Hi Guys,   

I've been running out of ideas for articles.  I've written about most of my good travel type trips, etc...  Here's an adventure that I didn't have to leave town for:  I know some local brothers who have more, or less experience on a coal forge - doing blacksmithing.  One, or two, are true artists in the black art.  A few have some experience.  Then there is me; a rank amateur.  Luckily I have exposure to some of these guys, and I've been lucky enough to come across some equipment when I had some spare cash to pick it up.   Bottom line; I'm setting up myself a smithy (blacksmith shop).  I've acquired a coal forge , with hand crank blower.  With it I got a decent anvil, and a bunch of hammers, tongs, etc...  Another lucky find brought home a 130#, 6.5 " jaw post vice dated 1899 (for which I built a sturdy, yet portable stand).  Now I have a minimal smithy, with some metal scrounged up.  I have had  some of the local guys over for a 'forge parties'.  The experienced teach the raw recruits, it works out well.  Then, 4 of us locals are taking a blacksmithing course at the local Jr. College.  We learn basic techniques (or expand on that knowledge).  We get to see each other 1 night a week, and sometimes go out for a beer afterwards.  It's a win/win situation.  If you have any kind of a similar opportunity, seize it.  One of the other local brothers is setting up his smithy.  Another brother from 150 miles south of here is setting up his smithy.  Many of us feel that we can do leather work, we can do wood work, NOW it's time to learn to do metal work.  Mike D. and I just made up 40 tent stakes for newly acquired tentage.  All things considered , these stakes cost us less than $0.75 a piece.  We may go into the tent stake selling business!   Do a little research and you will find many ways to build a primitive forge.  It is something worth learning.  It is a very basic formula, which with experience can grow into a talent with no known bounds.  Our most experienced local guys make lock springs, etc.... I'm far from that, but I'm not afraid to learn.  You shouldn't be either.  Explore what is available in your area.  Get together with your local brothers.  

To borrow an expression "Be all that you can be....