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Kentucky Monthly Magazine (feature article)


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Came across a recent copy of Kentucky Magazine.

 

Featured area blacksmiths. The first guy they interviewed was telling about forge welding. The way around this is to use an electric arch welder and then reheat project; smack it about with a hammer so the weld cannot be seen and then call it good.

 

This is a blacksmith worthy of featuring in a STATE WIDE MONTHLY PUBLICATION.

 

just saying. You thought you had to learn to forge weld to be a real smith..........AND get your shop/picture in a magazine.

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This topic is bound to create the usual furore of diverse opinions. Personally, I fail to understand why an electric welder would not be used in preference to questionable forge welding, but that is just my opinion.

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fraud is still fraud no matter how ya dress it up, dont call it forge welding when its not.  

There is nothing wrong with machine welding, but if it is machine welding, be honest, not a fake about it.

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It's not the use Kevan, it's the misrepresentation that's the sin. The culprit says he's doing one thing but is shortcutting and using cosmetic treatment to fool the customer.

I use my electric welder all the time but am honest with the customer. If they don't care I just don't tell them how I do things but if they ask I tell the truth.

On the other hand after giving the article some thought perhaps the purpose of the fellow being interviewed was to let people know how some unscrupulous "blacksmiths" will lie to them and maybe even how to spot the fraud?

I'll give him/er the benefit of the doubt but I'd eyeball any of his product closely and count my change.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Good Morning,

That is a good article. Nothing fancy and to the point. It is difficult to understand why some people don't understand, until you you help them down the path.

All of a sudden, eyes are wide open, You make that, with that??????  The rest is History.......or is that, 'History in the Making'?? I tell students "I will teach you to Fish, I won't give you the Fish". At first they are puzzled, then they have a Tool Bag full of GOLD!!! It sure is difficult to wipe off that SMILE and hear them tell someone else "I made all of THOSE". I Love It!!!!:D:D

Neil

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I wouldn't hate on the smith in the article.  It's entirely possible that the writer misconstrued what he was saying or typed it in wrong.  And there's nothing inherently bad about disguising an arc-welded piece to the welds don't show.  

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Here is the link to the article:  http://www.kentuckymonthly.com/culture/arts-entertainment/blacksmithing/.

I have been working for over 10 years to get more publicity for our art.  There are a few mistakes in the article but nothing major.  I don't find an issue with the smith being quoted that he arc welded the pieces together and then forged the weld so that it did not show.  There is nothing deceptive in that.  Yeah, we wish that we could all always do forge welds on all projects but there are times that you just can't do a forge weld and then there are times that the sales price of the object will just not justify the time involved.  We all talk about traditional blacksmithing but I can guarantee you that had smiths 100 years ago had mig welders they would have used them.

I am glad to see this article and wish that we could have many more. 

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I'm no "artist", ... I've always been a "Pragmatist", ... and suspect that Traditionally, ... working Blacksmiths also needed to be very Pragmatic, in their approach to their Trade.

And they were quick to embrace technological advances in Metalwork.

In my youth, there were still a few working Blacksmiths, ... doing general repair and fabrication work, ... and they ALL used Arc Welders and Acetylene Torches in their day-to-day activities.

As do I.

My goal is to ALWAYS produce the best possible quality, ... and to then deal with "cosmetic" issues, as a secondary consideration.

 

And it sounds to me, like the above mentioned Smith is doing the same.

Good for Him.

 

"Forge welding" modern materials, is a very different thing, from working Wrought Iron, ... and different techniques are needed, in order to assure proper quality in the finished piece.

 

As an example, ... a Body Shop must FIRST weld and repair a damaged body panel, ... and only after it's structural integrity has been restored, ... do they then apply the needed cosmetic repair.

 

.

 

 

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snip

In my youth, there were still a few working Blacksmiths, ... doing general repair and fabrication work, ... and they ALL used Arc Welders and Acetylene Torches in their day-to-day activities.

snip

Oi! I trust you are still in your youth…I am still a working blacksmith and it has been my sole income generating occupation for 40 years. There are a good few hundred still going over here, earning their living from it,  and I have met and know at least a couple of dozen similar in the 'states… :)

I agree we should be using every technological advance in metalwork we can. I have always thought it odd that people will take a style of work which derives from the properties and efficient ways of processing the particular material…such as wrought iron…developed with the tools and technologies that were available at the time...and then do a pastiche using stick welders which make such an awful job of it. A branch weld done by fire welding is a graceful flowing thing, an arc welded and ground off approximation is awful, clunky and stands out a mile. If you want to work with seventeenth and eighteenth century styles, using the authentic process is the most efficient way to achieve the best result.

Far better to do an honest reproduction than a shallow pastiche. And even better yet come up with your own original style of twenty-first century forged work and use every tool, resource and process currently available and really contribute to the development of blacksmithing...

