Marc1

"I want to start blacksmithing"

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21 hours ago, Duanen said:

 When buying my anvil, post vice etc, all the sellers assumed I'd be making knives, they didn't know what to say when I said I had no intentions on making knives or swords.   I wanted to get into blacksmithing to make practical things I can use and decorative items the Mrs. will like. 

A man after my own heart ... :lol:

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Love all the replies. Didn't expect that many!

To clarify ... I don't believe that any goal, be it making knifes axe, swords or toothpicks is 'wrong', so no tut-tut from my side. (I learned a new expression by the way. )

Tut-tut for Steve however for taking the personal approach. Who is this outsider telling us how to make knifes? :(

I don't need to make knifes to know that historically knife making was a trade and people made knifes and learned the craft without necessarily making anything else. Same with locks and guns. Sure it was another time. Today if the instructor tells the student he must first make hooks ... well, that is what goes right? But if you think about it, it can be done either way. 

The funniest part of this debate is that lately it is working the other way. People start making knifes, then decide that perhaps there are other things they can make. 

But back to my original thought. What did we do wrong that no one want's to become blacksmith, everyone wants to be a blade smith and no one knows the difference?

Edit Ausfire's museum activity is invaluable to show what can be achieved with the most basic of technology, no electricity (and only a bit of kero), but I dubt that he or anyone else would think it is better to do it that way than to use the aid of whatever is at hand to achieve the same result.  

Growing up in a workshop full of European blacksmith, the thought of making a knife or shoeing a horse was alien to me and all the rest of the crew. So to me this things have always being separated by a country mile. 

Admittedly there are country differences and today in Australia (not the country I grew up in) ... hardly anyone has a forged veranda railing or window grill or gate. It costs too much and lets face it, hardly anyone would know how to do it. 

Conversely in the US if you have the money you can get things done real nice by real artist in the trade. 

So why is it that everyone in the US (Correction ... not everyone :) ) , wants to make knifes and not learn something practical that can bring the bacon home? Is it easier to sell a knife than to make a custom made gate?

Perhaps.

Or perhaps what we hear is only hobby, sort of part time entertainment after a 9 to 5 job in IT? Possible.

I don't know. 

The explanation that the knife is more macho than a steel rose ... well that may be the case. A knife can save your life? I suppose so. I have a collection of knifes some I bought, some gifted to me. They fulfil a more practical and pacific role in the kitchen and at barbecue time. May be my life is too boring. Having survived a war I tend to count my blessing and don't think in preparing for another one.  

Still, in the back of my mind is this nagging thought. We made all this halo of mystery and antiquity around a metal working trade that is not a martial art, but first and foremost a practical activity to make or fix everyday metal objects using the most basics of methods. What I see is that what used to be a necessary part of blacksmithing, and that is the artistic side, is almost lost. I can still see my tutors spending hours drawing in pencil over large sheets of copy paper, free hand perfect scrolls and even art nuvo creations I thought I could never equal. 

Not that making a knife does not require some aesthetic skills, and you only need to see some of the knifes made by professionals here to recognise the artistic talent of it's maker. 

Still ... 

I remember my mother's comments reminiscent of her years of living in Rome as a german expatriate. She used to miss the way bricklayers sang whilst working, singing some opera aria over and over. 

May be I am getting old :)

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I'll second the notion that this is an interesting thread.  I once heard someone talk about vacationing at the Barrier Reef.  They snorkeled and were able to do limited exploring of the reef.  One day this fellow saw a diver with a tank emerge from the depths of the reef and he got to thinking.  Both of them can say they dove at the Great Barrier Reef, but which one of them can say they really explored the reef?  He concluded that at most he'd only seen the top 10% of the reef while the guy with the tank had thoroughly explored the whole reef down to it's depths.

I think we are really dealing with the same reef issue with this thread.  Some of us think that the only true way to know blacksmithing is to strap the tank on and totally explore the whole thing.  Others of us are quite happy "snorkeling" from the top and enjoying what we can see from there.  I think most here don't have a problem with the difference until a "snorkeler" tries to pose as a deep tank diver giving advice about deep waters they've never been in.  We have some excellent deep divers here and we have some excellent snorkelers.  Me, I'm awkwardly learning to deep dive.  I'm snorkeling some but also learning the complexities of using my scuba tank so I can dive deep.  That path is not for everyone, but blacksmithing is a big reef and there's room for a lot of us here.  Heck with FIF the snorkeling area is a little congested right now so I'm finding more peace down deep learning the craft and starting with the basics.  I like it down deep because not everyone wants to be there.

