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I Forge Iron

"Of Shoes,and Ships,and Sealing Wax ..."


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Beth and John,

I couldn't agree more that the art and craft of Blacksmithing is very alive and well, frankly if it were not then this website wouldn't exist for us to debate if it is still alive or not!

I don't think that there is anything "wrong" with computers or other "fake" items of use. They all have their purpose, I just believe in balance and see that as one of the greatest issues facing all of America, if not a lot of the world now.

The balance of how much we eat to how much we work or play, how much we learn to how much we live, how much we worry to how much we work to fix things and how much we love to how much we hate are all too often way out of wack! The only solution that I believe has any chance of success is to lead by example, if not us then who?

Hey Jake,

Havn't read the Ruskin on Gothic either, however I ran accross a great old blacksmithing book that is downloadable for free from Google.

Here is a link to it:

http://books.google....epage&q&f=false

The first chapter is about design philosophy and reads to me as if, you Jake had a hand in writing it! Are you sure you arn't over 100 years old?

I once made a rather large trellis for gords to grow on out of apple tree suckers and twine. I was astonished by the almost perfect proportional taper that the suckers had and must say that they inspired me a good deal in my metal work. I must also say that I am not in love with "reproductions" of nature out of forged metal as elements in a grill, fence or railing, however I do like them as individual sculptures. . . why I see a difference there I don't know!

As to texture of materials, I will try and get a photo of a crowbar that my Great-Grandfather forged many years back. He swaged the entirety of its length in about 1 1/8" by 1" rectangular sections, which not only gave it an interesting look, but also gave it a great gripping capacity. The few times that I have used it(my brother has possion of it) I found that it holds the hand easier then modern ones. There was also a fire poker that he made, which my Grandfather left at his house with the wood stove that it went with when he moved. It was very simple, made out of round stock with a non-welded ring at one end, then a round section then a simple round finished hook at the work end. What was curious about it was then it hung on the side of the stove and thusly was kept hot and dry, it had NO finish yet was perpetually rust free and I truly believe that it was the smoothest metal that I have ever felt. It had a smooth look and feel that can only come from decades and decades of handling and constant use, it was as if a part of the handlers of it over the years was stored in it.

One of the favorite items that I own is a Stanley quad fold with pins, two foot ruler. It it made of a boxwood core, brass hinges and brass sides. What is interesting about it is its hand made nature. The brass edges are darn near perfectly straight, while the union between the wood core and brass edges are wavy and somewhat undulating. What was the craftsmans(or craftpersons) key was to make the working surfaces as perfect as possible, while literally seamlessly joining the two "imperfect" parts of the tool.

I must say that I have greatly enjoyed all of the words written by everyone in this discussion and thank you Jake for starting it!

Caleb Ramsby

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Michael,you're a wild man,for sure!I like that crazy torso,a human skull sounds fitting...You'll have to...umm...,harvest it yourself?(I'm so tired that had to sit a while to think of a politically-co

Wow(again ),Clay,i forget that you're a fellow dweller of essentially the same Pacific Northwest!All is the way you've said it,much of it news to me,in my isolation. Made me think of all those giant

Bug on Jake, First off ref WI supplier in UK I personally would not and do not go there, I have my reasons and will stand by them. I did start to post a response to JK last night as I was respondin

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Beth you do realize that all his beautiful works on a computer will probably be totally last in a decade or two right? *none* of my early computer programs is on a medium that I could currently read in today with any system I own. Even if I had loaded my paper tapes onto punchcards and the punchcards onto a bernouli drive my early works would still be "lost". The steel items I forge can be passed from daughter to grandchild to great grandchild.

I have my first steel blade. It looks the same today as when I made it 30 years ago. I look at it from time to time to remind myself what a long strange trip it's been!"

All creativity is good however creativity lost is a sad thing indeed. the "I remember" is a sad refrain compared to "look at this!"

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Yep, yep and yep. Not much I could add, nice work Jake, the dragon has more of a NW feel to me, first piece that I've seen of yours that doesn't have function? I don't understand that this work is dishonorable just because it doesn't have a function. I will enjoy seeing what you come up with for your show I would really like to see the fish-pew (looks like a skate to me) say 20' tall, but that would involve a bigger hammercool.gif maybe it would be much less commercial then.

What I do know is making forged work for art sake does not release me from doing good work and I have found it to be much harder than traditional functioning work? You defiantly have to be thick skinned (and a bit hungry) to show your passion.

