Glenn

Interview with a blacksmith

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Please allow us to interview YOU.
The following questions are sample questions, and are simply a place to start the interview.

1) Name
2) Location
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make.

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing
5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil,
6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks,

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft
8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing
9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing
11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing
12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith.

Please add any thing we may have missed or should have asked.

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1) Mark Rossnagel
2) ne North Carolina USA
3) Hobby blacksmithing. BBQ tools, Crosses, fireplace tools, candle holders, door knockers from horse shoes, strap hinges, many many small things.
4) Got started a year and a half ago. Always gravitated to the smithys at fairs.
5) First anvil was a piece of RR rail.
6) First forge was a brake drum forge. Have since made two brakedrum 55 forges with continuous improvements to each.
7. My son was the driving force in building a forge when he got back from Iraq.
8) I was encouraged by many of the members here.
9) The tool that has made the greatest difference in the shop was my first anvil. The next tool that will make the biggest impact will be walls :unsure: and a roof. :rolleyes:
10) Best advice I can give is to realize that there are those that make their living out of this craft. Seek out one or more of these masters and learn all you can.
11) My advice or rather request to those that are highly experienced blacksmiths: Teach all you can to those that are willing to learn.
12) I learned that black is only another color in the heat scale.

I am not a professional blacksmith. I am a hobbyiest that really enjoys blacksmithing.

13) What do you aspire to achieve in blacksmithing? a. I intend to learn all I can, sell my wares/art/tools at craft shows. I intend to keep it as a hobby and make just enough to support that hobby.

Mark

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1) Steve Sells
2) Northern, Indiana
3) Part time smith, 3/4 of my work knives and swords, 1/4 general smithing for farmers, architecture
4) Watched smiths at local fairs for years, one day (I was in my 20's) I talked to Fred Oden, he Invited me to stop by his shop
5) Fred's shop anvil was the first I used, later when I was training under the late Bill Wyant to learn blade work, I was given my own, a 60# anvil from Dr. Jim Hrisoulas.
6) First forge I owned was a large double bellows I bought from Terry Moran, I still use it for demos and fairs, even though I have had to rebuild much of it since.
7) Fred Oden, then VP of Indiana Blacksmithing Association. He made me hand file away hammer marks. My work station was right next to the power belt sander to annoy me LOL. but I did learn fast how to not leave hammer marks, Thanks to Fred.
8) nothing changed, only that I wanted to know more.
9) Buying the Bader B-3 2x72 grinder
10) Learn the basics of metal work before trying to jump into more specialized work. One may not need to spend the 4 years I did before doing any blades, but in my case it helped me greatly.
11) Share what you have learned, do not just hoard the skills that were shared with you but keep passing them on.
12) Got an Order from Army EOD unit for PW blades made from left-overs of their "work"

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1) Name
Arean

2) Location
Paradise, CA (Nor Cal)

3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make.
A lot of bottle openers and cork screws

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing
Less than a year ago. A friend invited me over to his house for beer and piton forging.

5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil,
Large chunk of pot iron, probably a weight of some sorts

6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks,
Steel bucket, lifted off the ground with bricks, many holes drilled in the bottom. Actually worked great. No need for forced air.

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft
Dave Richer and Brent Bailey

8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing
The first time I walked into Dave's shop and found how willing he was to show me around and share information. He could have changed my whole attitude about the trade right then and there.

9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop
Better hammers and an anvil

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing
Find a mentor

11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing
Find peers

12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith. Please add any thing we may have missed or should have asked.

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1. Stuart Geisler
2. Montrose, Pennsylvania
3. Tool Forging, Restoration Hardware, and anything that looks interesting and challenging
4. April, 1976, served a five year apprenticeship in a tool forging shop
5.A 512 pound peter wright in the shop I served my apprenticeship
6. I still have the first forge I ever bought, a champion industrial forge with a rheostatically controlled electric blower
7. Fyodor Czub, who I served my apprenticeship under, and my younger brother
8. Getting HIRED!
9. My triphammers
10. Wear Hearing Protection
11. tell folks to wear hearing protection and goggles
12. seeing a 601 pound peter wright sell on ebay for close to 8 thousand dollars
13. I would like to teach someone who becomes so good, he/she can outproduce ME at the forge and anvil

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1) Name.....Bruce MacMillan


2) Location....johnstown,co

3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make............ Architectural ornamental, tools, sculpture, whatever.

