Ohio

I did you all a favor and set the bar really low

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So I took a blacksmithing class last night. Mostly I wanted to find out if I truly liked hitting hot metal with a hammer, to which the answer is yes. I also learned that I could hammer for an hour and a half without any strain when I made the absolutely worst leaf-shaped object in the history of fire. And I am ridiculously proud of it. It's just terrible and I'll keep it forever.

I also want to say thank you to everyone who has shared their knowledge on IFI. The info has been invaluable and has really helped me think about what I really wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. Instead of being daunted by how much there is to learn, I am excited by how much there is to learn. You have my gratitude, though if you all start with the punning, I will retract and insist that my account was hacked and I never said nice things here. Then I will call you all names.

To anyone is wondering about trying blacksmithing, I say jump in. Make something. The steel is hot, the anvil is heavy, and don't look too closely at what's floating in the quench tank.

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Greetings Ohio ,

          Sounds like a normal start to me. I started the same way 40 some years ago but back than there was no internet or available references let alone mentors to learn from..  Stick with IFI and learn . Keep at it and ask questions..  

Forge on and make beautiful things 

Jim

 

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Good Morning Ohio in Warshington,

Check out the North West Blacksmith Association (www.blacksmith.org). They are having a Tool Sale/garage sale/hands-on session in Longview Wa. soon. It will be worth the drive to meet the people in your area. There are quite a few members that live close to you. Get together with someone local.

I give all new students a small container of Play-Doh (WalMart, $1.00). Play-Doh works identical to steel, except you can work it in your fingers, cold. There is no wrong way to start out, except by NOT starting. We have all made a similar Leaf/Hook/Trinket when we started, nothing to be ashamed of!!

Enjoy the Journey,

Neil

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Glad to see you back Ohio. I will be going to Longview  for the NWBA Swaptoberfest and mini conference that Swedefiddle mentioned, which is next weekend. If you decide to come, you'll find everyone is just as friendly and helpful as here on IFI. I hope to see you there.

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4elements, I think we're going to Longview. I have a film festival screening and Q&A at noon in Gig Harbor on the 27th and we're planning on driving down---depends how long the Q&A goes, I reckon. If I shut up early, we may get there mid-afternoon.

swedefiddle, I'm not disappointed that I suck so bad because I've never done this before and I'm okay with that. The Play-Doh thing is a good idea, I'll get some and just practice. My neighbor is a blacksmith and he just said he'll clear out the crap in his garage so we can fire up the forge in a couple weeks. So I'll focus on basic techniques in Play-Doh and building strength, with occasional forays to the fire because who doesn't like fire?

Not to worry---I am far from ashamed or discouraged. Sometimes I think I'm just not smart enough to know when I should be ashamed of myself but let's call this a feature, not a bug. I'm just so impressed with myself. I moved steel around with fire and muscle. That was amazing.

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About your leaf Denise. If you don't post a picture of it we won't believe there IS a leaf let alone one so ugly as to deserve "The Worst in the History of FIRE" Title. Seriously, you'd have to crash a nuclear aircraft carrier into a Ugo section of the scrap yard at at full redline ahead to get even close to the worst ugly metalwork on the scale of foggy day I5 pile ups. Let alone the history of FIRE!? :blink:

If you wash your hands first you can eat your play doh if you don't like the results. Yeah, pretty finicky for a blacksmith I know.  

Oh, nobody in our family knows of relatives in the Everett Massacre. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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I give you...the Leaf of Infamy.

Frosty, dude, I'm serious---I'm so proud of myself. I can see it's terrible and I just don't care.

Oh---now I know how parents feel about their ugly kids. And don't be saying how all children are beautiful because that is demonstrably false. I have a brother who would agree that he was the Leaf of Infamy of the family. Of course, he grew up good and turned out a handsome fellow, so just because someone starts out ugly doesn't mean they'll stay there.

Dang it. Frosty shows up and I wander off-topic like a cow with amnesia.

Leaf.jpg

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Im from colorado...we have LOTS of funny looking leaves these days.  However yours looks better and funner (yes grammar police i said funner) then the onrs weve had spring up.

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Sorry Ohio. You went to the wrong class.The first and most important thing a beginner blacksmith need to learn is you make first, and designate a description afterwards. In this case, seem you made an arrow head to shoot around corners. Nicelly made! ;)

Anyway, as a newbie myself, I strongly reccomend a class of several days, and not only several hours. There are many basic techniques you need to learn and practice under guidence. Like tappering, sliting, punching, twisting ect.

