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I Forge Iron

ABANA October 14, 2021 Meet Johnstown PA

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I atleast drag an inflatable air mattress around to things, along with sleeping bag and other essentials, nowadays. I've done a lot of ground sleeping but "some" comfort helps immensely. One event not long ago I slept in my 8' long enclosed trailer With all my totes full of items and my anvil. Used a rope to hold the trailer doors shut from the inside. Have also slept in my vehicle when needed. Might not be the best but beats spending the loot on a hotel room or even trying to get one when the small town is booked up solid. 

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When I worked as a mudlogger in the oil patch I had a 1968 Ford ex-Phone Company Van that I insulated and built a shelf that held my normal mattress.  Got to "camp" in a lot of great places and saved a ton of money over rooms in fleabag hotels priced to the skies during the "boom".  Really nice when thunder storms came by: warm dry and listen to the rain on the insulated roof.

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I love it..  I've been straight out with farrier work.. 11 horses today in 95F weather..  By the time I get home I need a few hours to recouperate and with spring here, it means getting all the associated work that goes with that.. mowing, flowers, garden, etc, etc. 

The shop is at the transition point so once the electric breakers on in the system can be inspected and energized. 

Reason for the long winded speech is I want to make an all aluminum trailer..  :)  

Looks super cozy. 


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My wife had 2 by her first husband spaced 5 years apart and then two  more  after a 12 year hiatus, divorce and remarriage, again spaced 5 years apart.  (Last two was when she was 38 and 43!)   Our deal was 2 healthy babies and I would get fixed!   Never regretted having daughters or not having to worry about "surprise" children.

Of course I am now up to 8 grandkids between our step kids and kids.   Gotta make sure I have and anvil and tools for each one!

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I like your wife's logic Thomas. One of the few regrets I have in life is not having children to warp in my own way. By time I met a woman who would put up with me and I could carry on intelligent conversations with she'd been fixed and sworn it off the practice. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • Mod42 changed the title to ABANA October 14, 2021 Meet Johnstown PA
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I'm not going to make it to this one guys/gals. Had some money set aside to make the trip and ended up with my refrigerator and my car both taking a crap. So between replacement of the first and repairs of the second, I used up my play money.

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What an amazing 3 days.. It went by like lightning. 

I ended up teaching all 3 days in the "Red Lipstick tent"  (tent 7) Ellen named it that because we both wear/wore brite red lipstick. 

I did Thursday and Saturday Morning and Ellen did Friday morning

We swapped time mornings to afternoons.

When I was not in the tent I was at the trailer forging and demonstrating other forging tidbits.. 

Day 1 I demonstrated how to make a tight hinge joint based on Butterfly hinges which showing the complete steps.. 

I showed a bunch of mistakes and the right way.. I then made a second half to form 1 half a pair of hinges.. Showing it would not show any light passing thru when held up to a light source behind it. 

Most neat thing was it worked perfectly without any filing.. Way cool.. 

Once I went back to the trailer a guy came over and said he missed part of it so ended up doing nearly the whole demo over again and this time adding in strap type hinges. 

Thursday morning a met a gentleman who's name is Cliff and he being sarcastic asked what I was going to make him.. I said nothing.. He's gotta come with bank.. 

After thinking about it I decided I would make him something and made a small 5 layer damascus knife out of old lawn mower blade, band saw blade and wrought iron.. 

I called this demo " The way not to forge a Damascus knife but have the results come out wonderfully"..    I did everything I possibly could to mess it up and it still came out sweet. 

I had to weld the wrought iron together to the bandsaw blade in order to hold it I then cut it in half and just put it slapped on about 1" behind what would become the point between a pair of tongs on the side of the mower blade.  Again about 1" back.. 

I then tack welded these side pieces on and finished the forge welding of the side panels. 

I wanted to make a little belt or boot knife..  I forged it nearly to size, cleaned off the scale and smoothed it.. I then hardened it in my linseed oil combination stuff and it was good to go.. 

Turned out they had the Warriors knife making club there and they had ferric chloride so was able to give it an etch. 

Just used a few diamond stones and it was razor sharp..  Well as sharp as a lawnmower blade can get.. 



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Jennifer:  You always make it look so easy.  We mere mortals struggle much more.  I wish I could have been there but Johnstown is about 1500 driving miles and 2 hard days behind the wheel.  Not to mention Covid.  "Look on in awe, mortals.  A demi-god is at work."

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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George..  Thanks for the support and kind words..  