BTW here is some of my old campus clutter.

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Hey now,there's the campus clutter and campus clutter!You're good at it.Michael,thoughtful,and passionate both.It's not the most advantageous photo,do you have one with the pterodactyl more centered to the viewer? :D
I've really enjoyed looking at your "vessel",at the NW forum,very cool that you have the guts to do the non-functional stuff,my hat's off...
Very tough day today,very little production.Played with the general door handle prototype+assorted pseudo-ethnic stamping(ought to quit looking up all the sciphian/alan/sarmat artefacts,at least for a while).
It's very tough to be a village blacksmith.The traffic is incessant,and I never knew that so much of the job consists of alchohol counselling,and related duties.
Ireally appreciate all the thoughts,afraid that i'm too far gone to do them justice,will probably reply about the middle of the night,as usual.

Just in case,that Ruskin essay that i had in mind,is very significant.
In it,he compares the largely anarchic dwellers of the northern forests,their spiky conifers/wolves and bears,with the much better organised Mediterranian craftsmen.Who as a rule worked under architects(vs the solitary and separated northerners,serfs of distant feudal lords),creating very regular,geometric designs(mosaics,frescoes),employing all the brilliant colors that they were surrounded by,the sea,the flowers,brightly colored birds.Again,vs the morbid,black/white/tan palette of the North.
So,to make the short story long,what happened is that Northerners created the Gothic masterpieces,using that exact forbidding spikiness,shagginess,and monochrome of their miserable,squalid existence,and all went to heaven,because they still loved God even though He was very mean to them!They were the Good Children in the story,and you can guess what happened to the bad ones.
Oh,yeah:The eclectic elements in the Gothic stuff,gargoyles and such.It was their dysfunction,anarchy,and all the general lack of parental oversight that allowed for such rich brattiness!The goody-two-shoes Mediterranians would never dare-life was too good to misbehave...



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ramsberg - what you say about balance and life is very true and i agree with you completely. thomas - yes the storage of this "cyber' stuff is a problem, and also drags me screaming back to my gut instinct that its a waste of time.... (help!!?) and how do you encourage your own children in these persuits - they are not me it would be wrong to try to make them me... parenting is often an intolerable dilemma...
jake your words are hilarious as usual, your writing talents im positive, are wasted. i entirely sympathise with your village blacksmith/ counsellor/advisor/ general companion for the lonely and disillisioned, becasue i have the same duties myself - it is Far MOre WEaring and tiring than physical work eh? ! have a good productive and creatively fullfilling day everyone ( not that much to ask..?) :)

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Thank you,Beth,that's a very kind wish on your part,i'm glad that you can relate on so many levels.This place is an absolute madhouse,pretty much all the time.Village life is intense,i love it,it's the best excuse not to get anything done at all.
The rearing of children is an absolute IMPONDERABLE conundrum nowadays more than ever,as the change in society,communications,and technology is historically unprecedented.
"They"(?)say that all the electronic doo-dahs teach a person as much as the "real",tactile arts,as the change at the neuron level is actually taking place...

My computer is trying to crap out on me,if i can,i'll try to post a link to a russian amateur archeology site.There are some photo alboms of ancient bronze castings,fairly rare east of the Ural range stuff.Amasing plasticity in all the 3D metal stuff...
http://domongol.su/gallery/album.php?id=164
OK,these are the galleries of objects,you can check them out at random,and not worry about the language(the attribution is approximate anyway,and made by god knows who...You can treat it like a Mass in Latin...a cool,non-cerebral experience :P )
The bronze casting contributes little to design in forged iron,but,it's the neuron change that matters :)

Caleb,thanks much for the link,and all your thoughts as well.It's been years since i've looked at Googerty's book,it all comes back to me now!I think that he was somewhat of a tragic,saintly character,who ended up spending his whole life teaching young prisoners,or some sort of troubled youth...