And - WELCOME!

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I would say that the teacher maybe wasn't the greatest. He didn't tell you to round off the stem? he didn't show you how to fix the bend? he didn't have you put any veins in it? he didn't have you put any type of finish on it? If he had you do all that, I bet you would have had a pretty fine lookin leaf.

                                                                                                                                               Littleblacksmith 

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Don't let the comments discourage you. Leaves themselves are so variable, including at times deformed, that if the average person can identify it, it's good. It only gets better from here. And i don't think anyone here wants to put a damper on your enthusiasm. some things are best made with uniformity, and some are best with uniqueness. I'm glad you have that neighbor smith to mentor as well. Forge on.

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 I'm sorry i got the dates mixed up for the NWBA meet. It's not next weekend, its Oct 27th thru 29th

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I see you're a natural born blacksmith Denise, you have a gift for exaggeration. You wouldn't even have to make up a story about 3 Mile Island or Chernobyl  to explain the form nor how much skill it required to represent it so accurately. 

A little less time in the fire and more vigorous with the wire brushing and it's golden. Well, okay a little brash brushing at black heat and it's "golden".  It's almost a bird's head, if the tip was straight and there was an eye and it's a wood pecker. 

Well done, keep it and look at it often.

Make a veiner to represent leaf veins and it's a complete piece. Perhaps an eye punch a little down the road. One overhead door spring makes three lifetimes worth of chasing punches and chisels. The wire in an overhead door spring is nearly ideal for flint strikers too. 

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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I don't exaggerate, Frosty. I document. This is essentially journalism. And you're right---if I had positioned this as, "Today I made an arrowhead that goes around corners," I could've claimed I was enormously talented.

You're also right that it went into the fire way too many times. The steel felt overworked. I don't quite know how to explain that, but it did, and yet, it didn't stop me from continuing to put it in the fire. I spent most of my time heating up the steel and then whacking it because the instructor (a she not a he) didn't explain what we were supposed to do until everyone was at a certain place. I did finally just stop and wait until everyone caught up but that wasn't very fun. And she kinda forgot certain steps---the irony (which has iron in it) was that she kept calling out, "You should always be thinking about the next step," which is good advice but only if you know what the next step is.

She would also kinda neglect to mention something until it was too late, like, "You should only taper the A and B sides," after we'd all been smacking metal and everyone looked up and said, "What?" And then I thought, "Little late for that bullcrap now."

So I tapered too long a piece and then spent time wrapping the end around the horn of the anvil and then straightening out. I learned I am very good at putting a shoulder at the bottom of a taper. I am not good at doing the second taper below the shoulder. I'm also good at holding the piece as the instructor demonstrated the veining. I was also pretty good at peening the edges to draw them out when the instructor said we had time for only one more heat. That was kind of weird, so I just heated so I could wire brush the crap off but the steel brush had disappeared by then.

But everything about it was really fun. I was chuckling most of the time, which I guess would make me seem slightly insane.

Another one of my neighbors just came over to see if I had any scrap hardwood for a handle of his first knife. I gave him some 1/4" x 1.5" x 10" lengths of black walnut and maple to laminate and use that I cut off from a cutting board I made. I have a slice of black locust burl that I told him I'd give him, too, when he felt ready for it. Kinda seems like that's part of the craft---pass it on be it tool, material, or knowledge.

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Maybe you could turn your leaf vertically and call it a flame.  Then you wouldn't need veins.  The artful curvature of it lends itself to a flame in my opinion.

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Absolutely worst?   If you can show it to another person and NOT induce projectile vomiting whilst trying to gouge their eyes out with a burning wooden spoon, (I *know* you don't need to ask "Why a spoon?") then it's not even in the same order of magnitude as "worst".

I taught two 4 hour beginner's classes yesterday.  My method was to tell them what we were going to do and then demonstrate it step by step and try never to get more than 1 extra step ahead and if we had a slow student I'd remind them of the order of steps. I'd also offer to do a clean up run on their piece if they were having problems and getting close to the PV stage. (I particularly like doing that using their hammer and anvil so they can see that it was NOT the fault of the tools they were using---though I did suggest a couple of students try a different weight and shaped hammers/tongs at times.  Of course I have a 6 student limit to class size; hard to keep an eye on everything with more.

One trick I use to encourage the class is I use a MUCH LIGHTER hammer than usual so it slows me down...I also teach multiple ways to accomplish the same thing and tell them that in Blacksmithing there is only 1 CORRECT WAY TO DO THINGS----AND THAT IS ANY WAY THAT WORKS!

