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Welcome! A lot of smiths here on IFI; you're in good company.

A few pointers for making IFI a rewarding experience:

1. Put your location in your profile settings You might be surprised how many other smiths are in your area or how some questions of resource availability are affected by your geographic location. Go to Settings to change this.

2. Respect the old-timers. The self-proclaimed curmudgeons of IFI are some of the most generous folks you will ever meet, ready to help anyone and everyone who asks, BUT have little to no patience with people who won't take advice or who expect to have everything handed to them on a silver platter. This leads me to my next point:

3. DO YOUR RESEARCH. I cannot emphasize this one enough. IFI has a huge amount of information scattered through its hundreds of discussions, and just about every question you can think of has already been addressed. If you have a question, go looking for the answer -- you'll pick up a lot of other good information on the way, and if you can't find the information you need, you will at very least be able to ask a better-informed question. In other words, the more you read, the less time you will need to spend to get started.

3a. Pro tip #1: When doing your research, don't bother with the Search box up at the top of the page; it's pretty worthless. Go to google and include "" as one of your search terms. 

3b. Pro tip #2: Take some time to familiarize yourself with the sections and subsections of the forum. Even if you don't read everything right away, it's good to know what's out there and where to find it. The Table of Contents is a great resource for this. 

3c. Pro tip #3: A change in the forum software a few years back led to the loss of most of the photos in many of the older threads. Read the threads anyway, and try to puzzle out from the comments what people are talking about. It's frustrating, but there's still a lot of good material; it's also a good mental exercise. Blacksmithing can make you smart.

4. Ask detailed questions. There are very few absolute rules in blacksmithing, and almost every question can be answered in different ways, depending on context and circumstances. It is much better to give too much detail when asking your question than too little. If you give too little, don't be surprised or offended when people ask for more.

4a. Don't be upset if folks correct your terminology. Blacksmithing has its own jargon and a basic function of jargon it for a group of people to be able to make *precise* descriptions of what they are trying to do and what they are doing it with.  Example: a common mistake is using the term smelting, (making metal from ore), instead of melting, making metal liquid for casting.  We have folks here who do both and there are very different requirements for equipment and techniques!

4b. We want you to succeed, and we want to be a part of your success. When asking a question, give us all the information you have, with photos, so we can immediately jump in at your level and answer your question. If you are provided references, read the reference and redefine your question to make it more specific. The depth is knowledge on the site is amazing, we just need to know where to start.

5. Post in proper area.  For example, posting a heat treating question should be in one of the heat treating areas, not in the tailgating section which is for sales items. (Regarding the latter, please see  Advertising and editing on IForgeIron.)

6. Forum navigation:  Can't view multiple pages of thread? To move forward and back from page to page in a long thread, you can reload or refresh to get the next page when you get the infinite loading message. 

Bonus tip #1: When using the "Quote" feature, it's a good idea to edit out of the quote everything except what you're commenting on or asking about. Also, make sure to delete all images from the quote, unless there's something extremely specific that you need the image to ask about. Pictures take up a lot of bandwidth, and it's a courtesy to Glenn (forum owner and curmudgeon emeritus) to keep that to a minimum. This is discussed in The Quote Feature.

Bonus tip #2:  Tagging other members using the "@" symbol (for example @Glenn) is frowned upon. Don't take prior examples of people doing this as an indication that it's currently okay.

Bonus tip #3:  If you're not able to resize photos before you upload them, you can do so after you post. Just click "edit" at the bottom of your post and double click on a photo. A window will pop up to allow you to change the number of pixels in the width; I usually go with 500 for a horizontal photo and 350 for a vertical.

Bonus tip #4: Basic anvil care: DON'T GRIND OR MILL THE FACE OF AN ANVIL!  The hardened face is quite thin  and many an anvil has been destroyed by folks trying to improve it *before* they know what makes an anvil good! (Sharp edges are generally a BAD thing for instance). Use your anvil for a year (2000 hours) before you make any changes that can not be undone. That flaw may very well be a feature that you can use. 

And finally: here's an incomplete list of Acronyms and Abbreviations


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