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Hello from Colorado


Vanamburg

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Just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself after signing up!

I reside in Colorado, specifically the springs, and over the last few months have been diving into understanding and observing as much about blacksmithing as I possibly can. I would say this is something I really want to have as a hobby, and something that just prompts a feeling of excitement and interest.

I have never forged anything as of yet, really just looking to start but want to head in with as much knowledge as I can. Looking at signing up for some intro classes and the like. 

Currently coming up on 22 years of age and really need a fun, addicting, trade that I can do in my free time (3-4 days a week). I realize it can be expensive but to start it looks rather affordable for a test run. I do have other interests but there's just nothing out there that's had a natural pull on me like this art, so ready to hit the forums, learn from all of you, and hopefully, in time, start forging!

 

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Welcome to IFI! If you haven't yet, please READ THIS FIRST!

Blacksmithing is as expensive as you want to make it. If you've got the budget, you can certainly sink a lot of money into it. However, if you have more time than money, there are plenty of ways to get yourself set up for little money. Take a look around the site, and get an idea of the things that are possible.

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Mr. Vanamburg,

I suggest that you attend a meeting of a local blacksmith group and try it out before you make any investment. (someone here will suggest a local group shortly

Mr. Thomas Powers has posted how he put together a smithing kit for about $50 or less. Which is demonstrative proof that the craft need not (initially) cost a bundle of cash.

I'm glad you joined the crew.

SLAG.

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A solid fuel forge is just a variation of a hole in the ground; we just figure a way to put it at a convenient height; look at JABOD (Just a Box of Dirt).

Charcoal is charcoal and you can make your own from wood scraps or just transfer the burning coals from a wood fire to the forge.

A blower is just a way to move air: bellows, car heaters, blow dryers, inflation pumps; furnace exhaust assist blowers, etc and so on

An anvil is just something to beat hot steel on: neo-tribals have used rocks, fork lift tines, chunks of scrap steel,  Anstee, who did a lot of work on archaeological pattern welding, used a cheese weight...look at the thread on "improvised anvils" for other examples.

A Hammer is a hammer is a hammer: it was years before I spent over US$3 for a used hammer. (And I've done a pattern welded demo for a fellow using a carpenter's claw hammer before)

Tongs are just a way to hold hot steel I've used visegrips, pliers, gas workers pliers, arc welded a handle on a short piece or just used a longer piece of stock---probably the best starter method.  You can then make your own tongs,. they don't have to be pretty, just work!

Pretty much the other tools: chisels, punches twisting wrenches and scrolling forks you can makes from commonly available stock using beginner's skills.

Now what was the expensive part?

Do us old pharts have fancy kit?  Sure; but many of us have built it up over decades on the cheap.  Look up the TPAAAT as a good starter method to find stuff you can afford.

Note a good book for a DIY scrounger type of person is The Complete Modern Blacksmith by Alexander Weygers

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This is reassuring and helpful, a lot of the stuff I believe I can get started with I can easily rig up or buy for less the 90$ overall which is rather cheap. 

I'll have to check out that book today and head down to the local bookstore or buy online if they don't have it.

As I watch more and more on the art of blacksmithing, I'm drawing the conclusion that there's always a way to get something done if you're creative, and most of the tools I see used (punches, chisel's, hammers) are all forged and not bought, which just seems like the way to go anyways.

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5 hours ago, JHCC said:

 Vanamburg - Do you have always repeat back everything that is said to you when you talk to people? then do not do it here either. 

I do, and I've been going for a few resources, but as with Astronomy, I tend to build a book collection so I can always have the knowledge to draw upon later or share with others. For this I will be doing both, as of right now I have purchased only "The art & craft of the blacksmith" by Robert Thomas. Trying to learn more about the different metal types and how to go about handling each one, focusing more on the types that are more common and likely to be used.

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Astronomy?  I worked for nearly 10 years for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at the Socorro NM facility---I was doing integration work on the ALMA project going in in the high Atacama in Chile.

If you ever come down to tour the VLA; try to time it for when the Trinity site is also open as the VLA has special tours those 2 Saturdays a year. (and You can see the Trinity site as well!)  I still  have a house in the area.

