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You are of course very right David. When I finally decided to have my own smithy I started in the open and moved the anvil, forge, bench etc until they were in the places where I could work best and then I built the smithy around the created workspace. Now as Frosty points out many smiths would want a different arrangement because they make other things and use other techniques but it still boils down to that one should make sure that the workspace is efficient.

I use a tree stump (because I have trees and wood working tools) I do not tie down the anvil because it is nearly 250 pounds and I do not do things that would make it rock. It merely stands in a routed recess to prevent it from walking. I made sure, however, that the anvil and the stump are supported at the rim of the footprint (but not in the middle) because that makes them stable and dampens the ring.

 I have the work bench adjacent to the (coal) forge because that allows me to support long stock when in the fire and I put the tools I think I will need on the bench - which I try to keep free at all times. The layout which I have shown in the thread 'show me your shop' gives me less than a full step moving between forge, anvil and post vise. Tools not in use, are on the wall two-three steps away. Thus I have no tool rack on the stand and I do not need to fish a hammer out by gripping the head. The hammer I intend to use, will lie on the anvil with the handle to the right and alternative hammers will lie on the workbench handle towards me. I use tongs very little but if I think I need one, it will also lie on the workbench (or the side of the forge if too hot). There is plenty of time to arrange any tools when the stock is in the fire.

I am a hobby smith but that does not mean that efficiency is unimportant. I have also other things to do and besides: Blacksmith work always looks better if it was possible to make it quickly with few heats.

PS

I would feel uncomfortable with a three leggeed stand (probably unwarranted) Provided that it IS supported all around the rim, a cirular support is the one that is most stable in all directions for a given foot print area.

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8 hours ago, gote said:

 

Thanks for the response Gote. I always appreciate it. It sounds like you have things dialed in and you and I have similar lines of thought as to how we arrange out tooling, I keep just my top 5-7 hardy tools and my wire brush on my stand, my hammers, tongs, punches ect. are on the wall near my anvil my forge, vise, anvil, power hammed, are all within 2 steps but i have lanes between them so I can work longer stock. It just makes me feel good to be efficient, it leads to me knowing I am good at what I do and that confidence lets me continue to push myself outside my comfort zone and that means I am continuing to grow as a smith...... who could ask for more then that!!!20170523_142533.thumb.jpg.2e147d4eb325e2a83975a436d7fbc5a7.jpg20170523_142514.thumb.jpg.e4e005db2c5b6ecbc56f913373a649a2.jpg    

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On 05/27/2017 at 1:42 AM, David Kailey said:

Dont settle, dont just be ok with you wobbly stand, your stump that is split apart and you keep wrapping bailing twine and tape around it. I made over $2500.00 with that ground forge and rr anvil. I have seen so many smiths complain about how long it takes, how they don't have as good of stuff as i have, my work is higher quality/better/easier..... because of the equipment i have. That's not the case at all, i was the african smith forging on my knees but i kept reinvesting my money into better stuff. People just need to commit. I sacrificed a ton to become a blacksmith,

David, I find this particular post to be that which addresses the core of your theme (for me personally), and tremendously inspiring to my individual circumstances.

Here I will omit the twenty-seven paragraphs recounting three decades of struggle to find myself just now leaving square one of my Plan.

Thanks for speaking your truth, I am filled with gratitude for hearing it

Robert Taylor

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  • 2 weeks later...

David, I don't think I could agree more with your thoughts on the smithy.  I'm certainly not the epitome of cleanliness and organization, and I struggle with it every single day.  But, the goal is as you've illustrated.

I constantly preach that people need to build to the best of their ability, and be always willing to refine what they have.  It aggravates me no end to see an anvil held down with some shiny chain and a few screws.  I understand the necessity of getting something done so you can get started, but keeping it like that forevermore, never once updating it with something nicely forged.....  drives me batty every time I see it.

An organized workshop makes for a more enjoyable time in the shop.  When you can look around, seeing that everything has a place and everything is in its place... that's happiness.  I don't know if folks really understand how depressing and aggravating a sloppy shop can be until they spend time in someone else's organized shop. It's like you don't know what you don't know.

