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Hello! Just opening a thread for young beginning Smith's such as myself (19) I'm very much self taught and any helpful tips, tricks, etc, from veteran blacksmiths helps, namely along the lines of bladesmithing but any tips are greatly appreciated. thank you.

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Add your location to your profile.

Find a group or organization near you and attend the meetings. You will learn more in a day than you can imagine. Take notes, photos, etc as you can not remember it all.

Pack a lunch and a cold drink and read IForgeIron. Start with the things that interest you and then the rest of the site.

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Google the following:

NORTH TEXAS BLACKSMITHS ASSOCIATION

EAST TEXAS BLACKSMITH ALLIANCE

 

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Oh, wow! Thank you for the info! All I could find was a very basic course being given at the Dallas heritage museum, in the description it said learning to light a coal forge and making nails and learning about different steels, I already know how to light a coal forge because I built my own and wasn't to crazy about shelling out 175$ for a two day course on how learn something I already know and learn about the different steel types that I could easily learn one morning with a cup of coffee in my hand, the nail making aspect was somewhat intriguing but I'm going to look into your suggestions, I'm very confident that I can learn how to make a nail at one of those organizations, thank you very much Glenn, for your help and for not rolling on a complete newbie, I've seen posts very similar to my own in which they asked pretty similar questions and got lit up with some tough love from veteran smiths, I appreciate your patience with me and all the help, definitely going to do a bit deeper looking before opening a new thread, at least in a basic level such as this.

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Welcome aboard, glad to have you.

Please forgive Glenn for "shouting" but when he suggested reading Iforge he meant it. If you read even the opening page you would've found several pages or regional organizations with contact info listed. There are also literally thousands of posts archived on virtually any blacksmith related topic out there.

Thousands of posts is why he suggests packing a lunch and drink. Charles suggests moving your computer to the bathroom and moving the fridge within reach.

How long have you been a bladesmith?

Frosty The Lucky.

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It's quite alright, I didn't pick up any rude tone at all in Glenn's posts, they were extremely helpful, I've been smithing for almost a month now, have about 4 hours after work every day to clang away in the back yard and experiment with methods I've seen mainly on YouTube, I've made some knife blanks but I haven't gotten past that stage, no heat treat or grinding, just basic shapes, I'm using a can of railroad spikes my grandpa gave me when he learned I was getting the tools together the start smithing, as I mentioned I built my own charcoal powered forge, I am using what was advertised as a "Nordic" style hammer which is big and beefy, being a former high school athlete I'm fond of the heavier weight, I'm also using my family's anvil (my great grandfather was a blacksmith and so was his father, etc.) I recovered the anvil from the back of my uncle's shop where it was gathering dust, and since then I've been testing whatever I have found on YouTube that looks like an effective technique! I'm really glad I found this forum and apologize for sounding like such a child with a twinkle in his eye with my posts, just excited to find such a large community willing to help!

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Enthusiasm I get, no need to apologize a little verve is a good thing. If you're forging RR spikes don't worry about heat treat, spikes don't have enough carbon to harden. Think of them as letter openers, they'll take an edge but won't hold it.

On the other hand there are a lot of useful, decorative and marketable things you can make from RR spikes. The people who might buy from you like seeing how steel can be molded like clay  and if they can recognize the original then the transition is more desirable. Good beginner spike projects include: streak flippers, coat and tool wall hooks, garden tools, Fire tools, etc. A little more advanced spike projects are tongs and every blacksmith needs more tongs and spike wizards. Wizards are pretty solidly intermediate level and require making some tools to pull off.

Again, good to have you aboard.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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Oh, wow! Thank you for the info! All I could find was a very basic course being given at the Dallas heritage museum, in the description it said learning to light a coal forge and making nails and learning about different steels, I already know how to light a coal forge because I built my own and wasn't to crazy about shelling out 175$ for a two day course on how learn something I already know and learn about the different steel types that I could easily learn one morning with a cup of coffee in my hand, the nail making aspect was somewhat intriguing but I'm going to look into your suggestions,

 

Don't be in a rush to discount a class based on the paper description. Many classes are really based around the skill set of the person taking the class. I've taken the "beginner" class at the local college several times. ( They haven't had enough repeat students yet to fill an advanced class) Yes I have to sit thru the basic discussion of how to do tapers and draw out stock, but I have found that many times I still pick up good information, even though I know how to do that skill already. Because I know the basics, I can concentrate on the tiny details of what they are doing, or pay more attention to the project they are using as a demo. Try and talk to the instructor if at all possible and see what they say and how they plan to run the class. In the ones I've taken, once we are all past the basic into, the class is run based on the skills of the student, and what they want to accomplish.

