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I Forge Iron

Small Hammer-ins

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I Just got home from a great hammer-in in south Oregon. 33 folks signed up, we had meals and coal provided, and Uncle Roy was able to give $400 from the fees back to the historical society. We got invited back for next year.
Friday night was almost magical. We made a hammer out of a splined Peterbuilt transmission input shaft. Five smiths worked on it. Two strikers, a top tool man, a firetender, and a 'put the drift in the vise,quick, and beat the hammer blank off it before it melts into the hammer blank' tech man. Each smith had a job, the whole crowd was in on it, all on the same page, and everybody had good ideas to help it get done.
Saturday I got 'bumped off' my forge and worked at another station for a while. I didn't like his cobbled up cut-off hardy, so we ganged up at night after he left and made him a new one out of some splined PTO shaft I had. It was great seeing Scotty's face as he fired up Sunday morning. He yelled out 'Someone left this shiny tool at my station', and one of the guys told him it was last nights project, and now his!
Small gatherings like this are a great 'creative bump'. I came home with a lot of satisfaction from helping others, and even more in new ideas.
Ron from Susanville was there. He has 12 foot eagle sculptures popping up all over the world, that take 8 months to make and sell for a gazillion dollars. He's an amazingly down to earth guy. I had a great chat with him about my 'sine waves of creativity'. (up, down, up down) He said he has a weird state of mind he gets into where time loses value, and one hour turns into eighteen hours in just a few minutes. I gotta work on that.
Anyway, I would like to encourage folks to attend small hammer-ins. Asking silly questions is free, and it's amazing what 33 minds can gestate when they're not afraid to speak up!

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I just got back from a hammer-in, actually it was the Indiana Blacksmiths Association 25th Annual Conference, in Tipton, IN. Attendence was down a little from last year, which was down a little from the year before (lots of hammer-ins that weekend I think) I didn't hear a head count but I would guess something like 80-90 people came through over the weekend. Randy McDaniels author of "The Blacksmiths Primer" was one of the demonstators, and Nathan Allen was the other (Nathan does traditional reproductions and historical interpertation, at Conner Praire near Noblesville, a living history museum) I watched Nathan's demo he was interested in teaching about how to go about looking at an extent item, and figuring out how it would have been made in period. He place extra emphasis on how stock size wasn't precise, the smith would use what he had to make what he wanted. Forgewelding was EVERYWHERE you look in historical pieces, it was used to make the wrought iron in the first place, it was used to recycle old useless things into new product, it was used where there was a large transition in cross section and stock thickness, it was used to weld up the thicker stock. He showed a numer of antiques, and used them to discuss how they could have been made and then proceeded to make the items: a fire place shovel, a traveler, a hammer, a chisel, and a hinge. He never missed a weld in the whole demo, everything stuck on the first welding heat, even if it didn't stick on the first hit:-) ANd everything he made had at the very least one forge weld in it. It was fun seeing him weld up a faggot of wrought iron to make the body of the hammer out of, and then steel the face and the pein.

There was a good deal of fellowship and freindly ribbing. Ptree was the only cybersmith/anvilfire/iforgeiron person who I saw. I came home from the conference much heavier than I arrived, I got a 450# ANVIL kit:-) This will be my new shop anvil:-) and I traded a nice little english postvice for it. It is a 37" long axil of 4140 off of some heavy equipment. 6" diameter shaft, with a ~22" flange at the bottom, all I have to do is dress, and harden the face (oh and bury it to get it to a good working height for me:-) I picked up some other goodies, too:-) There was a Forging Contest where you had 30 minutes to forge a cube out of 2"of 1"round. Ptree and I won the cube was 1 1/8" and pretty square (I always bring a lot of tools to a forging contest:-) I ended up sharing my tools with several other teams (they happened to come in 2nd and 3rd) I wasn't a boyscout very long but I still try to "be prepared" when it is important.

Looking forward to Quadstate, we need T-shirts:-) So we can find each other and put some real people behind these signins:-)

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I surely did hate missing Hanley this year. But Nathan was home and to be honest I am not sure I could have done the trip due to my arm.
Now the 64K question... was there talk of next year? I sure hope so as I will be there.

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