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I Forge Iron

Interview with a blacksmith


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1) Bobby Santore
2) Syracuse, NY
3) Just starting out with blacksmithing, but I've been trying to make some tooling to build up skills. I started metalworking with jewelry (mostly copper).

4) I started out a few months ago
5) A plate of steel I scrapped off an abandoned railroad and affixed to a 4x4 sunk into a bucket of concrete (it's really awful)
6) My first forge was (is?) a wooden crate that I lined with cinder blocks and a cat litter/ plaster mix it's falling apart after a few months, so I think it's time to get to #2

7) youtube for sure, a buddy of mine started with me and we try to keep in touch about it, and I met a couple local guys, who have all been very accommodating and nice
8) I have yet to have an attitude changing event, but right now I like the craft
9) an angle grinder

10) find local smiths, there is nothing like having a couple guys to hang out with and just talk shop, they will give you some of the best advice, and always seem to be willing to share in my experience.
11) Be open to newcomers, the only way to keep the craft going is to help out the new guys.
12) I have lit myself on fire twice (thank god for good ppe)


1) Bobby Santore
2) Syracuse, NY
3) Just starting out with blacksmithing, but I've been trying to make some tooling to build up skills. I started metalworking with jewelry (mostly copper).

4) I started out a few months ago
5) A plate of steel I scrapped off an abandoned railroad and affixed to a 4x4 sunk into a bucket of concrete (it's really awful)
6) My first forge was (is?) a wooden crate that I lined with cinder blocks and a cat litter/ plaster mix it's falling apart after a few months, so I think it's time to get to #2

7) youtube for sure, a buddy of mine started with me and we try to keep in touch about it, and I met a couple local guys, who have all been very accommodating and nice
8) I have yet to have an attitude changing event, but right now I like the craft
9) an angle grinder

10) find local smiths, there is nothing like having a couple guys to hang out with and just talk shop, they will give you some of the best advice, and always seem to be willing to share in my experience.
11) Be open to newcomers, the only way to keep the craft going is to help out the new guys.
12) I have lit myself on fire twice (thank god for good ppe)

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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

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

    


1) Name

Serendipitious D. Critter (Scritter)


2) Location

Leander, Texas - NW of Austin.


3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make.

Not much, yet... I started shoeing school a LONG time ago and had to quit due to a shattered elbow....not funny.!  I ended up a welder/tin bender for 2 hitches in the USAF. I do some corrective farrier work and buggy hardware repair locally - I've been playing with scrap aluminum for the last couple of years.  That is as close as I've gotten to smithing in a long time, I'm hoping to put together a hobby forge and learn some more fabrication,  I've always liked doing things from 'scratch',  really being able to say "I made that".

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing

My mom was a jeweler and lapidary person, I loved what she did but I'm more off an engineer than an artist - u crave the practical.


5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil

I currently use a piece of RR track and a very large oak stump. The stump works better than the track iron, it's harder!


6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks,

I tried cast a gumball machine trinket for my Dad's keychain as a gift and failed when I got caught trying to use Nichrome wire from an old kiln in a barbeque "hibachi" and totally fried our breaker box.... Might first forge waa a screaming failure. (The rest of the process wouldn't have been much better as I was looking to use a chunk of high carbon stainless for my casting,  along with a soup can of cement instead of plaster for my mold)


7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft

No one really, just the people who raised me up to learn as much as you can about anything that grabs your attention.


8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing

Figuring out that humanities successes are based on metals, using and altering them.


9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop

My first well balanced hammer and well built vice. 

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

As with anything, do it right and you'll do it well, short cuts make for long delays.


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

Keep pounding!


12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith.

......maybe by this time next year...

 

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  • 1 month later...

1) Name: David (Dave) Dodson
2) Location: Lewisburg/Columbia, Tennessee
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make.

* Knifes / Metal Art

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing

* Right after I was Medical Retired from the US Army, I found myself bored out of my mind.  Then, someone said: "You should makes knifes, and learn how to do it with Damascus."  Ever since, I've been hooked!


5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil,

My first anvil was an old Civil War Era Anvil, suffering from an obvious deformation / bow in the center of the hammer zone.


