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I Forge Iron

Hello from Hampton Roads, VIrginia

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Good Evening Everyone!

I have been on the forums now for a couple of weeks and you can find me in the Chat Room fairly often.

I Live in Newport News, VA and am a 21 yr Navy veteran (active and reserve), I have a wife a son and two dogs.  Currently, I work in the IT department of Huntington Ingalls Industries and have been there for over 5 Years.  I worked 13 years in Freight Forwarding, designing crates, creating and executing container load plans, along with warehousing and inventory.  I am a Doctor Who fan, LOTR fan, and a Hitchhikers Guide to that Galaxy fan so I am a bit of a geek and I love British humor.  I build PC's, Websites, design logos and design various build projects.

Saying that I am a newbie to blacksmithing  is  an understatement.  I can not tell you the difference between two pieces of steel, differences between anvils or even hammers but I have always wanted to learn.  My last foray into this was back in Junior High School (I am 44 now so you do the math).  I remember how much I loved making the few tools I made back then; however, time, life, money and space has kept me from perusing this when the desire did arise.   I have a son who is 18, he is currently doing some volunteer work in Kentucky.  Last year after Christmas he tool all the gift cards / cash that he had and built his own aluminum foundry from plans he found on you tube.  Although, I wanted to help he was insistent on completing the project himself (very proud papa).  Anyway, after he had finished it we had a lot of fun collecting and melting aluminum into ingots.  Eventually that first foundry creaked, crumbled and is now just the pail he started with.  As he was getting ready to head to KY there was no reason to rebuild it.  He is now working on a new set up there and on Thanksgiving I am to bring his "tools" with us when we meet up.

So doing this with him reminded me again of how much I enjoyed working with hot metal and I made a decision to start to get my "shop" together.  I have started slow and will build slow.  I live in a townhouse with an extremely small backyard, so doing this on a small footprint is key to success.  After watching many videos of Glen GS Tongs and TechnicusJoe I have learned a lot of the things I need to know regarding having a small shop that is worked mostly out in the elements.  So, I know it can be done and while I know that I will have to rebuild different things over time like forges and will go through different anvils, because of the footprint issue I can not afford to have may different iterations lying around.  I have to be fairly slow and methodical in my choices of how I build / acquire the items needed for my shop.  I am not in a race to get going but I would like to surprise my son when he comes home for Christmas to have a basic setup ready to fire up and bang some metal.  If I could do it I would love to make for him his first hammer for Christmas but that is a bit pie in the sky at this point.

There is another reason for this desire for blacksmithiing.  I am a Christian, and I have always found that the times I have been closest with God is when I am working by my self lost in my work.  Finding your space to get away with God by yourself is sometimes hard.  Life likes to get in the way and when you do find that place it is sometimes hard to push out of your mind the responsibilities that you have to focus on God and pray for those who need it.  When I work with my hands, when I drive long distances, when I go for walks it is these times in which I find it easier to fully concentrate on what is most important.  I believe that working in my own shop just God, the hammer and I will be just what I need.

So where am I in this quest?  I have collected most of my items for my coal forge.  I have reached out to the Tidewater Blacksmith's Guild, things have not lined up yet for us to get together but it will happen.  Every weekend I am scouring the various scrap yards for steel and for an Item that I can use as an anvil for a time.  I have made contacts here, on Facebook and other non-affiliated smiths in my area.  So a small but not a bad start.  Everyone starts somewhere and as the Chinese proverb goes "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"

I want to say thank you to all that I have talked to.  Also all who have been so kind in answering my forum post, helping to prevent me from making many of the rookie mistakes before I get started.  This has been most helpful.  Lastly I want to say thank you to the wiliness this group has in sharing their knowledge.  There is a reason we have two ears and one mouth if you listen more than you speak you will succeed more than you will fumble.

So, if you want someone to joke around with, talk with or even pray with please reach out to me.  As I said I will be on quite often for the foreseeable future.  I promise to try and keep the "newbie" questions down to a minimum. 


Thank You,

Chris Lawrence

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