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I Forge Iron

Hopefull Newbie from Northern CA


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I want to start smithing!!!  Specifically I want to make straight razors and eventually knives, although working in the opposite direction would probably be smarter.

I created a GoFundMe campaign with dreams of getting help setting up my equipment, but I am not holding my breath or counting on it to succeed in order to move forward.

The equipment that I plan to get/build is:

This Forge - http://zoellerforge.com/firebrickforge2.html

This No Weld Grinder - http://www.mickleyknives.com/html/no_weld_grinder.html

I'm still looking around for the best anvil for my buck and once I find it I'm thinking a good sized stump with a rubber mat underneath will work nicely.

I know I'll need standard blacksmith tools (hammers, tongs, safety gear, hardy tools, large magnet, etc)

I plan to use a toaster oven for heat treating and tempering providing I can find one that will maintain 400+ reliably, if not I'll use an oven until I can get a quality kiln.

I'll need a standard band saw and drill press for making scales and handles.

I also know I'll need buckets and oil, water, sand, etc for quenching and annealing.

Is there anything I'm missing or over looking?

I haven't even struck my 1st hammer blow and I can already feel this addiction creeping over me like a tidal wave!!!


I live in a small town just south of Redding, California for those of you are close.  I would love to pick your brain and visit your setup!!!


Edited to remove self promotional links

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Hi again Riff Raff. Im going to be all discouraging on ya again. You're making a normal beginner mistake and listing everything you want without knowing what you need. Been there, done that, got the stuff I wanted before I knew what I needed. I don't use most of that stuff either. I believe most of us who've spent time and money collecting what we wanted before knowing what we needed have similar piles of unused . . . stuff we collected.


Here's a bit of bitter truth the tools and equipment don't make a thing, we do, It's the skills, knowledge and knack we carry between our ears and apply with our our thumbs that do the work. The rest is just highly refined dirt. Owen,(Basher) laid out the program that counts, develop a wide skills set, THEN narrow it down. bladesmithing is a final specialization. If you start out in a narrow craft you're starting out in a corner and it's not a high demand corner either. The blade market is a specialized market and unless you do brilliant work and have a widely renounded name you're going to starve trying to make a name.


On  the other hand if you're a solid welder/fabricator you wont starve, get your utilities shut off or sleep in the park while you learn to blacksmith. Once you've learned the blacksmith's craft you can live off the fabricator's craft while you build a name as an ornimental or maybe architectural blacksmith, both are narrower markets than fabrication by a tall mark. Hopefully you'll learn heat treating from someone who knows the dance AND hears the music. If you learn heat treating well, you can make a decent living doing it for other bladesmiths and knife makers IF you can afford the insurance. Well, In truth it'll maybe be a decent sideline to your living as a fabricator.


I know I'm a discouraging old fart but I'm retired from a long professional career, survived a serious, life threatening accident and still have a nice shop, bought and paid for but not as a blacksmith let alone bladesmith. There are people who WANT me to make them blades, not because I'm a known bladesmith either but because I'm known for my wide skills set and integrity. If I make a blade it isn't going to leave my shop till it's RIGHT regardless of what the customer thinks.


Iron and steel are a life long learning curve with bitter disappointments and rich rewards. Iron and steel can't be hurt, destroyed yes, hurt no. Iron and steel have NO feelings and don't give a whit about ours, they can't. We have to learn THEIR ways, ours don't matter. Iron and steel are refined dirt, we can turn it back but it takes knowledge, skill and experience to make the refined dirt into something useful, beautiful and valuable.


Welcome to the addiction and the life. Enjoy the ride it's a DOOZY.


Frosty The Lucky.

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Frosty - no worries about being real.  I'd rather have 1 person give me the hard ugly truth than 100 people telling me wha they think I want to hear.  The more I research, the more I realize that as you said, bladesmithing is a specialized niche that you get into after learning the basics.  Yes I am definitely guilty of creating a wish list instead of a need list.  I'll have to refine that, thanks for forcing me to keep it real.


Mike - I've been to the calsmith website already but thanks for sharing the link in case I hadn't found it.  I shot an email off to the closest ABANA board member to me and got a quick reply with the calsmith website and a contact for a group up around me who he says call themselves the Jefferson Smiths so I shot an email off to them too.  Do you know anything about them?  On the CBA website it also give contact info for a Redding member of CBA who does classes by appointment.  Is this something that is usually expensive?

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Yes, the Weaverville museum seems to be the unofficial hub for the Jefferson Smiths. The Redding guy, Walter Evans, passed away in March and is greatly missed. His buddy Danny teaches smithing and Ag welding at the community college. Go to a Weaverville class, you might meet somebody there that's close to you

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The Redding guy, Walter Evans, passed away in March and is greatly missed.

Sorry to hear about that, my condolences.



Go to a Weaverville class, you might meet somebody there that's close to you

I will definitely look into it thanks for the information!