6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks,

Yep, hole in the ground!  I used a 50 gallon drum, with an arch cut from the bottom.  I made a tuyere from the ground and even though I used Black Locust, it took forever to heat steel until I learned about the heat produced from COAL.  


7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft

My parents have a farm in Culleoka, TN, and they encouraged me teeth and nail.  Needless to say, my X-wife was furious with my new found love of making knifes, so I only put up with this for a few more months....


8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing

I fall in love with it daily, so it's an evolution!


9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop

Ha!  Anything I can get my hands on or is quality.  I am about to build me a major shop and include some very nice essential items all Smith's need.  Therefore, I look forward to the future and the products I produce!!
  
10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing

Learn...Learn...Learn...and never quit!  Network, make friends, do favors, research, try out anything!  Maintain a standard and be good to the friends you make!  
 

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

The art of being a Blacksmith is an antique art; therefore, lets keep the coals hot and continue to share and learn the legendary art!


12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith.

While I may not see the art in products I produce, I am simply amazed how others view my pieces pale to my opinion.  My most major appreciation from the pieces I produce are the smiles and 'thank yous' I receive when I give these products as a present!  

I look forward to interacting with everyone and learning precious skills along the way!!

Dave

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  • 6 months later...

1) Name,  Jim Peace

2) Location,  Prague, Oklahoma

3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make,  I don't have a certain genre of work as of yet, it's just a hobby I reckon. I just want to learn and I'm trying to make tools right now.

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing,   I used to watch a Ferrier when I was a young adult and I've saw a bit of it at the county fairs. Been reading and studying on the art for about a year.Finally started hands on a month ago.

5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil,     An 18 in. piece of R/R track I got from my brother.

6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks,  I purchased a champion forge and blower. I went through it and refurbished everything, fixed what needed fixin. Now I think it works real good, though i do believe it needs an upgrade.

8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing,  Our house went and blew away in the 03 tornado in Moore, Ok.so we moved and built a house on some land. I finally got to build the shop I've always wanted.

9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop ,  I bought a 100 # anvil from the local ferrier supply and I learned how to dress my hammers.

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing,   I don't have the knowledge to be giving advice. But I would just say have fun and don't beat the crap out of your metal.  Soon enough you will learn metal really will burn up and disappear.

11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing,  Well if their already smithing,  they know more about it than I do. Burns are painful.

12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith.  I've met some really cool people. I have found it to be a very theraputic pastime. I also learned an interesting lesson about a pair of nice snug fitting new gloves I bought to use forging.

If you do something stupid  like holding a piece of hot metal to long. When the leather gloves start burning your fingers you CAN NOT get them off fast enough, it's already to late.The burns don't blister on top of the skin, the gloves work and protect your fingers from direct contact with the hot metal . The blisters though are deep under the layers of your skin. oh yea IT HURTS   lol
 

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  • 2 months later...

1) Francesco Muci
2) Saint Petersburg, Florida
3) I am mostly a bladesmith but I am working my way into blacksmithing. Because, let's say it, us bladesmiths don't really know how to move metal.. :rolleyes:

4) I started pounding metal about 12 yeats ago.
5) My first anvil was one of those iron weight used in front of tractors to balance when towing big machinery...
6) my first forge was a metal wheel barrel powered by a fan to which I taped a big plastic bag to convey the air to a metal chimney pipe going on the wood fire.  Followed by a hole in the ground. 

7) My big brother joined me as soon as he heard me hammering stuff. We then built our first forge, epic fail. Then we bought one off a bladesmith who was retiring. Then the fun really started...

8) Not sure what this question means... my attitude about blacksmithing has been always the same. Hammering hot metal and Seeing people hammering hot metal always gave me great joy... but if you mean what sparked my interest... it might have been the first scene from the movie "Conan the Barbarian"...

9) I could say my press... but really it is my Anvil. I am learning how to use it properly, with proper techniques and that really changed my life...

10) Want to start blacksmithing? Get yourself a cube of metal. Mild steel would work just fine at the beginning, as a matter of fact it is probably even better because you won't risk dangerous metal chips flying at great speed into you. You can even have a local waterjet company cut a square hole in it for future hardy tools, you will find that block of steel very useful as a striking anvil in the future. Get a comfy hammer (size don't matter at the beginning) and start using anything, even a bbq grill with a hair dryer attached. Start hammering. Have fun.
11) Take the time to learn proper techniques. It is more worth it than buying expensive machinery. Expensive machinery helps too though...
12) It is a difficult question because lots of interesting things happened to me since I started. But I think most of all, it would be discovering how nice and good hearted is the blacksmith community. BIGGUNDOCTOR;being one of my favourite blacksmithing people. Great person, great heart. Thank you man for all the help!