Build to the best of your ability, and as you learn and grow, go back and update what you've done years ago and make it nicer.  Showcase your ability.  Surround yourself with the best that you can do, at that time, if for no other reason than it gives you something nice to look at while you're working.  And if customers can see it, that "niceness" will pay dividends many times over.

One of the best examples of what I try (and fail) to model myself after....   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-FMkKR_Djg

His entire property is filled with his own ironwork, a great way to introduce passersby to the presence of a smith, and when you get into his shop.... everything is just plain beautiful.  He didn't have to sculpt the wooden backers that hold his chisels, but why not?!?  A bit of extra work, or extra cost if he purchased them, but it shows an attention to detail and a willingness to take things to the next level.  As you walk around, how could you not want him to do the job for you?

The journey doesn't end and we are constantly reinventing ourselves.  The neat little rack I built for my hammers and tongs worked great for a year or so, but it's become crowded and is needing replaced.  So, it'll get a complete revamp and I get the chance to showcase what I can do.  Maybe no customers will ever see it.  Maybe they will.  But making it nice, adding flourishes where I can, gives me the opportunity to try things and learn.  It's a win-win situation that far too many people are blind to.

Keeps preaching, brother.  It's good to be reminded from time to time.

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For a different viewpoint: I had a friend who razzed me about my shop being messy till I pointed out that he spent more time cleaning his shop in a week than I got to spend *using* my shop!  I was more interested in forging then the neatness of my shop!

My tools are racked, on simple racks. My anvils are mounted so that they can be loaded by one person for travelling to teach.  I even have some tools in a sort of "rat rod" set up to show new people that they don't need to wait until they have a pristine set up to get forging. Simple anvil stand that cost about US$2 and required no welding to make, Heelless anvil, Forge that required no welding to make, etc.

There is a limit when messiness becomes a time waster or a safety hazard; but I'm not working in a surgical suite, I'm a smith!

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While I was somewhat playing devils advocate earlier about the anvil stand and what I intially took for the point of this thread, I whole heartedly agree that a smiths shop needs to look as professional as he or she has the means to do. Often times a shop is where a person can showcase their ability, not for other people but for them selves. It shows a pride in their work and a love for what they do. 

 

Here are my anvil stands by the way. Both are obviously wood but not your run of the mill stump. I also added a picture of my "tv tray" that I use instead of a shelf attached to my stand so I can move it around as I need it. 

image.jpeg

image.png

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On 6/7/2017 at 11:33 PM, Ranchmanben said:

Here are my anvil stands by the way.

Beautiful work.  Those anvil stands show you have a great eye for design as well as the function, and I'm sure that any customer who saw it would feel very comfortable having you do a job for them.

If I could get my shop to look that neat and organized, I'd be in hog heaven!

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  • 2 years later...

Steel stand with wooden stump - still looking for an anvil :) I may just go with a new small/mid size Ridgid Peddinghaus and call it done - tired of the hunt. 

The idea here is the 1/4 inch steel frame/top plate (removable) with a cut-out for the anvil in the top plate. The anvil will sit on the wood, the cut-out will "capture" the anvil and utilize 2 simple hold-downs like your first post here. The hold-downs will pull the stump into the wood/steel frame and the steel will protect the wood to some degree. This stump is redwood (I'm in CA :), probably not the best for an anvil but I think the steel makes up for it. The small levelers kill any unevenness/rocking on the garage floor, or it could be bolted down (1/4 bottom plate) if I ever decide on a permanent location. Think I'll forget a tool rack and keep it clean. Maybe just a heavy tray to sit on the stump sometimes if enough room for it.

cap1.jpg

cap2.jpg

color_hammer.jpg

gray_hammer.jpg

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My take on this is that for many on here they are simply weekend hobby smiths, and smithing is not their profession where customer interaction is a necessity. They are looking for something to have fun with and possibly make some side cash to keep them in fuel. I work outside in the desert sand and gravel, because I don't even have so much as a carport to work in. No garage, no shop, simply because I don't have the funds to build one. What I did have was a large supply of empty 55 gallon drums, so I used them to build a couple of drum walls to block the wind and provide storage cubby holes. My main anvil is a 260# Fisher that is just sitting on a stump. It is stable and does not bounce when I use it, so I call it good.  I am a typical type B personality. I go with the flow, it takes quite a bit to get me riled up, and I do not get all hung up on how things look - don't get me wrong, when it comes to what I make I pay a lot of attention to details that others don't.  I drive used cars, rarely buy anything new, and have fun scrounging up items for reuse. I would love a 40x60 shop like my neighbor has so I could set up my machine shop and welding equipment that is still back at the folk's estate,  and still have room to work on my cars, but I don't have the extra $60K laying around - I don't like borrowing money. 

