Jay.bro

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Hey everyone! I know it's not really smithing related but I figured I'd share with you guys since I'm pretty excited about it. We now live in Sioux Falls, SD! Can't smith for awhile though so I'm gonna be hitting the forum archives pretty hard for awhile to try to strengthen my knowledge on my work. I wish our landlord would let me smith though.

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Dear Jay,

I've lived several places where I could not have a shop.  I got around this by renting a garage or storage locker.  The storage locker has to have electricity and you are limited to semi-decent weather if you have a solid fuel forge and need to have the door open when you are working.  Even if you are using a propane forge make sure you have the door cracked so that you don't start getting a carbon monoxide build up. (A friend of mine did that with a propane forge in a tight garage and nearly killed himself.  If his wife hadn't checked on him and found him on the floor he would have been gone.  He had to spend a good bit of time in a high oxygen hyperbartic chamber to flush out the CO.  It was a good thing he was in a metro area where that was available.)

Sioux Falls can have some pretty serious winters which can be a factor in selecting a shop site.

Also, check with any local blacksmithing groups.  There may be someone nearby who might let you share shop space.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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I've been thinking about options for a space and I am going to try to find a self storage place that will let me work there. I don't know how realistic it is but it seems like a possibility.

Pnut

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9 hours ago, George N. M. said:

Dear Jay,

I've lived several places where I could not have a shop.  I got around this by renting a garage or storage locker.

Also, check with any local blacksmithing groups.  There may be someone nearby who might let you share shop space.

I've talked to a few places on storage locker use and they all said no go due to insurance reasons. I know there's a guy here that does it and has his own studio for his art but I'm not sure where he is here yet. I've considered seeing if I can find a machine shop with an open space to see if they would be open to renting a small space. Just haven't found anything yet we just got here on the 15th.

2 hours ago, pnut said:

I've been thinking about options for a space and I am going to try to find a self storage place that will let me work there. I don't know how realistic it is but it seems like a possibility.

Pnut

I've seen quite a few people suggest a storage space but so far my results have been fruitless. I've been told I need a commercial space by a few places I've spoke to. Those are a bit pricey for my blood since we just moved and money may be tight for awhile. I couldn't even bring my forge or foundry set ups with me due to space restrictions. I'm thinking since propane seems to be more well viewed in the city here over charcoal (leases won't allow charcoal grills) that I can build me a coffee can forge using kaowool when I'm able to forge again.

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Jay:  You may look around for someone who has a detached garage who wants to rent it.  I'd post something on the bulletin board at the local senior center or post something in the local "Thrifty Nickle" paper.  And ask at where ever you work or post something on the physical of e-bulletin board there.  There are some storage places that cater to start up businesses.  Try the Chamber of Commerce or the Economic Development Office.  Tell them you are a part time metal working business.  Even if you have only sold one item for $1 that makes you a business.

Drive around town and look for vacant properties that might make a shop.  Then check with the County Assessor (often, you can do this on line if you have the physical street address) to find out who the owner is.  Then contact them and see if they will rent out the space.  You's be surprised at how much space is out there if you dig a bit.

Don't forget to drive up and down alleys.  I've seen quite a number of places in alleys that would make fine shops.

Even though you might have told the Chamber of Commerce that you are a business if you rent something in a residential zoned neighborhood your story is that you are a mere hobbiest.

Finally, a lease is probably a good thing to have so that you have a specific period of time when you know that you can't be told to move.  If you are just on a month to month rental agreement  you can be told to be out on a pretty short notice.

And be a good neighbor when it comes to noise, smoke, and odors.

It's like the Thomas Powers Anvil Acquisition Technique:  Keep asking and pestering people until you find what you want. 

