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I Forge Iron

Knife chat changes

Steve Sells

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Since it has fallen to me to run the knife chats, I would like to hear from the membership about what they would like from the Friday Night knife chat.

We have tried a few different methods: Other makers coming in, Lecture style, Open form, as well as a "Blue Print" type presentations.

Last night a comment was made about how the chats seem to be losing steam half way thought. I think this may be partly due to people showing up in the middle asking questions that were already covered, or just trying to catch up. Others just talking about whatever comes up, as is normal in a chat room.

I don't mind doing the chats, but I can't do it all, I have no clue what people want to know, or need help with other than what I read posted here in the forums.

I have started all the chats I have ran, with asking for topics for the night. But this also seems to upset a few. I would like suggestions as to how we may fix these issues, in an attempt to please the most members. What do YOU want to see? Please feel free to bring up anything here. I try to guide the talks, but its YOUR chat.

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I am glad to see this questioon Steve: I have been considering this sme thing for a while now. As I look at the audience it occurs to me that we have quite a mixed group of folks attending. Som as yourself ar experienced and accomplished makers. There are others that can recite chemical changes as we works steel and have first hand knowledge in doing so. Other have varied smithing agendas and make knives on a irregular basis. In this mix is sseveral who have little experience and some aare want to make a first knife. I believe we should at least find a starting place for the new folks that will help them get into the shop and make a useable knife. That has been done at least once with a blueprint style format on forgeing and completing a knife. We fairly regularly go over advanced metalurgy and that does refresh at leat my memory. I think it tends to boggle some folks down that could benefit by raw basics. As the audience changes each week I am not sure how a weekly how to taken to the next level would work but folks that would like that should respond to this question. If that is desired we could start with basic steel sselection begin with one steel and give tips on haw to shape. how to heat treat, finishing, and fitting and handle assembly, We could include several options for handle shapes and materials as a lot of folks want different looksto a finished knife. As for those folks arriving late in the movie and asking what happend when it begin? We will always have those as everyones schedule and time zones may be different.
I believe we could use a whole session on making a simple blade and heat treating.

That might include tips on what to put and store quench medium in, fire control. How to temper and what with and finishig blade in preperation for handle work. Lots to learn with those steps above.
That would also be a great time to give tips on analyzing your heat treat methods using simple tools such as files, cadrboard and a vise. With this much information to cover the problem with slack time later in the session may go away. Would be nice to get feed back later than one of the new folks used the info and made a good blade.

For those wishing advanced metalurgy classes they are better off reading well written books on the subject than to work with what we can type in here in mere moments.
I am anxious to see the responces to this question. And I will help in any way I can. But not next week....unless someone wants to visit with me in Vegas at the Riviera.

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As I have not attended any knife chats as well as the blue print chats due to the lateness that they are run, (past my bedtime for getting up at 4 am). Is there any type of archives of these session that one who can not attend is able to look at later? If not I think it would be a good idea. I can only image the wealth of knowledge that is put out here that can be gone back to be reviewed.

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I'm a beginner with too much info racing around in my head.

I would benefit from a step by step and or a continuing series like Rich has suggested
The chat provides a way to get immediate first hand knowledge from experts, This is a huge benefit to any knife maker.

I think a subject for each chat would help the flow of information, if I knew a head of time, all the better.

Just my .02

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FWIW, I have set up several National and State Conventions for the various organizations I used to belong to, as well as given short seminars at various Vo-Tech Schools around the mid west for various groups.

You have to run the knife chat like a seminar or a class room, I had no problems with the few that are always there with a pet pieve or an agenda of their own, I just followed what I had planned.

But when I had Guest demonstrators or lecturers, I personally attended whether I had an interest in the subject or not, so as to keep the seminar going down the original subject, advising the persons with off topic or personal questions not pertaining to the subject being discussed that they could visit with the Guest after the seminar if the Guest had time.

In essence what I am saying is, have an outline ahead of time that you can post as the start of the seminar, in this instance the Knife Chat and stick to it, remembering that the majority are there to learn from you, each other, or a Guest Instructor.

