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I Forge Iron

Starting to Feel Like a Blacksmith

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Yep folk after almost a year of beating on odd bits of iron starting with a tire rim forge and a RR raid, moving up in equipment as money and skill improved. I just finished my first blacksmithing class. Now I have tried very hard to be self taught buying several books, down loading a few more, plus 2 very large ring binders full of designs and information. It just does not compare to being in a class hands on. It was only a two day class building a 5 hook coat rack that hangs on the wall but it taught a number of skills in doing so. Some of these skill I have worked at on my own long before and struggled with getting them to work out right. Now I not only know how to do it right but how to look at something in attempting other skills that may be similar.

All in all self taught is not to be knocked if that's all you have. But if your starting out in blacksmithing and someone offers classes near you it would be well worth it and a great help to save up and take them. Where I went at the Metal Museum in Memphis, TN. they did a great job in teaching and helping you to understand what you were doing. I probably had the most experience of all in the class but we all finished with our projects showing an equal skill level.

So now I'm all fired up and ready to beat out some iron the right way. As well try out some new ideas in skill and design. Now, maybe I can be called a blacksmith, or at least in blacksmith in training.


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I too have started out in similar fashion a couple of months ago. I started with a dug hole and a 1" steel pipe blowing air with a fan. I moved up to a brake drum off of a 4x4 that is now mounted on a portable expanded metal serving cart with black pipe plumbing. I've started my search for blacksmithing classes and I thank you for your testimonial regarding the benefit of such. It's really helped push me in that direction. Good luck on the road of smithing!


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I too started with a hole in the ground about 4 months ago, and was solely book learning until I found a local blacksmith group that meets once a month. Reading how to do something vs. being shown how to do something makes a world of difference. I would definitely suggest that anyone who is solely self taught, to find your local group. The worst thing that can happen is that you show up and learn a easier and faster way to do something. Heck, you might even teach them a thing or two as well.

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Your subject made me want to ask how many burns and banged spots you have. I don't have a solid answer but I'm sure you have to burn yourself hundreds of times at least and bang and bruise yourself many tens of times before you can call yourself a blacksmith. Okay, sorry, If you don't know me I have a smart alec streak and recently surviving an attack by a Great White . . . Birch has left me a perfect excuse, a traumatic brain injury.

On the serious side, I don't know if there is a correct time to start calling yourself a blacksmith. I think it's a matter of when YOU feel you can call yourself one, it's not like there are many places you can take a test and get a certificate. I'm largely self taught myself and don't hold that method up as superior in the slightest. Oh sure, being able to figure out how to do things you don't already know how to do is important if you have that kind of shop. Heck, problem solving skills is important no matter what you do.

Taking classes, joining clubs or just hanging out with the blacksmith at the local state fair can make a huge difference. Heck,kk hanging out and bugging the blacksmith at the state fair is kinda how I ended up president of the local association, NOT the best smith the president. I left the room to take a leak and when I got back I'd been elected!

Okay, here's the thing, every time I talk to one of the guys, attend a meeting or associate with other club members I end up learning a bunch.

Here's one of the things that accelerated my learning more than any single thing so far, I took on a student several years ago. Talk about learning! All of a sudden here's a brght, eager young man asking me, WHY do it that way? HUH?!?!?! What do you mean WHY? ARGHHH! Talk about ON-THE-SPOT! You mean I HAVE to THINK about this stuff? Darn, now what?

All of a sudden I had to explain WHY the steel did X when I did Y to it. I can NOT tell you how much that helped me to understand the craft. Since that time I've had the honor and privelege of teaching a couple more young folk. Lindsey my second student honored me by taking my lessons and a little advice and passing muster to be THE blacksmith in a horistorical site in Virginia.

Learn the basics. Don't fe afraid to try figuring out how on your own. Take classes as they arise and you can. Listen to other blacksmiths, no matter their skill level. Here's the secret, once you feel YOU have the basics down teach them to someone else. Teaching will make you an honest to goodness blacksmith as fast as anything else.

Well, that's MY two bits worth.


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First I want to say to everyone thanks for the encouragement I do plan to keep it going till I can't any more.

For Beornls
To answer your question the next basic I class is February 13-14, 2010 for 275.00 Most of these classes start in September and finish in March.
Now it's a two day class 8:30 to 5:00 and all you need for the class is safety glasses, ear plugs, and gloves. The Glasses are mandatory the others optional but they do provide ear plugs. Now you will need to get on line at The Metal Museum - it isn?t just a place where art is displayed; it?s a place where art is made or phone 1-877-881-2326 ask for Judy Davis.
Now they only have about 10 to a class with only 5 forges and 10 anvils. I looking to try for the next one in January. If you need more info let me know and I'll see what I can do.

For Frosty
Yea I got a couple of good burns but no, not what I call a really good bruising or other related injuries. And Yea I know what your getting at as I felt the same way at my old job loading trucks for a major line. After 24 years I could load one to with in 100 lbs more or less to it's max weight just on sight where new bee's had to have there trailer weighted several times to get it right.
That's why I said STARTING TO FEEL and not THAT I AM.

No at the very start of the class you are told it was just a taste of what blacksmithing is like and that it's a craft that you never stop learning from. I'll have to say I never spent a full 7 hours working like that even at home. Yes, my right arm got very tired, my thumb and first finger started to split open from griping the hammer. I also discovered I had to concentrate on my hammer strikes and pay very close attention to my work and move at a steady pace so I didn't fall behind the others and not burn my work up like my forge partner bless his heart. But all tried and did I thought well not to have ever picked up a hammer to beat out hot metal.

So no,I'll never claim to be a blacksmith as in being expert or master but I feel that now I can say a blacksmith in that I work with iron making bending and shaping a plane lump into something useful if not also of beauty building skills as I go. But at the same time always working at and exploring the knowledge needed to prefect my craft.

No Frosty I do agree there are dues to be payed and I have just started my installments.
Thanks again Folks

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ya i gota second frosty about teaching it to learn why you do things a certan way ... i was at the nwba 30 th anaversary conference this fall and was watching new blacksmith pounding away .. one of the things i noticed was how far away from the anvil (and hot steel ) they were standing . It looked hard to hit when your streching out to hit the stell so i walked up and showed one person what the problem was . a simple thing like that can help a lot ! it dosent even take a blacksmith to notice as it looked wrong.haveing said that just going to classes one or twice a year isnt going to magically transfer blacksmithing skills .... you need to spend the time hammering away also ! keep hammering and learning in every way!

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Yea dablacksmith, correct working posture was one of the first lesions we were taught. Along with anvil height proper hammer swing, I'll have to say I never thought building a 5 hook coat rack could teach so many different things to do and not do. Kind of showed how someone there really put some thought into what to do in order to teach the most to a novice.

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