Hammer Time

I spent the past week picking up the final few supplies to begin blacksmithing.  I got a couple files, a punch, a chisel, an extendable metal hose, a bag of anthracite coal, and some steel stock, round and flat.

Yesterday I lit some cardboard and shoved some coal over it and... nothing.

I piled up some cardboard and small pieces of firewood, cranked the blower a bit, and piled up the coal... nothing.

Piled up some cardboard and small pieces of firewood, then three of us took turns cranking the ever loving heck out the blower and finally got some nice glowing coals.  Stuck some round stock in and pretty soon I hand a handle on the end of it.  And the coals cooled off.

And then, an epiphany!  Blacksmiths in days of yore had 12 year old apprentices.  I'm guessing that was not so much to pass on the skills, but to have someone to crank the daggone blower!

Then, I hooked up my leaf blower and went to town.  Worked like a charm!

 I ended up making a coal scraper to move the burning coals around in the forge.  It isn't pretty, but I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out for my first ever project.

I made a second one to give to a friend that helped me yesterday and it had a larger handle and a longer scraper end.  I liked it better, but wanted to keep and use the first one.

By the end of the day, I was beat.  Back hurt, hips and knees hurt, shoulders and arms hurt.  It was darn hot too.  But it was good.  I felt like I had accomplished something.  I'm really looking forward to building this new hobby.

I felt better than I expected this morning, and I got in some kayaking.  Did some turning practice in the pool, then took a lap of the 5 acre pond.  I got a good rhythm going a few times and got going pretty good.  Next time I'll take my cell phone and use the GPS to figure out exactly how far my path is.

It was a great weekend.  Next weekend is my NOLS Wilderness First Aid course. The weekend after that starts my 4/10 workweeks for the summer and 10 straight three day weekends.


Kayaking and Blacksmithing...

I've been looking into getting a kayak for about 6 months, and finally went ahead.  I got a 10 ft. Sit on top Pelican from REI last weekend.  My only prior experience was falling off of one during some rough seas at a friend's river cottage, so I was basically brand new at it.

Step one was to navigate around my dad's pool.  Did four or five laps without tipping.  So far so good.

Next step was the 5 acre pond.  Made it all the way around without falling out!  I'm off to a good start.  This weekend I'll practice in the pool, falling out and trying to climb back in.  We'll see...

I think this will be a fun hobby, and help me in my quest to get back in to some kind of shape.  I'm off on Friday's during the summer, so I foresee a couple of pond laps in the kayak followed by a hike with a pack around the pond on the horse trail for some cross training.

The other thing I've done recently is get my smithy set up.  You've seen the anvil I got at auction a month or so ago.  A friend gave me an old forge table and hand crank blower, along with some tongs and a hammer.  His family farm dates to the 1850s and these had not been touched in decades.  Another friend gave me an identical blower.  Both blowers were rusted and would not turn.

My brother came over this past Sunday and helped me get one of the blowers going.  We cleaned it up, rewelded the legs, and oiled it.  Works like a charm.  Then we loaded the forge table and carried it over to his house where we reattached some parts with rusted out bolts and put new brackets on the fire pot because it was almost completely unsupported.  Both are good as new now.

I found a log round that is the perfect height for the anvil and have the table and blower set up right where I want them.  I picked up some flexible vent tubing today to run from the blower to the forge.

I got a shipment from Amazon today with a leather apron, hammer, welding gloves, and a book of 40 basic projects to start with.  A trip to Tractor Supply yesterday got me a 40# bag of anthracite coal and some raw steel to start working with.  I begin hammering this weekend.

Two new hobbies that can contribute to health and to practical use as well.