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zen 29 one up from the bottom of that list ( i had to write that first so i didnt forget it!!) is particularly beautiful - what lovely looking items - i particularly appreciate the people on some of the is it a pendant?? i love seeing how jewellery is constructed and if ONLY i had more skill would love to make work like this on a larger scale.. i think cast stuff completely relates to what we are forging (- almost anything does really tho doesnt it?) the shapes and weight of the metal are easily transferable. i personally really get intot the whole casting thing - i cant really get to the bottom of why i like it becasue primarily it is for the purpose of repetition which in and of itself is not that interesting. there is something about a mould, even if broken after use - esspecialy if broken after use..?.. and that it was liquid and now solid... i dunno. i really like thinking about the process though and the time it has taken..

there is a blacksmith on here (which once sent me a beautiful steel mouse he had made) and he is from russia i never see him at all on here now he is called vladimir - and some of the things that used to be on his gallery i thought were breathtaking in their feeling and their design. did it for me anyway!! i wonder if his gallery is still here i adored some of his russian folk looking stuff.

jake the point about the kids - i sometimes find the task totally overwhelming, and i feel utterly unequipped to help them negotiate the modern world, mainly becasue i find it so hard to engage with. they Dont however becasue it is normal to them.. maybe they are the ones who will help me negotiate it...?it is comfoting to read what you said - you seem to get the dificulty of it all (filled with joy and amazement too of course)esspecially within the field that we are disscussing, you want the best for them obviously and much of what i see offered to them and enjoyed by their peers is rubbish beyond words. but really i suppose each judges what they want for themselves from their lives in terms of enjoyment stimulation and all the rest of it - it is simply not up to me to define it for them?

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This has been a very interesting thread to read... I do have a few questions/comments.

First, some of the quality/craftsmanship/beauty of things in some of the posted links is incredible to me. Take for example the thread posted by Jake earlier: http://forum.ostmetal.info/showthread.php?t=220649

Second, does anyone know where to find some of these "Rules without number" that have been "rehearsed through countless printed pages on the subject of design"? that Googerty refers to on page 23 of his book? Most Blacksmith books I have read tell much more about process than design, and so reading some of this material on designing hand forged ironwork would be really interesting.


As to an interest in the "old" arts and crafts and the apparent lack of interest of most of the younger people (i.e., my age), here are a few thoughts.
I think different things can attract different people to the same things; I was attracted to blacksmithing partially because it is making something, and partly because of the "feel" or "aesthetic" to it... it's hard to explain. Do you think all those young people (and not so young people) who love Lord of the Rings love it solely because of the action, exotic creatures, and use of magic? I would say they certainly do not. There is a "realism," a "feel" or "aesthetic" to it that just makes you want... something. I'm not sure what it makes you want. Maybe to live in a middle-earth type environment?

Blacksmithing was a way for me to pursue that sort of aesthetic in a concrete way - though I have since begun enjoying it for other reasons. When most people (boys anyway) want to pursue it in a concrete way, the first item they think of is a sword; it is rightfully set apart as a weapon of days gone by, which required strength, skill, and courage to use. And it is very romanticized. So they decide to go online to find out how to make one.... well, you know what happens from there.

Most young people, I think, end up pursuing that aesthetic in the world of video games; for me, that was very unsatisfying. But it is hard to pursue in the real world; experiences tend to not be as immersive.

Case in point - I went to an SCA meeting hoping to hang out in a medieval atmosphere. It didn't feel like a medieval atmosphere, it felt like a bunch of nerds walking around in costumes. I guess there were too many anachronisms...

Just a few of my thoughts - take it for what it's worth.


By the way, when it comes to pages in foreign languages, it's not a problem if you can find someone who is tech savvy enough to set up auto translate. (I'm 20, so I did it for my computer to translate the pages from russian to english ;) )

Beth - the section you referred to is titled "virtual reconstructions of artifacts." Also, did you see the celtic items? They are mostly mirrors, but still really cool looking. http://domongol.su/gallery/album.php?id=144

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luke thanks - they are mirrors those things!!yes they are very cool :) i cannot make my computor translate ( can you jake???) and i am 38 - i am in the no mans land in terms of technology - not old enough to be completely out of it not young enough to be completely in it.. i understand what you say about a feel and a longing for something about an aesthetic - i think this is often how people come to be interested passionately in something - by folowing their instincts. also i have often heard the youth critisised for wanting to make a sword (without realising through telelpathy or other peoples knowledge or something that they will be expect ed to make at at least 50,000 nails first before anyone will listen to their idea) but who in their right mind would not want to make a sword?? we all know how much skill this requirtes but the impulse to make something this ancient and groovy is what draws peopls in and what inspires the impulse to try forging metal. you are right luke - diffent things draw differnt people to the same thing. i sometimes think making things out of metal has a lot to do with the ego and that thing you made being hard to destroy. and you living forever!!!!!! it does with me anyway! :)

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Oh my Goodness. have just seen the other link you put on there luke which jake must have put on for us earlier and i missed...... that is exactly like the stuff i said that guy vladimir did!!! i need more time to look through it but this stuff breaks my heart. This Is Beautiful Iron work!!!!!!!!! thanks for alerting me to that link....