To the point of repetitive forging of the same thing.........I've found no better way to learn.  Nobody says you have to make 100 S hooks, but I've learned a lot making them 6 at a time.  Maybe the next time I make 4 of something different and so on.  It's taught me time management and all the tricks to get all 6 or all 4 of them looking the same.  This skill will help later on when someone needs for me to make a replacement of something.  I'm learning A LOT by learning the basics and starting to make my own chisels and punches.  That first knife I make someday will go much smoother I think. 

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Hello All. There have been many good thoughts in this thread. Don't know if I can add anything to it, but here goes. I've been on this blacksmith journey for more than 30 years. The first thing I was ever taught was a taper. Then I was shown how to bend around the horn of the anvil. I took a s hook home that day, which I still have.  My last project was recreating a 15-16 century grill from a picture I found. 30 years ago I would have looked at the project as impossible for me. However when I broke it all down, What I did the most on it was draw tapers, and bend. 

I've had the great pleasure to meet and work with many different people on my journey, which work in all areas. Without exception, they have all stressed learning the basic forging technics, and then expanding from there. Following their example, the first thing I ever start some one who "wants to start blacksmithing" is to show them a taper. I can then show them examples of tapers on blades, and grills.

 Later Al 

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Yes knifemaking was a craft done by people to the exclusion of everything else and someone starting out probably spend several YEARS learning before they were allowed to make a knife. Compared to nowadays where some of us want folks to take a month or two to learn the basics and to progress as they are able.

Perhaps we could get Templehound's input; didn't he have a more traditional start in knifemaking?

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It all depends on your expectations. 


I made my first "knife" when  I was twelve years old from an old sawblade with a pair of pliers, some paracord and a file.
Some folks make beautifull knives without touching a hammer or an anvil.

Does a experienced stock remover need to make s-hooks and  bottleopeners?
Of course he needs to learn how to forge a taper and bevels.

When I started forging  with my dad last summer I knew I wanted to make a knife "someday" . Fifty hours of instructed forging later (and about the double that uninstructed at home) I started forging a knife, did my research wanted a big fat chopper with a very sturdy point ended up looking very Orky. 
Not very happy with it oh well learned from it, but am kinda done with knives for the next few months. Sure i'll make another but I enjoy blacksmithing more then bladesmithing.


Then my teacher told me the following quote from Gandalf

Quote

“But if I had spoken sooner, it would not have lessened your desire, or made it easier to resist. On the contrary! No, the burned hand teaches best. After that advice about fire goes to the heart.”

 

 

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Well in  a set of blacksmithing forums: Home Blacksmithing > Blacksmithing, General Discussion"I want to start blacksmithing"

I was generally addressing blacksmithing aspects and not stock removal or casting or flint knapping...

And I do teach experienced stock removal blademakers by having them work on S hooks first as I think that ending up with something useful is a better teaching tool than to end up with something you trash. I also think it's easier to learn when you can cut down the number of simultaneous things you have to deal with---why I like to start people out on a propane forge and then progress to coal when they can concentrate on the coal fire more as they have things like forging ranges and how they are going to hit it already internalized.

(stock removal blademakers are often wowed at how easy distal tapers are formed with the hammer and anvil)

 
 

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some stock removal people forget this is first and foremost a blacksmithing site,  while we have a place for knives, there really is no reason to post stock removal here, because those have nothing to do with blacksmithing.  Its a lot like auto body repair,  its made of steel but other that that, why post it here ? but it is a gateway for many to smithing, and it does not hurt anyone

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As to the fascination with knives..... It started early for me. I grew up with a pocketknife, and always feel awkward when I don't have one with me. When I was younger I could not buy a firearm, but I could buy knives. I have a fixed blade Case XX that was my dad's and a fixed blade Marbles that was my Grandfather's whom I was named after. I learned from my Dad early on that a good knife is worth the money and a junk knife is just that. He taught me how to carve wood and a good knife is essential for that. Now I was not dumping $$$ on a Loveless or anything like that, but good 3 blade pocketknife brands like Schrade, and avoided anything stamped China, Pakistan, etc.. As a Boy Scout a good knife was a necessity, as an adult I still find one a necessity for opening boxes, stripping electrical wire, cutting through pipe insulation, cleaning surfaces, and more (the Swiss Army Knives are getting a workout where I work).  As a beginner smithing I knocked out a knife from an old file, and have also done stock removal.  For whatever reason I have always wanted a Kris, so one day I grabbed a file and knocked one out. Looked good until I quenched it.... all of those teeth were nothing but stress risers and the water quench created several cracks.... lesson learned. That first knife I knocked out while working at a summer camp was also a learning experience. I call it a canoe blade because it looks like half of a canoe the way the tip curled up and back as I attempted to forge a bevel on a straight shape....that metal has to go somewhere.