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing.......Started out in the artisan trip with stained glass....welded sculpture......blacksmithing

5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil,..........A fairly decent 60 lb cast iron one.

6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks........... old hand cranked rivet forge.

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft..........Slim Spurling..rip

8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing.......1972? Crested Butte,co......Watching Jim Wallace make rams heads.
9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop............Power hammers, cranes.

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing............Get involved with local groups and forums..........If professionally inclined learn to wear more than just one hat. Designer, sales rep, (which was the hardest for me to master cause it involves selling yourself, clients like that), welder, fabricator, ( the last two are especially handy for making your own tools), get some learnin' then do it your way

11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing.............Hobbyists, enjoy yourselves. Pros,keep swingin', It's a jungle out there....... :lol:

12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith..........Lately, IFI and other forums........Got to do the most of the ironwork at Joe Cockers new house in Crawford,co......Nice guy.

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1) Name
Andrew Feldner
2) Location
Waukesha WI (Near Milwaukee)
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make.
Hobby smith. I make knick nacks - bottle openers, lots of hooks, and the Drink Stake™ :) I want to mostly do demos, with just enough selling to keep me in coal and metal.
4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing
About 2 years ago. Found that they were teaching a class at Old Word Wisconsin ( living history museum - kind of like Willamsburg...)
5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil,
Cast ASO
6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks,
Fist forge is a rivit forge, I still use it for demos.
7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft
Daryl Cashdollar
8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing
The first time I saw it,
9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop
Electricty
10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing
Just do it! And don't set yourself on fire too much
11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing
Like you can tell a smith anything.....

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1) Name Lyle Wynn
2) Location Brandon MS
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make. I like to forge as efficiently as I can, so I can make items that can be sold in the 10 to 50 dollar range. I occaisonally make knives, and enjoy striking to make tools or have someone strike for me.

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing My uncle called one day and asked me if I would like to have my grandfathers old blacksmithing tools. I said yes and joined the MS Forge Council in 1998.
5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil, My Grandfathers Mousehole anvil.
6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks, The forge was a 55 gallon drum that had mortar on the concaved end with a real fire pot and clinker breaker in the center. The blower was an old creamer with a belt running to a model A ford water pump that had been altered so it had fins on it and was housed in a wooden frame. I ended up purchasing an electric blower.

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft I met Jim Piggott after joining the Forge COuncil and learned everything I could from him as well as from anyone that would share any info.
) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing Meeting Brian Brazeal then working with him enough to realize just how efficient you can be at moving metal when you apply the elements of forging that he can explain in the most detailed views.



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12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith. I have gotten to travel to many states and meet many very interesting people. I have gotten to help with teaching classes that usually result in learning some things that I would have never learned if I had not been watching how other people work around obstacles. I got laid off from my daytime job in December of last year and have forged more in the last year than probably in the last ten years. This has resulted in an increase in learning how to forge tremendously.

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1 Jeff Mosley

2 Adger, Alabama just outside of Birmingham

3 Hobby , I make different things like hooks, bbq tools, and what ever I can learn or what ever someone needs.

4 My family went camping in April 2011, I ran into a bladesmith show, meet some very nice people and they invited me to come and meet with them the next month. That event started something that I thought I would never be able to get into...

5 First anvil, a buddy of mine got me a piece of rail road track about a foot long. Got that 2 or 3 years ago, since I have gotten into a group and learned a few things I bought 3 real anvils but still use that rail from time to time.

6 My forge is a home made aluminum frame about 30"x30" on wheels, 1/8" steel top, fire pot 1/2 " thick plate and the blower is out of a gas fire kettle that was scraped out at work.

7 Glenn Holmes forge master of Vulcan Forge part of the Alabama Forge Council

8 I do not know what changed, always been interested in blacksmithing, guess that finally meeting someone who is involved and not just at a show or a demo allowed me to get started but like I said always been intrested

9 So far a real anvil 150lb and a good pair of gloves

10 Take things as they come and do not rush... All things happen in time.

11 I've not been around this enough for all that advise giving to people who are already in this, other than there is more than one way to do anything, stay open to new ideas.