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As you know well yourself,Beth,you can't define anything for them.But,as they watch you act,now but especially i think later in their lives,what you do and the way you act will define EVERYTHING for them,and increasingly so...(So I think,being the worst parent imaginable,AND the worst child as well,and THAT teaches one a great deal ;) )

Luke!So cool to see a representative of the up and coming generation here!I,too,would dearly love to find them "rules without number"...But not sure that they exist,as in written down form.
I'd say that's exactly what we're doing here,though,making them up!What's wrong with making up one's own rules? :P (while we look,anyway).
My weird opinion is that the rules are in our genetic make-up(to use a term that i could never actually define).But i really do believe that 100%.
What's not innate to us,the set of skills,et c.,is still sort of innate because we pick it up so readily.Even the interest itself,which is where it begins.
So,the skills can be easily learned from others,here and elsewhere,and the rest of the secret knowledge is contained in the iron itself.
And that really is all that there's to it:Our innate capacity to interact with the structure of iron,our affinity with it.Thus,our
"taste" in ironwork.

Whereupon we come to that(despised by many)obnoxious attitude as far as the iron goes,that can be expressed by the old:"Life's too short to drink cheap beer" :)

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beth - I forgot to mention, it said that the mirrors were cast bronze.

In regards to those amazing doors, it makes me wonder what it would be like to live among beauty like that - if everything was built to last hundreds of years, and handmade with beautiful details worked in. It makes me wonder if I would take it for granted....



The way I got my computer to translate is this:
I downloaded and installed Google Chrome: http://www.google.com/chrome/intl/en/make/download.html?brand=CHKZ
Which is like Internet Explorer only better and faster
And then I installed google translate: http://translate.google.com/support/
There's a couple more steps after that, I can help you if you want.

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nice one and thsank you luke i may be brave patient enough to try that!!!! also i thought the same as you exactly looking at those pictures, what on earth would life feel like to be surrounded by that imagery and those materials and all that beauty. i reckon it would be pretty good personally (i do my best inside my own home!!) it would feel trippy and too good to be true:)

jake your right its all in the genetic pattern whatever, otherwise this stuff would not have so much magnetism? l like the thought of the rest of it being in the material - becasue there is a "the rest of it' apart from technique and learned interest and instinct, there is something else too, maybe a meeting with creation? or is that too much hippy mumbo jumbo for anyone to stomach? i kind of think in this way in the privacy of my own brain, and the ww web :) and as for a bad paarent - i can only imagine this is nonsense when you talk in such an interesting and lovely way - you must have filled your child/childrens heads with enough nourishment to keep them going for many lifetimes! i would have drank your theories up if you had been my father! as for a bad child - well - thats as may be :)

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Allright,here's what i've wasted nearly 5 hours,and coal without count on,today.And here's what i think about it:
I can't believe that after all these years i'd still do something as stupid as grab a mystery chunk of steel...This having started out as 1" rd,and having turned out to be other than mild,it wasted lots of time and fuel,and beat me up pretty good.
Also,first time in a long while,i've screwed up a rope twist.Good grief.
Something went dreadfully wrong with plasticity on the outside of stock,the only part,or the one most affected by the twist.So i've done a slezy thing,and modified it's surface by smearing it with a hammer.A hammered twist.Shame upon my greying beard.

However,i did get to play with hot iron,and try out this one design trick that i've wanted to for a while-to balance the poker by an enourmously heavy handle.It's interesting.The COB is at...ok,just kidding.

And yes,another of my insufferable balls,this one a good 1 1/2" across.There's a reason for this(other than it's the only rod-ending that i know :unsure: ).


I hates Bagginses,no,not that,rather dysfunctional pokerses.There were so many that i've seen,and handled,and even tried to use!It's disgusting:The poker does a couple of very simple tasks at most,and there ought to be a law.

Here's MY law(as an adult,i've really never lived with anything but wood heat,so it's not a brain-fart,either).The poker must be good at dragging things toward the wielder.Therefore,it must have a point,and some lengh (not great)of the perpendicular member.THere needs NOT be a protrusion beyond that-it serves no purpose.
Above that,the slight flat on the cross-piece helps to dig for embers in the ashes,of a cold morning.But that's specialisation,and not strictly necessary.

