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I'm in the process of building a life for myself and truly tired of crap jobs with crap bosses. It stands to reason that one would want to do something they liked. My question is, if one wanted to get into the world of smithing and fabrication with no experience, how would he go about it. What should I expect from an apprentice program and how would I find one? I'm a hard worker, I'd like to say I've got good morals, and I pay attention to detail. I've got next to no experience, I have made a couple things that served their purpose, and I'm not set in any habits that I know of. I need some one to teach me, and help me get started down this road we call life. Thank you in advance for your input.
Sincerely,
Riley

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Working for yourself is not going to release you from working for someone you do not like or doing work you feel is beneath you. A professional blacksmith, tradesman, or proprietor of  any type business has a duty to their customer. If you are willing to fulfill your obligation it really doesn't matter... A blacksmith business can encompass many things that can not be taught, that which only life experience can. I would suggest selling something, anything, to someone and see how it goes, if you do good you will sell another and build on your experience as a business man.

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The problem isn't that the work is beneath me our that I don't like someone. I'm not above swallowing my pride. It's more the florida construction trade is abusive and ran on a whim. If you don't know the right people, or have about 10 grand to start out with you won't go anywhere. And as satisfying as the work is, I'm not fascinated by it as I am in smithing. I just want to better myself and my quality of life.

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First of all, blacksmithing and fabrication has such a wide range of opportunites. Creating railings and gates is very different than free form recycled sculpture for example. You will have to try and find what you enjoy doing then go talk to some smiths that are doing it. Join a local guild and talk with those who are living it or maybe you will find that they have day jobs they put up with in order to support their part-time passion.

 

Having lived in Jacksonville I can tell you there are a lot of opportunites in Fernandina to the north, Ponte Vedra south of you and then San marco in Jax. All three of those areas have architectural and artistic opportunites as well as the important piece of a wealthy populace and or summer home owners.

 

Danger Dillion gave you some great advice that can not be ignored. Basically he is telling you that most small businesses that fail do so becasue you might have the desire and drive to have your own business but without knowing how to market, sell, provide stellar customer service, pay your taxes and manage your books and expenses etc. you will fail. Without knowing how to run a business you can find yourself doing something you love but not having the success needed to live it.

 

Best of luck and let us know what you decide.

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I'm in the process of building a life for myself and truly tired of crap jobs with crap bosses. It stands to reason that one would want to do something they liked. My question is, if one wanted to get into the world of smithing and fabrication with no experience, how would he go about it. What should I expect from an apprentice program and how would I find one? I'm a hard worker, I'd like to say I've got good morals, and I pay attention to detail. I've got next to no experience, I have made a couple things that served their purpose, and I'm not set in any habits that I know of. I need some one to teach me, and help me get started down this road we call life. Thank you in advance for your input.
Sincerely,
Riley

If being self-employed is what you really want then this idea will be of no use to you. However, if you'd like a really good job with a secure future try to get an apprenticeship with the boilermakers. Their retirement, benefits, pay etc are as good as you'll find anywhere. To be a construction, railroad or shipyard blacksmith you may have to move, but it'd probably be worth it to you if it was what you really wanted to do.

See here; http://boilermakers.org/

George

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I understand and appreciate your advise, both of you, but I'm afraid I have a more firm grasp on the business side than the actual smithing. I have experience in running a successful company through my father. Buy I must first polish a skill in order to market it. I would keep my focus to tools and blades ai see a bigger market for it

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I'm in the florida artist blacksmith ass. And attend the meets when I can but I don't have transportation. I'm not opposed to moving our even working without pay so long ai can eat and sleep. Self employment isn't a important to me as a secure job but I would like for it to be smithing

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I'm in the florida artist blacksmith ass. And attend the meets when I can but I don't have transportation. I'm not opposed to moving our even working without pay so long ai can eat and sleep. Self employment isn't a important to me as a secure job but I would like for it to be smithing

I'm sure the railroad employs guys in their shops in Jacksonville. Keep an eye on the CSX website. That'd be a great place to get experience. Problem is getting a railroad job is something that isn't easy. Their HR people are tougher to impress than a potential mother in law.

 

If you're a good businessman that will get you far. With that as an advantage being good can often be overrated. You may want to take a look at this thread: http://www.iforgeiron.com/topic/31808-big-shops/ You might find it interesting.

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I would seriously look into renting a booth at a weekend flea market, making a website, getting an etsy account... Use the earnings to take a few classes at a local college, art is a pretty fascinating subject if you can see past everyone else's perspectives and opinion. Your earnings could also pay the way to spend a week at a folk school or even a notable accomplished smith teaching classes... 

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Thank you Mr Turley and I will read that book asap. And thank you pulse I will keep those options in mind. Classes aren't a bad idea and are available at the group meetings and although I haven't yet, I'm sure I will attend a few. However I feel that if I could achieve more intense or one on one training, that would take me much further much faster.

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Griley,

Location....not many folks make big money in Fl, they come with it when they move there from elsewhere. Fitting words of wisdom from a retired plumber I know.