12 Things that I have learned so far, you can always meet and make new friends, metal will do anything you just got to learn how to make it do what you want it to do, if you do not know just ask, the only dumb question is the one not asked...
guess I could go on about all this but most of this I already knew just took a new group of good people to make me remember!

13 I hope that I can pass on the things that I have and are still learning to someone else one day, and maybe I can make a positive impact on the people that I meet.

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1)Paul Giardini

2)Delta,Ohio

3)What type of blacksmithing do you do, what do you make?
I do pretty much any thing that comes my way,I like making things that sell quick or that I like. Candle holders, sign brackets, door knockers, leaves, triangle dinner bells, and so on.

4)How and when did you get started in blacksmithing?
Got started six years ago through a friend of mine, and going to the county fair.

5)What object or thing did you use as your first anvil?
I bought an anvil off my friend for $35.00 now my 11 year old son is using it.

6)Tell us about your first forge.
There again bought a fire pot off my friend, he gave me a bunch of sheet metal and I bought the angle iron and built the forge.

7)Who assisted you or encourged you in the craft?
Tom Burger,Jim Beck,Don Witzler

8)What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing?
The first time I hit that hot iron.

9)What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop?
My bandsaw, and will be a powerhammer and knife grinder in due time.

10)What advise would you give those starting out in blacksmithing?
Find a blacksmithing group a good mentor and have fun.

11)What advice would you give those involved in blacksmithing?
Don't burn yourself out, keep having fun.

12)What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith.
Being able to learn from Don Witzler, and meeting all sorts of people when demoing.

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1) Name
Scott C Scheer

2) Location
Omaha, Ne

3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make.
I'm a "full time hobbyist". Most of my work is ornamental, but enjoy the making my own tools and jigs and machines
(power hammer, belt grinder)

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing
I'm a former production welder and I got interested in forging hot steel as an extension of my interest in custom fabrication. After seeing a few episodes of HGTV's Modern Masters that featured blacksmith, I did some googling a quickly got hooked. That was about 11 years ago.

5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil,
I "fabricated" ;) an ASO from rr track

6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks,
I bought a scrap brake drum and was going to go solid until one of those HGTV shows featured a guy using a gasser. A bunch of googling, brainstorming and brain picking of some guys at work later, and I built a two burner naturally aspirated forge and eventually sold the brake drum at a hammer-in

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft
My wife and children always encourage me. As for assistance as well as encouragement, there are too many to list here but most of them members of this site

8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing
Nothing really goose bumply philosophical but I often recall a video I saw in an art history class in college. It was about the African Dogon tribe blacksmith and his primitive earth forge and stone hammer and anvil. It wasn't from the 21st century but the late 20th!! I really like my gasser and steel anvil and hammers :D

9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop
My belt grinder; I use it about every time I work in the shop. Not a life changer but I'd miss it if it disappeared

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing
Take it slow and listen; I don't mean "hear", but listen and and acknowledge the older, more seasoned smiths. Learn from their mistakes and discoveries as well if not more so than your own. Go to at least, one hammer-in. I guarantee it won't be your last

11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing
Listen to the newbies and help when you can. You are still just as human as they are and you made mistakes and asked "stupid" questions in the beginning too!

12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith.
Can't pinpoint anything in particular, but I've met some fascinating people, both here, as well as in person. Many, I now consider friends.

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1) Richard Thibeau
2) Traverse city, MI, USA

3) Nowadays I make hammers, tooling, small decorative stuff.....when I feel like it. I'm retired. ;)

4) About 12 years ago, I was doing rendevous(s) and wanted some camp ironwork. No one was selling any then where I was, so I got hooked up with a blacksmith who was willing to teach me and helped me make it.

5) Shop anvils at Black Rock Forge. First anvil I bought was a 100 lb Fisher (tail was broke off, but a good anvil to learn on). Now I have Fisher anvils in 100, 150, 180, and 200 lbs.

