Marc1

"I want to start blacksmithing"

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My mother likes to say that the two most important things in life are making things and making sense. I’m willing to go with that.

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5 hours ago, Marc1 said:
Do the new aspiring blacksmith see blacksmithing as a way to make art? Or is it a way to make things? Or both?  

Pretty sure that would depend on an individual's view. For me it's both. I love art in the form of metal sculpture but also love seeing well forged tools or objects of use. That in my opinion is also an art form. Is Craftsmanship an art? I see it as such. Either pure function or embellished, the person who made it put themselves into it. 

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I've done gate work and really enjoyed it.. But there wasn't enough money in it where i was originally located.. 


@Anachronist58 that is some seriously beautiful forgings. That is what I am talking about.    That is the kind of smithing I envy...  Eventually I hope my work is  as good.. 

I love the way you use words..  You are also a smith of language.. 

While yes, I do produce items that are nice to look at..  for me forging of thumb latches and such really is about the act of making the metal move exactly where I want it with just the right thickness, with the little things that most don't even know are there..   this coupled with as forged vs as forged and filed  to make it look even..  Forged to shape, size and thickness.. It's almost like an extension of my mind.. 

Marc1..    Its the lack of hammer marks or signs of it being forged that is what is amazing..  Only someone in the "Know" knows how it was made..   Look at the German made anvils vs the American made ones.. 

Or as shown in the pictures of those tie rods...  WOW!!!  now that is art and every time I see something like this...  It makes me want to be a better smith..   

I used to judge work differently when I was younger and as most we want to look and make pretty things that others will really like..  

I'm kind of over that..  I want to make really pretty things I like..  Ideally to the best level I can with items like tie rods or bolts or nails or thumb latches..   To create perfect forge welds.  

Last set of hinges I made.. I wasn't happy with the order of 3.. so I made 8 more just for practice till I could see the exact shape in steel, that was in my minds eye..  

 

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1 hour ago, C-1ToolSteel said:

What about making things that don't make sense...

It's okay if they make Money.

Frosty The Lucky.

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1 hour ago, C-1ToolSteel said:

What about making things that don't make sense...

I do that all the time..    Or say things that don't make sense..     Which is based on perception and perspective coupled with belief..  

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If they are making money they do make sense; just perhaps not to some people.  Remember the fur lined coffee cup and the melting clocks of surrealism?

For some people hand forging nails do not make sense to others they are a very sensible objects indeed!

OB surrealism:  I am familiar with the works of Salvador Dali and ran into an accidental tie in with one of his works:  We were remodeling our church which had the 100+ year old  rooftop cross from the previous building hanging from thin stainless wires over the alter. We needed more workroom and rather than remove the cross we lifted up and wound the wires around the crosspieces a turn or to.  It lifted the cross out of the way but with the wires wound it mean that the cross was now slanted with the head of the cross inclined towards the pews.  It totally changed the feel of it and we decided to leave it that way even after the remodel was done.

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I was practically laughed at for making a spoon or fork. "Why would you make those? You could go to the store and buy them cheap. "

Because I want to. And there are those that appreciate the ones I made enough to buy them for the price I charged. 

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I made a set out of Titanium so when they get left in the trunk after a campout I can boil them for an hour or two after they get found with no problems...

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And light weight too!  Surprisingly the ( what I would call) embellished ones I've made in SS feEl very light in the hand. 

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Whilst drifting along surrealism I ran across a quote by Man Ray that I thought I would drop into the deep waters here:

"An original is a creation motivated by desire. Any reproduction of an original is motivated by necessity. It is marvelous that we are the only species that creates gratuitous forms. To create is divine, to reproduce is human."

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Not that it's worth a lot, but I'll offer my bit. I'm one of those that pretty much jumped into knives. My first project was a pair of tongs then used them to hold metal for a blade.

Being self taught, it is easy for me to visualize a knife. I can easily figure out to put this spot over the horn to start making a bit of radius in the grip. I can see when I have the blade drawn out to where I want it. I can just look at it and know if it's where I want it. If it's not quite right, I can cheat and grind it a bit when I get to that point.

