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I Forge Iron

Starting a community forge????

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Hey all

There's a 100+ year old farm very near to my house. I've driven past 1,000's of times, but never actually stopped to check it out.
I walked the grounds the other day and was rather pleased with what I saw-Regular neighborhood people volunteering, getting their hands dirty and growing some very good quality crops to eat, and sell at the neighborhood farmer's market.


While checking the place out, I had the thought that a blacksmith shop might fit in very well with what they are doing there...After a short conversation with some people in the office, they invited me back in a few weeks to discuss my idea in more detail.

My thoughts are that an onsite blacksmith shop would:
#1 be able to repair/sharpen shovels, rakes and other every day use hand tools instead of discarding them and buying replacements.
#2 An operating forge will also be able to recycle and re-purpose discarded items/scrap steel to produce utilitarian and art items to sell at the Farmer's market and possibly generate revenue for the farm.
#3 Community programs can be built around blacksmithing which could serve as an after school vocational activity, or to simply draw in new volunteers.

This farm works closely with, and provides internships for students currently attending a vocational school. I attended this school some years back, and earned scholarship money after completing 900 hours of community service through Americorps.
That scholarship money paid for my welders certification course, my blacksmith classes, paid for most of my welder, anvil, post vise and lots of other odds and ends.

I basically want to give something back, while supporting a good cause.

To me it seems like a great idea, do any of you see any reason why I shouldn't go forward with my proposal?


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I volunteer at the schools when they do reenactments as part of history class. It is very rewarding there is a estate and the blacksmithing group will go out and do demos at there big events. They are probably running on a tight budget so you will have to do the work with your equipment (a mobile set up) under a tree. or maybe they have a space. The big thing is to get a benefactor that will fund the building of a shop for them in the long run. after reading about the farm the first owner ran a saw mill so the more your can include that in your pitch It might help. keep us posted will be interested how it all unfolds for you.

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Ask yourself; do I really want to do this?
If the answer is yes,then don't let reasons not to stop you!
I know this reads like a bumper sticker,but it's true.
Many people see a job and start listing excuses not to do it.
p.s. Sermons over please drive carefull & wear your seatbelt. :D

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you might check with the nwba for members nearby ... the more help the better ... also a lot of people will want to use the shop once you have one ... you need to setup a way to keep any tools from being destroyed /walking away... I think its a good idea and would help if i was nearby ... are you going to the western states conference ? if you are see you there...

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I have opened my forge up once a month to the AABA and others in the community. It has been been very rewarding for me on a personal level. Giving young teenagers and adults a taste of blacksmithing is good for the sole. ;) You should do it!

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Hey all

It's not so much a question if I want to do it or not, because I'm doing it on my own anyway....It's if THEY consider the addition of a blacksmith shop on their farm to be a good idea, and then give me the green light to proceed.
Thingmaker...that's excellent! Perhaps letting them know that other smiths are willing to volunteer will shift their opinions in my favor.

Has anyone done anything similar before? If so, I'm all for hearing how you went about it.


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First thing: get a good LOCKABLE toolchest or cabinet for all the smithing tools---otherwise they will tend to migrate around the farm when you are not there---have each and every one marked with paint to indicate that they are *smithing* tools. (Painting the chest that same colour as the tool markings helps). Have a sign out notebook chained to the chest.

I tend to have to bring a "loaner" hammer to campouts so that when people come to borrow one to drive tent stakes they don't grab the mirror polished rather soft silversmithing hammer and destroy it. (Happened once, we were both upset; but telling them they owed me $60 shifted the levels strongly their way!)

I would advise a rank system with the highest rank being given a key to the toolchest when they prove that they are *safe* and *responsible* (note I don't say they are good at smithing---*safe* and *responsible*!)

The scrap pile should be sorted by carbon content---new smiths often have issues doing that and using high carbon when low is a better choice can be frustrating.

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(Happened once, we were both upset; but telling them they owed me $60 shifted the levels strongly their way!)

That's funny.

You've got quite a way of wording things, that really breaks the issue down to its basic points, and gets it across. We should start a Thomas Powers archive (I was particularly impressed in the noob forge post with your assessment of why new people flail about when considering start-up costs and equipment).
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Pomeroy Living History Farm in North Clark County has done something like this for decades - Last time I was there (last Oct.) it looked like the BS shop hadn't been used in a while so I'm not sure if it's ongoing. They might be a good group to contact for some advice.

Here's their website: http://www.pomeroyfarm.org/

Good luck!

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If people can skip the mistakes I made/make that gets them just a little further down the road to making *new* and *exciting* mistakes of their own (that perhaps I can learn from...) Of course the old saying about "Some folks can learn by reading about something, Others can learn from watching it; but some folks just have to pee on the electric fence themselves", is very true.

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I lived for a couple years in Akron Ohio and got back into Blacksmithing while there. Hale Farm & Village is a possible reference. I met the resident blacksmith when he did a demo for a WRBA meeting I was able to attend.

Hale Farm

Video - And no, that is not me, its some other fine looking fellow (named Tim) who got to work there. :D

I'd volunteer as well if I lived in Portland any more. Since moving back to the west coast, I landed up near Seattle.


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Thanks for the responses as every idea and suggestion is given some consideration.

Basically I am going to ask them for a small patch of ground, and perhaps some volunteers to help with construction (assuming they don't have a structure for me to set up in)
I'm prepared to do it by myself if need be, and my goal is to get the job done with very little or no fund expenditure.
The first order of business is to utilize waste materials for the construction of the shop itself.

I was thinking of using broken up concrete chunks as the footings,(or perhaps a knee wall) upon a rammed-earth floor.

After seeing this website, I'm thinking pallet construction seems like a highly viable option with this project. Lumber is always expensive, every day I see concrete chunks, pallets and scrap wood being given away for free on craigslist. Whatever cannot be purposed for construction will be rendered down into charcoal to use in the forge.

That's another thing, I live in timber country, not coal country.
coal is getting more expensive and increasingly harder to acquire, especially on a "blacksmith's level" around here. Why not save potentially tons of wood scrap destined for a landfill, and use it to fuel a forge?
Trees are everywhere around here, and they're always falling/blown/cut down by people who have no fire place and simply want to get it out of their yard. Failing that...there are several mountainous slash piles just outside of town just waiting for someone with a trailer and a chainsaw.

I know permits are often required to cut wood from these slash piles, but since I would be working for non-profit, perhaps I could obtain special permission, or at least relax the rules somewhat??

My biggest concern is in regards to my tools.....After everything is set up, it would probably be best to make a set of tools that would belong to the farm, while gradually taking my own kit out of circulation.
I do have a lockable metal box to store hammers/tongs/hardies and such, but I am worried most about careless novices trashing my anvil. Teenagers are known all too well for destroying things for sport. *sigh*

Anyways, does my plan seem too fanciful?

Thanks again

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For a building, it might be best to first speak with the folk at the farm. You KNOW how Multnomah County & City of Portland are about permits. :rolleyes: Better if the farm handles this part. Remember the Tryon Life Community Farm? MUCH more clout with City Hall re: alternative building techniques than can be had by an individual. I suspect the folk at Zenger might be able to have similar pull.

Note also - Portland is more open than most places to cob structures for other-than-residential use. Dirt is dirt cheap.

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