You are running it, in charge, so be in charge, inform those that want to change the subject or have a personal agenda other than what is being offered, that they can chat after the subject of that evening is over, or come back when what they want to discuss is the subject. After all you are there as a convienience to the majority who want to learn about the subject at hand.

Also as this is an ongoing teaching/learning type of thing, don't try to cover too much at each session. Pose a question and allow a given amount of time to discuss that part, then move on to the next question. like the discussion period after the Blue Prints.

You da Boss, Be da Boss



Edited by irnsrgn
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I interpret the Knife Night Chat as an opportunity for an educational experience.
For over a period of 30 years, I provided instructions about many various topics with-in my expertise. The instruction environment must be controlled and regulated by a central source in order for a systematic flow of instructions.

Early on I discovered that if the train of thought was interrupted by late comers who would disrupt the class by making a grand entry or by asking questions that had been all ready covered in detail, sabotaged the learning experience for all.
I realized that the tail was wagging the dog. It was up to me to take the lead and make the corrections that were robbing the other students and my self of our time.
For example, every minute wasted by one person could be multiplied by the number of people in attendance. One person disrupting the class for 2 min. x 19 other students = 38 minutes wasted.

I corrected the situation by not allowing people (even dignitaries) to disrupt my classes.
I heard all types of excuses, some were valid. No matter if they were valid or not, the same effect occurred, they would still rob the class with their disruption.
Providing the outline of information to be presented, and then presenting it is up to the instructor. To learn is up to the individual. And that would include being on time.
Do to the nature of

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I think Rich & markb touch on the two main issues.

Rich mentioned the wide experience & knowledge levels that are represented by the attendees. Maybe some of the experienced crowd are getting a little bored when it gets too basic and the newbies, like myself, get a little dizzy headed when things get too technical.

markb mentioned a bit more structured chat to let people know what will be discussed.

I aggree with both. Maybe setting up a calendar with pre set subjects being discussed. Alternating between basic & more technical. That way we can have some questions prepared ahead of time. No scratching our heads on what to bring up next. I really like the casual flow of an open chat though, so maybe the calendar would be used on a temporary basis until things flow better.

Steve, I think you are doing a fine job running the chat. And I thank you.

My 2 cents.........


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while all is appreciated,there needs to be some order. i understand late arrivals and such,but,they will be welcome ,but, they don't need to say howdy to each and everyone in the roon. that's nice but it dose break up the discussion. me. personaly gain something everytime i get there.i don't have much to contribute,wether skill or knowledge wise. best of luck, given it was dropped in your lap,it can/will work or i wouldn't waste my time. but your efforts are appreciated. jimmy

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Just a couple of thoughts,

Firstly, I am in agreement that there should be some sort of structure present for the knife chats, making topics important. Why not impliment a thread where people who planned to be in attendance for the following weeks up comming chat could post suggested/requested topics to discuss and a few of the most popular could be selected (depending on how much time the depth/complexity of the specific topics allow for), sort of like Mitch's calendar suggestion. This would allow for whoever presents to have a clear topic set and give them a little time to prepare. This could be used to determine chat topics multiple weeks in advance if needed and make things go a bit smoother, and could even allow for BP type presentations to be developed for certain topics.

Secondly, others have expressed concern regarding the differential in skill levels present durring chat. If topics are too advanced, beginners are overwhelemed, if topics are too basic, those more advanced get bored. What about dividing the chat evening into two segments, one more geared for beginners and the other towards more advanced topics? My thoughts are both groups would benefit in this manner, and it might help keep things more organized. The beginners could show up first for their's then could either stick around for the more advanced discussion or head off, and then the advanced discussion could begin. It would also cut down on the crowd a bit which I think could help with the side chatter and distraction.

And finally to address the issue of excess, non-related chatter, maybe there should be a list of knife chat rules developed and posted somewhere, with things along the lines of: hold questions until the end of the presentation, if the presentation has already began, please enter quietly, keep side discussion to a minimum/no talking durring presentation, or somethings along those lines. Anyone who refuses to stick to the rules could then be asked to leave or booted (if you have been granted the high and mighty power to do so Steve ;) ).

Just a few of my thoughts. Don't have to pay attention to em if you don't want to, since its rare I get the time in the evening to attend anyway ;)

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