6) My first forge was a Centaur firepot set into a 4'x4' SS diamond plate with 1" sq SS tube for framing set on concrete blocks. It is still the main shop solid fuel forge. I have both hand crank and electric blowers for it.

7) Dan Nickels, Black Rock Forge. He taught me and still has people over weekly to meet and play.

8) Attending first hammer-in. Fun at blacksmithing in a group setting is great.

9) 4 1/2" angle grinder, belt sander, band saw, gas forge, flypress, power hammer.

10) Find a blacksmith to work with and learn from. Read all you can, but having it shown to you in person is invaluable and will save a lot of wasted effort and time.

11) Not going there.

12) I travelled to Australia and attended a "Get Hammered" at Glenn Moon's shop...met a lot of the Aussie smiths. Other hammer-ins in the States were all interesting and fun.

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1) Name: Jim (James) C. Kotsonis

2) Location: Wisconsin, Fond du Lac proper.

3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make: I am (or more likely) I endeavor to make tools, I have been taught knife making by a master knife maker (who never took the test), I am starting to make grills and wrought iron gates. I hope to one day make armor and other period reproductions.

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing: I was introduced and subsequently inducted into the faith by the 1st Cavalry Mule team, in Fort Hood Texas.

5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil: I took a piece of rail road track welded a large flat piece of 1” thick plate to the top, took the taper off a military style toe pintle and used that as the beak of the anvil (I have it to this day and still use it for some things).

6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks: After researching and still not knowing what I was doing, my first forge was made from 2x4’s and a mixture of concrete and mortar, the firepot was nothing more that a coffee can impression in the concrete with a 6” round in the bottom with holes drilled into it (worked well and I did my first forge welding in it…kind of).

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft: I have been on my own for most of my blacksmithing life. Although, with the advent and more widespread use of youtube, I feel as though Mark Aspery, J. Ganvil and several others are with me on a daily basis. (I am going to take this opportunity to thank these fine people for providing hours of instruction for those of who are challenged…Thank you very much!)

8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing: Well as a Scadian (ask me later if you don’t know) I became very interested in period reproduction…I have never done any period reproduction other than knives, but I have high hopes. Oh, and the before mentioned youtube.

9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop: The hood vent; before that I was just stuck in the rain.

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing: Pray to the God Vulcan…for thick skin, an undying curiosity for all things made, strong muscles, an eye for nature, and a love of getting burnt to a crisp at every false step.

11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing: You are the knowledge we seek, we seek it because we know it is there, please let it be there and ready for us when we need it.

12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith: I have met some of the strangest and most interesting people I have ever had the pleasure to know.

Please add any thing we may have missed or should have asked.

On that note, please excuse my musings, but they make me happy.

In ancient times a lonely figure stands ready and willing. As if with magic, he stands before the elements and with breath and heat, muscle and will he shapes the very rock into life. No figure has provided more turning points in history than the forgers of iron. They changed the shape of agriculture; they changed the shape of war and provide us with comforts. Who am I, I am a blacksmith.

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1) Name Dick Sargent

2) Location: North East NJ

3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make: General Blacksmithing. I've made almost everything from traditional hardware, sculpture, tools, estate gates and railings to antique auto parts and most of whats in between.

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing: I started in 1971 with my first full time position at Old Sturbridge Village Ma.

5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil: My first anvil was an old unnamed english pattern with half the steel face missing.

6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks: My first forge was a Champion 400 rectangular sheet iron forge with blower. I bought it for $150. and as I removed it form the dilapidated smithy it was in the building collapsed as the structure was being held up by this small forge :blink:

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft: I worked on my days off from the museum with Frank Grapes a 93 yr. old blacksmith who was the youngest of eight older brothers who had all been blacksmiths.

8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing: I had an interest in smithing for as long as I can remember. So after training as an aircraft mechanic and being not able to find a job due to a slump in the airline industry, I thought I'd try smithing as a " Lark ", the infection started and I've never looked back.

9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop: My first power hammer. It increased my productivity immeasurably

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing: Strive to due the highest quality of work you can, the fact that an item is handmade won't be the sole reason someone will want to purchase it. Don't be frustrated when something your forging isn't coming out the way you'd like. Question yourself and analyze the process you are using, try again with a new or different approach. This is how knowledge is gained and it is what experience is made from. In the field of smithing all the natural ability in the world can't beat the determined student in getting ahead in the long run.

