Archive for October, 2012

Timber framing

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Two days is nowhere near enough time to explore the art of timber framing – but it’s enough to know that I’m hooked!  I can’t wait until we have an extended session of it next year.


One of my class mates apparently has quite a bit of experience doing this.  I may have to recruit his help, and build that new smithy in the spring.  I also see some tool-making in my near future.  The ‘tools of the trade’ for timber framing are wonderful – large framing chisels, slicks, etc.  The tools the instructors brought were all very well made, and of high quality (read, “imported” and “expensive”!).

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Of course, as an aspiring blacksmith I’m obliged to make my own… Actually, I think that could be a rewarding add-on part of this schooling for me.  As I’m exposed to these different, sometimes obscure trades, I’ll have to try making some of their specialized tools.


I haven’t abandoned this blog…

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

No, really. I haven’t!

The past few months have been insanely busy for me. I’m so tired, and sleep deprived, that I’m barely functioning. However, things should be calming down a lot once October is over and done with.

Long story, short: I’ve been renovating our house, started back at school full time, and still trying to find some time to spend with family (kids grow up so fast).

To fit it all in, I’m up at 6:00 am and get to bed at 12:30~1:00 … which you can do for a while, but eventually catches up with you.

By mid- November, I should have more free time to update the blog. There was quite a lot that happened this summer that I meant to write about….

Ghetto forge

Monday, October 1st, 2012

There is a bit of a rumour going around at school – that the long-term viability of the forge program may be in jeopardy.  The issue, is that Willowbank doesn’t have it’s own blacksmith’s shop.  Students were previously travelling to the instructor’s studio (a good few hours drive away).  This year, the size of the student body has doubled, making the logistics of that a bit more difficult.

Ideally, we would have our own shop at the school, large enough for 10 or more students at a time.  The issue with that, is the expense. To equip a large shop that would only be used a few days a year…

So one of the second year students and myself, decided we’d try to build a prototype small, inexpensive forge, that would be suitable for the light work that the students do in their introductory level courses.  Something along the lines of the ‘break drum’ forges that a lot of hobbyist smiths start with.

This design is modified from a Popular Mechanics article that I found online.  It uses a stainless steel kitchen sink, lined with clay; and off-the-shelf plumbing fixtures for the tuyere.



It may not be pretty, but it works quite well.  We’ve got about $60 CAD in materials, and a couple of hours of work into building it.  The blower is an old hairdryer.  The stand is a cheap portable/folding work bench.  The tuyere is made from 1 1/2″ black pipe.  It’s a floor flange, two 4″ nipples, a Tee, a cap (for the ash dump) and a 12″ nipple that the hairdryer attaches to.  Inside the forge, above where the floor flange enters the sink, we used a cast-iron floor drain cover set into the clay.

We didn’t have any coal on hand, so fired it with charcoal to test it out.  Not the ideal fuel for a bottom-blast, but it got fairly hot.  The small hairdryer provided a surprising amount of airflow.

I’ve no idea if anything will come of this.  But I enjoyed building it, and we have shown (in theory at least) that we had to, we can build something that would get the job done, on a tight budget.