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ausfire

shop make-over - pic heavy

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Our old blacksmith shop is looking tired and I have decided it needs a make-over. We want to make it more accessible to visitors, so that they can walk in and get a close look at the anvils, forge, bellows and tools etc. I have posted some pics of the shop as it looks now - a bit of a disorganised mess. I want to group the tools together - tongs, punches, hardies, etc and add some labels explaining what they are. There are hundreds of tongs and all different shapes, sizes and uses some of which are a complete mystery. I hope I may be able to post a pic or two of some items to help me in identifying some of these things.

This is not my everyday work forge of course. My demos are done in a separate farrier's shop which is set up to allow more visitors. This is purely a static display.

Anyway, I know you like pics, so here are a few of the current set up. Any suggestions welcome.

 

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Of course we love pictures!  So much to see. I think what you are planning is a great idea.  If you could, a display or two of operations that would go on in the smithy. Kind of like in progress like the blacksmiths just took a break for lunch. 

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Hmm perhaps a couple of boards showing the materials, steps and the tools used for certain things might make a good static display.

Museum displays tend to get crowded; but I like displays where things are set up as if it was a working shop.

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Thanks Thomas and Das - both your suggestions are similar. It would be nice to set it up like as though the smith had just gone for lunch. Perhaps a bench with a job in progress and the tools around it. My demo forge is a bit like that though - often there is a half completed piece sitting there. It certainly looks like a working space, as indeed it is. 

 I want to make a board where people can learn something about the tools used, but we have so many I don't want it to look crowded. Nice problem to have. It's not an immediate job, but I'll need to tackle it soon. Just getting some ideas. I also have to consider security. No-one will walk off with the anvil but small tools (especially antiques) are too much of a temptation for some folks. Someone took a liking to the brass hub oilers on our 1923 Harley Davidson.

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How about some loose leaf binders in addition to the board displays?  They could be organized in sections perhaps by which wall the tool was displayed on.  Use vinyl covered binders for durability/clean ability, and clear vinyl page protectors.  Save your computer files and it will be easy to print a replacement page when one gets too worn. Put it on a tilt top pedestal stand.

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That's a good idea. I'll think about how that could work. There's a fine line between too much information and not enough.  Some folks want to know everything, but we have to remember in a place like ours, maybe half the visitors pass the blacksmith shop without a second look.

In our tool shed we have the tools displayed with a simple number beside each one and on the adjacent wall is a list with the descriptions matching the numbers. It saves having heaps of writing on the display wall.

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How about a nicely stacked pile of coke in the forge with a couple of bright red electric light bulbs just showing through-when lit would look like the forge was lit and slowly burning.

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Just now, Tommytaptap said:

How about a nicely stacked pile of coke in the forge with a couple of bright red electric light bulbs just showing through-when lit would look like the forge was lit and slowly burning.

Bottom-blast lightbulbs, or side-blast?

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Looks like it takes the side blast light bulbs. 

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On 3/12/2017 at 2:29 PM, ThomasPowers said:

Hmm perhaps a couple of boards showing the materials, steps and the tools used for certain things might make a good static display.

Museum displays tend to get crowded; but I like displays where things are set up as if it was a working shop.

I agree. i would also clean from rust and oil a few tongs, hammers and the anvils, and leave a pair of gloves laying around as if the blacksmith had just left for a smoko :)

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Thanks for the ideas. The red light idea is worth thinking about. The smithy is quite dark so it would show up well.

And yes, all the tools, anvils etc will be oiled. I'm leaning towards the idea of having it like a working shop. I could have his billy near the forge, Marc. I usually have smoko in my smithy - amazing how fast the billy boils on the forge. You can see his old akubra on the post above the bellows.

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billy, smoko, akubra - :) you gotta like Australian English!

found all those on-line, btw, so all clear...

Bests:

Gergo :)

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Posted (edited)

OK, a couple of months since I posted these pics and I have rearranged the smithy. We now allow visitors to walk into the forge area and I have cut away a panel in the back wall so they can look down into another display area where I have different forges, leg vices, grindstones and wheelwright stuff.

I have collected all the tools together for display - the tongs, hammers, fullers, swages, punches and drifts etc etc and they are grouped. Also displayed some of the various kinds of hooks. We are keen to give visitors something to read, so I have added some labels about the various items. The forge itself I have left as though the smith just walked away. Thinking of putting a light under the coals - maybe a solar powered red light.

This is not the shop where I work. We have a separate farrier's shop which has more space and is set up for demos.

Here are a few pics of the smithy now. Still working on the wheelwright area below the window and will post pics later.

 

 

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Edited by ausfire
added a pic

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A bit of spit an polish on the anvil face plate would add to the authentic 'working smithy' I think, maybe with a hammer and a 'piece' of work in progress lying atop it too.

Marvellous array of old tools there, looks like it would take years to catalogue so much. Hope you've got it all secured and insured. Its a lot of valuable stuff there, if it were to be lost.

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You did a whole lot of organizing there. Barely a bare spot on the wall and wow that's a lot to look at. Awesome job. Even looks like you oiled all the tools. 

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The rest of the smithy sure doesn't look like the smith downed tools and walked off.  Way too clean and nicely organized!

I saw a display once where they had taken tempered safety glass "crumbs";  (shaded glass to look dark) and put a red light under it to look like a coal fire. (might experiment mixing real coal with them too).

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9 hours ago, Tommytaptap said:

A bit of spit an polish on the anvil face plate would add to the authentic 'working smithy' I think, maybe with a hammer and a 'piece' of work in progress lying atop it too.

Marvellous array of old tools there, looks like it would take years to catalogue so much. Hope you've got it all secured and insured. Its a lot of valuable stuff there, if it were to be lost.

Yes, the anvil is in easy reach for visitors and I was thinking of leaving a hammer on it and inviting people to test the ring. That Peter Wright has a ring that could be heard all over town.

As for the security, with any display like this we take a risk. All of those items are easily removed but I'm working on the theory that only a blacksmith would know the value or want them .. and all blacksmiths are honest, aren't they?  We have lost stuff from other areas of the Village. Someone removed the brass hub oilers from our 1923 Harley Davidson and the radiator cap from the 1926 Citroen. Even a valuable old picture was removed from the wall of our stately home. But you can't secure everything and have to believe that 99.9% of our 30,000 visitors annually are honest folk.

8 hours ago, Daswulf said:

You did a whole lot of organizing there. Barely a bare spot on the wall and wow that's a lot to look at. Awesome job. Even looks like you oiled all the tools. 

The tools are sprayed with Rustmasters. I hesitated to do that, but they really did look shabby before. The shine will diminish over time.

 

5 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

The rest of the smithy sure doesn't look like the smith downed tools and walked off.  Way too clean and nicely organized!

I saw a display once where they had taken tempered safety glass "crumbs";  (shaded glass to look dark) and put a red light under it to look like a coal fire. (might experiment mixing real coal with them too).

I'm not too concerned about the over clean and organised look, because the farrier's area where I do my daily demos is more of a working area and it really does look like the smith downed tools and walked off ... because that's exactly what he did!

Interesting about the safety glass idea. There are a few ideas to make a real looking fire and when I get time I will experiment with that. Other jobs are pressing at the moment. I have an old farmhouse to refurbish and a church to open to visitors.

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