(they also get a lot of bad jokes, the brief history of blacksmithing, how the Arts & Crafts movement changed how hammer marks were perceived in smithed goods, What major change in smithing occurred in the 1850's (and the high/late middle ages for that matter) Why the london pattern anvil is only *1* of many types of perfectly good anvils; and a rant on not using the term "best" around me....)

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15 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

and a rant on not using the term "best" around me....)

This is simply the BEST comment i have seen :P

Ohio, your leaf is really not that terrible. You should see the first knife i tried to make, if you want to talk about terrible lol. But now you have a baseline, something to work from and strive ahead to create things that are more and more beautiful. 

Good luck to you. And remember, the journey is just as important as the destination. 

This is the BEST advice i can give :D 

(Sorry Thomas, i had to!)

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Ha---Olfart. Yes, indeed. It's not a leaf. It's a flame and a miracle of wonder. See? It's all in the marketing.

Will W., exactly. You gotta start somewhere, even if it's downtown Craptown. Someone else in this thread said something about better to start than do nothing and that is absolutely right. And BEST. (Hahahaha, now I'm going to use "BEST" in everything I post just to annoy Someone.)

ThomasPowers, how do you know there wasn't projectile vomiting? Maybe there was and I didn't mention it because this forum has decorum---hey! that rhymes----and I didn't want to damage anyone's delicate sensibilities. I mean, some people are sensitive.

Ultimately, I achieved my goal for taking the class, which was to find out if I liked doing this. And I do. So my next steps are to continue getting stronger, work with my blacksmith neighbor on technique and approach, and continue researching. I also plan on getting back to metal spinning and may impose on y'all for critique, pointers, and inspiration. The Leaf of Infamy is a paragon of skill compared to my metal spinning attempts. I'll just tell you now that there was projectile vomiting caused by those---there's one in particular....well, let's just say it was so bad that I'm pretty sure it was one of the signs of the apocalypse. Rain of toads, four horsemen, and that metal crinkly blob thing that looks like...huh, well, forum decorum prevents me from using the correct terminology here.

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Remember badly botched spinning projects are just starter material for high dollar artistic fountains---or sand gardens when the material does not do well with water. (hiding in the sand a Eiffell tower trinket or Statue of Liberty one suitably modified to present a "post apocalypse" vibe is a bonus point! Or you could with an Ozymandias  one for folks with ego issues...)

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1 hour ago, ThomasPowers said:

Remember badly botched spinning projects are just starter material for high dollar artistic fountains---or sand gardens when the material does not do well with water. (hiding in the sand a Eiffell tower trinket or Statue of Liberty one suitably modified to present a "post apocalypse" vibe is a bonus point! Or you could with an Ozymandias  one for folks with ego issues...)

That...is a great idea.

"The Zenpocalypse water feature $495. Zenpocalypse sand garden. Comes with mini-rake, $595. Or combine both in a Surf-N-Turf End-of-the-World Diorama, $995. Not responsible for cuts, scaring, or lock jaw."

I knew this blacksmithing thing would lead to riches.

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Having seen quite a bit of "ART" that to me resembled assemblies of scrap I figured we should be able to go backwards.

Another "addition" for a sand garden would be miniature cat manure done in fired clay....a miniature cat foot stamp is a purrfect addition...

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Denise: You can't legitimately claim to be a journalist on this issue when you're expressing conclusions and opinions without sufficient knowledge base to back it. You're editorializing with a serious conflict of interest.  The exerts say, "that ain't a bad leaf." Focus that in your zoom and expose it! :)

It really is pretty darned nice especially for a first session. A lot of folk get roped into teaching classes there's more to it than being good at the craft and just being talkative doesn't mean you can explain things or keep them in order. The flame suggestion is a good one.

You need to take a position more like Bob Ross's in that there are "NO MISTAKES just HAPPY ACCIDENTS."  The ONLY mistake is not doing. It doesn't matter what something looks like when you've decided you've done enough, every blow, every result is recorded for later assimilation and integration. 

For example,  I generally make leaves shorter with much shorter drip ends. I generally pattern on what I have available to model from, Willow are favorites, cotton wood leaves (the obnoxious pests) are generally large and smooth edged with widely spread veins. Good for things needing a large feature Birch leaves (besides being brain eating zombie trees) have serrated edges and more tips. A harder leaf to forge but attractive. 