 

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Any time Francesco, I was happy to be able to help you. I miss having you in the area. 

 

1) Name- Walter Hess
2) Location- Moapa Valley NV
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make.- Hobbyist, so I just play around mostly. Campfire forks, camp knives, Halloween costume pieces. 

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing - My machinist Dad was always learning throughout his life and he got an interest in blacksmithing in 1977


5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil, - A friend found us a 260# Fisher for $250 up in Lincoln CA. 


6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, campfire, brake drum, stacked bricks,- We located a Champion forge in a local antique store outside lot buried in the dirt. We bought it along with a 6" Iron City post vise and IIRC a couple of tongs for $70.

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft- - Dad, he was my smithing partner. I miss him greatly. Also Dave Nourout, he was our smithing instructor at the community college, and he is an excellent smith. 


8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing - Moving to NV and hanging out in the 18b Arts District of Las Vegas. I have always been artistic and creative. That combined with finding Iforgeiron.com got me to the point where I set my smithing equipment back up after a very long hiatus (15-20 years). I do not get out there anywhere near as much as I want to, but the fire has been rekindled.  The new job allows me more home time, so maybe 2018 is the year I get more forge time. 


9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop - I don't have one yet, but I would like a power hammer, because I would like to do some larger pieces. 

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing - Don't get caught up in the hype. You do not need a London pattern anvil to be a smith, you do not need to spend thousands of dollars to be a smith, you do not need all of the cool looking tools (swage blocks, cone mandrels,etc) to be a smith. All you need is a fire, a hammer, something to hammer upon, and some metal to make something with. 


11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing - Have fun, and encourage those who want to learn.


12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith. - I have met some very talented , and nice individuals. 
 

 

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1) Name, -Hansdieter Gunar Richter (no Nick name no hiding, just me)

2) Location,  -Gingelom Belgium, small village in-between millions of fruit trees

3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make, -everything from fences, to blades, tools, chandeliers and art work with more or less success or satisfaction

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing, -1984, a heavy 12 week blacksmith class was part of my professional education/examination as all-round maintenance mechanic 

5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil, -an 250lbs ……….  anvil in class German pattern, later a 400lbs London pattern anvil on the ship warf I take over from the Warf landlord     

6) Tell us about your first forge, -Solid fuel coal cokes forge 4 under 1 hut during class, same forge on the warf with an incredible worn out and noisy blower

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft, -my dad, hi was before his study for engineer a lock smith and mechanic too, hi teach me how to make my first own lock and conventional key and shows me many skills I still use   

8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing, -all this young guy’s joined and assists me during the years and willing to start the fight against a hot piece of iron

9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop , -my 55lbs ‘Larry Zoeller style’ power hammer make the solo work so much easier when you’re missing this third hand. Also my way to deal with a midlife crisis and realise a boys dream design/build the hammer, instead to buy a Harley Davidson or looking for a new 25 y/o girlfriend  -_-  

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing, -look for a mentor/teacher to work with, remember this will in some cases a symbiosis (after all hi is looking for this third hand too) and even hi isn’t so skilled as some of the comurgons here, remember “between all the blinds, ….. ‘one eye’     is a king”    

11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing, -still learning (by doing) every day (setup gas burner, configuration melting furnace an PH) and not in a position to give any advice to my fellow blacksmiths. Knowing to much about my own shortcomings and points to improve  :rolleyes: 

12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith.   -being part of several social projects to reintegrate unemployed or difficult/low educated youngsters back into work process and society (busyness therapy/anti aggression, ship building projects of historic vessels)

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  • 3 months later...

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

1) Name:  Jennifer Petrila   (AKA  JLP Services Inc)
2) Location:  Rutland, MA
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make. :      Colonial hardware, any tool, forgings, swords, knives, Nin-Gu, Industrial forgings..

