Re:blacksmithing?

Not to pull anyone's chain, and I *do* get a lot of useful info here, but has it occured to anyone else that the 'craft' of blacksmithing is getting
way too involved and technical?
In the old days the smith tried to make his work look machine made. Nowadays the mark of excellence, (seems to be), is having the tool/hammer marks evident. I can't bring myself to call my stuff 'wrought iron' even though it is 'wrought' and it really is 'metal'. If things are made from traditional materials they tend to be more expensive, yet it is pretty well accepted that we have improved our manufacturing processes by developing better materials than most of the traditional ones. Does anyone else see the irony in that? or is that just the rantings of a senile old greybeard. hehe..probably so... granpaw
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I believe it always was! :)
Take ditch digging with a pick and shovel and digging bar.
Less than a year on the rail road and we were digging more and longer ditches than usual... i was working my ass off and and everytime I looked over at the old fart he was standing there looking at me with one eye rolling a cigarette. :/ But his ditch was going faster than mine! :/ "alright dammit everytime I look over at you you're just standing there but your ditch is going faster than mine how you doing that? :/"
"come here boy I'll show you something ;)"
It doesn't matter what job it is, a "worth while human" can figure out things about that job that outsiders won't see.
The thing about old time blacksmiths had to do it with "I was showed (or figured out on his own) to do it this way and when I do it that way, it works, when I do it some other way, it don't"
Now we can easily understand the metallurgy, because it's all written down (for example) the better ones would have known that too, if they'd had the opportunity, IMO.

Call 'em the "middle days" and I'll agree with you. ;)

Artistic stuff;) maybe?
The San Xavier Mission's hardware is easy to tell it didn't have a machine touch it. Left over hammer marks aren't random work of a child or from abuse but layered (by hand) like a by-hand done "engine turned" piece of sheet metal. (never liked the looks of that stuff really:/ like the cowling on the "Spirit of St.Louis" YMMV)

Yeah the names of things have changed around they used to call it "iron" now they call it "mild steel".

Glassy metal is on the way... you ready for that? ;)

Cool post anyway. ;)
Alvin in AZ
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Depends on what you mean by improved. A plastic coat hook is an "improved" item for the comapny that wants to sell a few million pieces, made as cheaply as possible. They might even get repeat sales from people too dumb to move up in quality, or faced with too few good options (due to mass marketing of cheap plastic coat hooks), when they break. An iron/steel coat hook is there until it rusts, generally speaking, and no especially fancy new alloy is required to do the job as well as it can be done. Stinless that was easy to forge would be an improvement, perhaps, but steel inside houses does not rust much, most places.
--
Cats, Coffee, Chocolate...vices to live by

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Yo Grandpa, If you saw the work i do , it would restore your faith in simplicity.Not pretty but beaten into submission.Blacksmithing is only as technical as you want it to be if its a hobby.On the other hand if you need to compete in the real world you had better get technical unless of course you can sell your oneoff atrmetal works for 4 or 5 figures.Wrought iron is very hard to come by these days so its just as well you dont call it by name.try getting some old wagon hardware and playing with that .
Have a nice day Paddy P the wanna be p s its been a while since i saw the big 50
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I know what your saying and I agree with it for the most part, and yes its ironic as you say. But then my oneoff artsy stuff is 50/50 pounded look vs machined look. (of course mine doesnt go for 4 or 5 figures either) My actual favorite pieces are a combination of both looks. I dont know about the craft getting too involved and techy though. Seems to me, and I could be wrong, in the old OLD days blacksmithing was the high tech craft involving lots of technical metalworking knowledge. Fortunately most modern smiths arent required to gain all the knowldege the old timers had to.
Forger
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Only for crap. I'm more of a woodworker than a smith. I bought some "gothic" hinges a while ago, because I didn't have the time or inclination to make them. They're flat steel strap with the end clubbed (no better word for it) to put three huge divots in there and spread the end out for a "hand smithed" finish.
I've never used these things. Now I know that no-one else would care, but _I_ know that no smith over the age of 12 ever made something so shoddy and thought it was how things ought to be. They're not rustic, they're _ugly_. Worst of all is that they're not badly made, they're badly designed. The actual hinge pin part is pretty neat and tidy work.

I don't accept this. I'm somewhere between Whitworth and Tom Rolt on this - 20th century progress in manufactuirng came from either measurement or from the development of precision grinding. We have any number of improved materials, but mild steel is still much the same as Bessemer made it.
I agree with your general point - but it's not the _materials_ that have caused the change here.

Strictly it's not wrought, it's smithed. The "wrought" part happens at the bloomery, where they make your bar stock.