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A lot of what Frosty said is true. Get exposure, work the steel, build skills. If the passion persists refine your skill to blades. Its easy to take a piece of steel and make a blade. The true art and craft of smithing come out when one makes a blade that works well, holds an edge and looks good. That takes time to learn and skill to perform.


Get involved with CBA. It is an amazing resource. The Weaverville group is a great bunch of guys and gals!


If you have the opportunity, come to Mount Hood. Western States Blacksmithing Conference is happening August 22 thru 25. There will be demo's from some of the best blade smiths on the west coast as well as demos from all other forms of smithing. This is one of the big events in Blacksmithing. 

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Fe-Wood - Wow I looked up that conference and it looks like a great time!!  Why can't it be in Medford, or why can't I still be living in Whidbey Island, WA?!?! :( Looks to be about a 7 hour drive and with the short notice and tight budget I'm probably going to have to skip it, but xxxx that looks great!!  Hopefully next year, assuming it's an annual event haha


I spent some time on the CBA website today and after seeing a Level I & II class in Weaverville advertised I called Ken Morrissey who was listed as the contact lead for the class.  He didn't seem to know anything about a class anytime soon.  He says they shut down classes for the summer and won't have another one until Oct.  He seemed like a great guy on the phone and we chated for probably half an hour or so.  The class was crazy cheap as well, but you have to be a member of CBA to attend so I might have to cough up that membership fee, but I have a feeling it'll be money well spent, and that isn't much either anyway.  I just noticed there's 2 other contacts listed on that notice on the CBA site so I'll give them a call tomorrow or on Monday.  I kind of feel uncomfortable interrupting someone's weekend (especially considering I'd most likely be interrupting their forge time haha) and wouldn't have called Ken today but I forgot it was Saturday until he answered the phone lol.


I've also contacted the board member of the ABANA closest to me via email (he's the one who 1st turned me onto the CBA).  He also gave me contact info for who he thought were the Jefferson Smiths up in Weaverville, but it turned out to be a nice lady over in Humbolt county who I'm conversing back and forward with via email.  She's trying to find a contact close to me to at least meet and maybe swing a hammer with.


Thanks for the info!!

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it would seem we are much alike and I did not even know it I hope some day to make a trip to your place and spend the day with you and learn and chat a bit . your words  are very true the only thing I did not see in your post was to recommend the 50 dollar knife shop book to Riff it is worth every penny .



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Rather than post on the other thread you started, I'm going to continue the conversation here and respond to your questions from the other post.

I think the best way to help you get started is to give you a little back story on how I got started.

I have been a builder all my life, building mostly with wood. In the early 90's I wanted to learn how to make woodworking tools.There was very little info out there (no internet to speak of). I read Alexander Weygers book "the complete modern blacksmith" from cover to cover. I made some nice chisels and fumbled around for a couple years then life got in the way and I left smithing all together until 2008. That was the first year I went to a CBA conference. Wow is all I can say! I learned more that weekend then I did during my couple years fumbling around in the 90's. I have been a member of CBA ever sense. I have tried to make it to all the events in my area, Spring Conference, Octoberfest, Weaverville hammer-in and countless clinics. In 2011 I was asked to help with the CBA education committee. I accepted and am still part of it. After 5 years of hard work and showing up, I feel I am just beginning to be able to make what I see in my minds eye in a reasonable amount of time. Long and short of it from my perspective is  it's a long journey with lots of hard work. I figured the best way for me to learn was to get involved with CBA education. I can put together the clinics and instructor trainings I need to continue my learning and help others at the same time. My involvement also allows me to rub elbows with some of the best in the business.

As far as becoming a farrier? At your age I wouldn't unless you are looking for a way to make money and don't have another money making skill. I know several smiths who got out of shoeing horses for health reasons... It kills your back and knees.


I hope this helps-

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Samcro - I keep seeing that book title being promoted as a good place to start so I'll be getting a copy soon and devour the information.  From some of the reviews I've seen not all of his recommendations are necessarily for beginners (making cable damascus for example) but it does sound like a great place to start.  Love the name by the way, I'm going through withdrawls waiting for the new season!


Fe-Wood - Thanks again for the great information.  I'm looking into becoming a memeber of CBA, looks like this is the perfect time of year to join as there is a dicsount on the membership price right now.  I wish I could get into a class sooner, but looks like I have to wait until Oct unless I want to spend a few hours driving each way.  The farrier was more of an off-hand question about whether the pain of the work would be worth the gain of the experience, and altough I do like horses, it doesn't seem like a logical direction for me to go at this time.

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Riff, As much as I like the reference to the Show I am 42 and have had the Name "Samuel Cro" for all my life long before the show However I do like the show just not the confusion with me <Grins> it is an Awesome book and shows you that you do Not need a big shop or fancy equipment to make a simple ,usable,quality knife . However , you will soon learn nice equipment is very good and will lead to your success to making high quality knives Much easier and the EQ will save a ton of time .



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