Also $175 may sound like a ton of money, but when you break it down, it's rally not all that bad. If the class is 2 days at 8 hours a day, that breaks down to about $11 an hour. Pull out materials, cost of fuel etc, and the class is really stupid cheap. If the class is like many I've seen, if you go in with a basic skill set and list of projects, you can do quite well if you apply yourself. Hands on one on one help can be priceless. You may get that at a local club meeting, but that is what you are really paying for when you take a class. I also look at what tooling the class has to offer. In last years class, I wanted to take advantage of the schools power hammer to work on a project, a tool I don't have myself at the moment. This year it was the use of their long propane forge that allowed me to do the project I wanted to accomplish. Those tools plus the knowledge and skills of the instructor on making the tooling I needed was well worth the money I spent on a "basic intro" class.

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Making nails has been discussed on the site many times. You need to build a nail header from one of the several designs available. Just be sure the open for the nail is hour glass shaped (think 2 funnels joined at the small end) From the top it grabs onto to the nail and hold it in place while you form the head. From the bottom it is larger than the nail and does not bind against the nail stock. Use a piece of square tapered stock that you have made that is the size of the nail you want to make the hole.

Search for "nail header" Found 240 results, one reason to pack a lunch and a cold drink (grin) This image was in the search and explains the design and function of the header.

Cross_section.jpg

Edited by Glenn

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thank you very much for your help and for not rolling on a complete newbie, I've seen posts very similar to my own in which they asked pretty similar questions and got lit up with some tough love from veteran smiths, I appreciate your patience with me and all the help, definitely going to do a bit deeper looking before opening a new thread, at least in a basic level such as this.

We try to provide good answers and references. The best way to get respect is to show respect, as you did when you quickly thanked those that helped you. If you are willing to learn, take the information given to the forge, then return telling us what you did and how it turned out, asking questions based on real time experiences, you will get additional information. We WANT you to succeed and are more then willing to match your efforts with new information.

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Thank you all for your responses, I was under the (wrong) impression that RR spikes were of good enough quality to heat treat, but since it's not and I have an abundance of them, I suppose I'll take advantage of the readily available spikes and use them to work basics on the anvil, I will definitely scour the nail header tools on this site and make one, most of the classes offered by the North Texas blacksmithing association and the East Texas blacksmithing alliance or literally a day trip away from Rockwall, the class at the Dallas heritage museum is looking like my only option and I'm sure I'll enjoy the experience and it will surely form a great base to grow from, again, thank you all for the feedback!

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Good Morning, Thor

Welcome to our world.

The Learning will only stop when you stop breathing. There is no way any one person on this planet, knows everything about Blacksmithing. Start with your Spikes, learn how the metal moves. Get some Play-Doh, Plasticene or Modelling Clay and put a container of it in your Tool Bag. Steel works identical, except with the Play-Doh you can work it with your hands, as well as all the Anvil Tools.

Learn on!!

Neil

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One of the problems of getting your information off the net when you are starting out is how to tell whats good info and what is not---and sometimes the slickest websites are completely bogus while what looks like one with terrible production values may actually be a world renowned smith!  

Have you gone to your local public library and ILL'd "The Complete Bladesmith" James Hrisoulas yet? If not do so!  

According to an official spec I have on RR spikes they are supposed to top out at 27 points carbon where 30 points is the boundary between mild and medium carbon steel.  Learning on them isn't as good an idea as you might think as higher carbon steels work differently than lower carbon so you are training your basic reflexes for the wrong material.  

Try a car or truck coil spring---double the carbon of a spike

Edited by ThomasPowers

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