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I Forge Iron

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I'm a newbie from Maryland, and boy am I glad I found this forum!

I got started in blacksmithing fairly recently, although I've been interested for a while. The first time I saw a 'smith was a number of years past when I hiked in the Sangrio Cristo mountains near Cimmaron, NM.
I played around at first, hammering some hot metal that I heated in a campfire.

Nowadays I have a better set up, but some of you might say my methods are 'uncouth' and 'unconventional', or even 'wrong'.

I still heat my work in wood fires. I've figured out ways to build up a campfire so that it mimicks a forge's heat output. I have a few pieces of railroad track that I use as anvils, which serve my purpose well. (Yes I know they're not the best, but they're what I got for now.)

So far it's been a struggle, but I've been figuring things out slowly but surely. I've made hooks and a utensil to lift pots, and want to expand what I can make.

I appreciate having this space to gas about myself and my experiences! I look forward to learning all I can on here!


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Considering that hot coals (charcoal) has been a major smithing fuel for over 2500 years I don't see the unconventionality---just most of us separate the production of charcoal from the using. Generally when I use my Y1K forge I build a wood fire nearby and transfer the hot coals to the forge as needed.

Coal didn't get used for smithing until the High/Late Middle ages according to Gies & Gies in "Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel"

With your background and set up I would strongly suggest you ILL "The Complete Modern Blacksmith", Weygers, at your local public library!

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Joseph, I'm around Frederick, I like to call it podunk, not a whole lot around here.

I just know that some people tend to look on using a campfire as a little bit novice, but I say anything that can cook your bacon AND the fork you eat with is worth trying. It takes a little longer in the campfire vs. a forge, but I like the wait. Its rather relaxing. I'll definately go check out that book, I've found a few others that were rather good, too, although I cannot remember their names.

Thanks all for the resources!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Go through Dave's links above. There are a lot of groups and smiths in the area. BGCM sells good coal and has an excellent school shop, BGOP has a forge shop, and BGWM has been touring local member shops lately. I'm north of Frederick. There is a pretty active community here. Welcome!

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