Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Screen Time vs. Anvil Time


Recommended Posts

In the "Common Basic Mistakes That Beginners Should Avoid" thread, ThomasPowers said:

Quote

#30 spending more time facing a screen than an anvil.

The following reply has been split into its own thread for further discussion:

Is #30 necessarily a bad thing early on?

One of the most-posted comments on this site has to be "Pack a lunch and a cold drink and sit down and read the information on this forum.".... usually in response to a question that has been asked over and over again.

If you're fortunate enough to have an experienced smith standing nearby in your shop, who can answer your beginner questions and pick up on your mistakes, then you can follow rule #30 without hesitation. Otherwise, in my humble opinion, spending a considerable amount of time reading this forum, books or watching (decent) YouTube videos before going back to the anvil will pay off. Its good to have a plan for exactly what you're going to do with your hammer time, and exactly how to do it, and you can get that by watching/reading/learning. Obviously looking at a screen is never going to be a substitute for actually swinging a hammer, but as a beginner I think you need to do both?

What do you think TP? Happy to be corrected!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 55
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I agree with the mental health bit for sure.... I have something of an obsessive personality. Some days all I can think about is that I wish I was at home (rather than stuck in the office) to be able to do some forging, and I sit and obsess over this forum. Living vicariously I guess.

That said, on the bright side, it does mean that when I do get to forge I have a plan, I've done my research, and I can get on and make progress.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I would run into a problem I would think... How am I going to overcome it. and then I would make attempts to improvise around it. immediately looking up the answers in a way cheats yourself comprehension and experience as well as a state of mind. what is healthy is communicating what you caught onto with others and then comparing to improve or fill in the gaps. the mind is like any other muscle it needs to work out too.

If you go off the rails with your learning and experimenting outside of the common mimicry online you can find yourself very quickly getting trolled too for whatever reason so theres always a risk of getting misinformation or getting put down. thankfully this is a really good website with wonderful mods. (Iv had a rough time with finding information on carbon absorption, it took me about a year to wade through the bs to figure it out, just because of the stock removal community)

but the best moments of my smithing experience hasnt been finishing something and holding it up going YES! for me it has been learning or teaching or even having someone to work steel with, online communication is wonderful in that you can instantly share information but it does not meet the primal need for interaction. it is a good way to meet people though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Note: I'm mainly coming at this question from the perspective of someone who, by necessity, is having to teach themselves without access to a tutor or experienced smith (other than friendly folks online or in books!).

"immediately looking up the answers in a way cheats yourself."

I agree, to an extent. Obviously theres value in figuring out how to solve a problem or forge a particular item on your own..... that said, there are techniques, skills and methods handed down throughout generations which really ought to be learned from someone else.

Lets take the example of forging a simple hook. You could have a complete beginner take a piece of round stock, a forge, hammer and anvil and tell them to get the metal hot and turn it into a hook. You could show them an example of a tapered, scrolled S-Hook with a twist, as a "target". They could do try it. If they keep trying, they will come closer and closer to the example and get more efficient. However.... if you instead gave them a basic blacksmithing book explaining the techniques for tapering, twisting, scrolling etc and had them read those pages first, I reckon they'd get closer to the end result much faster.

Furthermore, lets say another beginner decides they want to make an axe. Which no experience or reading whatsoever, and no knowledge of common blacksmithing techniques, could they do it? I doubt it. A better use of time would be looking around on this forum at the various methods (punch and drift the eye, or folded and forge welded eye, etc etc), various types of starting stock (dependant on the method) and the tools and skills required for each. They can see what tools they have, what they need, and when they go back to the anvil have a plan for exactly how to achieve what they want to do. There's still a huge amount of learning required which can only be achieved at the anvil.... but without that prior learning/reading/watching they wouldn't have a hope.

 

TL:DR....... In my opinion, beginners should spend JUST ENOUGH time at the screen/book to have planned and learned exactly what they need to do during their next session at the anvil.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mn I learned the 1 inch round way with a metal that broke if I forged at the wrong temp, too hot or too cold if it wasnt austenite. given I had a teacher for the first year two days a week. (my education was free from a friend/intermediate bladesmith a privilege most smiths dont get)

The difference between the methods is a bladesmith doesnt use as many tools but rather technique and trick, the current community uses "make a tool to do the job the technique does" not that theres anything wrong with it, I still joined ABANA to learn tool making because well.. a tool online might cost 100$ or more. but you can most definitely just strait forge a hook without any tools using the horn. or at least I did it, I had a friend who has a prostetic hand so I got a screw that fit into his attachment and just forged it using a shallow bevel like you would a blade to deliberately bend it as if I was forging a blade, then forged the bevel back into itself to finish the curve on the horn and flattened it gently with a sledge. I didnt have to look it up or use tools other then the anvil and hammer. 

so I passively understand as well as disagree.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

JHCC provided the correct adjustment to my contention in my opinion.  When the screen becomes an excuse not to forge it becomes a blocker rather than an enabler.

Also how are you going to be able to tell if the info you are reading will work if you don't start trying it out?