David, you have more invested in tools than some have paid for their homes. My friend sold a 1910 two story farm house in Nebraska for $22,000 , and the buyer who worked at Walmart had to make payments.. I paid the same amount for my 01 Cummins 3500 and cut a check. Everyone's situation is different, so I don't judge. In some parts of the country if you are making $15 an hour you are doing good, in others if you are making $30 an hour you are just barely scraping by.  I get what you are saying about upgrading, but for many their obligations for their time and money prevent that from happening in a timely fashion.  How many guys on here can't fund a new 125# JHM anvil at $750?  If I needed one I could spend half a weeks pay and buy one, but for others they have to save a looooong time to do the same. The difference is that I am single, no kids, do not have someone that I have to confer with on a purchase, and I finally got a job that is paying me enough where I have extra at the end of the month. For me it is priorities. Does my smithing set up work for me? Yes it does. Could it be better looking? yep. Is it worth it to me to divert funds from something else to make that happen? Not at this time.

 

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Don't know what happened to my first post, but here goes again:

 I really like your anvil stand Gus Bird.  Nice and clean and it gives me some ideas for the future for my stump base.  Thanks for posting pics of it.

Chris

 

What happened is you refused to edit quotes

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4 hours ago, Chris The Curious said:

Don't know what happened to my first post, but here goes again:

 I really like your anvil stand Gus Bird.  Nice and clean and it gives me some ideas for the future for my stump base.  Thanks for posting pics of it.

Chris

 

What happened is you refused to edit quotes

Thanks Chris - I'll probably add/weld 2 backing nuts under the 1/4 inch cap plate once the anvil footprint is cut out and the hold-down locations are established. Those nuts will have counter bored clearance in the wood. Also maybe a thin piece of sound proofing material between the anvil and wood.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I'm feeling frisky today and after reading some of or I should say all the information about clean shops vs unclean shops here is the unbiased opinion and the only one needed. LOL..

I have been into many shops that are spotless and the smith was terrible..  I have been into many shops that were falling in and had stuff scattered everywhere and the smith was awesome.  (this does not mean that the opposite is not also true but it is more the case of messy is better than spotless)..

I have over the years seen where that crappy smith because of the clean, newish shop drew a customer base dazzled by all that clean and tidy shop area only to turn out an inferior product but the customer being dazzled paid the full price..   (both in money and in an inferior product).

I have also been to these dazzle shops and walked out half way through only to see the crap being handed out, both in knowledge and in skill set. 

I have also been to some of the finest hole in the ground, crap trap shops and the work is amazing and the smith has perfected their craft and does not need to pedal their skill set based on how the shop looks.  Nor do they care to.. They work and that is it. 


My point is that there are  3 to 4 different sales aspects.. 

1, A shop does not represent the level or quality of work done in said shop.. 

2, Any shop that presents as immaculate for the most part I usually am skeptical of anything made in such shop. 

3, It is the smith and only the smith that dictates the kinds of work as well as the quality of work.. (new vs old beat up gear).

4.   The work should speak for itself. Not the building or how clean or unclean the area or building is.  first opinions are nearly always wrong.. 

In todays world people forget smithing is a dirty job and if one is working at if for a living they to are usually dirty or they are covered in hair so you can not see they are dirty. 

It does not mean the work area need be spotless nor full of metal but after 40+ years of doing this there is an untidiness that happens during the work and is considered part of the normal work flow. 

What I have found and it seems to be consistent..   Every good smith, starts out with a workable clean area and by the end of a project there is/are tools and items used during the activity scattered about by the end. 

Then and only then is the area made fairly tidy again waiting for the next job order. 


Ranchmanben: you have stuff strewn around the shop which is the size of a football field so clutter would be a luxury..   LOL..  :)

The smaller the shop the more strategist one must be with what or how things are put and will always seem dirtier and more messed up vs a huge open area with good lighting. 