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing:   8 (1976)
5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil, : 10lbs Cast iron anvil
6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks,. :  Wood fired Steam Boiler,  3 years later.. Oil pan off rig filled with Cement,  self made belt driven blower.

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft:    Myself
8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing:   I was asked to make something other than a knife and I found it nearly impossible to forge a decent product.
9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop: a proper forge, blower, anvil and vise..

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing: find a skilled mentor.. Practice, practice, practice.. Don't settle for ok
11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing:  Find a skilled Mentor, practice, practice, practice.. Don't settle.
12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith.  Lots of traveling for demonstrations,  The ability to forge items that have played into activities outside blacksmithing..

13) What is your favorite thing/things to forge?  :   Hardware and tools.


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

 

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  • 1 month later...

1) Billy Salyers
2) Rutherford County, NC
3) Lots of knives, mostly chef's knives and scattered decorative work.

4) I started in August of 2017 as a summer project with my sons.
5) I used my grandfather's anvil, a 105 lb Fisher from the late 1800s.
6) We made our first forge from a 20lb propane tank.

7) There's a whole group of smiths in my county, but Rob Bratton and Fred Landis.
8) I found that blacksmithing was a great way to connect with my kids.
9) After I built my 2x72 grinder, I wondered how I ever lived with out it.

10) Practice can be fun as long as you don't expect everything to turn out perfect.
11) Invest in those who are just starting as much as you can. This craft has so much to offer. It'd be a shame to see it decline.
12) People get excited about it when they learn I do it. I've had so many opportunities to share my story, to share my faith, and to make new friends just because people are interested in the things I make.

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  • 3 months later...

1) Marshall

2) Southern Illinois 

3) We'll know soon, but I have a fixation with swords knives axes etc...

4) I always wanted to try smithing and now am in a position to do so.

5) My first anvils will be rr track, I have 3 pieces of different sizes.

6) Making a JABOD when I finish this!

7) You guys...well, you're about to...

8) Have always wanted to smith, but looking at a project and thinking that if only I could make a custom piece to connect this to that, or how nice it would look with this or that.

9) Actually having a shop!

10) More toward people who haven't started: Do so!

11) Share that knowledge! I know some won't listen, but I will!

12) The sun is almost up, so it's time to find out what interesting things happen when you smith!

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1. Brandon Houck but prefer my writing/smithing name which is Grey Fox.

2. Ardmore Ok 35 min north of Red River on I-35.

3. Not really making much at the moment new to the craft. Will be making knives, axes, maybe a straight razor or 2. If it has a blade and can be forged that's what I'm in to.

4. This one is interesting. While doing some research for ancestry, current novel, and belief system (I am a Heathen). Learned of some of the old ways of making and forging steel and it really peeked my interest. Started watching YouTube videos on blacksmithing (mainly Chandler Dickenson huge fan of his work). Retired from work early (I'm 42 and retired medically) and looking for a hobby not a business granted extra income would be welcomed.) So basically poor on a fixed budget but piecing things together a little at a time. Been doing this for about a year but currently unable to (due too cost of operating and health issues.)

5. Went to a farming supply company and bought a 60lb. anvil.

6. First forge was a brake drum. (Moved up to an actual small coal burning forge.)

7. Assisted by fellow Heathens (in my Kindred) and YouTube. Encouraged by self.

8. The research I had done and I guess a mid-life crisis (that's what we called it before I left work.)

9. The better forge.

10. Find someone with a passion for the trade and ask questions till they can't answer any more. 

11. Patience is a gift we all could use more of. Live your dream. 

12. The first time that I really realized that I was bending and shaping the steel too my will.

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  • 4 weeks later...

1) Name: Seabass
2) Location: Bardstown, KY
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make: I haven't done anything yet. I have been focusing on getting what I need.

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing: I have always loved knives and when Forged in Fire came on and showed a way of making them, though greatly glamorized, I got really excited so me and my dad got to work.
5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil: A 55 lb Harbor Freight anvil
6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks: My first forge was a Tim Lively Washtub type forge. We used wood for fuel.

