Monday, May 31, 2010


I made some leaves recently as one of my first commissions. I think these will make wonderful gifts and my wife and the buyer think they are beautiful, so I will keep making them. I hope to have some more available for the Market Fair in July.

Here is what they look like shaped, but not finished:

Here is the finished product:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Tradeoffs of Using Propane or Coal Forges

The main advantage I have found with using propane is that your pieces don't burn up.  If you leave a piece in a coal forge for too long there is a risk it will burn up (literally disintegrate and/or fall off), which stinks after you have time invested in a piece.  That said, fire management is good skill to know and it is fun to use coal if you are a fire bug like most of us blacksmiths are. 

In terms of overall productivity, however, propane is way better because it lights in an instant (no kindling, fussing, clinkers, etc) and your pieces can stay in the fire for long periods without burning up (essential if you are like me and get distracted all the time), so a larger percentage of the time you have available can be spent actually forging rather than futzing with the fire.  Its really a personal choice though and everyone is different.  Some guys will only use coal and the opposite is also true and everyone has their own set of reasons.

I would think in most cases, propane would work well for beginners because you have less to worry about.  Having to manage a fire AND worry about not buring yourself AND also trying to hit the piece while its hot AND trying to make contact in a place and that will actually move metal where you want it to is plenty to think about. 

You can always try a coal fire at any time, so there is no hurry to learn that, especially if you have access to a propane forge already.  Most guys start with coal because they don't have a propane forge yet and the cost to entry is less.  If you are in a neighborhood, though, propane is the only way to go because there is no smoke to disturb the neighbors.

Hope this helps.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Latest Sculpture: "Listen"

Do you think parenting has anything to do with my choice of subjects?

Friday, May 21, 2010

In action at the Market Fair!

This photo was taken by a new friend of ours, Donielle Rininger, and I like it very much.  I am completely amazed that she caught the hammer in motion like she did. 

At this point, I was at the very beginning of making a nail for a hook they were planning to hang in their home, which happens to be the exact same log cabin as we built.  Donielle's husband Michael also happens to be a respected bee expert, which is something we are considering trying, so this photo represents a lot of touch points for all of us. 

If you had told me several years ago that my chosen hobby would allow me to meet such interesting people, I never would have believed it, but it is true.  Pretty cool stuff!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Colonial Farm Market Fair: Day 2

Another wonderful day -- many thanks to everyone who came out to see me!
Here, Kelly and I are working on a tenon (which connects into a mortis).  It was great to have two of us there because we were able to do things we might not otherwise have been able to do.  For example, here I am hammering and Kelly is holding the piece in tongs in one hand and the chisel in tongs in the other. 

Sometimes it seems like a blacksmith needs 3 hands!  :-)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Colonial Farm Market Fair: Day 1

My very talented wife setup this table with my pieces for the Fair. 

I really enjoy explaining to the guests what I just made and how it all works.  The people were great and sometimes the conversation is more enjoyable that making the piece itself!

Sometimes the crowd was smaller than at other times:

I was really fortunate this time to have Kelly Smyth to work with this time.  Kelly has an amazing background and had been a professional smith for more than 30 years, so I learned some amazing things from her.  One of the best things was her patient lessons on the ins and outs of making mortis and tenon joins.  I really got an immersion in those this weekend and it was great to spend time with Kelly. 

I really look forward to working with her again in July at the next Market Fair!

I forgot my hardy cutoff on the first day, so this photo shows me using a handheld one, which is significantly harder than the hardy version!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blacksmithing with a buddy

Some recent photos of a buddy of mine and me in the forge:


Countdown to Claude Moore

I started cleaning up my pieces between conference calls and meetings to potentially sell this weekend.  And, I am going to start taking orders and selling pieces on the website in the near future.  How cool is that?

Monday, May 10, 2010


Some closeups of my pieces that will go to Market Fair next week taken by an amazing photographer friend of ours: