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Stumped with tongs...


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George; if the cite to that ever comes to mind; please send it to me.  The one I discussed at the Medieval Technology conference was tidal driven. Unfortunately 2 concussions a month apart with impact on name retention has messed up my being to reacquire the data from the original source.

I currently don't have power to my smithy but don't consider my work "traditional": I use different alloys and forge fuels in ways not used in earlier times. The way I look at a project or the world is not the same as they used to.

  I have also noticed my work skewing away from more labor intensives aspects as I age. 

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I think the word "traditional" is something of a trap because it is very ambiguous and has negative and positive connotations.  I'm probably proposing the impossible but I would like to see the word fall into disuse.  My problem, similar to Thomas, is defining what tradition and what period.  A smith of 500 BC?, 1000 AD?, 1800?, 1900?, 1950?  If you are particularly interested in a particular period and want to work the way your great grandfather did in 1900, OK, don't use electricity except maybe for lighting and then only use fairly low wattage incandescent lamps.  If you are a re-enactor then you are locked into a particular time period, e.g. 18th century Colonial Williamsburg.

Also, you have to define what tradition, Northern European? Japanese? African?

"Traditional" has become a buzz word which sounds good but has no real meaning.  If a person says he or she is a "traditional black smith" they have to have an idea of what a "nontraditional smith" is and I have not seen anyone try to define that.  "Traditional", IMO, has about as much meaning a "artisanal" or "curated", no real, definable meaning.

I'd be curious to read what anyone who calls themselves a "Traditional Black Smith" thinks a non-traditional smith is and how "non-traditional" would be defined.  If it is "I am a traditional smith because I  don't use or do X" I would very much like to know what X is.

Personally, I am happy to just call myself a " black smith" or a "craftsman."  I can't use "traditional" because I can't define what it means or does not mean.

Thomas, I am still unpacking and organizing files and if it comes to light I will let you know.  I have a vague association, and it may be a false memory, with Scientific American.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

Edited by George N. M.
correct grammar and add additional thoughts
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Traditional is easily defined as something that is done as it always was. Long standing custom.

The opposite of traditional is innovation. An invention is clearly not a tradition, yet blacksmith where at the forefront of innovation and always on the look for improvement as any modern day professional blacksmith is.

Ergo the contradiction. To say that traditional ways of metal work are better than modern ways, is to say that the blacksmith was obtuse, and set in doing things one way and one way only, something we all know not to be true. 

Perhaps the best that can be done to make some sort of distinction between old and new, is the use of electricity. If your workshop has no power, you are a blacksmith of old, using old fashion techniques and inventing new ways to solve problems without the use of electricity. A bit like the Amish I suppose ... although they sneak around the limitation by the use of compressed air and air tools. Sneeeeeky. :)

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I'm sorry I let this turn into a head to head thing. I can define traditional. It means simply to pass on and or save knowledge. It's a method of passing a craft to a new generation while holding it away from competitors, the Guild tradition being a prime example. The oral tradition is how knowledge was passed, sometimes for good, sometimes for ill.

Excerpted from WIKI, the link is huge and the article is many pages including modern and past uses. It's a really complicated word.

The English word tradition comes from the Latin traditio via French, the noun from the verb tradere (to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping); it was originally used in Roman law to refer to the concept of legal transfers and inheritance.  According to Anthony Giddens and others, the modern meaning of tradition evolved during the Enlightenment period, in opposition to modernity and progress.

An old signoff of mine read, "Maker of things."

Frosty The Lucky.

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No Problem, Frosty.

The situation here is definition of terms. Also, I suspect a different way of evaluating tech changes as we progress thru time. 

I understand defining "traditional" as a function of time. Thus a 500 BC traditional smith would be very different than one from 1600AD. 

I also understand what George says and perhaps it's best to just be a blacksmith. Been there done that.

However it seems that no matter who you are, where you are, at least in our era this term does often come up. And it very often ends up being rather emotional as it has become here. 

Thus, since I've been here I've attempted to figure out just why this happens. 