I've made other things as well, but a simple set of candlestick holders was harder for me than shaping a blade. Did I draw that out enough to make the turn? Did I lose too much length when I made that twist? Did I leave enough for turning the base?

Could I have learned more doing 4 dozen S hooks first? I can't say for sure. Have I learned anything by drawing a 1x3x3/8 chunk of leaf spring into a straight razor? Absolutely. Have I made mistakes? Most certainly. But I have learned from them.

Some of the hardware, sculptures, and decorative items I see on here just amaze me. I can't even begin to think of how or where you would start with most of them.

I enjoy every part of beating hot metal and having something to show for it. I want to continue to grow in my skill set on both sides of it, but some things are harder to visualize or plan for with my lack of experience. I'm not saying everyone that starts with trying to make knives right from the beginning feels the same way, but it is one aspect to consider.

I don't consider myself a knife maker, nor do I consider myself a blacksmith. I know I lack the proper knowledge on both accounts to truly call myself either, but I am aspiring to make projects that people enjoy using and looking at. I am proud of the positive feedback I get, and even like the criticism because it helps me grow in something I enjoy. Granted, I had some knowledge of metal from welding and fabricating for a job, so I knew there was more to the metallurgy than just dunking a mystery metal in water and wondering why it broke or didn't harden, but to me knives are "easier". At least from the visualizing and hammering portion of it. Hopefully I can create some more complex pieces in the future as my skill improves.

So to me, the most important part is what you start with as a mindset, not what project. Do you have the dedication to learn from the failures you are going to make? Or do you just want instant gratification? If the former, it doesn't matter what project because you will learn as you go. If the latter, it still doesn't matter because you aren't going to take the time to learn to do any project correctly. It doesn't matter to me if you call it blacksmithing, bladesmithing, forging, or lunacy, I just like spending time at my forge making things. :D

 

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9 hours ago, sfeile said:

Do you have the dedication to learn from the failures you are going to make? Or do you just want instant gratification?

Frankly, I want both. As a hobbyist with limited forge time on an unpredictable schedule, I want to be able to walk away from any particular session with something I can feel good about and maybe show off to my wife. On the other hand, I also want every session to be progress, whether in making my skills and capacities better or in advancing a multi-step project that isn't going to be finished in one shot. Maybe I have just enough of the long view to realize that the more I build up my skills, the better chance I have of getting that gratification out of an individual session.

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I was meaning more on an extreme level. Like the people that want to  jump right to a 100 layer pattern welded ABS master smith quality knife in their first session. Most of those people are not going to take the time to learn what needs to be done to get to that stage no matter what they start with.

But you are correct. Some instant gratification is definitely worth it and helps us to push further into the next project, and it is definitely achievable with realistic goals. Even though I word my points poorly, you are reinforcing them. A proper mind set goes a long way in any venture we choose.:)

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I get both by working 2 projects at the same time: one is a "feed the forge" project; something fairly simple to make that sells and pays for the forge fuel and metal.  Usually mild steel so it doesn't matter if it gets worked too hot or too cold or ignored for a while while I work on my more complicated project. This allows me to concentrate on the more complicated project yet still accomplish something turnkey.

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Im fortunate enough I to recognize what ever i put in is what i will get out.  

I have also come to recognize,

Every forge session with a desire and an eye and  on perfection will pay me back sooner.

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I just finished putting my first forge together after doing a couple of courses. People keep asking me when I am going to make my first knife and can't understand when I say I'm not bothered about that. Apparently making flowers as I did on the last course is not manly enough.  My answer to that is that seeing as I am a 6 foot tall 19 stone biker with a beard that would hide a small child I don't need to prove my maleness. 

My first project once I have finished making hooks and straps and a few more sets of tongs will be a bunch of flowers for the wife. It will be interesting to see how they turn out without a master Smith on hand to show me where I am going wrong. 

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Dax, as the bread Red Green says “if the don’t find you handsome atleast they can find you handy” or some such. Making things that make the ladies happy (not just us old crusties but you young single guys” is much beter than impressing the guys (unless your tast runs that way, and honestly more power to you). If you do doable in the dark arts might I suggest kitchen knives first? 

