Monday, October 21, 2013

Making Blacksmithing Tools

When I first became interested in blacksmithing I collected a few tools and some catalogs and a couple of books.  When I discovered The Anvil’s Ring I registered for a meeting which was advertised.  I watched all the demonstrators and was fascinated.  Everything was new to me and everything was exciting.

In some part of a demonstration I saw Clay Spencer use a curved blade hot cut and a bit later at a break I said I had never seen one in a catalog and wondered where to get one.  He said, “Make it”  The answer was completely obvious to him yet was eye-opening to me.  After doing years of woodworking I was accustomed to buying tools but not to making them.  The aha! moment stuck in my mind as a major difference between the crafts - the blacksmith makes his tools.

It was a bit intimidating to work with tools steel at first.  I only had hand tools at that stage and tool steels were harder for me to forge.  Mostly I had spring steel and grader blade to work with because they were cheap at the scrap yard.  When I later moved to H13 and S7 they were even harder to forge but I had a power hammer by then so I could do it.

I haven’t bought a tool in quite a while.  After almost twenty years of working I usually have everything I need.  If I need something different I make it.  Even so, I really don’t consider myself a tool maker.  I reserve that title for the smiths who specialize in making really beautiful hammers and hardies and other things.  I have a couple of Hofi style hammers made by Tom Clark which I use regularly but I haven’t bought any other really pretty hammers I’ve seen at conferences.  I think I would be inclined to just put the on a shelf and look at them rather than put them to use.

Here’s another hammer I won’t  be using in the studio.  It was given to me by a friend, Jesse England, who is a very talented glass blower.  He also does blacksmithing.

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