I mean no offence Thomas, but when someone new to our craft comes here bright eyed and bushy tailed and states "I want to be a traditional blacksmith", I think it can be pretty hard on them when the response, no matter how well I tended is "what do you mean by traditional, what time period, what fuel, what clothing, etc". I believe that's being pretty hard on them. I don't believe that those answers have anything to do with their question. I believe they are asking about tooling, techniques, joinery, setup, etc. Usually they go away or don't respond. That response is so very off from what they intended.

Definitions. I do not believe defining traditional by associating with a specific timeframe is the only definition that can be applied. I am not arguing that one can define it that way.

I'm offering another way to define it. And that's by tools, joinery/technique/ and basically finish. And, most critical, I'm defining these as primary. These primaries are what most efficiently creates the look and feel of forged iron. The secondary tools can be welders, grinders, a torch or any other danged thing you want to make your work more efficient. The primaries are the ones that most easily develope that final part, how it looks, feels, and becomes a flowing part.

Sorry Marc, but to my eye there is a world of difference between a fabbed railing and a forged one. Here is an example. How many fabbed railings have you seen with a cold rolled on a jig scroll welded into place? What's the dead giveaway that it is cold rolled on a jig? Isn't it that bitter end of the finials that was clamped in the jig that is bent at an angle instead of scrolled gently and smoothly hot? You see Marc, this small detail may not matter to you. Speed and money make it impossible for your general fab shop to do in any other way. Is this critical? Nope, we need railings and for general use money is the critical factor. Just imagine all the rail sections in a shopping mall. They must be done this way. But what about those others who do recognize this? Must they be forced into acceptance of this detail? Heck no. Thus the market for "traditional","forged", or just plane "blacksmithed" is strong and vibrant. Obviously I'm using this one small detail as an example. These detail differences are many.

I am very intentionally not limiting these primary tools to anything specific. I'm very consciously simplifying them. A hammer is a hammer. An anvil is an anvil, a collar is a collar, etc. What these tools,techniques/joinery enable is for "traditional Smith's", call us simply Blacksmiths if you will, to work our iron "By hammer and hand" as opposed to welded and ground with no heat.

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Dear Anvil,

I think you make some good points.  Working metal hot is not a bad way to define traditional but I'd argue that working metal hot is the basic definition of a black smith, someone who makes railings and gates by bending cold metal and welding it in place is, IMO, an "iron worker."

I agree that the best way to respond to someone who aspires to being a "traditional black smith" is to tell them gently that anyone who works metal hot is a black smith and "traditional" is a null word because it can imply so much and so little.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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56 minutes ago, anvil said:

Sorry Marc, but to my eye there is a world of difference between a fabbed railing and a forged one. Here is an example. How many fabbed railings have you seen with a cold rolled on a jig scroll welded into place? 

Not pertinent. What you describe is not modern day blacksmithing but something else more akin to poor imitation. Plenty of that stuff coming from indonesia and philippines for the cost of steel. 

There is nothing wrong with the idea of a particular traditional way to do things. The meaning of the word may have been originated in the concept of teachings passed on from master to apprentice, but it refers to "the way it was always done", in other words, we don't want to change. 

And here comes the problem, blacksmith were eager to change and innovate, and we want to lock them in a museum and keep their techniques stuck in time. And we are not even sure what time ... or is it which time? 

Now ... don't get me wrong. If someone is able to produce good quality stuff in a traditional workshop with no electricity and ... this is the main point ... able to sell this alleged difference and charge for telling the customer that it took longer because you do it without powertools ... mate, all power to you. 

You seem to imply that I make railings and gates by working the iron cold. That is not the case. When I work a pattern on the stock cold before forging, I follow what my master told me and what he learned from his master in Italy who was born back in the 19 century. Modern blacksmithing is not to substitute forging with machines. As much as a Hebo is a money making machine and makes stuff in a tenth of the time I do, the results as you point out are very different even to the untrained eye. It is not about poor imitations. If that is the case we could stamp steel into shape given enough money and beat even the indonesians. 

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2 hours ago, Marc1 said:

You seem to imply that I make railings and gates by working the iron cold

That was not ever in my thoughts. 

