Blacksmithing – in July?!

The story goes that, when asked if there were any problems with the classes here at the Folk School, one student remarked that the air conditioning in the blacksmith shop wasn’t working.  For those of you that don’t know, there usually isn’t air conditioning in a blacksmith shop.  So why anyone would come to the Folk School in July to take a class that has you standing in front of a fire all day (and half the night), I don’t know.  But like every other time I’ve been here the blacksmith instructors (in this case Lucas House and his assistant Matt McLean) had no problem filling their class with twelve eager students.

Student in the Blacksmith class - a father who was in the same class as his 18 year old son:)

At least two times a week, either just before or sometime after dinner, an instructor will do a demo for any students at the Folk School.  On Thursday night, I went to a well attended blacksmith demonstration.

Students gathering for the blacksmith demonstration - the instructor is tending the fire; bucket with red stripe is water. He doesn't like using tongs so he holds the end he's not working on with his hand. When the piece gets a little too hot, he sticks it in water to cool it down. Every time he did this, we saw steam rising out of that bucket...

On a flip chart, Lucas drew a picture of what he was going to make for us – a door handle.   That part I understood.  But then he said something about making a tenon, and I was lost.  I’d heard of such a thing, but had no idea what it was.  Surprisingly, I didn’t ask.  Lucky for me, once he finished the tenon he told us as much and I finally put it all together:)

Lucas making a tenon.
Lucas putting a little twist in the handle. I was amazed at how easily hot metal can be moved, but then someone commented on the size of this guy'sarms - I'm thinking that may have something to do with it.

It’s probably about 85 degrees outside at this point, so you can imagine how hot it was inside the un-airconditioned blacksmith shop.  But take a look at that vest the instructor is wearing.  See all those pockets?  They’re filled with ice packs.  He says he can work for quite a few hours in that vest without breaking a sweat.  Necessity is the mother of invention:)

Unfortunately, I had host duties to attend to so didn’t get to see the finished product.  But here are a couple of things students in that class made last week.

This student made a fireplace grate. I saw him working on it in the shop on Tuesday night. He and I both agreed it was a good thing he had two more days left. Wish I had taken a picture then to show you, but here it is, all finished.

Yes, a blacksmith course is on my list.  Hopefully, by the time I take it, the weather will be a bit cooler (or I’ll have bought a vest to fill with ice packs).

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