KevinJohnsen

Not even a blacksmith yet. However...

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Wow. This is stunning me. Truly.

I mentioned at my job about me working to get into blacksmithing. One of the other machinist took me aside. "My granddaddy was a blacksmith, let me tell you all about hammering." Uh, ... I am going to learn the hofi method.
"Na, all you need is to hold the very end of the handle really really firmly and yada yada yada" tuned him out at this point. I'm not even a blacksmith yet and people that have zero working knowledge of blacksmithing are already telling me how it all works because someone from their childhood was "one of the best blacksmiths IN THE WORLD"
Seriously????

I don't see myself doing this in public once I actually am doing blacksmithing. My tolerance level for derpy comments is low.

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You'd be surprised where gems of knowledge are hidden; I'd keep an open mind when people are trying to share something to be perfectly honest with you. How do you know your coworker didn't get lessons from his grandfather and that's what got him into machining in the first place? Some of the best (albeit limited) knowledge I have about blacksmithing came from machinists, or someone they knew. It's how I was able to build my forge :)

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He does know metal though so I'm sure he may have some useful info that can be applied even if not directly to smithing . It's the most addictive thing around you may be doin it in public before you know it, have fun learning more about the art!

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Its just like the internet, you need to wade through a lot of hearsay and misinformation to get to the good stuff. Try and be humble and patient, you can't judge a book by its cover. Sometimes people actually do know something useful, and if not you never know when some goob will drop an actual pearl of knowledge in your lap, and if your gracious tools could be forthcoming too. There are lots of pretenders, and educated guessers (BS's)... It seems like we all watched a documentary on PBS 7 or 8 years ago and that makes us an expert on some topic, most people find themselves doing that especially if they think the other person doesn't know very much yet;-)...

But the "hold the hammer firmly" violates my beliefs and qualifies as a sin;-)... Though to be fair there are some very good smiths in the "long handle, small head" denomination. They preach that mass x velocity squared equals energy, so you get more bang for your buck swinging faster, and a longer lever arm can help you accelerate the hammers head through the arc faster. Then the real quibble comes in weither he said "firmly but gently" or some other qualifier. Because you should hold the hammer firmly enough that you guide the hammer to the targeted landing spot, but loosely enough that energy from the hammer doesn't feed back into your arm. Hard to say how much truth was hiding in what he said...

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SJS, me thinks that inertia is the missing element there, lol.
Not to get sideways of moderators, but we can paraphrase, "no mater what you are told, no mater what you are taught and no mater what you read, go to the forge and ask the steel what it means to you" ;-)

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Hi Kevin,

 

First of all I totally understand your feelings having the same experience time to time. If you go to the pet peeves topic you'll see wise grandchildren of the blacksmiths of yore are everywhere. Although as others stated you can not possibly know what comes forth through this kind of talking.

Just one story: I was stopped by a local older man on a day, he knew about my hobby and kept talking about the importance of final tappings - the way you sign to the strikers it's the end of the bashing for this heat. It was at least tiring to hear it all but when it ended he mentioned the local museum had a collection of forging related tools. He even knew where it is hidden, as there not such a thing as local museum anymore. Also knew the names and adresses of the old times' smiths who used to live in this town, and gave the info of their living relatives to ask about old tools.

So after the depressing start it turned out a very fruitful conversation. (By the way he is an ex-machinist, too. Around here all the metal trade men have some sort of mysterious respect for old blacksmiths and blacksmithing. This helps a lot.)

 

Happy hammering (Hofi style or not, whatever... :) )

 

Gergely

 

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And remember, people like to talk about a past relative.  Especially if it was a 'favorite' one.  In his eyes, his grandfather was 'the best blacksmith in the world'.  One of my grandfathers was a custom tailor who could make any custom clothing desired, yet I have never bought any piece of clothing and tried to tell the store how it should have been made.  Just human nature of how something you said triggered a memory that the person felt compelled to speak about.  Be polite, listen, then use whatever information gained however you wish.

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The village wide boy know-it-all who has no experience of blacksmithing came into the workshop the other day to (incorrectly) tell me how to make a scroll jig.
He then tried to sell me some second hand t-shirts.

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When I'm told about grandpa or other distant relative being a blacksmith I sometimes tell that that my daughter's kids also have a grandpa who is a blacksmith. But I usually ask them if they have any left over blacksmith tools and such they would like to donate to a worthy blacksmith. Me :D

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My tolerance level for derpy comments is low.

 

Yeah, ... me too.

 

So we'll just leave it at that .....

 

 

 

.

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I get this a lot, in fact my G Granddad was a blacksmith and we have Pictures of him and his shop. But I've learned to act like I'm listening, smile at the correct spots and wait and see if they have some of grandpa's stuff they might like to find a home for. At least half of my tools have come that way. Had a call this morning that a fellow had dropped off some old tools in a wooden box on my back porch at my northern farm. No idea what but there will be something in there that I can use always seems to be.

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Passing bad info to me; well I'm used to it and can make my own judgements on it. Passing bad info to "the crowd" at demos does rile me up a bit. I've tried to moderate my replies using things like "That was a common belief 50 years ago and was written into some of the books but more research has shown that..."

Now what I do try to do is to not contradict a person doing the demo if they are the one giving out bad info but rather talk with them afterwards, (Knives tend to attract such urban legends like: edge packing makes the material denser, quenching has tons of misinfo, etc...) As I actually research old times and methods---to me 1800 is *modern* *times* I can tell that a lot of misinformation comes from fairly recently when the craft was winding down as a common profession and so people memories are based on a very short "aberrant" period of smithing history.

I also like to be able to quote my sources so they don't have to rely on me as a source.

