Last modified on 25 June 2006, at 10:12

Down'n'dirty Blacksmithing/Afterword

This Wikibook was started by erraunt aka Timothy Park. I don't say that out of ego (OK a little bit) but more out of responsibility: "I started this mess."

And because sometimes folks like to know who wrote what and what their background is and why they think they could do something like write something like this.

Who am I? I live in the Midwest (Minnesota at this writing.) where I've had a career in Technical Education and Computer Systems for almost 20 years. Most of the later has been with a mix of graphic arts systems and high end networking.

I've liked working with my hands much longer.

I come by that honestly I think. I've got family on both sides going back a way who seem to do pretty good with their hands. My paternal Grandfather was always doing some crafty thing and had some kind of gaget or another catching his fancy. The other Grandfather actually was a blacksmith although I regret he never taught me the craft: we were busy doing other work. He did teach me how to work and gave me an appreciation for work.

I'll also give credit to Dan K. and Karen E. If Karen wouldn't have needed a carving tool and I hadn't said "for what that costs I should set up a forge, figure out how to smith and make it for you" and if she hadn't said "Dan! He's a smith." and if Dan when she introduced us hadn't said "sure I can make that but I'll want some help" ... well I wouldn't have started this.

Credit also to the Minnesota Guild of Metalsmiths who fertilized the seeds planted by others. They're a great group and very supportive of anyone wanting to learn this wonderful craft. There was one fellow in particular who said to me while I was taking the basic workshop that since I seemed to be good at teaching I should consider teaching smithing because that's the best way to learn it. Which is part of why I'm writing this.

Another chunk of why I'm writing this is because of the years before I met Dan K. I had an itch to learn how to smith from sometime in high school back in the 70's. In the late 80s I started picking up books on the subject and trying to figure out a way to get started.

There seemed this huge abyss between the pictures and words and actually doing it. I just couldn't figure out how to make it all work and to buy gear seemed prohibitive at the time.

I haunted antique shops and rummage sales and flea markets trying to find used equipment with no luck. The new gear I could find made it look like I needed about $2000 just to get started. So since I was finding a lot of cool woodworking tools I picked those up and started working with wood. The whole time there was this nagging feeling, wonderful as woodwork is, that I'd rather be smithing. But where to get an anvil? And how did a tuyer work? Putting a chimney in the garage and investing hundreds before I could get started in something I wasn't sure I'd be any good at seemed foolish.

Then I got to spend an afternoon with Dan. That was all it took. I've continued to smith with Dan over the years since. And with others. But it was that first Saturday afternoon that really told the tale. I *did it*. And that removed the mysteries. Sure there were still things I didn't know. But I had gotten up close with the tools and gear, I'd built a coal fire and made metal hot enough to move when I hit it.

A few weeks later I ran into someone with an anvil ... *spare*. He was kind and I got a beat up 75 lb. Atwood for $20. The magic began. A few months later I found my forge in a scrap pile and Dan had a blower that would fit.

I've been smithing more and less for over five years now. It has not been lost on me that it was just a few things that kept me from doing it in the ten years previous.

Nothing replaces experience or a chance to get hands on. But if out of this can come some words and illustrations that will make it clear enough for someone to try this without someone else around to show them, then this book has succeeded.

My hope too is that this might spark some more craft related Wikibooks. If I can get this one off the ground more I wouldn't mind spending time expanding what's available in Wikipedia on tools and wood and metal work. I've also started thinking that it would be really great to get more books on smithing here and developing a repository of techniques and such.

We'll see what grows.

More to come.

Timothy Park aka erraunt