. 11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing: Keep pounding away! It's a constant school of hard knocks and that's one of the things that makes it so enjoyable.

12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith: I have met and worked for people that in any other field other than maybe a news reporter I never would have met, let alone get to know them and make friends with some of them. Blacksmithing has given me challenges technically, physically,and emotionally. I'd have to say that smithing has taught me as much about myself as I've learned about smithing. And the learning never stops!!!! I love the trade I've chosen. :)

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Hello from Western NY.
I started hammering on hot metal in the basement of home and a coal fired furnace in the middle of the winter. My basic background was as a farrier but did other things as well. Specialized in horseshoe lamps and a few hand rails, but that was 30 plus years ago. Now back to lamps and ornamental work.
Joined New York State Designer Blacksmith group a year and a half ago and really enjoy it. They have encouraged me a lot to get hammering. I have done just about everything a little boy growing up in the 40s and 50s wanted to do so now I am tired and retired.

Dick Renker
Williamson, NY

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1. Tim Adams
2. South Georgia
3. Hooks and knifes some fire tools

4.interested because i'm a big history buff
5.an old farm anvil that i use to this day was my great great grandfathers
6.brake drum but i only used for a few months then built a small brick one

7.a few smiths at fairs when i was much younger and a few people who do youtube videos
8. receiving the anvil that made me research building a forge
9.i would have to say an angle grinder

10.its hard and its rough at first but stick with it because it is worth it
11. ha i would hope they could give me advice because i don't have much to give
12.actually finishing a piece the way i wanted it to look normally if its going good i end up over heating it and melting it

Tim

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1) Name Owen Bush
2) Location London Kent UK
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make. .I started out as a craft fair smith making candelabra rams heads etc , then worked as a copper smith making hanging swings and then as a set maker and engineer for scrap heap challenge (the original junk yard wars) .My true passion is Damascus and now I make patternwelded Swords, seax and axes for clients all over the world. I also run a school of bladesmithing and blacksmithing

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing . I started smithing in 93 and then trained at hereford college UK 94/95
5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil, standard rail roat track .
6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks, bricks and pipe and a very old fan burning anthracite and then charcoal

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft .... My parents both of who separately edged me into the path of steel and grandfather who let me use space at his place.
8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing........I burned out after 8 years of craft fair smithing (24 shows a year...), I worked for a friend 4 days a week and on my day off re discovered my love of the forged blade and therefore my love for the craft .
9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop.......... belt sander , power press and various power hammers

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing........get training or at least work with other people , I am still constantly learning.
11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing.........keep on learning and mingle with other smiths , your way may be rite but out there there is probably a better version of rite. keep safe and healthy.
12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith.......I'll be honest I have ended up doing at least a couple of versions of my dream job, Making swords and being an engineer of scrap heap challenge , making steel from dirt or iron and poo. getting chances to make interesting things for TV shows . but the best part of it all is the friends I have made along the way often via the internet and all over the world.

Please add any thing we may have missed or should have asked.

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1) Name- Mitchel (by the way, I'm 14 years old)
2) Location- Southern California
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make. - Knives, and about anything else.

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing - Seeing demonstrators at ren-fairs, one of the guys recommended CBA.
5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil- At the CBA forge I used the anvils there which were real ones.
6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks- I used charcoal to harden a couple of ground out file knives, but my first proper forge was and is a Chile Tabasco

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft- My parents, who got me tools over various Christmases :D THANK YOU!! And my instructors at CBA, you guys are awesome!
8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing- When I was a kid I always thought it was about dwarves in viking legends, I saw demonstrators at ren-fairs and saw it was real.
9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop- Just got a post vice. That thing is awesome!

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing- Get it hot, Hit it hard, And have a good time
11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing- Same!
12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith. - No great stories!

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I'm Frank Turley in Santa Fe, NM, where I started a blacksmithing school of short courses in 1970. When not teaching, I make a variety of things. I recently finished a Bowie knife which is unusual for me. I do fire screens, fireplace tools, branding irons, chest and door hardware, etc.