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Thomas Powers -

That's awesome, and an experience that'll last you a lifetime. Astronomy is possibly one of the most interesting feilds to be in, every year I volunteer at the "Space symposium" which is a huge multi-million dollar event that brings all members of the space feild together for a week. Actually shuts down the most expensive hotel in Colorado, the Broadmoor; very fun experience. I'll have to look into taking a vacation to check out the VLA, have a lot of astronomy trips I plan to make over the next decade or two, including those oversees like New Zealand. Hopefully blacksmithing will be something I can tie into those trips as every place, and everyone, has something to teach. One thing that I noticed is there is no such thing as a "master" blacksmith, there's always something to learn and that's exactly what pulled me into Astronomy.

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Well there is the Magdalena Ridge Observatory and the much lower Etscorn Observatory, Star Parties locally too.  It's out here that I once read a page from a paperback book only by starlight.  I miss the Milky Way, very visible in my Northern house and missing due to El Paso's light pollution down here.  As for Space; my Father worked from 62-68 Doing Systems Engineering for NASA at Bellcom; his photo of Apollo 11 taking off signed: "Tom; We could never have done it without you" Wernher von Braun  is a family treasure.

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Light pollution tends to be a real issue for the modern astronomer, partially the reason most my astronomy days are now few and far between. Any kind of letter from NASA pre 2000's is just priceless, a very rare treat to have one with family. I have an individual I work with that has a letter his father passed down from Carl Sagan, as well as some moon rocks, those I'm not sure he's even supposed to own... For the most part, taking a two hour drive in the direction your seeking to observe (away from all major cities) and packing red lights for vision, you can see the milky way bands, have to sit for 30 mins for your eyes to adjust fully.

One trip I hear is worth every dime is Chili, not only do we have a series of telescopes down there, but you will see the southern sky, not the northern sky were so used to.

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Yes I took training in some astronomical software at La Silla Observatories in Chile and made several week long trips to the low site for Alma and one short visit to the High Site---only not at night. The High Site requires a heart check (and supplemental O2 if you are driving)  about 16400'/5000m and you are standing in a saddle with the peaks going up higher!

Really really neat to see the Lesser and Greater Magellanic Clouds and the coal sack nebula and the southern cross by the naked eye.

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I've been jumping all around this forum to pretty much figure out where to start, what to avoid, easy beginner projects, and the like. One thing I can't find (even with help from the iforgeiron Google trick) is what metal to start with? By this I mean, I will probably have a smaller, cheaper forge to get going soon, is there a metal that's an easier introduction into the craft, as far as lower temperature, easier to move? I know copper is a low temp metal, but I have read a couple posts about it still being difficult.

I doubt that this is the ideal spot to post this but with my account having a mark against it within 2 hours of starting, I feel it's safer to ask here then in the wrong thread till I feel out the layout more.

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Mild steel is a good place to start.

There is steel being thrown away, moved to the alleys, or dumpsters every day. That is usually at no or low cost and is the luck of the draw as to composition. If you want a specific steel, GTTS or go to the source that is using that type steel and throwing it away. Machine shops, fabricators, etc.

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I just googled "Colorado Springs steel supply" (without quotation marks) and got a dozen or so hits right off the bat. Get in touch with them and ask if they sell "drops", which are the offcuts from cutting down larger stock. Basic A-36 structural steel is roughly equivalent* to mild steel, and you know exactly what you're getting. Drops from a spring shop are great stock for punches and chisels.

Also, make friends with your mechanic. Mine has been very generous to me with torsion bars, axles, and coil springs.

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Yeah we have a huge supply, actually near a local scrap yard where I'm sure I can find a few pieces. Definitely will talk to the local steel yards about "drops", didn't even think about that, was going to order some off of eBay but that seems like the better option. I'll need to find a reason to wander into a mechanic shop and mingle, actually need to dump my Challenger and go back to an old pickup so that's probably my ticket.

By the sounds of it, a great first project is making a punch or chisel.

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Welcome to IFI.

All of the advice given is spot on. One word of caution I have is to be leery of "so called experts" on you tube. There is a lot of dangerous misinformation out there. There are also a lot of very good blacksmiths posting how to do videos. If in doubt check here about them and we will let you know who to trust. Forged in Fire is a very entertaining TV show my wife & I love it, but nothing to be learned there. If you were near our house when it's on you would hear us hollering at it all the time.:)

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