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft: My dad.
8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing: Nothing really changed my attitude but Forged in Fire really upped my interest.
9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop: I haven't really started so I'll say having my actual anvil, forge, and hammer helped me out quite a bit. :)

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing: Since I am an extreme beginner I would say research, research, and research some more. Also to listen to the wise and experienced people on this HUGE site. A couple of brownie points never hurt either. :)
11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing: Help out us newbies!!!
12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith: I have successfully made a forge without buying one thing. We made it all with what we had.

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

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  • 3 months later...

1) Name: Josh Gibbins

2) Location: about a half hour outside of Nevada City, CA
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make? As of now, tools to make what I want to do. What do I want to make? Gates, fences, garden art, hardware, trinkets ect.

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing? I'd been interested for as long as I can remember, but about 6 months ago I found an anvil in the barn where I live and decided to start.

5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil? The ~98lb Peter wright anvil from the barn
6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks. It was a JATROD, a tire rim of dirt with an exhaust pipe between a hair dryer and the forge.

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft. It's mostly been everyone here on IFI who has assisted me. I'd have to say my family has encouraged me to follow through with smithing, though I see their eyes glaze over when I start speaking in smithing jargon.
8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing. Finding the anvil in the barn
9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop. Tongs that fit the piece I'm working on. It's amazing how much easier it got when I wasn't fighting to hold on with every hit.

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing. Find someone to help teach you. 1 hour with someone showing you what to do can teach you way more than 10 hours of trying to learn on your own
11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing. Find someone to teach, their "ignorant" questions can provide another way to look at things
12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith? Besides a couple of close calls with hot metal, nothing to interesting has happens to me... Yet

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  • 7 months later...

Name
2) Location southeast Michigan
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make. Nothing yet, but want to make everything ( yes ambitious but have been considering this for many years)

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing... Last night, put finishing touches on our dual pot dirt forge, looking to find something to smelt some of the scrap metal floating around to make into our first anvil. Stopping on way home to get coal
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,

I have been playing with fire since I was a little kid, at various times I have tossed in metal bits just to see how hot I could get them, and recently my father in law showed interest so started putting forth the effort to make something we can use. 

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft
8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing. Nothing really always loved watching people work metal when I was growing up, both around horses 
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.

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1) Name: Lee
2) Location: under the shadow of the Sleeping Ute.
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make:

Traditional architectural blacksmith.

what do I make?

Literally anything I can get in my fire. I started off doing crafts fairs and demonstrating at various places. I went to every possible workshop and volunteered to other working Smith's to work for them for room and board on a per job basis. The learning I got doing this as a general smith was intense. I did everything from drilling holes on a fine railing to helping another Smith get out an order for 500 "S" hooks. Not to mention doing a few hundred or so grapes for a grape leaf chandelier. Lol, he insisted I do these to dimension,,, 5/8". After I made about a hundred he said I could go ahead and vary them from 1/2" to 7/8"! He later told me he had gone thru a number of others who could not consistently forge them to 5/8". I guess I passed his test!

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing:

Lol, I'd like to say "when I was 5 or 6 as this is my first memory of a blacksmith. And it's still strong. My dad took me to a "western town" and I can still see the mind pic of the dummy blacksmith sitting in a rocking chair with tools strewn helter skelter around the shop! I finally got a rocker,,, I'm almost there! My real start came when I was 17 and I became a farrier with the full intent of becoming a reeeel blaaaaksmith, even though I had no true concept of what that meant. Nearly 60 years later I'm still at it and building my "dream shop".
5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil:

RR track
6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks:

my first forge was the bottom of an old cast water heater, three tee posts, a twyre made from two pieces of 1-1/4" pipe. My blower was a 12 volt car heater. At the same time a friend and I, in my grandfather's garage, built a barely doable dry-layed brick forge and a very fine great bellows that we built.

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft:

Too many to list and the list is still growing. To highlight a few. Frank Turley, Tom Joyce,Francis Whitaker,Russ Sweider,Nick Brumder,Vaclav Jarosh, Jim Selby, Steve Titus.


8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing:

my time at Turley Forge and the years with Francis Whitaker.


9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop:

that's actually a tough one. It's easy to say my 25# lil giant, but that's not the real answer. Getting to the point where a forge weld was easier and quicker to do than using a torch or a welder ranks high. Understanding the concept of a "localized heat" and just how a ox/acetyl torch enhanced this. This was brought home mastering a simple right angle bend, first learned in the forge, then how a local heat made this a truly quick and efficient detail.

