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Bruce: Welders are tools. Use them. The only problem with using an arc welder in a blacksmith shop is when you substitute arc welding shortcuts to forging projects in an attempt to AVOID forging. When you forge, forge. When you fabricate, fabricate. Be very careful about mixing the two. Make sure it is by choice and not because you don't know the forging alternatives.

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A hundred years ago, there were very few hobby blacksmiths who engaged in the business purely for self-expression or in the interest of preserving the craft. Subsequently, most folks worked for a living and like the weldors, machinists and fabricators of today, would have used any tool available that made the job easier, faster and/or better because the goals of the working man have not changed.

The definition of "easier, faster and/or better" is where everyone gets into the discussion on use of modern tools, which usually becomes a conversation geared toward intent or final look rather than actual process - unless mastering a particular skill is the primary aim. Some people will never use an arc welder for any purpose, others will judiciously hide welds and still others have no qualms about the open and honest look of well executed welds. I am in the latter category and believe there is no sacriledge in using any process if the final product is something you are proud to sign.

Let the stoning commence... :)

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Ireally didn't mean to put a fox in the hen house but I've only been smithing about 5 months and was asked to make a bench and i don't honestly know how to do some of the traditional methods of joinery I told the customer this and she was ok with me using a welder but I haven't felt comfortable with telling people that it was made by a blacksmith because I used a welder as well as my forge and a hammer so I thought I would ask everybodys opinion
thanks
Buck


If opportunity doesn't knock build a door
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Brucerdn
Mr Wolridge answered perfectly in my opinion. Unless you try to pass off modern methods as traditional there is no reason to hold back. There is no forge weld as strong as an arc weld, assuming both are done by an expert. I have made a living using an arc welder,MIG, TIG, plasma, torch and all the wonderful tools that have evolved for metal-working. The blacksmiths embraced the new tools as soon as available to them because of their efficiency. The last 8 yrs I have been learning the old methods and use them for ornamental work. There are places where the traditional methods are even more efficient than the new. Plus the joy of that feeling of being connected to the smiths of thousands of years ago.
Anvillain

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May I just add that a welding set up is a "traditional blacksmith's tool" as they seem to have been quite common in blacksmith's shops 100 years ago...

"Traditional" is a very slippery term and you have to nail it down or else you get into things like A36 is not a traditional blacksmith material---1018 isn't either---nor is puddled wrought iron---if it isn't direct process bloomery iron it's *modern*! (and your anvil shouldn't have a horn either!

Thomas

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Buck, as long as your honest with your customer is the main concern.

If you are not sure of traditional methods of joinery that can or should be used, show us drawings of the project or ask questions in the forum. There will be folks that offer their advice and opinions of how to solve the problem. The rest of us can learn by following the conversation. Take good notes and photos of the construction and turn it into a blueprint when you finish. :wink:

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When I demo, I try to find the period of which I am working and go to the limits of that period. the shop at Midwest Old Threshers is period 1900-1910. Electricity in the shop. I set up behind the shop in the open air. No electricity. Leg vise, forge, crank blower and a breast drill. some of the stuff has mig welding on it (vise stand). I use traditional joinery. This includes acetelyne welding if necessary. You will occasionally get the " back then " comments about acetelyne (which was discovered in 1856 or thereabouts) and was in use in industry after the turn of the century (period 1900-1910 ). Did they have a Henrob torch back then ? Nope. Did they have modern regulators back then ? Nope. Did they have modern bottles back then ? Nope. Do I care ? Nope. I'm not rude about it, just factual.

I had one (apparently possessed) horseshoe during the show that would not cooperate in becoming a rose. I gas welded the rose back to the shoe twice and eventually to a piece of 3/8 rod (which took and the rose was finished). Thank the Lord for Jens Butler. :) He bailed me out from a place that wasn't too pleasing to be in (call it what you will but I call it hammer block for the sake of arguement). I weld daily in the shop for production work. From time to time I may hide a mig weld but I tell the customer in advance. If the customer wants " traditional " joinery, they get it. No problem. We are putting a smithy in a museum here in town. Period 1929 and beyond. We WILL have an arc welder (probobly a modern one buried under a table) for repairs. Acetelyne too of course. Electricity, crank blower forge and hopefully a power hammer. This shop will be tuned towards the end of the buggy and the start of the cars and tractors. :) FUN and education is the object. Education is the key to becoming literate in the field of choice. Have fun folks.

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Using a welder and a powerhammer are necessities of a profitable shop. I was once a strict pre-industrial tradtionalist, no amenities like electricity, all the work done with hammer and anvil and my arm. For some art pieces and special occasions or strict traditional reproduction work, forge welding is great, but you cannot make real money by forge welding alone. Too time consuming. MIG TIG Oxy-Acetylene and Stick are the only ways to fly.