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2 hours ago, Dax Hewitt said:

People keep asking me when I am going to make my first knife and can't understand when I say I'm not bothered about that.

Yep ... rather pathetic when you can't extricate blacksmith from knifes. 

Fortunately there is Pinterest. Google blacksmith projects and pick the Pinterest link. A lot of ideas there, 732 today.

My suggestion, try your hand at sculptures. You can always hide your inevitable beginner mistakes with artistic licence. :)

sign.jpg

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Tell them that making flowers to give to your wife encourages her to support your craft and spend more time with you.  Making knives discourages such time and encourages spending time with unpleasant strangers behind unfriendly bars that don't serve pints!

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I wanted to be a farrier to start out with. Then I messed up my knee, and that went out the window. Making knives was appealing to me. But as I started picking up on books ( and my husband found I Forge Iron), I began to really look at blacksmithing as a whole. You can make artful pieces and useful pieces as well. I can draw, with graphite being my chosen medium, but I don't like being stuck in the house for hours doing it anymore. Gets a little depressing without some sunlight and fresh air. With blacksmithing, I can have the best of both worlds. With the added bonus of putting in good, old fashioned hard work. Since I am new to this, I'm sure I wouldn't be considered a "blacksmith". When would I get that honor? I don't know. But I do know that when I am doing anything that has to do with it, I am completely immersed in it. That is a place away from all the cares of the world. And even if what I make at this moment isn't technically perfect, I'm still happy to make it. And I know the more I work at it, the better I will become at it

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The first bladed item I want to make is a set of throwing tomahawks, throwing used to be a hobby of mine and though I have a shop bought set I want to make my own. 

There is a list to do first though.  I watched a guy on YouTube making leaf keyring by way of practicing hammer control and only using about 3/4 inch of 3/8th square bar each one so I think a load of them will be next. After them it's some more tongs Then the wife's flowers then a poker for the guy that gave me the stump, big 12 inch flowers for a friend's gate. Christmas will be on the way by then, I forsee a lot of people I know getting candle holders. 

Actually there will be some knife making but each one will come with a fork. I found a nice 4 foot length of stainless steel rebar that I have put aside until I feel confident about making a knives and forks to use at home. Going to practice on mild steel so that I don't waste the good steel. 

Charles, wouldn't a kitchen knife be very difficult to make? I'm thinking the thinness of the blade would be easy to bugger up? 

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3 hours ago, CrazyGoatLady said:

 And even if what I make at this moment isn't technically perfect, I'm still happy to make it. And I know the more I work at it, the better I will become at it

Perfection is overrated, attitude is all that counts. Happiness a consequence of your good attitude. Keep at it and never give up :)

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CrazyGoatLady, you are a blacksmith on Day One that you hit hot iron with a hammer. You are a Beginning Blacksmith if you are on your own, or an Apprentice Blacksmith if you are lucky enough to find a mentor. Progression through Journeyman to Master depends on luck, skill, talent, (three very different things) and time applied to the trade.

You are an Amateur Blacksmith as long as you don't charge money for it. You will be a Starving Blacksmith if you don't charge enough money for it.

Later, you may want to differentiate yourself as a specialist or niche artist. Some people call themselves Artsmiths, Artist Blacksmiths,  bladesmiths, (big B is copyrighted by the ABS), Historical Blacksmiths, Blacksmith/Toolmakers, or some other monicker.

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I tend to believe that knives hold a facination for people as the possesstion of a cutting edge is seen by many as the first tool of mankind. 

They often forget that without a hammer (however crude a)stone knife cannot be made, and without an anvil (however improvised) it cannot be made eficiantly.

this means the cutting edge is the third tool of mankind not the first 

but it still gets all the credit ...... why? Because it is sleek deadly refined perfected ...... obviousley shaped by hand.

I think people forget that before we had powertools for evrything we had handtools that where almost as fast and evry bit as precise in the hands of a master craftsman. 

The knife is the only handtool that dose not have a power analog. And i would venture to say evrybody has handled or used at least once in thier lives.

conciquently we forget all the other cool stuff the iron age brought us and give the knife all the credit.

 

Du

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