Keeps me awake at night - seriously.
--
Smert' spamionam

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On Sat, 08 Jan 2005 00:08:54 +0000, Andy Dingley

This just begs the f*cking question of why the hell did you buy it in the first place?? I originally thought it was because like you said, your a woodworker, but after reading your post in rec knives about not being able to tell the difference between forging 52100 and 1095 I now assume you have a forge and hammer, so instead of cutting down someone elses work why not make your own hinges. It really isnt that hard. It takes a fraction of the time, energy, skill and thought to make a hinge compared to that bearing you forged into a knife.
Forger (Im just one of these @ssholes that hates to buy anything I can make myself, 'cause I know I can do it better)
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wrote:

Two reasons: mail-order from a well-respected woodworking company. If I'd seen them close-up them beforehand, I wouldn't have done!
Secondly, making your own still takes time and effort. I've a little demand of "stuff for other people" where I just don't have the time to make hardware too.
Sometimes I do make my own box hardware http://codesmiths.com/shed/things/boxes/sarah /
http://codesmiths.com/shed/things/boxes/larpchest/larpchest_handle.jpg

Nope, for reasons of space and fireproofing I don't. My own workshop is full of sawdust (and admittedly two oxy-acetylene rigs). For metal bashing I go over to Jarkman's place, where we keep the hot things.
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granpaw wrote:

We've had to speed up production because there are a lot more of us to service. Go out and forge a rifle barrel from scratch, then bore it and rifle it without power tools, When you're done after a couple weeks of sixteen hour days, you'll slap a hefty price on it, just like the Gunsmith in Colonial Williamsburg. How long would it take to equip the 101st Airborne by hand? People still shell out big bux for good work, but the Bar is higher now than in the past, we're competing with the Machine, and it doesn't make that many mistakes.
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I guess I am going to go at this from a slightly different angle. "Not to pull anyone's chain, and I *do* get a lot of useful info here, but has it occured to anyone else that the 'craft' of blacksmithing is getting way too involved and technical?"
I did my apprenticeship over 40 years ago in an agricultural blacksmith shop and I am still servicing the local farms. I suppose I have gotten more technical. I now have a gas forge as well as the coal forge like I learned on. The gas is handy but I can swing large pieces into the coal forge with an overhead hoist. I now have a wire feed welder as well as the old stick machine and a few years back I bought a 1927 Southbend lathe. The smith where I apprenticed told me that everything was going to replacable parts and that there would be no use for a smith in a few years. Well, I don't sharpen many plow points any more but when a farmer bends a plow frame on a rock, I can still heat it and straighten it. It seems I am getting more of the house jewelry than we used to get but it is coming to me, I don't go after it. There are many things that a smith used to do that have been "improved" (their definition, not mine) but farmers still warp, wear out and wreck equipment and there is still a market for some one who can fix it. That part of the game has not changed much since the early 60's and I for one, am glad. Happy hammering
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I guess I am going to go at this from a slightly different angle. "Not to pull anyone's chain, and I *do* get a lot of useful info here, but has it occured to anyone else that the 'craft' of blacksmithing is getting way too involved and technical?"
I did my apprenticeship over 40 years ago in an agricultural blacksmith shop and I am still servicing the local farms. I suppose I have gotten more technical. I now have a gas forge as well as the coal forge like I learned on. The gas is handy but I can swing large pieces into the coal forge with an overhead hoist. I now have a wire feed welder as well as the old stick machine and a few years back I bought a 1927 Southbend lathe. The smith where I apprenticed told me that everything was going to replacable parts and that there would be no use for a smith in a few years. Well, I don't sharpen many plow points any more but when a farmer bends a plow frame on a rock, I can still heat it and straighten it. It seems I am getting more of the house jewelry than we used to get but it is coming to me, I don't go after it. There are many things that a smith used to do that have been "improved" (their definition, not mine) but farmers still warp, wear out and wreck equipment and there is still a market for some one who can fix it. That part of the game has not changed much since the early 60's and I for one, am glad. Happy hammering
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Would we want it any other way? ;)

I heard that same thing in reference to car mechanics and gunsmiths.

Adapt or go out of business? ;)

You and the bastard;) have got it right IMO. :)
Throw into that mix, how, at one point, the blacksmith ended up making most of his living from shoeing horses and blacksmithing and ferriering has come to be thought of as the same thing. :/
What you're doing now has got to be better than that. ;)
The hinges, fastenners and other pieces of hardware were being made in factorys so the blacksmith found something else to do, shoe horses.
But can you imagine making nails for weeks at a time? ;)
I had a great uncle that basically did the same as you, moved into the big city (Jonesboro Ark;) and was for the most part a "welder" but blacksmithing was his passion and what he called himself.
I remember him fixing big stuff (farm equipment) like you do. :)
Alvin in AZ ps- Uncle Pervin was weird;) he never smoked or drank
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I'd say it has always been involved and technical, at least in the sense that doing excellent work in at least some parts of the craft required a lot of information.
This wasn't always obvious because a lot of that involved, technical stuff wasn't written down. You learned it from someone else if you were lucky and you learned it by trial and error if you weren't.
Of course you can do good work in a lot of areas without getting involved and technical. But the complicated stuff is still there if you want to learn it.
And I'd say that if you're going to do something like bladesmithing, it's going to get pretty involved and technical pretty quick if you want to do good work.
My .02 anyway.
--RC
"Sometimes history doesn't repeat itself. It just yells 'can't you remember anything I've told you?' and lets fly with a club. -- John W. Cambell Jr.
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