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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. DO NOT MISUSE THE QUOTE FEATURE: When using the "Quote" feature, edit out of the quote everything except what you're commenting on or asking about. Also, 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 the site administrators and moderators to keep that to a minimum. This is discussed in The Quote Feature.

3. 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:

4. 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.

4a. 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 "site:iforgeiron.com" as one of your search terms. 

4b. 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. 

4c. 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.

5. 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.

5a. 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!

5b. 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.

6. 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.)

7. 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. (NOTE: This issue appears to have been fixed with the August 17, 2020 forum software update.)

Bonus tip #1a: Don't quote the comment immediately preceding yours, as this also clogs up the forum and makes it hard to read. The only exception is if you are replying to one specific thing within a longer post; in that case, highlight those words, click "Quote selection", and then type your response.

Bonus tip #1:  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 #2:  Resize your photos.  The forum software doesn't like huge files, so resize them before you upload them. Some smartphones will allow you to choose the size while uploading. Once you have uploaded your photos, resize them again for easier viewing: 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.

To add photos look at the bottom of the window to see a paper clip. That is where to add them.

Bonus tip #3: If you are new to blacksmithing, please read the Common Basic Mistakes That Beginners Should Avoid post.

Bonus tip #4 The forum is a family friendly site  Improper language is strictly monitored/moderated. No language you would have to explain to a 5 year old.

Bonus tip #5 Do not add links to commercial sites, mentioning the name is allowed but an off site link is not.

Bonus tip #6 Here's an incomplete list of Acronyms and Abbreviations commonly used on IFI.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 11 months later...
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  • 3 months later...

YOUR content needed to be moderated because YOU evidently ignored the rules and warnings. Everybody gets edited occasionally but you have to TRY to get yourself moderated. The rules you agreed to follow when you subscribed are simple enough. Did you read them?

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 8 months later...

This looks like your first post, how do you figure you earned dog house time? It ain't THAT easy to get in trouble here.

Welcome aboard, glad to have you. What brings you to this corner of the blacksmithing and everything else universe? Have pics? We LOVE pics: work, shop, landscape, most anything you'd show to a child you don't want to have to explain adult stuff to. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Hey guys! Well, I figure I'm in the doghouse because being brand new and already not doing what I'm supposed to. Yes, I have pics. I posted 2 of my forge in process with my greeting to everyone. I'll post more pics. I'll try to edit them down in size so they get here. We'll see what happens. 

As to why I'm here, well, I'm kicking around the idea of doing this full time. I'm not getting any younger and to be honest, I'm getting burned out on working for someone. Don't get me wrong, I have a great job. I'm a maintenance guy at Bridgestone in Warren Country TN. Great job. However, heating steel and pounding it into something useful (give or take) seems to me to be a good way of life. 

So, I thought I'd join up and get all the information I could on doing it. 

I see it as I think someone might pay me for some of the stuff I can make. I love handmade stuff and I've made all kinds of things so I have a passion for it. Whether I have a talent is yet to be discovered. Anyway, I like woodworking and pottery. I make sheaths for all of my knives except kitchen knives. I've done paintings and tye dye and plan on doing more. I've made candles and lamps and pot holders (out of leather). So it's all of that that I think I could make something of a living on. Set up a website and go to gun shows and places like that. 

I'm 52 and served in the Marine Corps.......30 (Good Lord) years ago. Since then I've worked a lot of different jobs but always found myself wanting to make stuff. So here I am. 


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Here in the USA a major factor in running a small business is health insurance.  Most crafters I know are one accident or health incident away from bankruptcy.  I was thinking of taking early retirement when I qualified for it sometime in my 50's and then in my 40's I was gifted with "Adult Onset Juvenile Diabetes"  and that shot down my plans.  I've had to maintain employment at places with good medical plans since then. (Now the plan is to retire when I get onto Medicare at 65.)   That extra 20 years keeping my nose to the corporate grindstone has been possible; because I can go home and beat up some hot steel on a regular basis.  I've been acquiring equipment and building a shop in anticipation too.

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Coondog, welcome aboard.  Many of us have been doing this hot metal pounding for decades, some as full timers, more as hobbyists to one degree or another.

If you are thinking of blacksmithing as being a major contributor to your income stream I strongly suggest that you do some serious reading or take some courses in how to run a business.  Being a business person is an entirely different skill set from a profession or craft.  Not everyone is good at it or likes it.  We have all seen people, including doctors, lawyers, engineers, mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, etc. who get tired of working for wages for "the man" and hang out their own shingle to practice their skill on their own.  For many of them, within a few years they are back working for a wage or salary because while they are good at their profession or craft they are not good at being a business person. 

Black Bear Forge has several good videos on You Tube about pricing your work and running a blacksmithing business. 

As Thomas says, health insurance is a really big deal.  If you have a spouse with a job where you can be her dependent for health insurance you are fortunate.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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HAH! Not doing what we're "supposed to" is a fine old blacksmith tradition. There are a few self explanatory "not supposed to dos" you won't need help understanding. For example, you are not supposed to grab the HOT end. 

Lots of folks get into the craft with the goal of making their living at it, or at least having it pay for itself. As already said there are all the factors of any proper business to take care of. I was in the modest business goal camp till I realized how nice the bennies at work made life so I enjoy hobbyist smithing instead. I rarely take on a paying project but it happens.

Were I young enough and wanted to take a lash at it again, I'd keep my day job while I learned and practiced smithing until it edged out the paycheck job as my main money maker. A thing to think about is an employer has to realize a minimum of 3x an employees gross wages to break even on the employee. 

Being good at the anvil is a disturbingly small part of the equation, important but small.

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks a lot guys! I really very much appreciate the advice. I understand exactly what you are saying and that is a big reason why I joined the site. 

I've been able to do a few things on the side, made a little money and so far everyone has enjoyed my product. 

Taking a business course is a very good idea and I talked it over with my S.O.

She has a masters in business and feels as though I would benefit greatly from taking something online or at the local college. 

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart!


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Being married to someone with a masters in business really ups the probability of success. Knowing enough about it yourself you'll understand her without having to clarify everything. It's a more in depth version of what I do trying to get folks to use the same jargon talking about blacksmithing. That's excellent!

Another bonus being you're a LOT more likely to get your mentor to listen to and understand factors involved in blacksmithing and related issues. 

I'm thinking you're approaching a best of both worlds situation. Too cool. :)

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 1 year later...

I have pretty much no rep points to suggest anything here. But may I suggest reviewing Rule 7 tip #5? Links to amazon or whichever website makes shorter posts than posting pics and explaining a specific product, which we may do wrong if not carefully described. Perhaps the tip can be changed to "No affiliated links to commercial websites". Just my 2c.

I just made my first post somewhere else, and I violated this rule as I posted that before reading this. I'm unable to edit.  Sorry. I can recreate that post if necessary.


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  • 3 months later...

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