In fact I have no idea what you do or have done for a living. I seem to remember you saying you have started 3 or so industrial businesses. I don't think you have ever said what they produced.

I think I've told you this. If not, I've been a blacksmith all of my working life. I have created only one industrial business, so we have something in common.  :) I do consider being a farrier a subset of the blacksmiths craft. In 1980 I changed the primary product of my very small industrial business and began to leave the farrier part behind. As a blacksmith, call it what you want, I focused on high end architectural ironworks. I've worked with many Smith's who do the same type work I did in a five state area surrounding colorado. I pursued this for over 30 years. I've spent the last 10 years recovering from an economic tragedy that had nothing to do with my smithing and am now putting together a new "temporary" shop in order to build my dream shop that will prolly take the rest of my life. It will consist of stone, iron snd logs. The logs are here as are two dumptruck loads of rock.lI can't think of a better way to pass the time away.

My tooling and motivation is directly what I stated above in my definition. Again a big thanks to Thomas and the rest for an opportunity to put my subjective thoughts into words. I've most always had power but I use a hand cranked champion 400 blower. I believe it gives me the best fire control. I've worked with some great Smith's who use electric blowers and am as comfortable with them as my champion.i have ox/acetl and I fill the large bottles about once a year. They have a very important and specific roll in my shop as a specialty tool. Same goes for my buzz box welder. My 4-1/2" side grinder draws dust. Not because it doesn't have uses, but because the style of my smithing just never calls for a need to use it. These are my secondary tools. This last 10 years have been a challenge. I absolutely refused to quit, which most sane people would prolly have done in a minute! At times I had no power. Alas the only tool loss was my 25# lil giant, my little used pedestal grinder and my Camelback drill press. During this time I geared my shop work to match this loss. I produced oxbow stirrups that I backwards engineered from a turn of the last century local blacksmith made design. It's a beautiful and efficient movement of forging iron! Living in southwest Colorado/northern New Mexico and the location of my old home town I'm smack dab in the middle of cowboy country. With my, um,,er, low cashflow needs it was perfect. Not high end iron, but a fine quality product with a fine time vs labor return. So you might say I have successfully made my living as a, sheesh, what do you want me to call it. At least here in the US if you call yourself a blacksmith, the first question asked is "oh, you must be a horse shoer?". I've found that stating that I'm a traditional, or architectural blacksmith gets the proper response I'm looking for and as often as not lands some pretty good jobs. Unlike many in this post my clients have no problem learning when I educate them as to what I do and believe makes quality forgings(refer to 3 above). I've never lost a job due to educating my clients and I've never peened my iron, no offence, just my choice for me.  :) I guess the folks I've dealt with at many economic levels  believe that learning is not an indication that they are stupid. They must have the confidence to know education is critical and an ongoing lifelong process.Alas you get what you create.

I have a self imposed obligation to pass my knowledge on freely as that's what all the great people and teachers have done for me. I name them, not as an ego trip as some assume, but to acknowledge their gift to me and to create some semblance to the ties to our rich history.

I chose here to not itemize your last post and critique it heavily for all the good that would do. ;) So I decided to lay out to you  that as a blacksmith I live by those three points that I stated above and have lived it my whole working life, from the simple to the sublime thru thick and thin,,, and I have absolutely loved every minute of it, including the challenge to continue making my living as a smith these last years. From my experiences, I can't imagine holding within all this journey has brought me and I do my best to encourage those with blacksmith stars in their eyes to go for the gusto and find their own pathway as a blacksmith/traditional smith, or whatever you choose to call it.

Perhaps you will understand just why I'm puzzled by your negativity and respond as I do. Alas, I am and do all those evil and ripoff things you believe we "traditional architectural Blacksmiths" do and with a passion!

great discussion. Thanks

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6 hours ago, anvil said:

I chose here to not itemize your last post and critique it heavily for all the good that would do. ;) So I decided to lay out to you  that as a blacksmith I live by those three points that I stated above and have lived it my whole working life, from the simple to the sublime thru thick and thin,,, and I have absolutely loved every minute of it, including the challenge to continue making my living as a smith these last years. From my experiences, I can't imagine holding within all this journey has brought me and I do my best to encourage those with blacksmith stars in their eyes to go for the gusto and find their own pathway as a blacksmith/traditional smith, or whatever you choose to call it.