Oops! Sorry rant over, just coming down from the pulpit...

Alan

P.S. Just read the article and there does not seem to be any attempt at deception by the blacksmith, nor any advocacy for electric over fire welding. No trying to pass it off as a forge weld. He is just using the fire and a hammer to smooth out (hide) the weld and give him the texture and surface he requires rather than using an angle grinder or linisher for instance. 

In my work I tend to celebrate the Mig and Tig welds and leave them showing when appropriate for the job. Either you can see them proudly or not at all...

Edited by Alan Evans
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The article mentioned that he used a hydraulic ironworker to cut his bar stock to size, not a hot cut or a hacksaw. He uses an electric blower, not a double lung bellows. He has fluorescent lights, not kerosene or whale oil or candles. And he makes no bones about MIG welding for the price point of his work. No mention was made of a power hammer. He is not doing demos at or running a historical shop, or using a propane forge at a RennFaire.

Where is the line, and who gets to draw it?

Edited by John McPherson
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Thanks for posting the link Wayne. I agree there was  no misrepresentation, at worst the author misunderstood what was said, done or . . . ? The author (who isn't credited in the article) also said Mr. Shadwick used the arc welder to light his forge so s/he was way out of his/er area of expertise. No harm no foul.

Mr. Shadwick said exactly what he was doing in plain language, arc welded the joins and cleaned them up by hammer. I've done that many times and it doesn't make the arc welds unidentifiable, just not obvious. I've ground and filed welds in confined areas too. That's all part of the trade and producing a quality product.

The arc welder was invented by a man named Miller who wanted to save the expense of failed welds on built up pieces like gates, railings, grills, etc. there was just too much lost time and materials, read money, when a forge weld failed. This was around the turn of the last century. Mr. Miller's blacksmith shop was in direct competition with Yellin's operation and within a year of Miller's inventing the arc welder Yellin bought several and there have been up to date arc welders in the Yellin shops ever since.

Once again thank you Wayne, it is a good article and speaks to the soul of blacksmithing. People think I'm joking when I say I do this because I like playing with fire and hitting things with hammers but it's the truth stated in a manner to make people smile. This kind of statement is how I teach, by entertaining the student while sneaking solid working knowledge in under the radar.

I'd be proud to call either of these men friend, give them free access to my shop, work beside them. The author did his/er job, write about a subject s/he didn't know much if anything about and didn't do a terrible job, got some things wrong but that's okay.

Frosty The Lucky.

Edited by Frosty
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From the background (training) I come from it is a fraud to mig weld/arc weld etc. a blacksmith project. That makes in wrong in my opinion and many smiths I know, but does not make it wrong in others opinions. I can't change that of others. I can be respectful and disagree.

 

There are more than one smith on youtube who say outright that if you cannot forge weld/do not forge weld, you are no blacksmith. I would tend to agree to an extent with that line of thought. Not 100% but to a degree.

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Somehow all those articles in Practical Blacksmithing about how to build drills for steel come to mind; 125 years ago and I guess they were not proper blacksmiths as they didn't punch all their holes...  Misrepresentation is the issue as I see it.  Authenticity is not a binary system it's a sliding scale often yoked in with price.  I tend to use forge welds as it's a lot easier for me than getting the arc welder out; but when I'm making tent stakes to a customer's pattern the arc welder is the only way to meet their price point.

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There are more than one smith on youtube who say outright that if you cannot forge weld/do not forge weld, you are no blacksmith. I would tend to agree to an extent with that line of thought. Not 100% but to a degree.

Well, ... YouTube is surely a fine and useful thing.

However, I'm reluctant to accept the opinion of that very narrow slice of predominately young, "tech savvy" individuals, ... as the "last word" on the subject.

As you state, ... there's "cannot forge weld", ... and "do not forge weld".

And I find a world of difference between those two distinctions.

 

One of the advantages of increased "maturity" :rolleyes: ( and there aren't that many ) ... is the realization, that what you can do, ... and what you should do, ... aren't always the same thing.

Generally, the rule of "Best Practices", would have us choose the process or technique that yields the highest coefficient of quality and economy.

 

Which brings us full-circle, ... to choosing a preference, based on utility versus cosmetic / esoteric considerations.

 

Ya pays yer money, ... and ya takes yer choice.

 

 

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I agree.

Have had projects where I do mig weld. I don't do that in the blacksmith shop and I inform said customer the project at hand is not blacksmithing, rather metal fabrication. 

Just this weekend I conducted a class and they asked about drilling holes. I demonstrated how easy it is to hot punch  5/16 horse shoe stock. The shop has a wall mounted hand crank drill press but find I seldom use that. It is more for looks as that is what old shops had on hand in the time period of the shop I use.

A picture of a student. Welding 

Matt_Blacksmithing.thumb.jpg.e86d63ee9d0

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