Smithing has been an off an on hobby over the decades. It had to compete with leather working, wood carving, ceramics, U-control planes, model planes, photography, cars, drawing, shooting, gunsmithing, running a business, making a living, and now a deep funk that I have been in for awhile. It is out there in the yard, I can see it, and I have lots of ideas on what to make, but the motivation  is just not there to follow through. Last year was a horrible year for me after the debacle with the county, things have escalated with the brothers on the folks estate, current employment is a real drag, and that has lead to me to withdrawing from a lot of activities I used to enjoy.

Marc1, interesting that you mentioned Art Nouveau. I have always liked that style more than Art Deco with its rigid geometric shapes. The free flowing natural shapes fit my type B nature loving personality much better. Getting those free flowing scrolls to look good is far more work than just swirling a pencil on a piece of paper :D.  I am looking at smaller projects now as I live in DaBoonies and will be working alone most of the time........that is when I get out of this self imposed prison I have created for myself.

But to answer the original post. I agree that if someone is set on blades that they can start with them-- with the proper education, be that through research, or tutoring. And a proper education does not mean playing Minecraft, watching every episode of forged in Fire, or Game of Thrones.... Swords have the fantasy side of people's imagination. The wannabe knight in shining armor, the hero on the battlefield, or the slayer of dragons. In today's world the only real use I can see for them is in ceremonies, reenactments, or SCA competitions. Knives on the other hand have a lot more day to day uses from work to the kitchen.  I knocked out a campfire fork for a friend years ago, and he was pretty enamored with it when I gave it to him. It was just a free flowing design that I knocked out of some old rusty scrap I had. So, even some lowly utilitarian items can impress people , even if it is not a pattern welded piece of art knife.

 

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Marc1,

Your recent post has encouraged me to take another crack at answering your question. 

16 hours ago, Marc1 said:

But back to my original thought. What did we do wrong that no one want's to become blacksmith, everyone wants to be a blade smith and no one knows the difference?

I think your question confuses probability with necessity.  People probably want to make a knife because it looks cool and approachable.  It's not necessary for them to be ignorant of the difference, nor to have a preference to avoid blacksmithing.  I think it's far more probable that they don't care about things that seem unrelated to their interests.  

I also think that trade/craft level distinctions are virtually meaningless to a rookie/consumer. 

For example, there are many trades involved in construction.  If someone wanted a residential concrete patio, they may get the exact same product made by a landscaper, a concrete firm, or a carpenter.  Now it's entirely possible that the landscaper and the carpenter hired out the work to a concrete guy.  However, the client that hired either the landscaper or the carpenter for their patio would have no reason to know or care about that.  It's also possible that a carpenter poured the patio themselves because the job didn't exceed their abilities.  Maybe a concrete guy would've done it quicker or cheaper, but the carpenter needed work to feed their family.

In 2018 there simply isn't a readily available example of blacksmithing in the daily life of most people.  Fabrication, mass-production, and best-practices mediocrity are the processes we see around us.  A lot of gate-keeper institutions resort to nerdy specificity to block work-arounds.  Outsiders can never be allowed to see a clear path to their objective.  Everyone must submit to the gatekeepers process. Workarounds ensue whenever people feel the gatekeepers aren't worth the burden.

Still, I think this is plumbing the depths in the wrong direction.  Swing the whole thing around and consider the old statement that the Blacksmith is the king of all trades.  Ostensibly this is based on tool making.  Historically all the other trades needed the blacksmith to make their tools for them.  OK, so that's awesome and impressive, but let's ask ourselves how many modern blacksmiths are concerning themselves with what it's like to actually work in the trades in 2018?

I don't see too many damascus lineman's pliers, or perfectly balanced drywall trowels getting made.  Guy's in the trades are buying mass-produced specialty tooling from fairly exclusive manufacturers.  There's an opportunity for blacksmiths to customize and improve on trade-specific hand tools.  Mostly, blacksmiths focus on making tools for other blacksmiths.

Heck, there are probably opportunities for blacksmiths to customize and improve on the bits and tooling for power equipment as well.

Circling back to the underlying premise of your question, "What would inspire people to pursue blacksmithing?"  I think the answer is for blacksmiths to embrace modernity, and practicality to solve the problems that working people in 2018 have.   

 

 

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17 hours ago, Marc1 said:

rememIber my mother's comments reminiscent of her years of living in Rome as a german expatriate. She used to miss the way bricklayers sang whilst working, singing some opera aria over and over.

I tend t whistle "Yellow Submarine" by the Beatles, not that it has anything to do with the topic. Still. . . 

I think you're looking at things from a perspective that has no real answer. Sure I can make observations and I'm about to but I don't think they're answers.

First. Blacksmithing died as an industrial occupation in any realistic sense of the word in the USA during WWII.

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Frosty has the ability to make me laugh with one line. 