It being a tool that one pulls,there MUST be a bulge that one's palm rests against when so employed.It sucks not to have that!Other than that it's nice to have some reference long axis-wise,as one does turn the poker to flip the log,sometimes.But one can just tense the hand for that,wether for pulling it violates any common sense of tool design!

Now,i've had a tough day at the forge,and it's so nice to have a place to vent! :)

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Actually, that hammered rope twist goes well with your faceted ball and the square shaft. They all share a similar geometry. Looks good by me.

I've got no philosophical input at the moment, recent events have put me in a very practical state of mind. I got a drill hung up and spun the vise on the drill press. It came around at 600 rpm and broke my left index finger before shooting across the room. Going to the hand surgeon for a more complete diagnosis tomorrow. If the word "quick" is in your head you should probably take a deep breath and count to ten before using power tools.

I've got some health insurance and the bills are covered, so it's not a life-altering injury, just gonna mess with my schedule a bit. Looking at my schedule for the next couple of months to see what's gonna get done and how. Help is readily available,but none of them have forging experience. Should be interesting.

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Darn it,Lewis,you haven't hurt that vise,have you?!
Very sorry to hear all that.Pictured it all very vividly,as i've a 20" Champion camel-back here that i use every day,"There but for the grace of god go i..."
Hope that you'll get everything on line,if i'd lived in the neighborhood would volunteer to help most gladly,alas and alack.
Get well.

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Jake, I'm glad your moment of inattention only led to forging harder steel.

I think drill presses are dangerous as a result of familiarity. Use it often, there's very little setup; You just slap the work on the table or put it in the vise and slide it into place. This was a small part so there was no question about it going in the vise. But the vise just sits on the table and this piece was thicker than the ones I had just finished. I did the same thing that I did 10 minutes before, but I wasn't doing the same job as 10 minutes before.

I would have been safer in the 20" "camel-back" drill press, the vise on mine is bolted down. The round, rotating table allows any point on the table to be moved under the drill, but it only has one speed, which is quite slow. Ironic that the older, scarier tool would have prevented this accident. Perhaps I should mount my cross-slide table to the other one.

I'm on my way out of town on family stuff, so that's almost the first week of recovery without lost shop time. :rolleyes: I'll try and check in if I experience any philosophical enlightenment.

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Found an interesting book on the design of hand forged iron, from an artistic perspective, "Ironwork: From the Earliest times to the end of the Medieval Times", by Gardner: free from Google.

http://books.google.com/books?id=izw2AAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=related:LCCN11033614&as_brr=1#v=onepage&q&f=false

I haven't had time to even read all of the introduction as of yet, but skimming through it, it appears to be a very interesting read, not a how to, but more of a "why they" did something, or at least the authors ideas of such.

Speaking of swords, this is one place where I am completely lost! I have never aspired to wield a sword, much less to produce one. I was rather shocked when I first got into blacksmithing(firstly to create wood and stone working tools, then to create just in general) to find that half of the people asked if I shod horses, the other half asked me to make them a sword.

A little tale, many years back my sisters then boyfriend said that he wanted me to help him make an axe. I asked him what kind of axe and he said a 100 lb axe! I thought he was joking, then he went on to say that since he was a child he had dreamed of wielding a 100 lb axe and at the time he was doing the "play fighting" with "fake" weapons with friends in the woods thing. I told him that firstly, I didn't have the capacity to forge a 100 lb anything, much less an axe, secondly there is no such thing as a "fake" 100 lb weapon, thirdly it would be almost impossible to wield it safely, much less for a guy like him who only weighed 150 - 160 lbs!

I told him quote, "Even an idiot deserves a chance to learn." and showed him how to forge a small knife blank.

I must admit to have gotten a bit upset in regards to the whole sword thing, I don't want to kill anyone and for self defense I learned how to fight with my hands, they(so far at least) are always with me. I have a great respect for the skill which is required in their production, but honestly is not 80% or more of the hands on time spend grinding and grinding and grinding and polishing them, not in forging them? The only time a grinder or file has touched my hand forging has been to produce a cutting edge on a chisel or the working face of whatever tool I was making.

A good friend of mine once told me, "If you encounter something that you really hate, then revisit it and expose yourself to it more.". What I got out of that was that hate is an emotion, an emotion is an inborn and learned response to an input of some sort. What exactly is the input that causes hatred or despisement? Is it the thing that we consciously attribute it to or is it much deeper and a compilation of things from our subconscious?