Edited by George N. M.
additional comment

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George: You pose some solid points. I do intend on looking around for a place to try to rent for a small shop. We just got here and I start work Monday so it's going to take a little time. I know we are going to try to save up and make a down payment on a house next year up here. We're going to be looking for one with a detached garage. If nothing else I'll gain a mental edge until we get in a new house. I would like to find a place to work but for now I'll settle for learning from some of the best smiths on the internet and I'm going to try my hand at leatherwork so I can use it to compliment my knife making

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Dear Jay,

I've always thought that leather working and iron working were complimentary.  There are a number of areas where one will support the other.  Sheaths are an obvious connection.  Making tools for leather working is another.  I've always thought that a lot of the tools at Tandy were way overpriced and were something I could make myself.  Fancy rivet heads can make leatherwork unique.  Good luck.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Thank you I've been considering leather handle inlays as well to add a new layer to my knives and tools I make with wooden handles. I'm also interested in leather armor just because I find it aesthetically inspiring and awesome. But I figure I can eventually make leather and iron/steel combination sets. I can also make my kids their own custom and durable backpacks and my wife some purses and me some jackets. I think it would be cool to make bulletproof Renaissance style leather armor just as an "it would be awesome" project. I have liked the rivet styling on holding pieces together more than stitching on leather. I haven't checked out Tandy yet but there is a certified dealer here I've found online. I made a wood chisel that I think I can work with on leatherwork. We will see how it goes there's a few rather instructive videos I've found and I've found some reading materials online for leatherwork. I'm honestly surprised there's not a complimentary leather/iron section on here.

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I've known guys in the SCA who have had some very nice leather armor.  Look up "cour boulli"" (spelling ?).  Black metal and red leather has always looked good IMO.  Also, pierced metal with leather backing can give interesting effects.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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George: I'll give that one a look up. I like red and black as well. Not sure what SCA is though. I've never thought of the leather backing on pierced metal though.

Thomas: I'm not sure yet honestly. I've considered Kevlar but from my experience with flak jackets it's hot and very uncomfortable. I've read something somewhere about spider silk but I don't remember much about it. I'm thinking a dual layer of leather with a ballistic fiber or polymer between it but I'm still in the concept phase at the moment.

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The SCA is the Society for Creative Anachronism, a medieval re-enactment group which has somewhere around 30-40K participants world wide.  I'm sure there is a local group in Sioux Falls.  Thomas Powers and I are both long term participants (me since about 1978) and I am sure that there are others on IFI who are current or past participants.

RE: Bullet proof armor.  This has been a goal since the advent of fire arms.  The question is always protection versus weight.  You can be pretty invulnerable but you will be pretty immobile.  You also have to decide HOW bullet proof you want to be.  Stopping a .22 rimfire isn't too hard but stopping a .458 Weatherby magnum is something else.  Even the breast plates of late medieval and early modern horsemen were proof against the pistols of the day but not large bore armor smashing muskets.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Oh okay there's a Renaissance festival here every June that I found out about a couple of days ago. I got really excited about it. My wife not so much. I always wanted to go to one along with a viking festival and a few other things. Jousting looks awesome and fun as well as sword fighting I've always found leather armor more elegant and fancy than most plate armor.

The bulletproof aspect was just something I thought of while researching and watching John Wick 2. I just thought it would be awesome to say "yeah I can make a suit of leather armor that will stop a .45 ACP" or most standard handguns. I'm not expecting to stop a 5.56 with a thin light piece of armor that still looks correct to the design without too much bulk. I'm not planning on stopping a desert eagle or 500 s&w mag just standard civilian handguns. Probably up to a .45 ACP or 9mm. That's just a personal research project for now with the bulletproof plans. Mainly I want to get into it as a rainy day hobby like to accompany my smithing seeing as how I have had weather  restrictions in the past and I can do leather in my basement without affecting our neighbors. I feel it's a good skill to have to accompany smithing just like casting is a skill that can come in handy.

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Dear Jay,

Don't confuse the Ren Faire experience with the SCA.  The Ren Faires are generally for profit entertainment events.  They are into fantasy and things like pirates and fairies.  They are there to make money for the organizers and owners and to a lesser extent the merchants and entertainers.  The merchants have to pay a fee to have a booth and the jugglers, dancers, singers, troubadors, etc. either work for tips or are paid a fairly low wage by the organizers.  The jousters are professional entertainers with fairly high overhead who are paid by the organizers.  That is what a portion of the entrance fee goes for.

The SCA is a volunteer organization dedicated to researching the period of about AD 500 to AD 1600.  There are people (like me) who focus on arts and crafts such as blacksmithing, spinning, weaving, glass blowing, calligraphy, costume and clothing design and construction, etc..  There is a combat aspect where there is "heavy" combat using armor and rattan weapons and "light" combat of fencing and archery.

