Marc1

"I want to start blacksmithing"

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On 5/31/2018 at 7:32 AM, JustAnotherViking said:

A key difference would be the surge of hobbyists vs people genuinely wanting to start a career in the craft. 

The average person starting a hobby wants something exciting to show off.

I disagree.  I have lots of hobbies -- blacksmithing, woodworking, gardening, photography, hunting, fishing, dirt biking, waterskiing, snowskiing,...i don't do any of them to show off to my mates and from my observation, most other people, regardless of the hobby, don't do it to show off either.  They do it because they genuinely enjoy it.

 

Hear, hear!  I agree completely.  My son wants to learn so he can make knives.  What's wrong with that!?  Just seems pretentious to me to dismiss someone who wants to learn any craft or a skill because his reason isn't your reason.  Eric Clapton inspired me to learn to play guitar.  I didn't want to be a rock star, I just wanted to make music.  But if I had wanted to be a rock star, why would that be something to look down upon?  

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On 5/31/2018 at 4:09 PM, Marc1 said:

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?

 

3 hours ago, Marc1 said:

Judgement?  :wacko:

Not speaking for Mr. Randwulf, but for myself: Sometimes, Marc1, it seems that you are suggesting that Americans in general are some sort of aberration, not quite as hip or savvy as the balance of the Global Population - for example, you did not, in fact, correct your broad generalization of people in the US, but have instead, intensified your insinuation. Perhaps it is merely a cultural subtlety, so I will grant you the possibility the I have misunderstood your intent. It seems clear, though, that you are stating that (almost) everyone in the US has no interest in learning something practical, and that is clearly a judgement against a class of people which includes me.  For the sake of Propriety, I prefer to insult my own kind.

As for the question, "To make, or to not make knives", had I not stumbled across my "ideal" knife in the form of a Post-WWII Deutsch production knife with a faux antler handle and aluminum fittings;  but with ideal pry-bar, cold-chisel, and edge-holding characteristics, I might well have become involved in knife making.

 

9 hours ago, Frosty said:

Acutidiot? ;)

indeed, OxyMoron! Mrs. Taylor insists that I am OxyCuckoo, or, as she says, (A)Cute, but a KOOK.

Robert Taylor

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Your anachronistic attempt at antagonising with an absurdity worthy of a better cause is amusing and noted ...

but ignored.

Better luck next time.  

 

anachronistic: belonging or appropriate to an earlier period, especially so as to seem conspicuously old-fashioned.

antagonizing:  cause (someone) to become hostile.

 

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this thread has been an interesting read ! i however think it's amusing to see just how opinions differ on some things. today there are probably few who want to become a mechanic yet would like to restore some old car(just for example) for me it was an old Dino homoligation special! i had bought the thing and had not even realized that it had an aluminium body it was just something that apealed to me at the time. i guess it is much the same for those that want to start blacksmithing knives and swords seem a good way to start.  what i'm getting at is i had an old split screen vw combi standing in my yard but the Dino was "cool" and how hard could it be? (famous last words).....  Marc today thanks to the powers that be the average joe is an ignoramus more informed about fantasy than history so his /her perspective is scewed to suit that perspective hence the interest in zombie killers ect. rather than anti-materiel weapons and their like , just saying. 

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'how hard could it be'. My all time favourite, five word combination and one I live by daily. 

Fortunately most scenarios I apply it to isn't preceeded by 'hold my beer'. 

So far it's taught me basic woodworking, plumbing, angry pixie wrangling and some metal fab. 

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The only judgement I see is that so many want to jump into knifesmithing BEFORE learning the basics of smithing. Those who want to learn the basics on the way to bladesmithing are applauded!

What is you opinion of folks wanting to enter a formula 1 race before learning to drive a car? Would you advise them to learn racing from the very start?  Why Not?

Would you go to a surgeon who didn't want to learn basic anatomy and phisiology but wanted to start cutting from day one?  Why Not?   

Why is it a bad thing to learn the basics before progressing to more difficult aspects of something? (and Why do so many people nowadays seem to think they can jump into the deep end before learning to swim...)

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Thank you Anachronist, your nome de plume was irresistible :)

Hi Thomas ... if the question is addressed to me, you pose a genuine concern, but my opinion on the subject was only giving in passing as an illustration of a differing point of view and not as an indication how things should be done ... or not be done. And it is not the first time I say so.

Since you teach the craft, you are better equipped to say how someone should learn to make knifes. So we are talking the practicality of teaching a special subject, rather than "should a beginner start by making knifes without attempting any other task". Considering so many do start by themselves and make blades from scrap somehow to later branch into other pursues it seems that when perhaps not ideal, it is clearly possible not to mention historically true. Your example of the surgeon is interesting. My brother in law is an orthopaedic surgeon and when we were both young he used to ask me to assist in doing hip or knee replacement because I have a steady hand with the drill. Obviously I am not a surgeon but wiht minimal training anyone can learn a particular narrow area of surgery ... or blacksmithing for argument sake.  