If you want the long dollar for labor, move to the industrial growth areas and hit it hard. Be advised, the living is not cheap or easy in any regard. However, if properly situated you will be rewarded and can, in time be free to pursue the heart's desire.

If you prefer to perfect your skills at a chosen trade, be the journeyman. Move about and work for and with masters and those you deem experts in the field. We all learn from experience and we hone our skills by watching the pros. Discipline and perseverance are required in large amounts because this pursuit powered by 100 percent self motivation.

Take your time, have a plan and be committed. I wish you the best in whatever path you decide to embark upon. It has been said that fortune favors those that plan, have strength and are bold.

Good luck.
Peter

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G Riley ,

 

There is a place called Art lounge in Plant City one of the owners is Eric Barber(Friends of the Family) he might commission some of your art work do a showing of your work with you . also he has been working with CSX for 15 to 20 years and may be able to help you out with further employment opportunities. let Eric know that Robert & Shelly Yates from Tennessee Sent you  (so he will know how you found him ) Also JC is my Wife's Uncle also retired from CSX.

 

If you would like to chat some time pm me and I'll give you a phone # to call me and see if I can Help you out any further.

 

I look forward to helping you out .

 

Sam

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Start taking welding, drafting and drawing classes immediately!  During a break take Frank Turley's class.

 

Start amassing tools and capital and looking for a large cheap workspace that you can be noisy and dirty in.

 

In that area I would look into specializing in forged silicon bronze work for the odiously wealthy, really need to get in with some top of the line designers and interior/exterior decorators

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Lots of folks go to school to either "find themselves" or because they believe that education = earnings.  Lots of new graduates are unemployed and in debt.  Apprenticeships sound great but it's no guarantee either.  Two weeks after I'd reached enough hours to test for my Journeyman Electrician's license my doctor was talking about career reassignment in answer to severe back injuries.  Injuries I sustained during my apprenticeship.  Most of the guy's in my graduating class are now "travelers" who must chase work around the states. That's a tough way to earn the family's bread.

 

I'd encourage you to "live the life" you're imagining through internship, shadowing, or visiting shops like the one you seek to open.  Figure out what they actually needed to get going.  Make a list of them and apply yourself to those well-defined items.  Pay particular attention to where the work's coming from.  It's an invisible  fortune of opportunity until you know how to access it.  Take all of that and seriously consider if it's viable with whatever's permanent in your life.

 

For me, there needs to be a significant and sustained economic recovery before there's any reason to start something myself.  Good luck.

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I'm not looking to open a shop I'm looking to become an apprentice learn a trade and find employment I in that trade. I'm not saying that opening a shop is out of the question but it's far enough down the road to worry about learning how to forge properly first. I don't want to get ahead of myself

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I hear from a number of people each year who want to apprentice. My normal interpretation of this request is that they want me to teach them to forge without paying me, and while doing very little work that is truely meaningfull to my needs. I normally just tell them no. I finely desided to give one young man a description of how I thought it could work, this was a deal where he did about 3 hours of mindless work then I spent an hour actually intentionally teaching him, this is I believe much more than one would have expected in the "good old days". He never took the time to email me back.
I say all this to tell you that rather than offer to work as an apprentice you should maybe define what you want and what you expect to produce to get it from the "master". I know it would help me when these people approach me, I think that normally they have not really even thought about that, nor have they thought about the fact that their being in the area is going to cost me time.

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The way I understand it, an apprenticeship is supposed to be profitable to both parties, one gains a wealth of knowledge while the other names his price. A deal like the one you mentioned would be perfect for me. I would expect to learn the basics, fire management, forging temps, and heat treatment. I would expect by the end of it to be able to make a few things consistently well. I would expect to do as I'm told. I think my focus would be on tools and knives. I would hope to save the master time by backing some of his workload in return for his time spent on me. I would need a place to sleep and a meal a day or a way to earn it.

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I dont really want to come off rude or offensive in any way, but I dont know if you will find exactly what your looking for - I'm going to assume your a "younger" feller.  I'm in law enforcement / computer programming - but I didn't just get into this line of work;  I worked for years in crappy jobs (Selling cars, and I'm probably the most antisocial person I know).  Every chance I got I would take a class or get a book on what I really WANTED to do and dive into it as much as I could while still selling cars(and hating life).  After a while I was able to get a job in the "entry" level of something I really DID enjoy and could get out of the business I hated at the time.

 

If I were you, I would advise you to do whatever you can to make ends meet now, and every bit of spare money/time you get sink it into what you really WANT to do - dedicate yourself to taking some classes from someone thats very good at what you want to do, offer to clean up for them, offer to help them with something you *DO* know (Your in construction, I would imagine you can find lots of value in building, or repairing things around a shop/house)...

 

I really do hope you find what your looking for, this life is way to short to be miserable - but sometimes you have to do what it takes to get your foot in the door of something you really do enjoy!

 

I wish you luck!