Check it out on the national organization web site and the web site of the regional group ("kingdom").  If it looks like something you and your family would find fun (the SCA is very family friendly and usually has activities for the kiddos at events) you may want to investigate it.  If not, not.

The way I usually describe the SCA is that it is like the folk who re-enact the Mountain Man era, or the Civil War, or the American Revolution, only 500 years earlier.  I have kept doing SCA activities for 40 years because of the cool people I have met there.  I have fairly eclectic interests and the SCA has a higher proportion of people who are interested in the same things that I am.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Oh I thought Renaissance was a reenactment of the highly artistic era. I always thought that the fairy and fantasy aspect of things was the LARP community. I didn't realize that the Renaissance festival was like that too. I'll look it up I hope they have an event here. I love archery and ancient arts and crafts. I would love to let my kids experience something like that

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There are probably still some smaller Ren Faires around that are non-profit and run by volunteers for the fun of it all (Sioux Falls just might be one of them) but just about all the large ones are commercial enterprises.  Very often the owner, an individual, partnership, or corporation will own several around the country with the ones in the northern states happening in the summer and the ones in the southern tier of states in the winter months. 

There are "Rennies" or people who follow the various faires to conduct their businesses.  They will spend 6 weeks at the one in Colorado then a month at one in Minnesota, then several weeks in Ohio, etc..  It's a little like the carnies who follow traveling carnivals or circus folk.  It is a way of life for some people.

I was once approached to be the blacksmith at the one in Colorado but I said "no" because it was a commitment of 7 consecutive weekends out of a summer and I knew folk who had been treated poorly by the owners of the Faire and did not want to contribute my time and skills to the organization.  It was too big a commitment for someone with a regular 5 day a week job.  You would be working at the Faire all weekend, doing your regular job during the week, and having to work at the forge every week night to restock what you had sold the previous weekend.  And, you had to pay a significant fee to the Faire owner for the privilege of being there plus if you built a semi-permanent booth or smithy it became the property of the Faire owner.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Okay I understand now I didn't know all of that. I was going off of what I had seen on websites and from word to mouth from people that go to them a lot. I'm not sure that's a highly publicised thing either about how it is on the operation side of the Renaissance faire either.

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Dear Jay,

My guess is that the Ren Faires which are single weekend events my be locally organized non-profit events and multiple weekend events on a dedicated site are probably commercial operations.  There are probably exceptions to this rule but I bet that it is valid a majority of the time.

I'm not saying that non-profit equals good or that commercial equals bad.  You can have fun at both and sometimes the commercial ones have more professional entertainment, e.g. jousters.  But if you ever want to get involved beyond being an attendee it is good to know with what kind of an organization you are dealing.  And knowing that it is an entertainment as much as a sporting event, play, or concert helps put things into perspective.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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I agree that knowing is better as far as what you can possibly expect from the events and I also understand that it can go either way I just always found the events fascinating since I've never gotten to go to one I've only seen videos so it's a bit of an outside looking in thing. I just always thought it would be fun to dress up and play along with the festivities. Maybe watch the Craftsmen work their art and skill and learn a thing or two. I feel it can be a rewarding experience with the right circumstances. I would love to check out both honestly just to see what they are like. I'm not interested in working one. I don't think my skill level would be high enough. I'm still figuring a lot of things out. I'm still using vice grips and channel locks as tongs. Just haven't gotten around to making any tongs yet.

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Don't be hatin' on vice grips.  I've been forging for over 40 years and I still use vice grips about 75% of the time when I can't hold something by hand.  Tongs are good for some applications but IMO vice grips are better than tongs in other situations. 

I'll do a little digging and send/post contact info for the SCA group in Sioux Falls.  From what you say I think you and your family would enjoy it.

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Not really important info just something I think is funny. I go to the Renaissance festival in SW Ohio almost every year and I have to giggle when I see the few people dressed like Star trek characters walking around like the episode where they were on a medieval planet. 

I also seen a blacksmith at a ren fest in W. Virginia using vise grips.

Pnut

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