I have to say once more I was completely taken by surprise by the number of replies that show interest in the subject. How folks find interest in blacksmithing, what does a beginner perceive blacksmithing is, and what blacksmith think of their own activity. 

Most important is to note that the art of shaping hot iron evolved for centuries and took many forms in many different countries. It has many commonalities and many differences and as such, there is no right or wrong, but only how and why. 

The questions we pose ourselves today in relation to the origins of other people's interest, is more philosophical then technical and as such should have a philosophical rather than an insular approach.

In my opinion only of course.  

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And I have helped folks make blades very early on---but they are not learning the craft they are just doing what I tell them to do under extreme monitoring. Those that tried another on their own later failed often multiple times; some gave up others came back to *learn*.

Of course my first swords were whittled from the ribs of palm fronds with a pocket knife---at least they were *light*!

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Thomas - you are so correct!  Everything we do in this world has a learning, training, testing, and so on before you are allowed to practice at a professional level.  It seems people just don't want or care to put in the time to learn anything today that takes more than a few hours.  Many would rather eat Steak-um's fixed in the microwave than wait for Grandma's slow cooked roast beef dinner that takes all day to prepare.  With microwaves, fast food where if you wait at the drive-thru longer than 3 minutes you get angry, google searches, etc. we have everything in an instant.  Craftsmanship isn't learned in an instant, but people want to make blades tomorrow after seeing it done yesterday.  It's like saying "Yeah, yeah, I'll skip BUD/s, SQT, jump school, just make me a Navy SEAL so I can go fight."  If mastering blacksmithing and all its skills was easy everyone would be doing it.  The ironic part is that they think making knives is somehow easy.  I think making a truly good knife is like a final exam in the basics of blacksmithing.  If you've learned drawing out by making hooks, hammer control, quenching & tempering by making chisels and punches, and many of the other basic skills......they are then put to the test with your first knife.  Who would walk into college and say to their professor on the first day "Hey, give me the final exam so I can move on".

Marc1 - I don't think you were trying to bash Americans.  Our attention span here is getting smaller and smaller as you go down the age groups.  Many of our younger people need to be entertained in order to hold their attention.  If you don't they are on to the next thing that can hold their interest.  We are hobby junkies here, but the hard work tends to separate those junkies out from the people who want to learn.  The ones that think S hooks are boring and dumb to start out with are probably not going to master blacksmithing in a broad sense.  There's nothing wrong with being attracted to blacksmithing because you want to make a knife or sword, but if you want to forsake all to get there you may not ever be a true master of the craft.  You'll just mess up a pile of knives until you figure it out, then you'll make better knives, then you'll make excellent knives and so on but may not be able or even want to make nice hardware or even a simple fork or spoon.  For some that path is acceptable, others of us don't find it acceptable.  My thinking is that I don't want to learn something like blacksmithing if I don't learn it as a whole entity.  Bladesmithing is part of that big entity, but not the whole.  I feel like I'd be missing out on the richness of what blacksmithing has to offer by not learning every aspect of it.  Interesting thread for sure.

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So what everyone here is saying is that I won't be able to make an Odachi(+3 vs. dragons) after just 10 hours of practice on an anvil? I guess I wasted that all that time hunting dragons to get the 3 gallons of dragon blood for the quench. Maybe with a other 10 hours I might be able to make a 5000+ layer wakizashi that I'll quench in patchouli oil for an anti politician sword.lol.

But seriously, as a "young" american (early 30s), I came I to blacksmithing from a landscaping purpose, I wanted to make arbors, gazebos and garden art that would actually hold up to the abuse that vines can put on a structure. I knew, even before I looked up anything on blacksmithing, that I would need to learn the basics before I could get to "the good stuff", just like any other craft. But hey, I'm old fashioned that way. I'm sure I will take a stab at a blade eventually, just as a learning experience, but I'm perfectly happy buying the knife I need

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14 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Of course my first swords were whittled from the ribs of palm fronds with a pocket knife---at least they were *light*!

With fronds like these, who needs anemones?

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Marc1,

Not for nothing, your last post presents a pretty extreme cultural difference to an American.  It's my belief that our surgeons frown on consultant blacksmiths, no matter how steady their hands are.  I couldn't help but picture the operating table, patient, and a soot-covered smith cranking away with a greasy post-drill.  "Hold on boy's we're through the bone, I've gotta release the pawl so we can reverse..."

In America, stains like that on your apron might be tough to explain at a hammer-in.

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dang; better replace my apron before quad-state....Shall I bring any of Mrs Lovett's Meat Pies?