Perhaps you will understand just why I'm puzzled by your negativity and respond as I do. Alas, I am and do all those evil and ripoff things you believe we "traditional architectural Blacksmiths" do and with a passion!

great discussion. Thanks

What discussion? More like a monologue. I think we have a language barrier here. I concede to be the least versed in the english language, and there are other 5 languages competing for room in my head so perhaps i took too many words to say what could be said in fewer. By the way ... your innuendos are noted but ignored. 

Contrary to you et all,  I don't really care for one or another point of view, no religion here. I try to have a conversation on a topic of general interest and that is usually misunderstood and misused particularly to the detriment of beginners.  Also point to the fact that tradition is great ... but it usually does not pay the bills. Great to read from your success in that area. I said it before in case you missed it ... If you can make the customer pay for the percieved added value for the manner that your product was made, all the most power to you. My words. 

I have seen many great artist fail because they demanded too much "education" from their customers and forgot how to run a business. From blacksmith, sculptors or chefs, no difference. "Educating your customer" makes for good youtube videos but for very poor customer service. 

. But ... negativity? evil rip off from traditional blacksmiths? really? 

Clearly a language barrier ... Colorado you said? I have a brother living in that area. Last time we spoke a week or so ago we seemed to get on just fine.

Come to think of it, he does talk a bit funny ... :)

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Hmm some of the "traditional" ways of working iron were predicated on using real wrought iron. (eg: IIRC "Practical Blacksmithing" has an article about bending and welding to make an eye rather than punching and drifting as with real wrought iron it's stronger...)

So what can we say about using smithing techniques designed to work with real wrought iron on materials that don't profit from it? (Or even worse have a negative impact!)  

Is it traditional to make mild steel items using wrought iron techniques; or are we just "faking the look"?

Some noted smiths teach that to be "hand forged" every inch of the surface should have undergone heating and beating and even suggest that you forge out your stock from a different shape---if you need sq stock, forge it from the next larger size of round stock and vice versa.   This is a bit interesting as the rolling mill dates to several hundred years ago----"Ironworks on the Saugus"  mentions that they were early adopters of the rolling and slitting mills!

Again I think that our perceptions of the past are being filtered through the Arts & Crafts movement.

I don't think I scare that many people off when I try to get them to examine their preconceptions and figure out what they really want to do and why.  Of course my working life has not been supportive of misconceptions; wishing doesn't make it so!

And yes I like to do stuff with every inch "heated and beated" as I like the look and feel of the finished piece; but I don't claim extra virtues for working that way, it's just what I like!  People generally won't pay for using real wrought iron; even for historical replication.  So I do those pieces for myself---one goal I have is to replace all my reenactment kit with real wrought iron for the ironwork! (And even at that I'm not a stuffy purist; my real wrought iron Lund Spit is sized for modern chickens and not early medieval ones!)

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1 hour ago, ThomasPowers said:

I don't think I scare that many people off

You old curmudgeon. 

First off I'd like you to know I hold you in high regard. Your knowledge, your dedication to this craft and your passing on freely your knowledge. I look forwards to your posts and often read then more once. No shmooze here, just an acknowledgement.

I used your definition for traditional as being tied to a specific time because here at IFI was the first time I had ever heard of this association. Your posts made it clear as to this interpretation of "traditional". It puzzled me because it seems to create many negatives instead of answering the common questions. That question is the great and forever debated is basically can you be a blacksmith if you use contemporary tooling. And the rebuttle being if these tools were given to a smith 100 years ago they would use them in a minute. Deadlock. Tyeing "tradition" to an era , to me, is a workaround, not a solution. My intro to this happened early in my journey(and finally, to my satisfaction, resolved as I've stated in this thread). I was working for Tom Joyce doing a grape leaf chandlier. One of my jobs was the grapes. A group of highschool kids came and as part of his demo he showed how he used a mig with inert gas to create the grape bunches. There was much murmuring and it was obvious that they were saying you could not be a traditional smith/blacksmith if you used a mig. Tom, forever the gentleman, finished his demo. When they left, he showed me his frustration over this debate. 

