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There are several on-line blacksmith training courses available, i.e. Scott Wadsworth, Alec Steele and others.  Are these worth their cost?  I've heard over and over again someone say they attended a two or three day hammer class at a forge and feel as if they are "years ahead" of where they were before they attended.  There don't seem to be those classes offered here except at Conferences and the like and those are usually on weekends when I work at the Vo-Tech.  So I'm wondering if an on-line course would be beneficial to me as a beginner?  I don't need training wheels,  :D but it would be nice to have thorough explanations about all the various aspects of becoming a good blacksmith.  Thoughts?

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Generic answer would be to build a forge, read, then take that knowledge to the forge and try it out. The Jabod, improvised anvil, cheap hammer, and you can get started for little or no money invested. You will then have enough knowledge about hammering hot iron to ask the questions that are important to you. 

If you need general instruction, an entry level instruction will jump start things. If you need more specific instruction then seek out those that have that knowledge and take their classes.

Any source for knowledge that adds to your data base is good. How specific you want that data base to be is up to you and your interests.

3 hours ago, Chris The Curious said:

it would be nice to have thorough explanations about all the various aspects of becoming a good blacksmith

Pick a specific aspect of becoming  a good blacksmith, start a new thread, and let's discuss that aspect.

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You have access here to the best information there is to have and its given freely. 

Hammer some steel and if it doesn't move how you think it should and you can't work out why I guarantee if you put pictures on here someone or more likely multiple people will come along and advise on where you are going wrong. 

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I started forging and did not know what I was doing. I came here and to every question, I found an answer, went back to the forge tried it out, got it to work and came back with a new problem. And got an answer. Just read what is in here and try it out. It will work.

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Many blacksmith associations have video and text libraries that even if you can't attend meetings make the membership fee well worth it.

Pnut

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I have to say I love this forum. I can't Smith at the moment because I injured my elbow at work a couple of months ago but I still come here to read pretty much every day. The wealth of knowlage and willingness to share it is brilliant. No massive egos either. 

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Dax,

I don't think I've met a smith yet that had an ego problem.  Everyone has been extremely helpful to me.  I almost feel apologetic asking so many questions, but they've all been answered respectfully as if I'm a welcomed part of the community.  And with the exception of one fellow in my club, everyone there has treated me as a welcomed member.  Can't ask for more than that.  People on this forum have done me many kindnesses in private where they wanted no on-line acknowledgements.  People have sent me tools I couldn't seem to find locally, and wouldn't accept any kind of payment.  They don't know me from Adam..............but they've treated me like a brother.  I've always believed in "paying it forward", and all of that I've done over the years has come back to me here.  So I have to say I love this forum also.

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 No. I do not see it being worth it. There are a couple on line smiths that go out of there way to explain the why and how they do things. It is my opinion that these, few and far between, guys would do just about as much as someone online that you are paying. Save your money for tools, stock and supplies. Your real knowledge lies between the hammer and the anvil. 

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Chris,

I lean towards no.  Long ago I taught guitar.   It's difficult to adhere to proper form because everything feels awkward and uncomfortable when you're new to it.  Even when the student tries their best, there are often times where they start slipping into poor form.  Being there to catch that moment, helps to teach the student how to recognize when things are going wrong. 

 

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I'm a teacher, so I should have realized myself what you've just written.  I don't know how I could teach any of the things I have without being personally beside the student.  I talked with one of the teachers in our club about one-on-one lessons.  He was busy at the time, but gave me his business card.  When I get back from my vacation I'll see if I can pursue that.   Since our Thursday night group has been discontinued, I find myself anxious to get back on an anvil.  My forge isn't complete yet and won't be for a while, so I think I could only benefit from some personal instruction.  I know people can learn on their own............lots have and many more will, but (from my experience as a teacher) I know really bad habits can be formed that are extremely hard to re-learn.  Why spend the time learning something the wrong way?????  :wacko:

 

Chris

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Chris,

I agree entirely that it's better to learn good form at the beginning.  However, I would encourage you to find ways to gauge the veracity of what you're being taught.  I've been to hammer-ins where an old fella was obviously struggling with a fundamental or two.  Yet he felt 20 years of doing things "his way" constituted mastery which left him duty-bound to share with any beginners within earshot.  I've paid for semi-private lessons with reputable smiths who had their "instructor patter" so hard-wired that they ruined their own demonstrations.  One spent nearly half an hour talking about which end of the hammer to hold. Another would talk so much between heats that students were burning their projects in half.  It got so bad that some of the students quit paying attention to the teacher altogether so they could preserve their project.  Later, when everyone was packing up to head home, that instructor was grousing about how students these days don't pay enough attention!  

Heck, ten minutes of searching on youtube will provide you with several years worth of "instructional footage" on blacksmithing that was created by people who do not know what they're talking about.  Some are young kids who don't know any better, some are metal manglers with decades of experience misleading the public.

Past forum discussions on how to sort the wheat from the chaff generally lead to two camps forming.  One group focuses on the limitless number of possible solutions to any problem, the other focuses on pedantic/totalitarian controls over who gets access to an audience.

It's my opinion that neither perspective has any proven practical application to the advancement of knowledge.  I believe individuals must accept the responsibility to prove the things they believe to themselves.  Too many people place their faith in institutions, instructors, and other meaningless indicators of quality, like cost or status.

This forum is a beacon of wisdom in a veritable storm of misinformation, because the members take the time to actually prove (or disprove) the knowledge that's shared.  Collectively, they reveal more truth than any place I've ever been.

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