When the new processes became available, smiths embraced them.

IMHO

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1. Young Olly says at the dinner table, after finishing off his bowl of watery gruel, "Please Sir, can I've some more?"
"MORE? I'm a "traditional" smith, I snub all types of modern convenience. There is no more!
When metal working pays the bills, feeds the kids, roofs the family and occupies your working hours you must do what you have to. Needs must when the devil drives. As long as your endeavours are honest, above board and legal then no one has the right to argue against your modus opperandi. End of argument.

2. As for what's blacksmithing and what's not, if modern methods, which are also used in the fabrication industry are all the go, stop the bus I want to get off.

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Man started out crawling on his belly, went to hands and knees, and then started walking barefoot. Man found the need and made shoes. Man found that riding animals was faster, that riding wheels behind the animal was easier, and riding wheels powered by motors both faster and easier. Man found he could ride the wind on hot air balloons, and with motors could ride faster than the wind, and now can now fly in outer space where there is no wind.

Rarely do you see someone walking barefoot and then it is usually a newbe to transportation without the funds for his own vehicle. The rest have embraced the new technology. Try to convince man that walking barefoot is best. Won't happen, and certainly not after he steps on the first rock or thorn barefoot.

Don't fault the person that enjoys walking barefoot on the beach, but take notice of what type vehicle he drove to get to the beach.

Grab that arc welder, metal glue gun, or whatever technology has to offer, and don't look back. When you get time, take a walk on the beach - barefoot. :wink:

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I'll start out by noting that I have produced far more fabricated work over the years than forged work. I have no problem with welding and do so quite a lot in my metalworking shop. That said I do believe that arc welding is not forging. Arc welding is fabricating. It can sometimes be profitably combined in the same piece of work as forging but then the work should be described as forged and fabricated not just called forged. Take a look at some of the work of Edgar Brandt to see how welding should be integrated with forged work. Take a look at anything with obvious mig welds to see what not to do. As always; this is just my opinion- we all know what that's worth!

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Like I said, if it's your living do what you want. If it's your passion do what you want. I think most of the posters here live in free countries. The discussion here though makes it obvious, to me at least, that the skill of shaping metal with fire, hammer and hand are being overshadowed. And that's sad. The circle is turning again toward a point where someone will again recognise that the skill of the smith is being lost and needs preservation, not in some museum displaying dusty old anvils but by people getting there hands dirty. I don't think the skill of the welder needs preserving yet.

Maybe the overiding factor in all this, dare I say it, is money or profits and how well you can dupe customer into believing he's getting a genuine article, not process. Well this little black duck is only interested in the process. I give away most of the stuff I make, even to total strangers if they're good lookers. For me it's the journey not the destination that provides the riches.

I better get ready for some of your stones HW :)

Having said all that if 'they' invent some device whereby I can survey a block of land without getting out of the ute then I want one.

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Wow this gets everyone riled up. Ok define fabricating. In the context used here it would seem that it is defined as assembling things from individual components, the implication being machine made parts or chinese made parts or simply" made by another" parts. If you are welding (with an arc welder) your own handforged parts together, it is forge work without question-not simply fabricating. Forge welding or arc welding to assemble does not change the underlying work, neither does welding (arc or forge) as compared to riveting.

Whether one uses a rivet or tenon or weld or whatever means of attachment , it will still be a hand forged piece if you actually forged the pieces.

If you arc weld, and I do, I prefer to see the weld dressed, ground, sanded etc. to blend well, however on sculptural forgings, that is not important in many cases, only on reproduction work and "traditional" pieces.

If you are just welding together unforged stock, that is fabricating.

I love my power hammers and MIG welder and oxy-acetylene torch.

I also walk barefoot occasionally. For arts sake.

Thats just my two cents.

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Ok Maybe I went over the top, perhaps I should have said some of the skills of the smith if not being lost are at least being shunned. Viz; rivetting, tenonning and other non electric/gas means of fitting parts. Or do my eyes deceive me as I read the posts. Which facit of non electric/gas means is next to go?

Oh and Froggy, my definition is that the hand forged parts are hand forged, but the overall job, be it high art, utilitarian or utter carp is only partly hand forged; a major partly or a minor partly but still only 'partly'.