And last but not the least was learning to forge to dimension and getting to the place where I do this with literally every job I do.

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing:

blow off the naysayers, they are thick as thieves. This especially includes all those who tell you that in this day and age you can't make a living as a traditional smith.

There are many ways to do many things. Never hesitate to learn as many as possible. You will find that some variations are situationally better. However, you will quickly learn that most variations come in second to a few. You will never learn which is what without trying them all. That's called learning.

Be efficient. For instance if you find you spend a lot of time walking around your anvil, you are doing something wrong.


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

all the above plus,

never forget the 3 "D's". desire, determination, dedication.

and

"There's plenty of room at the top".

thanks to Francis Whitaker for both.

12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith:

my journey has taken me from Beverly Hills to Prague.Its brought me in contact with the finest people I could ever imagine, be they customers or other Smith's. Every point on the journey has been significant. Easiest said is I can't imagine any other pathway, for me, being as rewarding, challenging, and ultimately satisfying soul deep!

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1) Name: Dan
2) Location:  Rochester, NY
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make:  Mostly tools (hammers, knives, axes, chisels...)
4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing:  Did a little smithing when studying for my MFA in glass at RIT back in the mid 80's (metals minor), but had no instruction.  Took a long hiatus, unfortunately, and got back into it around 5 years ago.
5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil:  Unless you count the concrete floor I used as a kid to straighten nails (good early smithing practice), the first anvil I used was a 300+# London pattern at RIT.  Didn't know how good I had it.  First anvil I owned was a modified rail track anvil I got from my father in law and used for minor non-ferrous metal work.
6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks:  The first official forge I used was the old natural gas Johnson monster at RIT.  I made my first forge (which I still use) from parts left over from my glass equipment (also self constructed).  It was, and still is, a forced air/natural gas forge made from a cut down 11 gal compressed air tank.
7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft:  My brother took a knife class from Bill Moran at RIT and got me excited about the possibility of picking this up as a hobby.  I have been lucky enough to take classes and watch demonstrations from lots of excellent teachers, really too many to list.
8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing:  Attending a hammer-in at Ashokan.
9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop:  Tough call.  Probably my treadle hammer, so far, though the used baby 33# Anyang will likely pass that once I get better with the power hammer.
10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing:  Look for classes, join a local chapter, get some direct instruction, it will flatten the learning curve enormously.
11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing;  Teach the beginners what you have learned.  Keep an open mind for alternate solutions.  Seal your refractory blanket!!!
12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith:  Attending hammer-ins, SOFA, Mid-Atlantic Blade, and an ABANA conference.  Participating in a smelt overnight at Ashokan.  Touring Albert Paley's studio.  Teaching the Buffalo Sabres team some blacksmithing at the Arc and Flame school.

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  • 3 weeks later...

1) Joseph Hilliard
2) Middle GA
3) Mostly hobby work, tools, and farm repairs.

4) Watching a demo at the local fair.
5) I was lucky,  an older gentleman gave me an anvil that was in great shape.  
6) I found a portable forge, like a farrier type, that stands on 3 legs with a hand crank blower.

7) Still looking for a local mentor, but just finished reading Trenton Tye's book.
8) An older friend, dying of cancer, gave me an anvil and three pair of tongs, and told me he wanted me to have them and learn to use them. 
9) Gotta be my anvil. Like I said, it was passed down and really is the cornerstone of my setup.

10) A good smith never stops learning. Be willing to listen, and don't believe everything on the internet.
11) Always try to help. Do your best to keep this art and skill alive and thriving. 
12) Still relatively new to smithing, so this is a hard one. I've been a machinist for 18 years, so I've had the pleasure of working with some fine craftsman. Nothing specific really stands out though.

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  • 6 months later...

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

1) Name Adam J
2) Location North of Two Rivers wi
3) What type blacksmithing do you do, what do you make. At the moment, just some small to midsize items. Lot's of hooks, stands, curtain rods, home improvement/decoration/utility items

4) How and when did you get started in blacksmithing: I picked up blacksmithing in 2016. I started it because of Forged in Fire. My wife kept asking me questions about how/what the smiths were making and why, and i got to the point where i didnt know. So i said "fuck it, ill build a forge and see what happens" and off i went. I picked up the pace when i became disabled and couldnt work anymore. 