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On 5/31/2018 at 7:09 PM, 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?

First let me express my thoughts.. 

I originally made blades starting at age 8..  I spent nearly 8 years making knives, swords, Shuko and other martial arts related tools..  It wasn't till I was asked to make a thumblatch which I thought would be no problem.. 

It turned out I didn't really have an understanding of what real forge work was.. 

I think this facet or miss understanding by most is the largest misinformation.. 

Most still consider a farrier a blacksmith in the USA..    Though the word farrier is catching on.. 

As with any of this metal working stuff..  I have come to recognize  " Desire" becomes the main tenant as to what some would want to make.. 

nearly all the smiths I know think of different aspects of the forging craft as having varied levels of difficulty..  

I find knives or knife like objects to be easy to forge.  I find industrial type forgings to be some of the most difficult..   I really like hardware as it offers the most directions of moving the metal in only one direction...    
 

I look at forge welding as a basic skill set in the same fashion as drawing out or using a hammer effectively and efficiently..  

What I see lacking  in skill set is   " Good fire management"        This plays into all aspect of forging yet most have no concept as to what a real working fire is about.. 

The forge fire is the most important tool..  

I'd love for instructors to show what a fire should look like and then how to use it properly..    

anyhow,   i don't personally think that a person should be made to make hooks by the dozens or anything of the like..  But I also wouldn't waste my time teaching a person how to forge a knife or sword if they didn't have the ability to hit flat,  to hit flat on a taper or to understand the basic concepts of how to forge metal.. 

There is a huge difference between someone coming for a paid weekend class, a friend ,   an apprentice,  or someone just looking to get more knowledge.. 


What does being a blacksmith mean to you???   This is the question one needs to ask.. 

 

To me it means being able to forge anything  (knife, sword, hammer, tongs, wagon tire, tie rods, bolts, wrenches, etc, etc)  I could possible want, with the desired results of looking like it was forged cleanly and deliberately.. 

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14 hours ago, rockstar.esq said:

Marc1,  Not for nothing, your last post presents a pretty extreme cultural difference to an American. 

Did you see the news last night with the surgeon dancing and singing while doing reconsructive surgery? She's being sued by multiple parties but she's still a doctor and doing surgery, don't know if she's still making videos of her dance routines.

I might feel better if a blacksmith were dancing while s/he worked. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Ha ha love the illustrations of my surgery inroads. Things you can do when you are the consultant surgeon 40 years ago in a backward country.  The drill I used was a Black & Decker ... when they were made by Duncan and Alonzo in Towson and made to last. Surgery and hip surgery in particular is nothing different from skilled butchery combined with some basic carpentry skills.

There are different degrees of 'learning' just like there are different categories of teaching. I can guarantee that after watching a few appendix surgeries a keen person can duplicate the results most of the time. The biggest obstacle may be the skin incision and the gag reflex. 

That does not make him a surgeon just like someone banging on a bar of reo is not a blade smith, however highlighting the shortcomings in learning was not my intention, rather I was harping about the loss of interest in the artistic side of blacksmithing.

A previous reply that stated the lack of the testosterone component in forging a rose or a bunch of scrolls on a railing when compared to a knife may explain it in part. 

I believe that it has more to do with how things go out of fashion. When was the last time you have seen a forged bed head? I mean one forged not twisted cold by a machine?

And who can tell the difference? 

Yes, 'what does it mean to you' may be an interesting question, even when we may not like the answer. :)

 

 

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4 hours ago, Marc1 said:

rather I was harping about the loss of interest in the artistic side of blacksmithing.

Marc1,   I think it's the exact opposite..   I'm what I consider a trade smith and not an artist at all..   Nearly all the people I have met here which are newer smiths are far more artsy and artistic and lean that way..  Even with blades, or tooling or what have you.. 

Ausfire, Daswulf, JHCC,  and a slew of others..       All these guys are very artful...   

 

Artistic merit is in the eye of the beholder and personally I find paintings to be boring, I find most fantasy books lack luster as an art form.  I'm not one to want to live in a mind made fantasy world,   but yet find a well forged nail or a turn buckle or industrial forgings to be beautiful beyond any art in any museum...  Common everyday forgings.. 

When I see something like this.. I say to myself... I wish I could make this as cleanly as they did back when it was grunt work when it was what they did to make a living.. Not because it was fun, but much like a  trades person today, be it a carpenter, or electrician, or HAC person today,, It's just a trade like any other..  Or it used to be.. 

Todays smiths really don't have a sense of what it meant to be a smith..  Which is ok.. the reason why I say this is for most it's simply what they do to have fun, or as a side line or were curious about it in retirement..  have taken a few classes,  watched a few youtubes, joined a group or 2.. 