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I've yet to demo without someone telling me about their grandfather, the REAL blacksmith. And the guys who insist I'm not doing it right, they know their grandfather was . . . And so on. If they're annoying I may just stop paying attention and continue with my patter. Hammering every time they begin to speak is purely coincidence, honest. Occasionally I'll offer them the hammer which has so far never failed to get them to go away.

 

However, I usually nod, listen and sometimes ask if they still have some of grandfather's tools. I have students who could really use them.

 

There is one VERY GOOD reason to listen to folk who don't really  know diddly, sometimes the BEST ideas come from folk who's thoughts are unpolluted by knowledge. It's my version of "looking at a . . . with fresh eyes." Kids are geniuses at unpolluted thinking, they ask the BEST questions and have some of the BEST ideas.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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That is a topic I have been thinking about lately Frosty...  Divergent vs Convergent thinking.  Convergent thinking is having all the rules internalized and examining the situation and coming to the best solution according to social conventions and beliefs. Divergent thinking doesn't have a box to think outside of, they just churn up potential solutions in a very non linear fashion. Some very creative, potentially nonsensical, and possibly dangerous ideas come out.  Convergent ideas tend to follow traditional patterns, but are also reliable...  Good design involves tempering the extemporaneous exuberance of divergent ideas with some convergent practicality...  Very interesting ideas, about ideas....

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There is one VERY GOOD reason to listen to folk who don't really  know diddly, sometimes the BEST ideas come from folk who's thoughts are unpolluted by knowledge. It's my version of "looking at a . . . with fresh eyes." Kids are geniuses at unpolluted thinking, they ask the BEST questions and have some of the BEST ideas.

 

That is an exceptionally good point Frosty, young kids to have a tendency to ask brutally honest questions sometimes, enough to really take you off guard sometimes. We ALL need that.

 

With what SJS brought up also, it brings to mind an exceptionally good book I read last spring, that talks about thinking patterns like confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance. Two things everyone struggles with, even if they never realize it. The book was called "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts" By Carol Tavris. That book was a page turner, I highly recommend it!

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I've yet to demo without someone telling me about their grandfather, the REAL blacksmith. And the guys who insist I'm not doing it right, they know their grandfather was . . . And so on. If they're annoying I may just stop paying attention and continue with my patter. Hammering every time they begin to speak is purely coincidence, honest. Occasionally I'll offer them the hammer which has so far never failed to get them to go away.

 

However, I usually nod, listen and sometimes ask if they still have some of grandfather's tools. I have students who could really use them.

 

There is one VERY GOOD reason to listen to folk who don't really  know diddly, sometimes the BEST ideas come from folk who's thoughts are unpolluted by knowledge. It's my version of "looking at a . . . with fresh eyes." Kids are geniuses at unpolluted thinking, they ask the BEST questions and have some of the BEST ideas.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

Wives are also sometimes a source of really good ideas.  There is a new smith over on r/blacksmith that I have been trying to help out a bit.  He is developing very quickly.  One of his early projects was a bottle opener and as can be expected, it was pretty awful, but with a couple months he had progressed remarkably.  His wife gave him a smithin' magician for xmas and he started producing several similar openers that were quite well executed but had an odd, thinned down and turned up end on them.  I asked what that was about and he said that his wife had asked if he could put something on the opener that would make it easier for women with long fingernails to open soda and beer cans.  I thought the idea was so simple and so good I decided to have a go at it myself and see if the idea might sell.  Here is my first shot at it:

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post-39923-0-62153700-1421510738_thumb.j

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That is an exceptionally good point Frosty, young kids to have a tendency to ask brutally honest questions sometimes, enough to really take you off guard sometimes. We ALL need that.

 

With what SJS brought up also, it brings to mind an exceptionally good book I read last spring, that talks about thinking patterns like confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance. Two things everyone struggles with, even if they never realize it. The book was called "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts" By Carol Tavris. That book was a page turner, I highly recommend it!

 

Thanks Kevin, I'm putting he book on my to read list. I wonder what it'd cost on my Kindle. Does it say anything about people who free associate every word that comes into their brain?

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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I paid $9.99 for my Kindle version, looks like it's on sale now for $8.26, better grab it while it's hot. :)

 

Or free under Kindle unlimited.

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I paid $9.99 for my Kindle version, looks like it's on sale now for $8.26, better grab it while it's hot. :)

 

Or free under Kindle unlimited.

 

Excellent, thank you!

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Hey, I take any positive response to me doing blacksmithing, like with a hand crank blower...   and actual coal..  as a plus.   Yeah and there is also an actual hammer and anvil involved!     That is...   Any response that does not include rolling eyes or freakish looks like I am some sort of freakish leftover from bygone days.   I do understand that people can sometimes run off at the mouth.

 

As an aditional note...

 

My kids buy me all sorts of signs for my shop.   I dunno why.   But there is one I still get a kick out of.   It says:

 

"you can't fix stupid.   But duct tape sure muffles the sound"

 

I don't reccomend actually do that.   But it is fun to think about...  And I laugh almost everytime I read it.   I used the last part of that at work the other day when someone said the first part.   Everything stopped until they could get themselves back in control....

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your story reminds me of a gentleman I know who puts a lot of ego in his abilities as a craftsman, despite being a very good carpenter and welder/fabricator, once he caught wind that I was starting to forge he decided he needed to get into it as well, and he said to me;

 

"Yea that blacksmithing your doing is pretty neat. I'm on the hunt for an anvil now as well, a really good one, cast iron. Then I'll show you whats really possible!"

 

He didn't think much of my welding or fabricating abilities either, not sure if he ever did get his anvil, I should check in one day and see  :rolleyes:

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