5) What object or thing did you use as your first anvil. I found a 4 foot long piece of railroad track that i used as my first anvil. i ended up forgetting to pick it up after i moved, and when i went back to grab it, the new owners had thrown it away. i cried...a lot. i still cry about it.


6) Tell us about your first forge, hole in the ground, camp fire, brake drum, stacked bricks. 1st forge was a brake drum forge. That lasted all of 2 weeks until i snagged my neighbors grill he was throwing away. I replaced the bottom with 3/8s inch steel plate, ran a hair dryer for a blower, and steel pipe with holes cut into it for a modified teuyere. It worked well enough to last 6 months until i bought a fire pot. Once i had the fire pot, i made my own forge, got a proper hand crank blower, and used that outside for about a year after. With that setup, i had no overhead structure, so i was out in the sun, and even forged a couple times in the middle of a blizzard cuz it was awesome!

7) Who assisted you or encouraged you in the craft. My wife did. Otherwise, i was on my own


8) What event changed your attitude about blacksmithing. Watching the TV show forged in fire, if it wasnt for that show, id still be sitting here thinking about doing it.


9) What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop. The 100foot extension cord. Allowed me to have a light in my shop and i could close the door to my shop. before this i had to keep the door open and all sorts of crap flew in, wind, rain, since it was my only light source. once i ran the cord for light, i could close up the door and was able to properly see what i was working on. 

10) What advice would you give those starting out in blacksmithing. $50 and you can make your own coffee can forge. cheap way to figure out if you want to actually get into blacksmithing. If you dont like it, you only spent $50, if you do like it, well then, you can build upon that basic setup and slowly grow. Also, if you do like it, find someone to teach you, either by class or, if youre lucky, by apprenticeship. 


11) What advice would you give those already involved in blacksmithing. Keep on helping those that ask for it. I, for one, appreciate the help when i can find it!


12) What are some of the interesting things that have happened to you in your life as a blacksmith. i actually was on the show Forged in Fire. I know, they were desperate. aside from that, ive made some knives for family members, made utilitarian items for around the house, and have managed to burn my beard while lighting a cigarette using hot steel. I dont recommend that last bit. very surprising. 

Please add any thing we may have missed or should have asked. I would ask "what's your trouble spot?" or "where do you need help?" i personally, am struggling, especially with the virus going on. It's limited my ability to ask my local blacksmith, a guy who is a hobbyist who takes his time to help me. Im trying to go from the "amateur" status of what my projects look like to "semi-professional", along with increasing my knowledge on the hows/whys/what'its of the craft. Overall, im just trying to become better at blacksmithing, to achieve a state that i know i am capable of getting to (although, to be honest, my mental deficiancy due to combat PTSD and memory loss issues makes this very very difficult in achieving)

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2 minutes ago, Dewnmoutain said:

What tool has changed or made your life easier in the shop. The 100foot extension cord.

Sometimes it's the simplest things!

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Please note that terms without definitions are difficult to nail down: like "mid sized". There is at least one smith that visits here where Midsized where he works probably means "under 1 ton" and I doubt they do any what I would consider small stuff!

For me as a hobby smith: small is stock under 1/2" and midsized would be 1/2-1" and large would be 1"+.

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18 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Please note that terms without definitions are difficult to nail down: like "mid sized". There is at least one smith that visits here where Midsized where he works probably means "under 1 ton" and I doubt they do any what I would consider small stuff!

For me as a hobby smith: small is stock under 1/2" and midsized would be 1/2-1" and large would be 1"+.

fair point.

 

mid-size, to me, is items that range from 2feet through 8feet in length. Large would be 8feet to 15 feet, and "i cant fit in my shop...yet" is beyond 15 feet.

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6 minutes ago, Dewnmoutain said:

"i cant fit in my shop...yet"

This is also one of my criteria, the following is that the item must fit through a regular living room door, followed by a height of up to 7.5 ft as it must also fit in the living room. The latter is the weight and my loose parts of all works and equipment are not heavier than 150lbs so that I can lift it myself for a short time. This way I can handle everything myself and I rarely have to rely on external help or aids ;)
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