Caleb Ramsby

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I don't have any philisophical input to this interesting thread. I just thought that I would show that I'm doing my best to get my kids into learning to work with their hands. Here is my 5 year old on his own anvil. I build an anvil stand suitable for his height. I also found a small ball pein hammer that he can manage. Last weekend we forged a small loop out of some 1/8" stock. It was his first time hitting hot steel on an anvil.

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Before anyone comments on safety glasses, we weren't doing any work yet. He was just waiting to start up.

I also have a 7 year old girl who claims the 450 pound Peter Wright is hers. I'm lucky that she lets me use it...

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Caleb,thanks for the link,i'll see what it is after the charcoaling chores.
I'm afraid that in all my travels i've not encountered "the fobia of forging a sword" before!Quite the opposite,like you say yourself,that every kid wants to forge a sword,be they in an adult body or what have you!

I'm not sure at all,not being of either persuasion very strongly,but i can,theoretically,see the magic of (grinding :P )...sword-making.As in "The vorpal blade went snicker-snack...".It often speaks very vividly to people,some associate it with creativity,others with destruction,but it's always been a very powerful symbol to folks,needless to say.Enlightment,i think,too,but it's been a while since i've looked up old Joe Campbell :)

Technically,it's an incredibly complicated object,with it's harmonics,vibratory nodes,and other extreme physics of it's use.I can see how one can be facsinated with it from that point alone,but had never came very close to the subject myself,never past the oxidised state of anything,really.MUCH wonder in the metallurgy of swords,that's for sure.I can easily picture it to become all-consuming passion,i bet that's what you're sensing,and resisting B)

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firstly - oh dear fc iron and your injury - hard luck - i hope that gets netter very thoroughly....
jake - i really really like the look of the poker - i agree heartily with the whole weight on the end and in the palm thing - i too cook and heat only on a wood system :) so i am continually handling the stuff and its remains - you are absolutley correct in what you say - a bad poker is in fact disgusting! i have the most simple rudimetnry poker on my kitchen range - i did nto even make it i have had it far longer than i have had facility to make my own and oddly ive never thought to replace it - it has a sim[ple hooked handle and a drawing hook pointing downwards rather than across the end of it ( am rubbish at describing) . i really like the faceted ball - it reminds me of a huge cur gem, and looks brilliant. i am very sorry to hear you had a tough and unrewarding day - although im sure its not the first wont be the last, and that you can handle the pain:)
as for the sword issue - i agree that a lot of grinding and polishing isnt neceserily that ap[pealing but a sword is surely a tool of great excitment ? i haev (clearly) never made one but i have weilded one many times during my serious kung fu years and it was absolutely wonderful, i often think about the feeling of the movements even though i dont practice anymore. for me the use of the sword (classical kung fu is very detailed and precise training and very interesting) is what made me think about the proces of making one - the sheer numbers that must have been made for warfare is mind boggloing, and most of the chinese broadswords (which i was using) woudl have nbeen made pretty crudely. these were not gentelemans dueling swords, but heavy often double handed rough and ready footsmans swords, to be used art extrtememly close range, and with a fantstic way/range of movement. FABulous Good Fun :)

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mark - your boy is very lucky! i love his picture - how come they al do that hiding their lips smile:) ? i certainly was not going to comment on the safety glasses! your daughter also is a lucky girl that she has not been overlooked due to her sex ( you see this a lot amoungst adults who make presumptions about what their little princess may or may not like - or what they think appropriate :)!) good for you - a lot of fun ahead for you all

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Beth,i sure do enjoy reading your posts!That is somehow very fitting that you're a swordswoman :) !
I must say that i'm very surprised that you cook with wood,i wasn't sure as to what kind of access you may have to firewood in England,nowadays.
But since you wrote this,now i'm picturing this Dickensian "grate","hob"(?),and all the cool exotic accutrements that a wood-fired kitchen utilises.
Do you use open fire in a fireplace,or a cookstove,with a castiron cook-top?(Lately,as i split all the wood for the charcoaling process,i find myself falling back into the cookstove wood splitting mode...It used to be that 2 milk-crates full would run it long enough to bake about 6 loaves of bread,or do one cycle in a pressure-canner,but now i'm splitting it by a 55-gal drum...)
What kind of cool forged stuff you use in the kitchen? B)
And,something that i wanted to ask you,or maybe John B,one of these days:How were those grill-things made,the ones where the a bunch of rods are welded together in a series of in-fitting,nesting heart-shapes?(is that description totally obscure?i'll try to find a picture)...

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