation also.

You may also wish to consider visiting one or more of the blacksmithing groups nearest to you for the opportunities of:
- seeing how things are made
- possibly using equipment of the group for hands on supervised learning
- acquiring equipment. People sometimes bring equipment for sale or trade, or can clue you in on where to find affordable equipment in your locality.
- meeting up with a smith that might invite you to his shop for a visit and possibly some hands on learning.

One method of learning about blacksmithing is through the use of modeling-clay. Iron bars when heated behave very much like modeling-clay. For example, if you stick you finger in the center of the bar it, clay will move away from your finger in all directions. If you press the side of a pencil against the top of a bar of clay, more clay will move perpendicular to the bar than parallel to the bar.

You are very fortunate to live in an excellent area to learn blacksmithing from generous smiths who are willing to share their time with you and provide you with assistance, and even help you learn to smith on a shoe-string budget.

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Welcome aboard Bill, glad to have ya.

Don't get hung up on getting all the "REAL" tools, the minimum list is really short. A fire, something heavy to beat against something to hammer with and something to hammer on.

A hole in the ground with a piece of pipe and a blow drier makes a fine forge. If you want something you don't have to bend over dig it into a bank or pile field clay on an old table.

The anvil can be anything suitably heavy with a little flat surface for the face. Any heavy casting or machinery part say RR car coupler, Dozer part or one of my favorite field expedient anvils a heavy axle buried flange up.

Hammers, Ball peins are better than claw hammers but in reality anything with a smooth face will work.

Something to beat on is whatever scrap steel you happen across, rebar isn't ideal but it's better than nothing. LOTS better than nothing. Look for pieces a couple feet long and you won't need tongs while you make a couple pair of tongs. ;)

A cold chisel, old axe head, hack saw, etc. to cut your stock. Maybe a couple files and a wire brush pretty well completes the basic kit.

Frosty

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Well, I just couldn't wait any longer. My oldest son was home from school for 4 days on Fall break and gave me a great reason to take a day off from work. First, I set up the equipment that I've been able to collect and restore. And second, I went back in the house to wake Billy up - almost needed dynamite. Once he heard what we were about to do, he was up and at'em in a flash. He started the fire up like he'd done it a thousand times before. (the class we took together was just over two years ago)
I haven't bought any new material yet, so all we had to work with was some rebar scraps left over from other projects, but it was something to pound on! We alternated turns working at the forge and playing photographer. We had an absolute blast on one of the coldest October afternoons on record. I barely noticed.
Tried to upload some of the pictures taken, but after several failed attempts I've given up. I set up a picasa web album so you all could see and maybe comment. Picasa Web Albums - bill.roy - Magnolia Forg...
Bill

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