I got started in blacksmithing through the back door of horseshoeing in the 1960's. I was a hot shoer who began to get orders for things not related to farriery.


While working with my mentor farrier, Al Kremen, in southern California, we got a call from an ironmonger at the San Pedro shipyard. The guy wanted to sell an anvil, which happened to be a 158 pound farriers' pattern Hay Budden. That was my first anvil. At horseshoeing school in Oregon, I had the old Kennedy-Foster catalog, and I ordered a Buffalo Vulcan firepot which was delivered on a RR flat car to Corvallis. That made the guts of my first forge. I think that the catalog called it a "tuyere iron."


Besides Al, mentioned above, I had help horseshoeing by working with Tex Shiveley of Salem, OR. Later, I worked part time in a blacksmith shop with Victor Vera of Santa Fe. Lots of learned techniques were from self struggling and through the use of books, esp., Schwarzkopf, the COSIRA series from London, England, and "The 20th Century Toolsmith and Steelworker."


When I started in smithing, I felf like the "Lone Stranger." I really had no one to turn to, and there was no national nor regional organization. I had an attitude that I might be doing plowshares and harrow teeth. I wasn't sure. Then, the orders came in for ornamental work, and I turned my attention to that. Early on, I was able to acquire a 25# Little Giant, which I still use.

My advice to budding smiths would be to learn to draw, measure, and layout. When visiting a client, wash up. Learn how to be cordial. Don't cuss. Measure everything. Don't assume that anything is plumb, level, or square. Realize that forging will occupy maybe 15% of your time, if you're lucky. Learn about finishes and installation techniques. For smiths already in business, I would suggest stretching yourself, but not so much that you're constantly painting yourself into a corner.

Interesting things that have happened to me as a smith? I've been fortunate as a teacher to have presented short workshops and demos all over the U.S, and was able to travel to Costa Rica and Australia, as well. Fortunately, I like to travel, and I have met some wonderful people and fellow smiths.

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H I all

I started a Blacksmithing Apprentership on the 6 january 1975 with BHP STEEL MAKING PLANT PORT KEMBLA,in there Blacksmithimng department we had 4 hammers, 3 on steam and 1, 5cwt alldays air hammer the steamies where 25 cwt 15cwt an a 5cwt , also no electricity , only lights , but i started playing in my old uncles farm forge in about 1967 -68 , hitting old shoes in to sort of knifes an other pointy things ,lol as kids do.
also helping our old farrier at his shop , if you turned his blower he took 50c on the shoeing , most people just left the horse but i would go to his shop on the way home from school and Saturdays stay a while manning his blower , for a horse or a few and hitting more pointy thing from old shoes

I stayed at BHP as the leading hand blacksmith till 1986 , but i also had a small workshop smithy of my own from 1978 -9 , then in 86 off i went , i mostly made springs for trucks buses an cars and any thing i was asked to i had a 4cwt German hammer ,an a Galith spring hammer

Its all been flat out from there , now 36years later an still at it , but i work for my self ,doing others need ,
i also teach part time at a government college teaching trade blacksmithing , but i hope to do more of what i want to make , sculptures furniture and things that go boom ,

Advice to any one thinking to take up Blacksmithing , try to get formal trainning in the basics , calculus in formulas for forging and steel fabrication work , trade drawing, and art drawing ,heat treatment off metals, all electric welding operations , and to be willing to work hard an long hours for lowish wages , but it dose get better as your skills improve, and if you still in the game after 10 years and still doing it
ye must have been doing it right , and if you are doing it as a hobby good ,it cheaper than therapy, an you can make a few dollars on the trip through

HAPPY HAMMERING

MOONY

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Randy McDaniel
Reading, PA
I create forged work from architectural work, store fixtures, sculpture to belt buckles. Originally it was colonial reproductions, but now mostly contemporary work. I do mostly custom work, but am now working towards a line of my own work. I also demonstrate for regional and national blacksmith groups and teach workshops at various schools and shops including my own.