Also, ever had a STEM course where you had to read the entire textbook *before* you spent any time working with what you are learning?  Did it go well for you?

I've met a number of people who thought they were experts through reading about smithing; but put a hammer in their hand and they could not show their expertise.

There is a happy medium and it probably differs between people and their talents and interests; (I mean how many people spend time comparing bloomeries used in Africa, Japan, Viking Europe, Taprobane,  20th century the world; etc.  You can be a great smith without such interests!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A correction is needed before we proceed.

5 hours ago, Jon Kerr said:

One of the most-posted comments on this site has to be "Pack a lunch and a cold drink and sit down and read the information on this forum.".... usually in response to a question that has been asked over and over again.

The quote is we suggest you pack a lunch and a cold drink when you visit the site, is an invitation to visit the site and a hidden reference that you may be a while so get comfortable.

Another quote is Take it to the forge meaning take the information you read to the forge and try it out. The forge will quickly prove the value of the information. This is followed by come back to the site, tell us what happened, show us photos and ask specific questions so you can get specific answers.

Screen time is an important tool for anyone wanting to learn. Hammer time is important as it proves if what you read works, followed by an invitation to discuss things in order to help you succeed.  If you can not get to a forge, we suggest modeling clay so you can actually SEE what is happening. 

Find a blacksmithing group or organization near you and go to the meetings is a suggestion to get in contact with others in order to learn.

These are well thought out and solid comments (in the form of an invitation) to encourage anyone wanting to learn. 

 

 

The site self corrects when needed. Please let the discussion continue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The clear superiority of forge time does not render other means of learning valueless, and these should not be denigrated. Properly used, forum discussions, reading books or magazines, listening to podcasts, watching videos, visiting museums, and sketching ideas can all contribute to making one a better smith, as the theoretical knowledge thus obtained both informs and is informed by the physical experience of actually molding hot metal with hammer and anvil.

The challenge -- the common pitfall -- lies in succumbing to the temptation to confuse broad theoretical knowledge with actual practical expertise, to forget that true skill is only earned through repetition, attention, and sweat.

11 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

Good Point! Regular exercise with the hammer is better than messing up your arm/shoulder/hand overdoing it in short bursts.

Another good reason for the occasional smith to be able to rely on mechanical means for heavier work. Thank goodness for the treadle hammer!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think thomas made a jest in my direction about the bloom steel so... 154748201171136686753.thumb.jpg.b681325cc0c1fbbf0a2edc979332a37e.jpg

I dont have a power hammer, when im lucky i have a striker otherwise this is how i spend my tuesdays, putting 6 hours in to get a single fold all done by hand with a 4lb hammer. 

This particular part has been folded 4 times, is half its original size and its still not consolidated.

The finished refined part will be mixed with 3 other billets and then ile end up starting over. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No I started participating in hand powered smelting using setup based on viking era examples around the early 1990's---I was often the bellows thrall for the team, as well as clay digger and clay/straw mixer, punking poler to deal with bridges, etc.  I was happy to hear of other folks with such peculiarities in their mix.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Iv done natural clay before, we dont have it in the ground here really so I had to dig dirt out a steam and then sift it between buckets and strainers to filter out the silt and boil it to get enough clay content, took me a few days to get enough content to line the inside for my bloom so I wasnt melting the cheap brick into the steel because it makes junk clanker and melts into quartz instead of nice flux layers in the iron.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They sell clay at feed stores as a cattle feed additive. We after over 10 years of running short stack scandanavian bloomeries we got down to: 3:2:1

3 shovels of sandy silty soil, 2 head sized bundles of chopped straw and 1 shovel of feed clay mixed with as little  water as possibility, mixed by hand and a big pain. We get why looks like damp dirty straw but it formed up a great bloomery. We were getting 15# blooms on a regular basis---and for a small hand blown bloomery that was pretty good!

Were you using a Tatara? (Have you seen the bloomery in appendix A of "The Mastery and Uses of Fire in Antiquity", Rehder)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone- hopefully nobody takes my comments the wrong way, I'm certainly not arguing against some of the incredibly experienced gents around here!

I guess in the end what I'm trying to say is that my time spend reading this forum, reading books, and watching YouTube when I'm unable to be at the anvil has been extremely useful when I do finally get to forge! As a result, my time spent forging has been more efficient and productive that it otherwise would have been.

Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

49 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

Similar method, dug a pit, made a chimney halfway in the pit with a two foot long gasline pipe duct taped to a shopvac hose and brick, lined the inside with the very refined clay I made about an inch and a half thick, made mud to line the outside of the chimney and then did a half pulverized hardwood charcoal/wrought iron mixed with nails and some of the previous slag/cast iron. Threw some deer bone in as well as two bottles of viatmins crushed into powder for the various off alloy content and all the random scraps I had as well as shavings from the belt sander and about 5 glass bottles on the top.

ran it for about four and a half hours at welding temp adding half the total charcoal again onto the top and turned the air off for about 2 hours. Very short run, gives me massive chunks to break apart and use to make stacks from. it came out shaped like the inside and I had to break the cylinder apart on the side of my anvil. (9 inches wide a foot tall)

Edit: I should add that I also used fire wood as a lid to seal the top off, trapped the sparks/heat and added whatever content.

not exactly traditional but it doesnt require a team maybe 2-3 people.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds more like a variation on Oroshigane where you are carburizing wrought iron into steel vs the bloomery process where you start with iron ore.

