Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blacksmithing - given an ancient craft a try for real

I got a weekend introductory course in blacksmithing at Carinas Smedja (websitefacebook) as a christmas/birthdaypresent and my wife insisted that I'd go, since I initially wanted to back out on it, due to financial implications. But I did as I was told and went and a good thing it was too. Why? Have I become a blacksmith enthusiast? Found a new hobby or lifestyle? Well, no...
It was good, because I got to meet new people, I got to experience a new craft, it challenged my way of creative thinking and I ended up with a nice bonus too.
The course itself was pretty straight forward; a full saturday and sunday 09:00-17:00, including coffeebreaks and lunch. Turned out our lady blacksmith Carina is someone who likes to socialise, but also makes the most use of hours available. So no excessively long breaks. The information and background theory were quite rudimentary, but then again we were there to bang on some hot iron, not become theoretically educated in the art and craft of blacksmithing and metalworking!
We started of with a standard items, which we'd all make together, using the information we had just gotten; a crook or wallhanger with a leafshape on top and a curled hook at the bottom and some nails to go with those. This way we would understand the use and importance of the metal temperature, how to flatten and curl it and how to basically work metal.
How did that work out for me? Well, let's just say that no 2 leaves in nature are the same and not all are symmetrical either.... And the nails..... Well, I am a gardener and I like to grow things and that is what happened to the nails too. They just kept growing and getting longer, no matter how short I started off. Gave up on them eventually.....
After this and a break we were pretty much given free hand at crafting whatever we wishes. Within acceptable and reasonable boundaries of course. Of course I wanted to make my very own firesteel. The ones we had made are nice, of course, but made by someone else; our local blacksmith. And they didn't throw sparks very well either. Carina and I tried rehardening them, but to no avail. So either there is too little carbon in the steel ( a modern file) or the contact surface is to broad, so you cabä't scrape off good glowing flakes. The one I made is a lot smaller, narrower and lighter and made from an old file..... And it throws sparks, baby! So I am quite pleased with that.
The things I did/made
The image is from Carina's fb-page
As a next project I wanted to do a threelegged potstand. Not that I am overly ambitious.....
I discussed this with Carina and initially we didn't really understand each other. I wanted a simple ring with detachable legs and she suggested 3 onepiece, similar shaped legs with segments of ring, later to be riveted together....
I ended up cheating. I couldn't get the 3 pieces to be the same, couldn't get the areas where they'd meet flattened and lined up properly, so riveting them together was not possible. I asked her to just spot weld them together and I camouflaged the weld with wire. Looks quite good actually.... and the stand is level too!! Just a tad higher than I had initially planned, but still I am quite pleased.
When done I had some time left on sunday. I filled that up with the firesteel hardening, described earlier. I also found someone's old project; an all metal knife with a twisted and curled handle. I could use it, so I flattened it. It had a blade as smooth as the ocean surface during strong winds. And no edge what's however, just the basic shape. I ground a rough cutting edge and than hardened that edge. Now it needs some sharpening....

Now... the bonuses....
One of them is a tray (24) of eggs. Freshly laid eggs from free ranging chickens, directly from the coop, including poop and feathers. For a very, very good price! And they are good! What taste!!
The other bonus is a sandstone sharpeningstone. One like I already have, but round, not eggshaped. I spotted it sitting underneath one of the storagebuildings, while I was taking a breath of air ( and cool down) and I made a remark to Carina that that was some fine, oldfashioned piece of equipment. She looked at me and said:" You want it? Take it. It's been lying there for 15 years. I don't use it....." So that one followed me home. Now I can fix my sharpening arrangement and finally start sharpening my scythes!
I will also end up with a few plant supports. 5 to be exact and for a very fair price too, considering the material costs, time I would have to spend and tools I'd have to borrow.

All in all I am glad I went along, even if I will never be a smith.
Metalworking simply is not for me.
And at the end of an intense weekend, there's nothing better than a locally produced ale and a locally written book....


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. ..stop that rubbish talk;-P... it´s a first try after all!

  3. Oh Yeah a firesteel! That sounds like a really good project! You have me inspired. My husband is really good with a cutting torch and at welding (he's going to make me a broad fork from steel we have been saving) and I bet with a little good instruction we could also make rudimentary items with old horseshoes which are in abundance here! Thanks for the idea!