I've always believed that a smith should use any tool he chooses. So how to resolve this dilema? After the conversation with you months ago the light flashed and it became obvious to me. Thus evolved my 3 points above.

I believe if you read these 3 points above, they will answer all your questions in your last post. It's very open and creates only one limiting factor. That is that our primary tooling to work iron is with hammer, anvil, and fire. A fabricators primary tools are a welder, a grinder, and a torch. A machinist primary tools are a lathe and a mill, etc

A historical reenactor doing a particular smith setup for a specific time becomes a subset of traditional smithing, which is a subset of the great generalist of all who work ferrous metal, the blacksmith.

Lol, for what it's worth I very often forge say 9/16"" round to make 1/2" square. Not because it's "traditional", not because cold rolled square comes with sharp edges and hot rolled square comes with a rounded edge from the mill, but because I most always do a hot champfer on hot rolled square and forging from round to square removes all the mill scale and I can control the width of champfer, and do it in a  more timely manner than by just champfering hot rolled. This came to me from a Yellen book thru someone else. I tried it and found it to be absolutely true. I also found that this is one of the critical steps in developing the finish texture I speak of in #3 above. 

Another ramble

Thanks for all, Thomas


8 hours ago, Marc1 said:

But ... negativity?

Lol,,, that statement etc is from a paraphrased from you. I'll use collar as the object. You may have used another.

" Anybody who tries to sell their client on a collar is a rip off and is ripping off their client."

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Back a ways now; but once  in response to someone claiming to be a "true path" blacksmith; another smith replied that they were a "twisted path" blacksmith.  I too am a "twisted path" blacksmith.  It can be a bit funny as my smithy has had no power for over 15 years and I research medieval and renaissance smithing; but do not feel that MOST of my work reflects strict historical usage.  A lot of projects don't get attempted as I don't have the minion power of earlier smithies for instance.

It sure is easy to get picky here on the internet isn't it!

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Blacksmithing is A thing I do, only one of the metal working crafts I have practiced. I've never lost a student for being honest with him/er. I've demonstrated different: periods, locations, jobs, etc. many times. Pick a period, location and profession and with a little research & practice I can do a fair imitation of the method and manner. When asked if I was a traditional smith, I have never once said yes. I have had the questioner walk away some time later with a much better grasp of what blacksmiths really were from the discovery of copper to today's high tech computerized forging operations. 

Frosty The Lucky.


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The internet is an amazing thang.

Frosty, you too stand tall in my book even if we have had a few spicy debates.  ;) You've paid your dues, been down a hard road and given out tons of good words to many here and I'm sure that's a fair representation of you in the real world. You will never find me questioning that.

Here's the interesting thing and another topic much chuckled about between blacksmiths when they want a good laugh. And it's very true. When someone finds out you are a blacksmith, what's one of the standard replies? "Oh, why then you must be a horse shoer". Truth? When I hung out my shingle to become a working blacksmith and was changing from farrier I tried advertising my business as a blacksmith. Yup, you guessed it. Got a lot of calls for shoeing horses and not one danged call for anything else. Over time I found this very true misconception was a real plague, even when contacting those who could afford fine iron. When meeting with people I found that if I used the term blacksmith if I was bidding anything architectural, I could read their minds. " A blacksmith? Don't they shoe horses? How can a blacksmith possibly do my ( fill in whatever you want)". And there went the job. If I added traditional or architectural to blacksmithing, I never got that puzzled look and nearly always got the job.

A fool I'm not, a blacksmith I am and If traditional smith is what they understand then traditional blacksmith is what I am. 35 + years as a working smith indicates I made the correct decision. And after all this time, my 3 points above, simple in concept and easy to understand work well. I wish I'd thought of that decades ago.