Yes, it sure is a tichy subject eh? I wonder which way Bruce will go. As long as we're being gentlemen, which I think we are, we should be able to argue about this hoary chestnut for a long time to come. I'll go back to my cave :)

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OK, I'm the one that lives in a cave and don't get out much.. (lmao) :P

Here's the deal. I spent about 10 years or so trying to develop the skills of old and feel I have somewhat of a grasp on them (no danger to anybody yet ). the joinery skills of forge welding, rivets, tenons and collars are more than useful in business. they are more expensive than electric or gas welded joints in my opinion. they are just not quite as convienient sometimes. I share the same feelings as you Strine but the Dutch/Irish in me makes for wanting to make money at the same time. I too give things away ( because I want to and no other reason ). Modern techniques are there to be used. I do repair work in my shop from time to time and production work as well. My time spent in self training on old ways has paid off well enough for me to demo without anything but forge/anvil/vise and a few pieces of tooling. I take the gas welding rig because it is period for the timeframe I demo at (one demo a year at Midwest Old theshers). Otherwise, I don't take it. If someone has a project, I ask them if it is to be finished using traditional methods (read no modern welding or plasma etc). WE agree on the setup and THEY are happy. Some folks don't care and that ain't no big deal to me. I have no particular need to exsist on old time traditional ways alone (although I will say that most people that know me will say that I try and be as traditional as I can). I can chisel out a piece from sheet that I normally use the plasma to cut and I try and stay well within the peramiters of being traditional methods. NO mis-representation of methods. People often mistake my gas welding for TIG and comment on it being not traditional. I say just how far back you wanna go ? I can do that way too. Forging skills and joinery skills should by all means be (not only ) used but practiced and though about. sometimes a quick punch/drift on a piece of bar and a rivet is the quickest way. Rivets are honest (thank you Bill Printy). There is absolutely no shame in forge brazing either. Besides, livin in a cave has benefits (not much traffic and all the coffee to yourself.). Have fun. BTW i make ALL my own parts (exception of commercial rivets sometimes).

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Electric welding, plasma cutters, etc., etc., etc.......
To me, the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, make the most sense of how we smiths may best look at the different skills.
Go to: www.blacksmithscompany.org.uk/Pages/2Craft/StandardsHome.html
Personally, because I never have a helper in my shop, I tack weld together scrolls and such that are to be collared. Even universally-acknowledged Masters such as Otto Schmirler stated that use of modern tooling is fine as long as it does not detract from the piece.

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To quote Toby Hickman of California" we get paid to work hard, we don't get paid extra to do it the hard way", I use the arc welder a lot, along with traditional forging techniques , putting the welds where they don't show, or blending them in with the grinder/flapwheel sander. The weldert was invented by blacksmiths, so why not.

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This is an enjoyable discussion and yes, I do believe everyone is being quite the gentleman... 8)

Went to an art show today geared only to metal arts and products. I was by far the least priciest of the 25 or so people there but I still did well on sales. It's one of those deals where the average artist only needs to sell one item to make it a good weekend.

Anyway, I had a ton of customers coming thru the tent and buying stuff right and left. Many people asked how I made a certain finish, color or texture. Only one guy wanted to see a forge weld and I showed him some I had done on fireplace tools. Not one other person asked about welds or how I had fastened something. Now, some of my stuff had a MIG weld holding elements together, some had rivets and still others were forge welded.

One of my smithing buddies knew I was there and walked up mid-day - know what he razzed me about? - THE MIG WELDS! Know something else? - he didn't buy anything. Want to know one more thing? - NOBODY but him mentioned it. The customers are looking for items that are functional and appealing - no one but a blacksmith really cares about traditional joinery...

Now, with all that said (and none of the preceding is meant as a criticism), I demo'ed a simple iron cross with split ends and the cross pieces held by a single rivet. People thought it was NEAT that I could stick a little, bitty, solid iron rivet in two pieces of steel and swat it just once to make a sound and tight joint. A guy walked up after the demo and said he wanted to buy that cross - I told him I had some nicer ones at the booth but he wanted the one I'd just made for his daughter.

So, the upshot of my opus is: (drum roll, please) The public doesn't care about joinery because they don't know about joinery. You can sell arc welds all day long or you can educate your customers and separate yourself from the 'smell of the crowd'. I have to confess that I do both and will continue to - your mileage may differ... :D

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My turn again.

To all those doing this to keep the wolf from the door, to put food on the table, to support a family. I have no bones to chew over how you make your living. Oh, did I mention, I have no bones to chew over how you make your living. If you're only intent is to study, practise, record, display or demonstrate how something was done in times past stick to your principles. Do it the hard way if you want (I want) and don't be disheartened because your neighbour does it the easy way and earns a fortune. His principles are not the same as yours, neither lesser nor greater just not the same. Oh I forgot, I have no bones to chew over how you make a living unless the constabulary or society in general does.

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