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Not to be dismissive but you're another apprentice wannabe and its a really low odds gamble. It doesn't matter what you feel it should mean, there' a number of very good reasons apprentice programs are virtually dead in this country. No matter that there are unions with apprentice programs, those are the modern version and different.

 

Basic arithmetic for a business goes like this. an employee MUST bring in 3x their wages, not counting insurance, benefits, etc. to break even. Mark only offered to "charge" 3:1 for teaching and that's dirt cheap. His barter student (not really an apprentice at all) needed to put in 3hrs of solid productive work so Mark didnt need to do it for every hour of instruction. Dirt cheap, I've never known anyone to come into an operation cold and not need quite a bit of instruction just to not take time away from work. Drilling a new guy who was already a driller needed at least a year of 60hr weeks before we could let him start working controls.

 

I will occasionally come across a youngster who is willing to take a shot at barter for training. I turn him/er over to Deb and my rates are one day for every hour of instruction and believe me Deb can get her mmoneys worth. No, not work in my shop, we have a hobby farm and there's always plenty to do. If a student does it I don't have to so it's value for value. If they're in the shop with me I must, MUST keep an eye on them rather than what I want to do, so they're costing me. After some training in the shop they may get t a point of not being more potential hazard than benefit so where their labor goes can change.

 

Sound harsh? I spent a lot of years in schooll, metal shop, welding, fabrication, etc. plus about 15 in Dad's shop. If you think about hours of instruction, consider what a master's degree requires. Anyway, I'm a good instructor and a student is going to get value for unskilled labor in trade. Hey, if you're an auto mechannic with diagnostic equipment we're on a whole different page of barter.

 

Sounds pretty harsh doesn't it, let's consuder an old time apprentiseship. An average starting age was around 8-9 years and you moved into the master's house. Room and board for labor. Think he's getting blacksmmithing lessons? Nope, not for quite a while, sometimes years. He's sweeping floors, haulling and packing coal, iron, wood materials, haulling cleaning stalls, packing manure, doing the wife's bidding and general an indentured servant. Let's assume he's a good kid and the master favors him so after an unspecified time he's allowed to start collectig breeze and coal from the ashes and maybe do simple helper work. Hold tongs, fetch and carry, maybe do some cutting, etc. maybe he'll be allowed to rehab an old broken hammer.

 

This can go on for years and in the beginning all the instruction he'll get is from watching, a generous master may MAY answer an occasional question but is mmore likely to give a cuff for not being on the jump. Now it's years later, he's say 13-14, large enough to do solid work in the smithy, swings a hammer, strikes and occasionally does a job of his own. Then one day a customer wants him to do a job and the master figures he's learned enough to actually go into business and makes the kid a journeyman. Bassically hands him his walking paper, now go out and find a place and job of your own. He's learned enough to be competition. Bye bye.

 

Seriously, in the early days of the guilds, apprentice programs were indentured servitude for a trade programs. In modern America indenture is illegal. Modern apprentice programs are training programs with the understanding that you WILL join the union and pay it back in dues and loyalty. Not neccessarily a bad thing, it's just not the old apprentice programs. Thank god!

 

So far the guys have passed on some solid advice, I hope my ramblings are more good than nothingness. If you want to make a living as a blacksmith you have to learn to blacksmith, run a business, develop a product and clientel. No small feats if you're prepared. You're just not going to find an "apprentice" program that will take you from start to business ready in the USA.

 

Frosty the Lucky.


i

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I do have mechanics experience in that I used to be a diesel mechanics assistant, built my own truck from the ground up, and fix all of my own and my families vehicle. How ever I wouldn't say I'm a mechanic, more so a parts changer with an educated guess. Diagnostic equipment? You mean a wrench, our the computer that often gives you an area of effect to look into witch means further testing, often with hand tools. I don't know much about the newer cars but before fuel injection, diagnostics was the easy part and in allot of ways still is. Anyway the point to all of this is as of now I'm a jack of all trades and master of none. I enjoy building houses, I enjoy installing home security, o really enjoy working on cars, and I could take or leave roofing, but I love smithing. Honestly my best plan as of yet was to get licensed in either roofing or a general contractors in order to fund my hobby as well as give me more time for it. However construction isn't quite back yet and roofing carries allot of risk. Neither license would be too hard to get but the start up scares me, you gotta have money to make money, our not be afraid to go into serious debt, witch I don't and am. Thank you all for the advise. I think I've found my coarse of action. More of the same ceasing opportunities when they come. Thank you again and I'm glad to be a part of a community so helpful, caring, and communicative. You guys are awesome

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Greetings GR,

 

Now that you have received a whole bunch of good advice I will throw in a bit of mine...  I am a great supporter of education and the John C Folkschool  in North Carolina..  Log on to there web sight and take a look at what is available that would give you a jumpstart..   It's funny .   Being an old guy I have been to many daughter and granddaughter graduations ...  At the  end of the ceremonies they always seem to say.  Now this is a  place to start...   Work hard , invest in yourself, watch and learn..  You will do just fine...

 

Luck is that point where PREPERATION MEETS  OPPERTUNITY

 

I wish you well

Jim

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