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Supporting small businesses?


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Hello everyone! A bit of an odd question here from a newbie, but I thought this was the best place to ask. With all the uncertainty of the times right now, my wife and I are fortunate to have safe jobs that we can both do remotely. However, there's many who aren't so fortunate. We're planning to donate half of the money we get from any stimulus to local charities, but we wanted to use whatever was left over to help support small businesses.

I'm still new to blacksmithing. I've taken quite a few classes at this point and nearly have my own set up complete. I got into blacksmithing through woodworking and mostly plan to make tools, hooks, hinges, and fun stuff like that. Are there any recommendations for tools that would help a new blacksmith get going that would also help a small business with a sale? Right now, the budget is probably $1000 at the very top if I spend all the brownie points I've earned with my lady. I was thinking about maybe a guillotine tool, to something more like a belt grinder or even a heat treat oven I found that was 6x6x10 internally for ~800.

Just because I feel compelled to add this part: I absolutely know that I don't need to spend this kind of money on something I've been interested in for two years, but actually been doing for only a few months. There's no reason to spend this much as a beginner. I know that. I had been intending to slowly make all my own tools. I just thought this could be a good way of trying to help out the community in what may end up being some tough times ahead. I hope this isn't out of line. Thanks!

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From watching Black Bear Forge a bit too much, those look incredibly useful. Are those available in that price range? If so, that's a big contender. I'll have to do some research. Thanks for the suggestion! Are there any particular smallish brands out there that have good reputations?

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Most of the ones I have seen are home built and so very small business people indeed.  I have seen them at and under $1K; but then I've owned 4 powerhammers each one at below $1K.

What I hope to do is to find a small independent electrical contractor and get power to my shop!  I also hope to find someone out here wanting to buy a 248# PW anvil with their stimulus.

 Money is like manure; it's not worth a thing unless it's spread around encouraging young things to grow.” Thornton Wilder

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I would maybe get some plans for a treadle hammer and then find a local fabricator that is familiar with blacksmithing to build it. You may also want to contact an instructor from the classes you took to give you some suggestions on who might be able to fab it up or maybe sell you one. A belt grinder would be a great addition to a shop but your budget seems a little low unless you make some compromises. Guillotine tools are great. I don't have one but I've used one at a local smiths shop and it was definitely a tool I want to own one day. I'm pretty sure Ken's custom iron has guillotine tools or maybe kits I don't remember which or maybe both. I think it's a great idea to support small business. I bought a few tools from a local smith who made them. Supporting a fellow smith was about half the reason I made the purchase. If I could have found them cheaper from a large company I still would have payed more to get them from a fellow smith. Stay busy and stay safe. Take care of yourself and your family.

Pnut 

 

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Greetings Selph, 

       Are you a member of the blacksmith group in Michigan? If not it would be best if you look into it. October of last year I gave a demo on easy to make tools for the beginner smiths and how to use them . Lots of great folks in Michigan that will assist you. The table pictured is just some of what I demonstrated at my forge. IMHO if you want a very very useful tool and want to support a small business a guillotine tool is very useful. My personal preference is one available on EB by Yesterday Forge.  Don’t rush into purchasing large equipment until you have consulted other smiths. Good luck and spend wisely. 
 

Forge on and make beautiful things 

Jim

 

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Thanks for the advice everyone!

Jim, I'm not a member yet. Are you talking about the Michigan Artist Blacksmith Association or another one that I'm not aware of? One of the gentleman I took a class with really recommended that I join. I just haven't gotten around to it yet. I blame these young kids running around now trapped in our house with us. :)

Overall, it looks like the recommendation is to maybe get something small like a guillotine tool from a small maker and hold off on the bigger purchases for now. Which seems entirely reasonable. But if I go that route, I fear what quilting monstrosities my wife will buy...

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Oh goodness, I wish. I felt bad about buying my bandsaw and tablesaw until she bought one quilting sewing machine that cost more than everything in my whole shop combined. I've tried to sneak some thin boards onto that thing, and most recently some mild steel, but all it did was break the needle and she had to spend even more on repairs... Must have gotten a lemon or something, the thing appears no good to me at all.

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Last time we went up to see my folks, mom had added a 10 needle and a 6 needle embroidery machines to her stable. Though, they run a small business that way. But still. Talk about pricey machines. And dad felt bad buying a sandblaster haha

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Get a treadle sewing machine---you can sew leather sheathes with one of those!   

As for the expense of fancy equipment:  How many employees does it replace?

I've never complained about the number of spinning wheels in our house as my wife has NEVER wanted to raise Sheep or Alpacas or Angora Goats, or....I've got off easy just wending my way through the wheel room!

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Angora rabbits were great when we had kids at home.  They are especially bred to be docile for handling as you collect the fiber by holding them and running your hands down their coat.  Any rabbit that didn't put up with that went into the stew pot; because if you are a commercial fiber producer you don't have time to chase bunnies!

Can you talk her into focusing on just one type of fiber producer and being friends with people who do a different type and *trade*?  Easier when you only have to deal with one type of animal.

My wife used to go to the state fair and buy fleeces to spin, after the 3rd year in a row when she bought the winning Grand Champion Hand Spinning fleece *cheap* because she bought it *before* the judging started I was beginning to worry about all those other spinners and spinsters with those pitchforks and torches following her around...

Now that I'm back home I expect we will start growing colored cotton again, (Cotton has something like 7 natural colors; but pretty much only white is grown commercially.)   I don't forget to water the garden...

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Blacksmithing's NOT a sane hobby?---But I'm only doing what my collection of singing potato chips tells me to do!

And they just told me to try calling the electrician again---third time's charm; He's coming out Sunday to make an estimate on getting power to my shop!  By the time we get the all clear to leave the property I may not want to!

 

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Selph: So forge SWMBO some spinning and quilting tools. At the state fair one year Deb was spinning with the club demoing and sent me to the blacksmith demoing to look at his doffers so I could make her one. Doffer? Uh, don't you use that blunt ice pick thingy?" "Go look and make me one." . . . "Yes dear."

So I walk down to Mark's booth to take a look. He rolls his eyes as he hands one to me and says, "There goes a sale or are you going into competition?"  "Nah, Deb wants one and I live with her." His doffers weren't straight, they have a curve that makes it easier to pry fiber off a drum carder without breaking them.  Having seen Deb use her doffer I know what kinds of motions she uses and I played with Mark's on the counter to get the feel. 

While easier than the standard doffer it was still a little awkward. You can use your palm to push a standard one under the fiber on the drum where the curved one has your hand at an odd angle I didn't care for so much. However the curved needle certainly made it easier to get the fiber free. I spent the rest of the day with the voices showing me flashcards and talking to me. When I got home I had the basic idea and made one the next morning and using my exhibitor pass took it in to see what Deb thought. Before she'd figured out how to use it best, I'd made 6 sales at $50 ea.  and Deb's sold then and there. Basically one of the gals at the demo refused to give it back to Deb so I made her this one.

My dachshund heads have improved but I was rather rushed, Deb couldn't go the next day without a doffer so I stayed up after getting home.

I finished them with raw lanolin off one of our fiber sheep. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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