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Hatchet making in Las Vegas

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A tomahawk may be a better fit, and easier to make. Not too many smithing guys in the LV Valley. I have only met two two others so far; Tim McCoy, and JPH. I would love to do this (Scouter for 23 years in CA) but my schedule is very limited, and I don't believe that my skills are there yet to do something like ths. JPH would be the man, but I know that he is very busy running his bladsmithing business, as well as writing books.

When would you be looking to do this?

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Well *making* a hatchet is not much a frontiersman skill as they would trade or buy them made by smiths....but as long as they understand that, learning the skills anyway is a good thing! (Much like most of the Frontier knives were made in England or France!)

Is there a Nevada Abana Affiliate you could check with?

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Greetings and Welcome to I Forge Iron
I am pleased that you found I Forge Iron!
Your request sounds reasonable and simple enough on the surface, but it may have a deeper expectation that I feel should be clarified.

I think it would help to better clarify exactly what you mean when you say; “who is willing to teach a group of Varsity Scouts (14-15yr olds) how to make a hatchet?”
Question: How many scouts will there be?

For the sake of receiving an accurate understanding of what you envisioned by your request, I will suggest for the sake of clarification, two scenarios that may be useful to help us understand exactly what you are requesting.
Being realistic, after whatever training they do received, they would not be able to make a hatchet on their own unless they have full access to all of the blacksmithing tools required.

Expectation #1. If you wanted these young men to learn how a blacksmith forges a hatchet by watching and assisting the blacksmith as it is appropriate, the request would make good sense to me.
And then have the blacksmith lead each boy on a one to one bases safely through each phase of the process, that would be another thing that is also doable.

The skilled blacksmith will handle and be aware of safety issues that no one will even know about but the blacksmith. He will make it look simple and will give you an impression that “all you have to do is get a hammer and start swinging”.

That thinking is only the product of inexperienced people. Most people do not understand and will usually underestimate what a highly skill blacksmith is required to comprehend and be able to control

This scenario would leave the students with a good Impression of what it takes to forge a Hatchet and give them a feel for the skill that is required to be a blacksmith.
The end result would not prepare them with the skills that are necessary and required to safely forge independently later.
There would always be an issue of having tools available, and a place.

Expectation #2. If the request is meant to teach each person the skills of how to make a hatchet, then that is a horse of a different color.

The issue is this; To teach them how to make a “Hatchet ONLY” and then not require them to first learn and be able to apply all of the basic forging skills safely such as anvil etiquette, heat treatment, safe quenching, identification of dangerous steels, use of acids, tool dressing, all forging skills, use of tongs safely, fire tending, safe propane use, Carbon Monoxide detection, heavy metal sickness, on and on……..would not be acceptable at any level of liability.

That simple (well meaning) request would be like putting the horse before the cart.

First Things First; There is an order of operational and safety skills that has to be taught to anyone who would be undertaking the task of forging a hatchet, or anything else!
For anyone to omit learning the foundational (basic skills) of blacksmithing and the associated safety practices would be to imply and pre-suppose these essential skills of the craft are not necessary.
And that would not be correct. The craft of blacksmithing is a very potentially dangerous craft for untrained people.

I would suggest that it is like trying to step up to the 6th rung of a 12 rung latter in one step. It will not work for most of us and it is Dangerous.
Each step of a ladder is so engineered and placed in an order to where it is doable, and will also position you for the next step, and the next.
And so it is very much the same with learning blacksmithing skills. One skill at a time!

I hope this will give you some thought about what your expectations are.

I would also suggest that you obtain a copy of the Boy Scout Metalworking Merit Badge pamphlet. If you started there, it would help you with some basics.

I wish you the best!
Ted Throckmorton

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Thanks for your insight this is very helpful.

First of all our Varsity Team has 8 boys and we always have at least two deep leadership and would have more if the Smith requires us to.

I can appreciate that the boys need to understand the fundamentals and have an excellent understanding of the safety requirements before they even start to forge a project. When talking about expectations then the boys want to learn about blacksmithing but also they would like to come away with something that they have created using the skills they have just learned. Maybe a hatchet is too complex for a first project. Perhaps something simpler would be more appropriate then the boys that want to continue their training can move-on to a more dificult project as they pursue this hobby/skill.

We can certainly start with the Metalworking Merit Badge pamphlet before the boys even go to their first Smithing lesson (that is if we can find someone in Las Vegas who is willing to teach them).

Does this seem like a reasonable undertaking?

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I feel you are on the right track of expectation. When you find a qualified blacksmith that will provide you with the training, it will be between you and the blacksmith about how to proceed from there.

Here is a quick first lesson just for the fun of it:
I sound very fussy I am sure. But I also understand that it must be difficult to see out of a wooden eye.
I would suggest very strongly that you insist that safety issues must always pave the way blacksmithing is taught and absorbed.

Fifty nine (59) years of exposure to the craft has left a deep impression in my understanding of how important it is to error on the side of safety (every time).
Your safety and each person found in and around a blacksmithing shop must take personal responsibility for their own safety.
But the leaders must teach them how to do it.

I would suggest that in each new process learned, your training should include taking a moment to ask yourself a question about what are the possible safety issues that accompany these actions I am ABOUT to do. :rolleyes:
The operative words are: “ABOUT to do”. Think First; then you will not have to have “First Aid.”
- - - - - - - - - -
Here is an organization based primarily in Utah, but includes Nevada in their area of membership.
I would suggest calling them or emailing them asking for assistance to find who would meet your needs.