So it's my firm opinion that as a good business practice this conception is one of the myriad of details that can lead to failure as a working smith. It does not mean that in any given situation calling yourself a blacksmith will be a problem. It may only become a recognisable problem if your goal is to become a full time smith. On the other hand it may mean nothing. It worked for me. If it did, don't you think it's an important detail to pass on to a fledgling smith who wants to make a living at it? Who knows, perhaps things have changed and the new crop of potential clients for forged iron are already far more educated than my potential clients were when I was getting my business up and running. 

I have a feeling that perhaps today if you lable yourself a blacksmith that due to Forged in Fire the answer to that question may very well be " Oh, you are a blacksmith! Hoe can a knife maker possibly make my (fill in the blank). And there goes another job. Trust me this is a small point and there are many other details that must be overcome to succeed at this time as a working smith.

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On 8/11/2020 at 10:52 AM, ThomasPowers said:

And yes I like to do stuff with every inch "heated and beated" as I like the look and feel of the finished piece; but I don't claim extra virtues for working that way, it's just what I like! 

It's the difference between making something that is utilitarian where looks don't count, and making something decorative. A gate latch for a farm gate must work not look good. The farmer will not pay more for it's looks. The latch for the gate to an expensive house has to primarily look good. The neighbour will ask "where did you get that beauty?" the answer will be "It's hand forged and made right here ... see all the hammer marks? It cost a fair bit but I like it" , and here comes the neighbour for another overpriced latch.

Had I "educated" the customer into the reasons blacksmith of old worked in a way or another, based on some fragile records that may or may not relate to one country and not another, his enthusiasm would have probably be less contagious. After all it is not wrought iron, just modern BHP steel ... 

On 8/11/2020 at 12:16 PM, anvil said:

Lol,,, that statement etc is from a paraphrased from you. I'll use collar as the object. You may have used another.

Anvil, you are a master at eluding, ducking and camouflaging whilst missing the point just to stand on your soapbox and declame ... not sure what really, because when you claim I am wrong,  in the same or the next sentence you assert my very point. Very strange. I put it down to cultural differences :)

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Sorry Marc, but that's confusing to me.

17 hours ago, Marc1 said:

Had I "educated" the customer into the reasons blacksmith of old worked in a way or another, based on some fragile records that may or may not relate to one country and not another

That's one conclusion.

However here's what I do, as an example. It's definitely not based on fragile anything.

Let's assume a client has a home built in an English Tudor style and they want me to do front door hardware. They may or may not realize the style or art history period. I confirm that they do, or educate them that it is. There is tons of documentation to support this. I've never had anybody get upset at this. I then show them pics, both historical, contemporary and mine plus physical samples since I've worked in this style before. We then go thru a design process that pleases them. Then I do the job, take pics and move on.

What difference does the steel make? Unless I'm doing a historical restoration where the type of material is stated, mild steel works for me. In my example im not doing a restoration or doing a historical reproduction, I'm working within a specific style as I understand it, and doing my own original design and using any contemporary tooling as my secondary tools, and material of my choice as any blacksmith would do thru time. For what it's worth, I have done both restoration and recreation where the material was stated by the client. I also know a few European Smith's where the material used had to undergo a metalurigical analisys so it would match as close as possible the original wrought iron. This was two Smith's in Frankfort Germany who were restoring two huge screens for the Frankfort cathedral. The Catholic Church was pretty picky. They did a restoration every hundred years. I think these guys were either the 9th or 10th Smith's to do this since somewhere around the 9th century.

Never once have I made an ego based statement that hand forged is the best. 

I suspect that your farmer above wouldn't have any need to even go to a fab shop for his latch. A hardware store or box store would suffice.

Oh, and no hammer marks. A personal choice without a doubt, and my choice is to not put peen marks into my iron. Lol, to me it like a trim carpenter setting finish nails with a ball peen hammer and adding a few more divits here and there for the sake of whatever.. No critique,no judgment, but it's just not my style. And one of my reasons is, in my opinion, that a little applied texture goes a long way and can quickly create a very busy detail.


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  • 2 weeks later...

the simple solution is ( assuming your using mild steel ) heat your tongs then cool in water while opening and closing rapidly that will sort any issue your having without all the file work.

i seem to have the same issue quite often .

hope that helps.


