Looking for a simpler life, but not too simple…

Blacksmithing Class

Smithing has interested me ever since we interned on the farm in Albuquerque, NM, where it was introduced to me. I had the opportunity to stop and take a weekend-long blacksmithing class in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, last weekend while on our way to visit family in La Crosse. I love the uniqueness and the endless possibilities  of things you can make with smithing. Its a dying trade that not too many people know how to do anymore, since we live in the age of machines.

This was my teacher David Day. He has 18 years experience smithing.

Here are some of the things I made: a coat hook (top left) that I made frome a push rod out of a engine, a ornamental leaf (top right)which was made out of a 1/2in diameter piece of metal . and a pair of tongs custom fit for my hands. ( The tongs they had at the class sucked; I couldn’t hold any piece of metal tight with them.) I had so much fun, and learned so much about the dynamics of smithing and metal. I wish there was a way I could smith on the road. 😦 It is so simple but yet so complex at the same time. I have hopes of using my carpentry skills, and smithing skills together one day to make some really beautiful pieces of art. I can’t wait to have the chance to do it some more.


7 responses

  1. Steve

    Justin ,I still remember my first forging clinic back in the mid 90’s, I know how you feel. You could get you a small gas forge, which is what I use in my shoeing business.You can do everything in a gas forge that you can do in a coal forge. The fire wont get as hot but you can still weld. A 70 lb anvil would probably get you started,anvil stands are no problem to build. You have the trailer you could make a swing out for your forge so it will be out of the way when not in use.Let me know if there is anything that I can help you locate. Steve

    August 11, 2010 at 7:25 pm

  2. miller

    you can smith on the road! farriers do it all the time. i have a small gas forge that i run off a small propane bottle. my anvil is a small piece of railroad rail and i have a vice. my other tools include tongs, hammer, 4″ grinder, and various chisels including a hot cutter.

    i can fit all my smithing tools in a small space about the size of a standard truck box.

    my forge will get hot enough to weld with so i feel pretty good about it. at first i really wanted to use a charcoal forge and i even built one, but it became pretty obvious that it was way more trouble than i could handle with our semi-nomadic life style.

    i’m excited that you had a great time and hope you’ll find a way to feed this part of who you are!

    August 12, 2010 at 5:03 am

  3. I love the idea of a small forge! See, babe! Limitless possibilities! 😀

    August 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm

  4. miller

    i got my gas forge at diamondback iron works (he has the 2 burner knife maker for less than $385), they were the highest quality for the lowest price i found. i almost bought an anvil from old world anvils (they have stump anvils for $30 and a 4×4 anvil for $85 both of these need heavier bases but you can set them in a five gallon bucket of concrete), and i still might… my railroad rail is too rounded on the top and i’m really wanting a good flat surface. i’ve been making knives from rebar, high carbon railroad spikes (marked with an HC on the head), worn out farriers rasps (i have a friend that’s a farrier), old files, and old lawn mower blades. a two pound sledge is all i need and the one i’m using is one i found.

    i’m thinking you could get in the business for less than $500 easy. and then there’s the guy at zoeller forge, i think he has free plans for making your own gas forge. i’ve also seen charcoal and coal forges made from a brake drum and a hair dryer. mine is made from a small oval bucket lined with adobe. i’ve got a hand crank blower i picked up on line that i’m not using… you can still find them around.

    if there’s any way i can help you get started, let me know.

    August 14, 2010 at 6:27 am

  5. Thanks for all the info Steve and Miller. Im going to check into the gas forges a bit, and hopefully I can make room for one.

    August 14, 2010 at 3:50 pm

  6. Steve

    Justin check out centaur forge in Wisconsin they have a wide variety of blacksmiths tools. Several forges come in single burners now and are very efficient, I would recommend forge master brand. With your carpentry skills you can make a base out of stacked 2x4s. Maybe next yr at the NuRvers get together I can bring an anvil and forge and we can beat on some iron. Make sure when looking for an anvil you get one for blacksmiths not horseshoeing, a blacksmiths anvil will have a round horn instead of a flat one. I use a blacksmiths anvil in my shoeing business, it is better for shaping hot shoes.a lot of farrier supplies sell used forges and anvils , you can google farrier suppliers and get a whole list in whatever area you happen to be in. Happy forging Steve

    August 14, 2010 at 8:54 pm

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