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Part of the problem that I see is that some people are being paid for wrecking other in the guise of helping the poor souls.

We are getting into a situation where it is supposed to be something wrong with you if you are not delicate and in need of help. It is heading into a direction when it is a symptom of mental illness to be able to cope with adverse circumstances (like being ordered around by a curmudgeon LOL).  

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  • 4 weeks later...

  The guy that teaches the beginner course where I'm a regular hang-around/repair guy has a "3 hours each Saturday afternoon for 6-10 weeks depending on ability and determination" format that he likes to follow.

  It usually starts with about 45 minutes of safety discussion, followed by taking 4" of 1/2" sq. to 1/2" round, to 3/8" sq., to a square taper, and finally a round taper, mixed with a whole lot of breaks for discussion of safety and technique (and letting their arms catch up).  Definitely the Mr. Miyagi "wax on. wax off." approach.

  The next couple of sessions are usually something to warm up, like a twisted S-hook, or a drive hook, followed by drawing a railroad spike out to about 15-18" even taper, twisting it near the head, and making a steak flipper out of it.  Once that's done they take a coil of car spring, straighten it out and make a properly hardened and tempered center punch and cold chisel by running the colors, and testing it on a piece of mild.

  Next are two pair of cold-riveted tongs out of 3/4" by 3/8" flatbar.  The first is flat-bit, made very similarly to a tutorial by one Mr. Dempsey, sized to 1/4", with grooves cut for 1/4" sq., and the second a pair of bolt-tongs, of very similar design, usually sized to railroad spikes.  I have seen very few who have had a hard time with the tongs, aside from it seeming like drawing out the reigns will never end, and a couple of students have even gone the extra mile and punched the boss with a punch that they made. 

  The last thing they learn is forge welding.  The introduction is to take a worn out horseshoe and bend it into a nice circle with the heel ends overlapping(sorry for the lack of proper nomenclature there, I don't know horses fer nuthin') and attempt to forge weld it.  This part is not looked at very critically, even though the teacher's favorite past-time (personal torture in cases where he finds a cold shut) is pattern welding by hand.  Usually this is done until the student feels comfortable enough to attempt to take 4 pieces of 1/4" sq., wire them together (or tack weld depending on how the teacher is feeling) and forge weld them in preparation for a basket twist.  Usually the ends are forged into hooks before the twist is done.  Surprisingly, this usually turns out pretty well, although bad welds and splitting at the point of the hooks is definitely not unheard of.

  In this course I think the only things that aren't really covered are upsetting(I guess you could count riveting) and punching (we usually use an old champion hand-crank drill press and transfer punches on the tongs).

  The fun projects might be different, but every student ends up with a steak flipper, a chisel, a punch, two pairs of tongs, and some experience forge welding.  About 75% of the students that start the class stick it out to the end.  A few of them even stick around as guild members (Bandy Blacksmith Guild, part of the Escondido Historical Society), and a very few become regular nuisances that just never seem to leave, like me.  Just ask the big guy with the long ponytail how many questions I've asked him over the last 3 years.

Edit: all that and I still didn't answer the OP.

  Always harden and temper your tools if using suitable steel, if nothing else just to keep in practice (some say hardening hotwork tools is pointless).

  Once a new guy gets to the tongs stage, keep making and refitting them.  I learn something each time I make/help in making them that makes them come out better, even though my first two are still very serviceable.  I even use them at work when a piece of steel it to hot to handle even with a glove.

  Lastly, keep practicing at forge welding, the basket twist looks cool too.

Edited by Quarry Dog
answering the OP?
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When I was an apprentice ,the boiler maker I was paired up with was Arthur . 

No bad attitude, greatfull to have a teacher ,he said you might be to old for a smack but you ain't to young for a thump.

Great man god bless him ,owe shed loads  for making me Blackcountry man I am today

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