(I ended up as Ric Furrer's assistant for his 3 Ways of Making Steel demo at Quad-State one year. Pumping the box bellows for the Oroshigane section. I also put a floating plastic eyeball in his quench tank....)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

tis a bit of both. The welding, and carborization is done at the same time, the wrought I had from a group that basically bloomed ore the refined it into the wrought iron but I didnt have enough so I just layered a little of everything and let it weld and slag into chaos. some of the stacks are purely large chunks some are deliberate stacks of smaller parts welded together.

The Chaos is what is making this fun though, im going purely off feeling from forging.

I might also get a metorite for fun.

Funny story about hand billows, the group I was with that did the wrought method watched the movie princess monoke and then we had our girlfriends and wives work the hand billows.

Its more fun sometimes to just wing it then read and execute.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So what was the ore that you reduced?  That is the definition of a bloomery---take ore, make metal.  Taking metal and modifying it is not a bloomery. (Sounds like a variation on shear steel making; but with a bit more chaos thrown in---should make interesting patterns as I expect the blades made from such chunks should have a lot of visual activity to them.) Adding in slag to previously refined metal is a variation on the Byers process; except they added slag into clean liquid steel. I think it was the last method of commercially making wrought iron developed.

I would like to try puddling and the Osemond process just for the experience.  (I know Kelly did his experiments using refractory lined barrels; unfortunately I'm in a place where Extreme Fire Danger is the norm)

I know one of the MatSci Profs at U of AR was experimenting with mild steel spheres in a matrix of cast iron and then heating and allowing carbon migration to produce a steel of uniform properties.  (Dr Schwestra? 36 years ago...)

There was also a fellow on Sword Forum International who was using thermite to create small batches of exotic alloys in a cost effective manner----save that his researches were causing him to go blind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Back to Screen Time vs Anvil Time.

I've been at the forge & anvil on & off for 35 years. I was taught the basics fire management and hammer techniques by a master blacksmith. When I want to brush up on a technique that I haven't used in years or CRS has set in, I turn to screen time. I've found out that even an old dog can learn new tricks by doing that, and not only from the master/experienced Smith's but also from someone who is new to blacksmithing on this site, they have expanded/refreshed my knowledge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Way back in the day..   I'd read up on something. Reading it about 5-10 times  or more every night before I'd go to bed..  I then would spend time thinking about it till I fell asleep.. 

I might do this 3 or 4 days in a row and then I'd go and try it.. Then I'd do the process of reading it again just before I'd fall asleep.. 

Then I'd do it again..    

I started to notice where in some books or techniques there was information left out..  I don't think on purpose..   I also noticed that proceeding this way helped with understanding what they were saying and showing vs the results I was getting..   (were my results consistent with what they were saying/showing)... Was I doing "good" or "bad"..   I'm using these terms because thats what others use...   I never see a failure or a tried piece as a failure....   It's was just a time frame to learn it.. Irregardless of how it turned out..  

In some ways I miss these old days of learning because I was immersed in that forging/thinking process..   Today I just go and forge and with forgetting the order of steps for me is no longer as important since I am not forging for money ( Piece work) and I can do things out of order and still end up with usable work arounds.. 

I still learn each time I forge..    I dislike the statement " heat, beat, repeat"...  It's like saying " If you work hard you will be successful"...  Well if I work hard at banging my head into a rock.. Duh.. 

Wisdom is learning from others what I can apply on my own as mine...   Smart is figuring out on my own or from others how to apply and idea or concept through implementation (figuring it out)..   Both of these run side by side...  

No matter how someone works...  Each of use learn differently...  These differences need to be accounted for, by the person who is searching/learning..  As such this person needs to figure out how best to learn for them...  

A good teacher will hand the information evenly to everyone...  A great teacher will hand the information evenly to everyone and then teach each person what they need to learn it..  society does not really work this way.. But it's an ideal...    I've had 2 great teachers in 50 years but many, many good teachers... 

I could teach someone in 6 months what took me 30 years to learn.....  It doesn't mean they would understand it all nor be able to apply it the same way i did... But, they would still have it all at their use.. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've tried reproducing some of the techniques mentioned in Divers Arts, Theophilus, circa 1120 and have noticed those same "missing pieces".  Like medieval cooking recipes that may leave out "what everybody knows already".  Once: I was trying to polish bone with sifted wood ashes and a strip of woolen cloth, shoe-shining it, as he suggested. I got a nasty gummy mess.  Now as *most* of Theophilus' stuff works; I was left with, "What was so common that he didn't bother to mention it?"  So I spit on it and suddenly I had a fine polishing slurry where the lye helped extract grease from the bone---I had folk accuse me of having buffed it with a modern buffer!

I haven't tried his polishing enamels with ear wax...yet.

When I teach I can learn what I am leaving out watching my students and try to add it in next time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...