I think the newbies exploration into forging metal is wonderful and there will be a lot of talented people who have no interest in Making a hammer or a knife or any such thing.. 

Making flowers, gates, bowls, etc, etc..    I am very happy for them..    But it's still not an  "Oooh factor" for me.. I appreciate the work put into these artful items. But as to how one views the world..  for me it's the vintage everyday items made  that possess true hand forged beauty.. 

Most items made never even held a makers mark as it was considered beneath them..   

I've made flowers, leaves, etc, etc in the past and it interest me no longer..   Helping others is the main interest now.. :) 

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JLP is correct about the artistic point.  Marc1, earlier you commented to the effect that it's too difficult to forge a pair of linemans pliers.  I think the ABANA curriculum grille project looks much harder to do from any perspective.  You've gotta make tools,  forge to precise dimensions, parts have to be symmetrical, etc.

I think applying JLP's point to the pliers it makes a lot of sense that artistically focused blacksmiths aren't interested in cranking out hundreds of identical tools.   It's truly a shame because woodworkers are basically the only trade that has finely crafted bespoke tooling on offer.  People are paying more for a manual hand saw than for power tools because they want to enjoy a craft that can be handed down to the next generation.

It's weird that we regularly see people posting about how they're going to dabble in knifemaking at a subsistence level.  They just want to fund their hobby.  Everyone I know already has a knife.  I betcha these same people know more than a couple of tradesman who have a hand-tool they'd like to see improved or more beautifully rendered.  I know at least three carpenters who'd pay good money for a a damascus hammer made to match their daily "driver".

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16 hours ago, jlpservicesinc said:

What does being a blacksmith mean to you??? 

JLP, that is some question. I am a journeyman metal removal technologist, with 60% of the Path still ahead of me. I do not consider myself to be a blacksmith, but my passion for the craft springs directly from the fundamental principal of my profession, that principal being the controlled alteration of metals through plastic deformation: For this discussion I address only the narrow concepts of shearing for the Machinist, and squeezing for the Blacksmith.

The more microscopic the observation, the more similar these processes appear to be.

My passion for the craft erupted from the tedium of hours of conditioning cutting edges under a binocular microscope. Hearing the machines savagely applying my edges to the task was satisfying. But errors in Aerospace are often costly and unforgiving, and is was the savagery sans risk that drove me to the Anvil and the Primal Fire. The Mental Health benefits of Blacksmithing are well covered on Iforgeiron.

Pictured are two polar examples - I am particularly keen on the forge-welded clevis rod detail on the standpipe. Although I also admire what went into the creation of the swirly-tailed dragon, I prefer a red ochre finish.

Now JLP, tell me that the clevis rod is not one of the most beautiful things you have ever seen.  Why have you chosen to reproduce Period Hardware that represent a pinnacle of form, function and Delightful Aesthetic Beauty? Your work is just plain gorgeous. If you do not wish to be known as an artist, then please revert to the pure functionality of dismal squares, rectangles, compass-constrained arcs, and triangles. no matter how austere you try to make your hardware it will still look like roses.

Time for me to clock in.

Robert Taylor

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20140104_101437_El Cajon Blvd.jpg

20140817_153951_Main St.jpg

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6 hours ago, Anachronist58 said:

then please revert to the pure functionality of dismal squares,

Over the last eight years or so there have been a lot of multi-family buildings put up in Denver.  The local newspaper has an Architecture critic who named their aesthetic as "McCentury Modern". 

Collectively they're all comprised of "dismal squares", which generate needless corners.  Everything is a square bump out or a bump in.

As near as I can tell, the only pure functionality of these dismal squares is to anger the public.   

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Good posts all around. 

We have drifted from what is blacksmithing as opposed to blade smithing (or including) ... to ... what is art. 

I agree with jlp that one can see artistic value in the marks left by the hammer on a door handle,  a bolt or a nail head. I was referring more to the interest in making everyday objects like gates, railings, hardware etc in the unique way only a blacksmith can. And I am well aware of the artistic talents of blacksmith in this forum. No need to go there.

So what is art? 

According to the dictionary art is ...

the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture,
producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
 
However if you google what is art you will come up with hundreds of different and contradictory definitions of what is art. 
 
How about this:
"The unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers and never succeeding" Marc Chagall
"Art is either a plagiarist or a revolutionary" Paul Gauguin
"We all know art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realise truth. Pablo Picasso.
 
Not surprisingly we will probably never agree on what is art and the artistic value of the objects made by others. We will love some, we will hate others, and others still, will leave us unmoved. 
It is not the percieved, very subjective 'value' of the art form chosen by the blacksmith that I wonder about, but the interest in communicating with others,, shaping hot metal with a hammer.
Do the new aspiring blacksmith see blacksmithing as a way to make art? Or is it a way to make things?
Or both?  

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