John ~ Black Bear forge certainly will Not hide parts of a process to make himself look great nor does he need to send things to a machine shop as someone has stupidly suggested, there are some video's of him showing you the mistakes he makes and he will happily say "somethings you just have to start again". and that's how we learn , 

its a real shame when false assumptions are made against someone that is sharing their knowledge for free.

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  • 4 months later...
On 8/9/2020 at 4:25 AM, Marc1 said:

One reason I ridicule those who insist in using hand driven pedestal drills that require 3 hands 

Hey, I'm about to get one of those!  :)

It's not that I like the drudgery, but part of my woodshop is a 26x14 foot room in the house. It has electricity, naturally, but  I no longer use any of my power tools.  I hate looking for my terrified cats under the bed, in the laundry, and knocking down dishes from the open cupboard.

 My outside area has no electricity. I like to make things but feel such a deep shame that I may have to hide my hand-planes and the soon to arrive pedestal drill. Perhaps there is hope for the ridiculed, in this new beer therapy I've heard about?

(Said tongue in cheek, though on the reality of my situation) I'm a card carrying member of the "Cats First" party. ;) 

Is there, in common use, the phrase "whitesmith" or just "smith" which in the understanding of those in the field is something different than "blacksmith"?

I ask in part because it's somewhat in line with the conversation here, and as I attempt to learn more before wading in, I've slowly been reading several books in PDF format.  They are all from the timeframe between 1904 to 1917 and in one of them there was a distinction made.  The author stated something to the effect that a blacksmith was one who did one off jobs.  Whitesmith was referred to, but I will have to find it again, because I can't remember how he sought to define a whitesmith.

But now it seems that all practitioners call themselves blacksmiths.

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As I understand it, a black smith worked metal hot while a white smith worked metal cold, usually with files and polishing mediums.  E.g., a blacksmith would forge and heat treat a blade and a white smith would finish the blade with filing and polishing and a cutler would afix a hilt and handle.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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I wasnt speaking of who did the work, i believe they were two different types of shops like a gunsmith shop, a blacksmith shop, a whitesmith shop. perhaps you could go to a blacksmith shop and have a file finish. Probably depends on the size of the city. I dont really know. Its just an assumption from long ago. George is prolly right and im being too picky. It seems i've either seen or have a pic of a sign bracket for a whitesmith. Any input on this would be cool.

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Well here you guys went and did it again. You made me learn dang it. Anyway from a quick look up about whitesmithing i got this: 

The first reference to whitesmith 1686:

The Iron thus prepared, is used both by the White and Black-Smiths of this County, according as the condition of their wares require; it being forged by the former, into Sithes, Reaping-hooks, Axes, Hatchets, Bills, &c…which being ground at the blade-mills to a bright edge they have given this sort of Artisans that make them, the name of White-Smiths.

1836 description of whitesmithing:

The business of the Smith comprises two branches, that of the blacksmith and that of the whitesmith. From the hands of the former come large and coarse articles, as horse-shoes, ploughshares, chains, iron doors for safes, &c. The whitesmith manufactures articles of neater and more delicate form, as locks, keys, carpenters' tools, &c. The blacksmith does little with his iron, till he has softened it in the fire of his forge, which is a kind of hearth, raised to a convenient height from the ground. A large pair of double bellows pours a strong stream of air to the centre of the forge, where he has a fire made of small coals, or coal dust, wetted, to make them give a more intense heat. Into this fire he thrusts his iron, and, working his bellows, brings it to a white heat, in which state it is so soft that a little hammering will reduce it to any required shape. The whitesmith also has a forge; but he depends less upon it than upon his files. The articles he manufactures are so numerous, that almost every one constitutes a distinct employment: one set of men being confined to the making of locks and keys, another set to the making of files, a third to carpenters' tools, and so on.

The very first definition of whitesmith from good ol Merriam Webster is : Tinsmith. ( i was under the impression that was a tinker though) 

Also when the village balcksmith kind of went away most became farriers while the whitesmith trade became lorimers (i just learned a new word) or bridle makers. 


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