I got started in 1972 with a class at the local Farm Museum by Marshall Crumbacker, an 81 year old wagon smith. They were teaching an 8 hour class, 2 hours for 4 Saturdays for $2.00. I had $2.00 at the time so I took the class. My brother and dad took the class, too, but I was the only one to keep hammering.
My first anvil was a 100 pound Peter Wright that I still have and use on occasion.
My first forge was a sheet metal rivet forge with hand crank blower.

Who encouraged me? I guess that would be the other smiths that I met along the way. They had as much enthusiasm as I did and we fed off of each other though we were few and it was far between us. After fumbling around for two years Frank Turley made the biggest improvement in my skills. He taught me the basics and got me on the right track so that I knew what I was doing and how to do it. His style in teaching made a big impression on me, too. I think the biggest event that changed the way I thought about blacksmithing was the ABANA Conference in Carbondale, IL, in 1976. That was the first time I was with so many like-minded souls and met so many talented smiths. It took me months to come down from that trip!

Originally I would have said my Champion 25 pound power hammer was the tool that changed how I did things and made my life easier. But then about 13 years later I got a Nazel 1B air hammer. After having that one day in the shop I sold the Champion. I could do everything with the Nazel that the Champion could do and so much more and with so much more control. Then about 5 years ago I finished construction on a 60 ton hydraulic forging press. This has really made an impression on me. Pun intended. It’s amazing to me how easily it squishes the hot metal like clay. I can still do the heavy forging that I do on the Nazel and without all the shock to my body. It also gives me more control for texturing, punching holes, shaping, doing production work and creating tooling.

For those just starting blacksmithing I’d recommend that you slow down and learn the basics. Start at step one. Learn the hammer blows and fire control. You will use this in everything else that you do in forging. Read some basic books and take several classes in forging. You shouldn’t even have a power hammer or press until you have those skills well learned. You need to know the process before you can throw machinery into the mix.

For those already in blacksmithing I’d still recommend what I said above if you haven’t gone that route. Secondly, if you want to do this full time then getting some business classes can be very helpful. It’s not always the best at anything that are the most successful, but the ones that know how to sell themselves and run a business.

Asking some of the interesting things that happened being a blacksmith would go on too long as so much has happened. Briefly, being able to go across the country and up to Newfoundland to teach has been a big highlight. Meeting great people and seeing our beautiful world and nature due to this has been very special to me. Being able to create special works for special people has been another honor, always a challenge and rewarding. One of my biggest thrills was in the ‘80’s being invited to Ivan Baileys’ shop in Savannah, GA. It was a small event with a lot of big names. Francis Whitaker, Manfred Bredohl, Tom Bredlow, Dick Quinnel, Bill Gichner, Ken Schwarz, probably someone I’m forgetting and of course Ivan. Manfred suggested we have a blacksmith baptism as in the old days here and based on what they did in Germany. They picked three of us to be baptized and I was lucky enough to be one of the three. As the history and lore of this craft has always meant a lot to me, and with the people that were in attendance, this was truly an incredible honor and event for me. I hope to someday live up to it.

The only thing that I would like to add is about the community of smiths. In the early years of doing shows I saw jewelers cover up their display cases if another jeweler came near in fear of something being copied. At the same show a smith came running over to me to show me a then new braided handle and then excitedly explain how he did it. Wow! We are very lucky to be in this fellowship of smiths. The other crafts have learned a lot from us over the years in regards to this and in sharing information. But we have had this family since the beginning. Besides the excitement and passion for what we do, this craft gives us a place to call home, allows us to be part of a family that supports us and gives us encouragement. How lucky we are!

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-Name's Kevin, live in Lynnwood, Wa (state),[ About equidistant from S.O.G. Knives Headquarters and an independent shop called Bronks Knifeworks], owner, Lyle Brunckhorst is a client of my Wifes.
-I'm from Arlington, Wa. Am admittedly completely GREEN when it comes to Blacksmithing. Have always been very interrested in Edged objects, weapons; knives, swords,axes. etc...as well as wrought iron, but just haven't yet had the opportunity to get real hands on. Lot to learn. I guess I may have TOO MANY INTERESTS!
-Am a collector of aforementioned Edged objects, Cast Iron (*mainly pots, pans & Dutch Ovens ), antique & modern Lanterns, as well as some Wrought Iron.
-Would love to learn more someday soon, Thanks in advance for any future help... K

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1) Name?
Neil Pope

2) Location?
SW Washington in the United States

3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make?
I specialize in hammered serving vessels but I also do the whole range of "bread and butter" work. Most of my pieces are combined with some level of woodwork.

