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.