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FEwannabe

Apprenticeship

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I searched and I couldn't find anything without bumping an old thread, but I want an apprenticeship so bad. My ancestors were blacksmiths back when it was a necessity, and the two times I have been near a forge the hammer and tongs felt like an extension of my arms. I want so badly to be a blacksmith and apprenticeships are very few and far between where I live. This is the only thing I have ever felt passionate about and I feel that it is something that I have to do to be satisfied and fulfilled with the work I do. I have always believed in asking those more experienced for advice, and I wanted any advice that anyone could give me. Thanks in advance.

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hi wannabe - if i were you i would get yourself set up really cheap ( i think there is a dedicated thread...) and get yourself going - dont wait for an apprentiship - you could wait for ever - find a few people nearish to you who could help - and quite honestly, my main teacher is this forum, there is more than you will need to know for years on here :) good luck!!

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i did an industrial blacksmithing apprenticeship, and i think the most important part of it was the repetition and the hard work, i was very arty when i started, and to be honest, tended to be lazy for that very reason. i think an apprenticeship is a very important part of the learning of this trade, and without it, you will always be (to yourself) not quite qualified.
if you are young and willing, be ready to leave your hometown, home state, or if necessary, your country, to follow the dream.
but keep on it, and trawl this site for the names of those in the know, and hound them if need be.
a boilermaking trade is also a good start, as a lot of the college courses intertwine (at least in australia) and to finish a blacksmithing apprenticeship, after boiler making is only about another year.
also find the colleges that run the modules/courses, and find as much from them about who and where the employers of blacksmithing apprentices are. as above, good luck!

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Hi There FE you don't say what age you are, and I can only pass on my opinion of the problems facing someone wanting to get into an apprenticeship in the UK

Firstly the number of companies/individuals taking on long term commitments to apprentices are few and far between.

There are various reasons for this financial and time involved, youngsters not having the staying power, or mental/physical commitment to the task in hand, especially for a total newcomer.

The path to take, at least in the UK is to try to take a beginners course to see if you are commited to the future, or just in love with the thought of being a 'smith,

Then see if you can take a college course or similar to gain hands on and theoretical experience,

When you can prove to a potential employer that you have that dedication, capability, and hands on experience, (you will then have a portfolio and samples of your work) you will be more likely to obtain a position.

It is good that you want to become a blacksmith in the "proper " manner, but don't let that stop you if you truly want to pursue it, start off with some good basic advice/lessons, take it up and develop it as a hobby, then go forward from there.

Dave Custer of Fiery Furnace forge here on this site is a good example of what can be achieved with tenacity and commitment, and no doubt would add his comments and advice if he should pick up on this thread.

Others on the site will also answer any questions or sort out problems you may come across.

Good luck with your chosen path, and we look forward to seeing your progress.

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I run introductory short courses for smiths, but if you don't have the tuition money, that won't help. You should join your regional blacksmith group and go to meetings. Find out more from www.abana.org. At the meetings, you can see demonstrations and can sometimes get in the fire. I'm fairly certain that ABANA also has a "journeyman's program." Actually, it is just a contact listing of journeymen, many of them shop owners, who are willing to take someone on. The catch is that the monetary details and hours must be worked out on a one-on-one basis. Good luck.

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Thanks for the input and advice, guys. I am 26 by the way. I am serious about it and I'm trying to find a good anvil and gas forge right now. For now I'm just going to lurk the forums and learn everything I can. I would like an apprenticeship mainly because I don't want to start any bad habits that my hurt me in the future. Well I'm off to learnin'. Wish me luck.

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some advice i have that may be of help
I am 22years old and have been forging for 6 years or there about.
get your self set up so you can work thats what counts so you can start making things that you can show people who might take you in.
and use youtube.com it is very learning to watch other smiths work then think of why they did what they did and try it out and see if it works for you or not.
and yes this forum is very sharing as well use the search function on here and dig in the old threads lots of knowhow there.
and books are also good some old ones can be found on the internet as the copyright is expired.
and as mentioned go and meet with as many smiths as you can and if you find some smiths close to you ask nicely if you can come just watch them work and mostly they will tell a-bit of why and how they do what they do

you say you want a gas forge thats fine its easy and clean but if you want to get a apprenticeship then you will need to know about maintaing a coal/coke fire so thats where this site and other smiths you can see doing it comes handy

and step close to the anvil use a lightish hammer and fast blows, dont bent in your back and you should be fine
goodluck with it mate it will not always seem fun but keep at it in the sour times

all the best DC

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May I commend Frank's school to you. If you want to be a professional smith, attending it will be the fast track to help you get there!

Now on apprenticeships: in the knife world there has been long discussions of this and the gist of it is that an apprentice who is not paying should expect to do 10 hours of work for every hour of 1 on 1 teaching---and few shops have that much untrained scut work.

What you need are *skills* that make you a valuable worker for a smith. These can often be found locally: Is there a welding and or machining program at a local V0-Tech? Take them! Even jewelry making is a valuable set of skills if you want to get into knifemaking.

Most professional smiths with a shop large enough to have extra workers will require a solid grounding in welding and welding can often lead to possible smithing jobs to ornament a fab job!

And of course if bladesmithing is where you want to go the classes taught in Arkansas at the ABS (American Bladesmiths Society) school are STRONGLY SUGGESTED!

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