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I Forge Iron

Chain Makers Tongs


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I will be going down to Peters Valley to teach a beginners and beyond course.  

Forge welding is a basic skill so usually gets taught day 1 or 2.   Where I'm going has no chain makers tongs so..   Need some tongs, make some tongs. 

These are a little lighter than I would make for myself but should be about right for students. 







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Very nice, as usual.  You will love teaching at Peter's Valley, and the students will be lucky to have you.  I assume you have been there before, as you know about their tong limitations.  Hope you don't get much rain and the consequent rivers running right through the middle of the shop.  Seems to always happen when I go there for a class.  Also typically end up losing a day due to power outages.  I keep thinking I should bring down a hand crank blower with me to be able to keep working.  Is Anna still the blacksmith shop director?

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Howdy, I've never been there. I did talk with Dick Sargent who was the lead there for years before the current group. 


Anna is the shop director and is the reason for the invite.  What a great person. Swings a mean hammer to boot. 

I told Anna about the teaching curriculum and was then told about no chain makers tongs. 

Argh, electric blowers. Ick...why, why, why. 

I can see electric for large stock but not for general smallish work. 

Seems so fiddley to me. 

My original shop would have a stream of water thru the center  so as long as there is ample work around space that's OK. 

I used to love the water trickling sound. 

"Very nice as usual" thanks. 

Arm and hammer swing have started to return to previous retirement ability though the dislocation does show itself. 

Hammer swing is starting to show the right return in metal moved. 

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I met Anna quite a few years ago now when I took my first sword making class at Peter's Valley.  We were both students there at the time, but she has been more full time involved with smithing than I (not to mention much younger) and I've been very impressed to follow her progress over the years.  She is certainly a welcome addition to the shop there.  Very hands-on and supportive.

Since you haven't been to the shop I'll give you some of my impressions from when I was last there (I think it was 2 years ago now, so some things may have changed):

The shop itself is fairly well setup with coal forges, but the one pretty rudimentary gas forge is adequate at best.  They have pretty low ceilings and kind of cramped conditions if you are used to Touchstone, NESM, or Arc and Flame, but it is certainly workable.  With all forges going it gets quite hot in the shop, so setting up cross ventilation with pedestal fans is a must, and the working window locations are prime real estate.  Green coal is delivered in a large pile outside the shop and is typically at least damp, but that isn't a big deal really.

One sizable power hammer in the main shop and a smaller mechanical one in the front room that is rarely used.  Probably a non-issue for a beginner class.  There is a pair of treadle hammers that work well (I think one inline and one swing arm) as well as a fair assortment of hand tools, post vises, swage blocks...  Anna is a good tong maker, so I suspect she has continued to add to their stock there.

The valley itself is quite lovely (bring water shoes and have Anna show you to the swimming hole), food served for lunch pretty good, and comradery with other shops great as well (though I have to admit I rarely left the blacksmith shop).  Accommodations are in a number of older houses scattered through the valley that might be seen by some to be a little rustic, but I found them fine.  Some of the rooms have a through window air conditioner, which can be welcome at the end of a long day forging.  Kitchens are adequate and many attendees cook breakfast and dinner.  There is a town a drive away with some restaurants if you want a treat.

They usually have a fund raising auction at the end of the session, and most instructors and assistants contribute something.  Last time I was there I contributed a forged and hafted hawk which went for around $100, so folks usually pay fair prices.  Typically instructor pieces bring a premium, as the attendees like a souvenir.

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