A very long time ago now, I used to be pretty good at forging..  

I learned so much because I never had someone standing there telling me I can't or shouldn't do this or that.. 

Friday night after all the demos I gimped out of the trailer all hunched over as I had jellied from lack of movement only to find one of the ABANA main dudes saying he was checking out what the noise was..  

I asked him what he was doing and he said he was heading back to the forge area to get a competion going.  I said I'd go with him..   I was exhausted I had been forging from 9am till about 6pm.. Huge swedish axe demo and then the knife demo.. 

Anyhow I said id go and we got there and 3 guys were passing by and stopped.. Jim told them about the comp and he then asked for volunteers and a few people stepped up. 

He asked me and I said not unless I get to know what it is we are making..    He said "NO".. Not telling..   I said. Nope not doing it..  I was ok just sitting there.. 

about 10 min went by and then he said.. 1/2" sq X 10.25 stock with 10min to make it the longest it can be in that time frame with forge, anvil and hammer.. 

I said ok i'm in..  By this point there were about 20 people in the tent..  

My time came so I stepped up..  I stretched the material to just shy of 26" IIRC...    

I went to sit back down and 1 of the long time smiths started telling me about all the things I did wrong..  I was bent over, I was using the wrong hammer (he had a better design) I was wasting energy with the extra bending of materials..  So I started to talk about the way I work.. 

He completely dismissed it and started telling me he forges straight standing up..    Hes been a full time smith for over 40 years..  

So after watching a little bit he said ok, he's going to do it..  So he goes and gets his hammer..  And goes for it..   He was not straight once.. Anyhow, He only moved it about 6" and between 6 and 10 was about the average..  

There were a bunch of full time smiths.. Some seriously in shape metal movers.. 1 guy in particular I was worried he might take it..  He did slightly better but I was still towering above everyone else.. 

I have forged exactly 5 times this whole summer and totally out of shape..  It's all in technique..  And the techniques I used were the same ones I have shown in the video with some extra stuff that I have never shown anyone until the competition.. 

I got a standing ovation and got asked by several how I moved the metal that fast..   I gave them lessons.. 

Anyhow the person who I thought would take it, as I was leaving said great job.. This year he's going to practice at it so he'll have a chance next time we get together.. LOL.. 

The meet was amazing and I got to meet a few people from on here and give them some lessons.. They got to check out the trailer and I just had a blast.. 

At the end of the comp the judge Jim said put the end of your bars on the table straight up..  

My bar was a long ways above everyone elses..  There bars were all within an inch or 2 of each other..    

Here is a photo of the guy who stands straight up when he works..   He wouldn't talk to me the next day after the comp.. 

Often times we never really see what we do..     

My point is George that if I can do it and not in shape nor forging but a few times a year.. It's not because I'm in good shape.  Anybody can do it to.. 



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Sounds like a fun competition. Did that 10 minutes include initial heat time?

Glad you had fun and got to teach so much while you were there. When I do get out to a forging event I like to use most of that time forging because that's the fun part to me. I'm not usually much of a talker. 

I'm really sad I missed it but I was making memories with the kids over letting them go without me and me selfishly having my own fun. Not that they wouldn't have fun there, just that they were going camping with their grandparents either way. Hope to make it to the next one or atleast meet up at another event. 

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Das, Cold bar.. On less then ideal anvils and stumps. The stumps were rocking and rolling.. Only thing 1 could do is prep the fire. 

it was crazy all the teaching.. I had people coming for knife work, welding, hinges etc, etc.. Few of the guys came over after the comp to learn my secrets they had never seen metal move that fast.. 

I like to engage the onlookers and tell them all if they have questions to ask them no matter where I'm at in the process.  I encourage and ask after several heats if there are questions.. 

One does that they do..   You weren't meant to be there so it's all good..     

Maybe in the future for sure..  The event in PA might happen every year or every other year on the off conference years..  I think it was a stunning venue and would go back in a heart beat..  It went by so fast..  A few more days would have been nice.. 

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BiggunDr for sure..  Was such a great time..   Having all the smiths around and not worried about public restrictions was excellent.. I had so many people interested and with splendid question.. 

I did have 1 guy ask to use the 4lbs wrought iron hammer and I said sure..  he beat the hell out of the anvil with it..  He missed the metal so much he damaged the hammer. 

But he asked to use it and made him promise he wouldn't hit the anvil.. Goes to show why I don't usually let people use my hammers..   :) 


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