If you are not successful, please contact me through the I Forge Iron contact system.
I will try to assist you in finding the right person.

Bonneville Forge Council

Again, I wish you the very best!
Ted Throckmorton

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Since my name was mentioned...I hope that whoever you find has the adequate insurance coverage if something does go wrong and someone gets hurt.

My insurance almost dropped me when they found out I was holding "open workshops" in my local area for folks to come in with projects and work on them. I had to stop that or loose my coverage. I stopped the workshops. It's hard enough to find a company to cover just what I do let alone another handfull of people and be affordable...

Good luck it is a noble endeavour indeed...It is very sad that it has come down tro worrying whether or not one will get sued into the poor house in someone gets hurt by their own actions but in today's so called "society" that threat is ever looming over the horizon. Very sad that a hands on craft such as this is taken down by possible litagation...


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  • 2 weeks later...


In our situation then every participant would have a signed parental permission slip each time they participate in this activity. This would allow the insurance to be covered by both the Boy Scouts of America and by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that sponsers our unit. Would this aleviate your concerns about insurance? Is this activity something you would consider?

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Why not have them make some camp cooking equipment? Handy stuff to have and a lot easier for the most part than a blade (and blades make most insurance companies break out in a cold sweat...) Tripods, toasting forks, skillets all pretty much beginner projects

Once they have several sessions doing that they might be ready to forge a preform from a farrier's rasp for a simple fold around and forge weld hatchet. The actual forge welding would need to be a one on one deal with the smith. A bit easier if the smith does the judgement work and they act as striker. Then they could drift it and finish forging the edge down and file it for heat treat.

The folded and welded rasp hatchets are light and great for camp chores and would be close to what a lot of people would use when they had to carry stuff in.

Too bad this isn't Las Vegas NM, I might give it a go then; but what I'd do is to run the *leaders* through it first and see what they think....And yes you will need extra adults as you will need 2 with the person forging and 2 to watch the rest to keep the "2 deep" mandate.

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In our situation then every participant would have a signed parental permission slip each time they participate in this activity. This would allow the insurance to be covered by both the Boy Scouts of America and by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that sponsers our unit. Would this aleviate your concerns about insurance? Is this activity something you would consider?

If the classes were at the church, using church equipment.... maybe..

One problem you forget, or may not know, is that no matter what you agree to in writing legally "No one may ever sign away any rights." What this meant to me when I ran my Jujitsu schools is that even tho the waiver stated clearly the risks and dangers possable, it did not relieve me of any responcibility for any injury. No matter how it was self inflicted I had to answer for it.

The paper work only lowered the level or responcibility by one step, IE: it proved they were warned, nothing more in the courts eyes. it did not change being sued, or allow another to talk the blame.
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Something a lot of people don't realize is that many insurance policies *require* you to sue any third party involved. So if Idjit comes into my forge and swears he would never sue me and then cuts a finger off due to his own stupidity; his insurance company will tell him they don't have pay for re-attachment surgery unless he sues me.

I sat down and read my policy once, scary what is hidden in it!

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Liability and Blacksmithing
To start, my response in no way suggests that I am providing you with legal advice.
I am not an attorney. I am sharing with you information made from my observations while I was an investigator for 36 years. I have investigated civil and criminal matters as well as accident reconstruction only as I was assigned to do.

I write this as a WARNING from a layman’s point of view
I found out that nothing is etched in stone when it comes to tort liability.
So make sure what you do is reasonable and sound.
Then be ready and willing to pay the price of you actions if you are incorrect about how you think the law deals with your situation.
Talk to your attorney first before you act. Not after you have been notified of a civil action against you.

Steve I believe you are close to the target with the concept that you cannot sign your rights away, but only to a point.
By signing a waiver, you not only indicate that you read the contents, but that you agree with the provisions of that document.
There are other mitigating circumstances that come into play such as how the document was written up, confirmed, and much more.

A study of the subject of tort liability and all of its ramifications will quickly give you an understanding of why we have attorneys and courts. Nothing is final until the judge says it is final.

Thomas I believe that you are on track about the third party subrogation.
If you have been injured in an accident that has resulted in damages, at some point you will undoubtedly hear the term "subrogation." Literally, subrogation means one person or party stands in the place of another.
Subrogation issues surface when a person has been injured and someone other than the person or party at fault pays for all or some of the damages resulting from the injury. By definition, a subrogation claim allows the innocent paying party, also known as a "collateral source," to stand in the shoes of the injured party.

My position about this matter is one of using caution and common sense. Unless you are set up with your insurance carrier specifically to cover your activities of teaching blacksmithing, I would avoid it like the plague.
We are all playing in the legal play ground like it or not. The attorneys are the monitors and the courts are the principal.

Now the question is how can we assist in finding someone to help the boy scouts in Las Vegas pass the Metalwork merit badge?

I was in the process of setting up to help our Boy Scout troop with their Metalwork merit badge.
But this issue has brought back so many unwanted memories about some of the cases I have worked on that I have decided to decline.


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  • 1 month later...

As a cubmaster for our pack and committee member for our troop I have considered the metalworking meritbadge as well and what I have come up with is this.. when teaching the boyscouts, keep in mind local councils have lability insurance for things like this. as long as the instructor has met the bsa requirements as a merit badge instructor and you are operating under council approval then council liability insurance will cover any potential lawsuits from injury and accident. just check with the local council for the proper steps to take to ensure bsa insurance coverage. also with all of the BSA paperwork and hoops to jump through you will also have access to BSA lawyers is a situation should arise.

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