Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Starting smithing in South Dakota

Recommended Posts

Greetings. My name is Marcus Hopfinger. I currently live in White, South Dakota but have lived in all parts of the state at various times during my life.
Back in college I took a couple metal working classes, one using a lathe for a semester and the other mainly working with sheet metal. Also during college I worked as a band instrument repair technician fixing trombones--I don’t play the trombone however. A brass band instrument repair technician is kind of like a specialized brass smith. I used a torch to de-solder the horn, stripped off the old lacquer then used various devices to remove the dents. One of the machines we used to overhaul the bell of the horns is very much like an English Wheel but with different dies.

After college I became a shop teacher and taught mainly wood working courses but also taught arc welding and some oxy-acetylene cutting. During this time I started to play around with the idea of doing some blacksmithing. I built what, at the time, I considered an anvil out of some snow plow cutting edge that I got my hands on. The cutting edges are 5/8 thick steel, I am not sure of the hardness, and were very worn down on one end but had lots of good steel left on the other end. I cut four equal rectangles and welded two together to form a double thickness. Then I welded on the top and bottom piece to form an I beam sort of arrangement. The top piece even had one of the squared off bolt holes on it that I was thinking would work as sort of a make-shift hardy hole. That was 12+ years ago. It is now covered with rust from improper storage and I now see that it is lacking for any serious heavy duty work but it will have to get me by for some smaller work to get me started. I haven’t weighed it but it is probably in the neighborhood of 40 pounds. I have my friends and family watching farm sales for a real anvil. Anyway, I got out of teaching in 2000 and went back to school to work on a Master’s Degree in Information Systems (computers). During this time I didn’t have access to a shop and didn’t do any wood or metal work. After graduating I spent a year in Iraq with my National Guard unit (153rd Engineer Battalion) then when I got back I got married and we built a house. Now that we have been in the house about four years I am finally getting the garage to the point where I can have may shop back and I want to get back to my interest in blacksmithing.

I work full time as a database administrator so I think my smithing will mainly be a hobby and hopefully something I can continue into my retirement years although those are still 20 some years away. I am mainly interested in smaller projects; the sort of things that would be sold at craft fairs and historic festivals. I am also interested, once I have gained some experience (and hopefully skill), in doing demos as well. I am planning on building a “coffee can” style gas forge to get started and then move to something larger as I have the funds and need. I would also like to try coal for outdoor demo work so I will keep my eyes open at the farm sales for an old rivet style forge or maybe look at building something portable…of course all of this will be down the road a bit. My wife and I have a 14, nearly 15, year old son and a 2 ½ year old daughter and are expecting another daughter the end of July. So the baby expenses will cut into the shop fund for awhile.

That was probably more than you cared to know and if you read this far I apologize for rambling on so long. I would enjoy hearing from any blacksmiths in South Dakota or even North Dakota or Eastern Minnesota.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to the group
I live in Franklin, MN which is about 85 miles east of SD on Hwy 19
Talked to a couple of SD smiths at the ABANA conference. They were from Rapid City which is where the next ABANA conference will be in 2012.
I used to run into a SD smith or two at auctions but cant say where they were from.
The last few years auctions have been so crazy in prices I quite going. Paying more for new worn out chinese tools than you can buy new.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good to hear from you. I have driven Hwy 19 many times. I live in White, SD which is on SD HWY 30 but if you take SD HWY 30 about 5 miles east across the MN border it becomes MN HWY 19...but you probably already knew this. Thanks for letting me know about the ABANA conference in Rapid City in 2012...I will have to see if maybe by that time I will be able to fit it into my schedule. I am afraid the auction route for equipment may be a long shot. A friend of mine from Rock Rapids, Iowa died from a heart attack about a month ago and his auction was just a couple weeks ago. I wasn't able to attend but I heard from another individual that was interested in the blacksmithing stuff that it went very high. It seems some elderly lady liked the looks of the equipment and wanted it for decoration around her place and was bidding it way up in price.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...