Lighting plays in a lot as well as to someone perspective of the shop and items inside. 

If one has the time and skill set to make really nice equipment and present as such because they have the "TIME".  That is one thing.  But there are many whom do not have the time and make due with what they have.. More power to them..  Again, it is not the equipment or shop, that makes the smith..  It is ability and skill. 

It's a different world today and sadly much of it is about the show vs true skill set. 

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Having worked in commercial smiths for many decades, most of them manned ( No lady smith in those days, sorry :) ) by professionals who could be better described as artists way better skilled than myself, I say that the state of the workshop be it tidy or messy is no reflection of the work produced.  

What is common to all blacksmith I have ever known is, that they know where the tools are in the workshop. You may look at an apparent messy disorder yet the worker knows where everything is, and that is all it counts. Some people are more inclined to keep everything in a perfect  aesthetic order, others are happy just to have everything within reach. 

Perhaps for the purpose of this discussion it pays to understand how disorder is created. Start with a perfectly clean and organised workshop, go in there and start to work on a window grill.

You will reach for different tools, cut stock, heat and forge, and make a mess in general. Your work is not affected by the surroundings, it is only your perception of things at this stage. At the end of the day, you are tired, happy or not with your progress and then you put the tools away and may be sweep the floor. The energy dedicated to this task is inversely proportional to the hours worked. Repeat for 5 or 6 days in a week and your workshop will not be like the first day. 

Me personally, when I work on something that needs continuing the next day, I like to leave everything as it is at the end of the day to start the next day without needing to move things around. Others are fanatics about packing up and returning everything to its original state. Horses for courses. Is the work affected by either practice? I doubt it. It is all in our mind. 

As for customer's perceptions ... my father owned, besides the smithy, an antique restoration workshop in partnership with an italian artist and employed a few cabinet makers. 

The workshop was packed to the gills with a massive number of antique furniture, paintings, carvings, chest, wall clocks and anything else, awaiting restoration. There was a mezzanine attic that was absolutely impenetrable, full of stock and covered in decades of dust. The work produced was perfection itself and customers came in the workshop walking around in awe. In fact some even changed purposely into old work clothes, only to be able to rummage around to find something of interest. No one ever had anything to say about keeping things tidy. in fact I believe that keeping everything orderly and clean would have taken away from the mystery :)

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I have a small corner of a bigger shop. I don't know the size of it in square footage. So being a smaller area, it looks cluttered more than it is. It is definitely not pristine. I used to always sweep up every bit of scale and whatnot. But anymore, I don't really care. We are in a humid, damp climate so my tools look older than most of them are. That doesn't bother me either. Tools get scattered all over, but I always know where they are. When I'm done with a session, everything gets put back up where it goes, but as far as how it looks, I got over that a long while ago. It looks "lived in" and everytime I go out there, I feel like it looks like someone actually works in here and I'm proud of that. 

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I have had the same experience.  For exquisite custom work, the old craftsperson in a cluttered hole in the wall shop often outperforms the person in a "fancy new shop"---often at a better price too.

Also I have noticed is that my clutter is MY clutter!  If students want to work in my shop; they need to learn to return tools to EXACTLY where they found them, which is often not where they are officially supposed to be. Shop cleanup and reracking tools occurs after the project is done. Though some is done when switching out tools as a project progresses; tools in use are usually to hand at the work area.

Sharing a shop has to be learned too.  If we are both working at the same anvil I must not place my hammer on it ready for my next heat as they will be needing to use their hammer on it in between. Teaching a student that the iron stays in the gas forge until you are READY to work it and have all the needed tools and equipment to hand seems to be a needed part of the course.

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Every time you work you will make some type of mess! How bad it is depends on who’s looking at it and their experience with the work being performed. An example: every time my wife walks into my shop she says that it’s a total mess, I keep trying to explain to her that I know exactly where everything is, but if the boogeyman comes in he can’t find anything. Yes I do clean up after myself , put up most tools and sweep the floor  (not counting flat surfaces where everything seems to accumulate) most times, but every time I look for something I can’t find I remind myself that if I had put it up properly I could find it! But I can always bring a project into the shop on a minutes notice and get to work. 

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