I read an article a few days ago in which the author detailes a list of things he wished he had learned earlier. It started me thinking about how I might have benefitted from more instruction.
Probably the first thing I could have done quicker is to lear to work at high heat. This is in spite of hearing the “get it hot and hit it hard” phrase time after time. The flip side is learning to stop forging when it ltill looks pretty hot and get it back into the fire for mor heat. I tended to keep on working and let the heat fall too far.
Another thing I could have given more attention was ending a forging segment with an intentional convenience bend so the area to be worked next would be easy to position to catch the next heat. Putting in convenience bends to avoid obstruction when forging seemed more obvious to me.
Those two things probably could have helped me a lot. Today convenience bends to fit the fire seem second nature. But now I have another reason for using them - my tumbler. While Ken and I were recently forging a piece which was about 60” long I realized it would not fit into the tumbler which only accepts pieces up to about 56” long. The solution, forge a convenience bend, or two, which would reduced the overall length to 56” and which could easily be straightened later.
Twenty years ago the possibility of these bends wouldn’t have occurred to me as my mind was so cluttered with other things I was trying to learn. In any new endeavor it takes a while to develop a minimal competence which allows moving from the awkward self conscious mode to a Zen-like state of relaxed confidence. That’s when it becomes fun.