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Finding blacksmiths clobber


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I was going to post this in the Tailgating section in response to Archie's dillemna about lack of funds. But it might be better in a new thread. It's directed at young Archie but you can all read it

Archie, one way of obtaining gear is to let everyone know that you're really keen to get into this blacksmithing thing. Some will fob you off as wasting your time while others will recognise your enthusiasm and keep your interest in mind. You never know, your mate will tell his old man who might talk to his mate who might not have any need for the anvil laying out under a tree in the yard. My first hand cranked blower came from my old man. I thought I knew every piece of junk that he'd piled up (even hidden from prying eyes) but then one day he holds this thing up with "this any good to you?" My first reaction was "where have you been hiding that!?"

Remember though that how far the message will travel is only relative to the enthusiasm you put behind it.

Remember too that a good grounding in the three R's is going to be a big help to a budding smith. In other words I hope your homework is not being put aside so you can bash up hot metal. Here's some anyway; look up the word 'serendipity'....that's how you'll find a lot of your gear.

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When I first started, I ran ads asking for blacksmith tools in the classified ads of all the local small town papers around San Antonio. Bear in mind this was around '83 and the antique craze was not in full swing but I got a lot of phone calls. I found a few treasures and also went on wild goose chases. One of those was a guy who had an old home made wooden forge with no blower and a factory firepot. The forge was shot and the pot had a small hole in it but he was asking $1800 or to trade for a tandem axle trailer. I still remember it because it was so outrageous.

On the other hand, an elderly lady called and said she had some tools that her late husband had owned. I showed up and it was a bunch of hand tools (including tongs), a small anvil and about 700 lbs of coal in old nail barrels. It was in her way so she asked me to haul it off. I was finally able to convince her to take $20 since I couldn't see taking it for nothing. On another trip, a fellow sold me a leg vise, a large cast iron forge with pot and like-new hand blower on a tripod for $50. However, he would not even discuss selling the anvil - because it had belonged to grandpa - just like the other stuff.

Like Strine said, put the word out and you'll be surprised what you may find.

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I let my family know that I was getting into smithing and my uncle pulled me aside at Christmas. He asked if I needed a vise, and then took me to his house where he had my G-G-Grandfather's blacksmith vice in his mule shed. Most of the family didn't even know the vice existed.

Also, you'll find your local smiths more than generous if you hang around with them long enough at local guild meetings, hammer-ins, etc. That's how I got material for my forge for free.

It'll happen for you, if you're enthusiastic enough! :D

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