I can see what you probably did to make the drip tip so long, it happens to everybody starting out. It's EASY to chase the transition from leaf to tip into the leaf and end up with a really long tip. Regardless if this feature makes you happy it's an important thing to remember how to do WHILE you learn how NOT to do it.

I find myself over extending terminal tapers when I'm making a new item, my first bodkin turned into a needle bodkin rather than the, "short sharp pointy plate poker" Bodkin I intended. The socket came out good though. For a first arrow point that is. ;)

I'd really like to see pics of your spinning failures. I may not be much good helping fix the cause but it might help, can't . . . WHOA! I almost said can't HURT. Making mistakes on a spinning lathe most certainly can hurt, LOTS. I was probably the ONLY kid in elementary school who didn't panic at the sight of blood and knew how to control major bleeding it.  There were a lot of kids who's parents were doctors but I'll bet they didn't take their kids to work. By 9 I knew what my Father's thumb joint and Ulna looked like in the bottom of a meat slicer cut and learned to pick out debris with bloody tweasers, pinch the edges closed, apply butterflies and wrap the wound while Dad called Mom with the other hand.

Sorry, got off on memories of what CAN go wrong on a spinning lathe. The worst were when a blank got loose, parts coming apart or wadding up on the tool weren't anything by comparison to having a, oh say 9" dia disk of 14 ga. steel spinning 3,200 RPM. go zinging across the shop.  They do, they ZING, it'd be a pretty sound if it weren't so terrifying. 

Remember how you made that leaf, it'll be a lovely flame finial with a LITTLE tweaking.

Frosty The Lucky.

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ThomasPowers---roger the cat poop and paw print. I'll charge extra for that, too.

Dang it, Frosty. I was turning a mandrel to spin a little copper candle cup when I came in for lunch and read this. So if people who don't eat meat are vegetarians, what is the word for people who decide not to spin metal? I need a word for it because with every horror story I reconsider trying it. So I can say, "I am now firmly a [vegetarian equivalent of not a metal spinner]. I'm done with that crazy mess."

OTOH, after a bit I gulp and re-assess what I'm doing and why. And then I want to try it again. I have some 3" copper discs to practice on.

And I can so call myself a journalist. Pfft on your "facts" and "definitions."

The leaf got longer because I mistakenly started out too long, then changed hammers for better control. I wanted to just start over but was told we didn't have enough time, so I practiced wrapping that end around the horn while I waited for the instructor to demo the next step. (I should've just started over, but I was trying to be respectful.) Then I added the shoulder and tried the second taper (quenching the thinned end to control the heat) but I absolutely sucked at the second taper. Just sucked. That felt like a practice thing---like, do this 100 times to get a feel for it. Which is going to be my approach once I get everything set up, basically, like running drills or practicing scales.

And the material really did start feeling overworked. I thought it was because it was thin, but the closest I can describe it is that it was brittle? A bit unresponsive? Kind of dragging under the hammer? Am I imagining this?

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Sorry didn't mean to frighten you. You aren't doing the same kind of spinning we did, we didn't turn the lathe off to drop a part and insert a fresh blank. Getting the blank a little too far off center when you're putting it in the lathe is how you get the flying meat slicer AFTER it's walked up your arm. You aren't doing production spinning, not a problem.

What to call those poor blighted souls who don't spin metal. Let's see, spinning is a method of both sinking and raising so folk who don't spin are either Sinkins or Raisins. Hmmmm?

Call yourself a " "modern journalist" then. Pffffft on the facts and definitions is soooo Network.  :P

Overworked is a good term I haven't seen anybody ask what you meant, It'll get that way after a while. Part of the learning curve.

Next time try drawing the tip, then back to the stem just a cone with a BIT of a point. Now, use half face blows to rough draw the stem, keep it good and hot and the leaf section will bend out of the way and not deform much. This is called isolating sections, a leaf has two. Leaf and stem. Once isolated you have your preform.

Now gently refine shape the leaf isolation BEFORE you flatten it. This is just to clean up dings from forging the stem. Bring the leaf section to screaming HOT and hammer it straight down onto the anvil. Do the leaf's edge at the edge of the anvil with half face blows. Steel WANTS to be thinner at the edge of the anvil especially using half face blows. Use the physics. Leave the stem for last.

Remember the thinner the steel the faster it heats so plan process steps to finish thick to thin. (thickest parts first, thinnest last. hmmm?)

Now you have your leaf, tweak, texture, finish and done.

Leaves are harder than it seems till you give it a try but they're good learning projects.

Frosty The Lucky.

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