And in my hazy line of thought I was alluding to the loss of the art form. What came natural to the blacksmith of old ( and to the bricklayers too apparently) seems lost today.

Or may be not.

After all the artist in a person is there ... hidden ... waiting for a way to come out. Through his pencil, his hammer, his vocal cords or his brush it does not matter. 

Yes Rockstar attempting to recreate daily life objects by forging them may be too big of an ask. Today's market for the blacksmith is not making forks and spoons or hammers for that matter but do dive in the nonessential, the discretionary, like a garden sculpture, or a practical item like a gate or a grill or a bed head, and why not a knife ...but made like no one else can. 

Sure, a sculpture rusting away in someone's backyard will not be useful to skin a deer nor will it save its owner from that boar attack ... however, it may save the life of it's maker by giving him a purpose for a few weeks ... or month. 

Now I am getting soft ... :)

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On 5/31/2018 at 4:10 AM, Marc1 said:

I mean rather the home shop, the hobby blacksmith, even the one getting started, most will have this obsession of doing things the old way ... rather than ... DO things, anyway you can.

21 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Folks often come into smithing  having very strong beliefs

I apologize (mildly) for not having the time to read every post in this thread - I will go back and do so when I can. I will speak directly to the above two excerpts, though.
 
I stumbled upon an old Polaroid of a wood stove I built for a customer 33 years ago. 28 years later, I discovered IFI, as I was searching for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) tools. It was the same necessity driven concept of, "DO things, anyway you can", just as it was 33 years ago. Way back then, when I built the wood stove, Black Smithing was not even a concept to me. That did not keep me from hot-working a "fancy" scroll work base leg set for the stove to rest upon.
So, I am one of those who had no strong beliefs - no ubiquitous internet, isolated, living in a junkyard in the out-of-the-way town of Guatay, working as a (fill in the blank) __________Savant.
 
21 hours ago, Marc1 said:

But back to my original thought. What did we do wrong that no one want's to become blacksmith, everyone wants to be a blade smith and no one knows the difference?

I am not sure that I understand "we" part of the above question, when I observe, as others on this thread have,  that the Historical and Contemporary Romantic Hyperbolization of the American Old west is the main driving force behind the Popular Image of BlackSmithing. Being ignorant of the lore-craft of other continents, I can not speak to that.

Robert Taylor

 

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Lets see, I found my way towards Blacksmithing by way of extending my engineering hobby. I wanted to be able to preform blanks prior to machining and to be able to heattreat the components and/or the tools I make. No intention or even thought given to making a knife. I now find my list of to do's including a froe, a spoke shave and some pole lathe tooling, well yes we talking edged tools.

Is that any different to a person wanting to make a knife or even a sword an then discovering they need to make a tool to fuller a blade, or make a guide to file the blade and get bothe sides even, or even find themselve making machine tools to grind those edges.

The propensity for folks wanting to be a bladesmith or blacksmith to make sharp things may well be down to a fad induced by certain TV programmes, or some other cultural influence, but does it really matter where the journey starts, or is it where it leads to that matters?

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Idi Amin Savant??????

Smoggy; have you heard Rob Gunther's tale of forging Titanium preforms for machining space parts?

Just talked to a hole in the wall antiques dealer that told me he had sold his last anvil---over 200#, had to use the dolly to move it---for US$100---had a guy's name on it...I guessed Peter Wright and was correct. Gave him my card....

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I was thinking more along the lines of "sharp idiot", speaking on my own behalf, of course.:rolleyes:

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21 hours ago, Frosty said:

I tend t whistle "Yellow Submarine" by the Beatles, not that it has anything to do with the topic. Still. . .

Gee, thanks!  Now I have a Yellow Submarine bobbing around in my head.

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23 hours ago, Anachronist58 said:

I was thinking more along the lines of "sharp idiot", speaking on my own behalf, of course.:rolleyes:

Acutidiot? ;)

Frosty The Lucky.

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I find the level of cute is inversely proportionate to the level of idiocy, personally. :P

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On 5/31/2018 at 2:36 AM, Marc1 said:

Well ... I did not keep tabs but if my memory serves me right, 99% of self confessed beginners, start their post with ... I want to make knifes (or swords but let us not go there).

The one percent that do not, are those from the UK or eastern Europe.

I'm new to blacksmithing and I'm not from the UK or the EU, born and bred in the good ol' US of A.  I got into blacksmithing to make farming, lumbering, and gardening hand tools.  Perhaps if I didn't already have a small but nice collection of fine knives I'd want to make some, but I do so I don't.

...but why the judgement?  What does it matter what the catalyst is that piques someone's interest into something as positive and constructive as smithing?  I'm sure that 80% of the newbies will drop it before their first year is up, but those that don't will branch out into other smithing interests and a few will, in time, become mastersmiths.  I say, let them make knives!

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