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing?
I wanted to make my own hardware for an Arts and Crafts redo on a house. After completing a metal arts course, I found non-ferrous wasn't going to do everything I needed to get done. I joined the apprenticeship program at the Ft Vancouver National Historic site and spent five years as an interpretive smith. My business built from there and I've been at it full time for about 12 years.

5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil?
A piece of bent I-beam

6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks.
An O/A torch.

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft?
The experienced smiths at the FVHS.

8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing?
My attitude has stayed pretty consistent throughout the years. It's a means to an end, I don't love "doing" it but I l do love "having" done it.

9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop?
Pneumatic power hammer - I'm too old to give my body a full time dose of hand hammering.

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing?
Spend less time "being" a blacksmith and more time "doing" blacksmithing.

11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing?
None of us should be too old, too pro or too proud to learn.

12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith?
Not much past some of the funny stuff that happens to us all . . . it's been a good run!

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Tim "LightSeeker" Cooper
South Central Kentucky - "tween' Columbia n Greensburg
Primitive items- firesets, fire strikers, small portable breakdown grills, plant holders, lantern stands odd n ends
I became part of a Christian Frontier group and decided to try my hand a smithing
Railroad track
Horse shoe forge given to me from my step-dad- he never used it
I was beginning to learn from Phillip Holley in Cottndale, Florida but moved after only a few lessons- mainly trial and error- just met Dave Custer from Columbia last friday and hope to learn from him.
Watching the smith at Stone Mountain Ga while on vacation
A good hammer...
Heat it and Hit it!
Find a mentor or Become one.
Realizing that it is a draw to many- a way to impact others while sharing what little I know- but it is an impact none the less.

looking forward to learning more and meeting more smiths at all levels-
God first, Family next, and then the rest- and everything falls into place.

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1) Name - Ben Baker
2) Location - Marietta, Ga.
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make?  Hobby level stuff, tongs, knives, hooks, parts for a crossbow I made, sometimes stuff for people I work with in Army, like spearhead as part of going away present.
4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing? I did casting for a few years, then lost my furnace in a move to a new duty station.  When I started back in metal working, I decided to final give forging a try.  I collect trivia, history, and shiny interesting hobbies, distance running, cross-stitch, brewing, old cars, beekeeping, more brewing, knitting, casting, still more brewing......
5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil? Erm, an anvil? Got a chinese knockoff at a flea market, 55#s, steel hardened face welded to it.  Want to get a new one, but I've been using it for a couple of years and it works fine. Just not very big.
6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks.  Definite hole in the ground, with coal and a blow dryer running through a steel pipe.  Now I'm using a modified upside down lawnmower, with a brake disc for a firepot, 3 inch pipe for the blower and ash dump, and homemade refractory.
7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft?  Mostly youtube. Lots and lots of youtube, plus reading everything I could find on the subject. Self taught, so I occaisionally mess up. 
8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing?  Well.......breaking the tang off of my first try at a gladius darkened my attitude for awhile, but mostly I've always thought it's awesome, besides,  I shouldn't have lost my temper and thrown it, even if my dog WAS tearing up my entire crop of corn for the season. I swear I'd kill that dog if I didn't love him so darn much. 
9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop? The internet.  Also, switching to a lighter hammer made all the difference in the world.  I tried starting off with a 4# farrier hammer. Ouch. Found a 2.5# at a yardsale and have been loving life ever since.
10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing?  Be open to advice....from people that have experience. Don't worry so much about messing up, it's a chance to learn. Even if it hurts. Have fun.
11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing? I know and recognize that you are the mighty Vulcan, smith of the gods, re-incarnate on Earth. You have been there, and done that. You have the t-shirt. Almighty One, please help without crushing my ego too much.
12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith?   Watching my kids get interested in it. Impressing my friends. Going to church and hearing a crunching noise while walking and realizing that the night before I had melted hot coals or slag into the soles of my shoes by stepping on them......
 

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