What Is a Blacksmith?

 

Terran Marks - Blacksmith - Brown County Forge

What is a blacksmith?

Who is a blacksmith?

What do blacksmiths do?

A Blacksmith Shapes Hot Steel

 

Above all else, a blacksmith works with fire and iron-based metal (steel).

The “black” in blacksmith refers to the “black metal” or iron that smiths have worked for millenia.

We take pieces of steel and heat them up to over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then using a hammer and anvil, we bend, beat, and shape them into tools, railings, knives, and hardware.

Knife Making Classes Indiana

Over 1 Million Blacksmiths

Estimating the number of blacksmiths in the world is tricky. They are known for making a lot of noise, but not talking much.

You might have a blacksmith in your neighborhood. Someone who tinkers in their garage or barn with a hammer and anvil can call themselves a blacksmith.

The talented people who complete classes at Brown County Forge can call themselves blacksmiths, too.

Rustic and Rugged - Brown County Forge

Different Types of Blacksmiths

There are a lot of different types of blacksmiths out there. Some specialize in a specific area of blacksmithing.

Shipsmiths focus on the hardware used on ships.

Bladesmiths mostly work on blades. Think: Japanese bladesmiths

Architectural Blacksmiths make things like railings, gates, beam brackets, and large hardware for buildings.

Artist-Blacksmiths often make decorative sculptures along with useful items.

Farriers are blacksmiths who shoe horses for a living. This is the most stable blacksmithing specialty in the 21st Century.

Hobby Blacksmiths might dabble in a few different areas.

What Type of Blacksmith Shop is Brown County Forge?

Terran Marks, the owner-blacksmith at BC Forge, is an Artist-Blacksmith. He makes decorative home hardware and teaches.

Architectural Blacksmithing is one of his interests. Shoeing horses is something he respects a lot, but doesn’t have the nerve to try.

If you have questions about blacksmithing or visiting the forge, please contact us!

 

What is a Blacksmith - Brown County Forge

Making Knives by Hand – May 20, 2018

Heavy Hammers, Hot Steel, and Making Knives by Hand

We had another great class at The Forge yesterday. A father and son team came by to try their hands at hand-hammering some knives out of railroad spikes.

They each started out with an old rusted spike (don’t worry they were purchased legally).

Through some focused hammerwork and some finishing, they came out with some great knives.

Here’s a “Before and After” shot of the two great-looking knives Chuck and Kyle made.

Knife Making Class Indiana - Brown County Forge

Hours of Work – Great Results

The guys hammered, hardened, shaped, tempered, polished, and sharpened for about three and a half hours.

It was a fairly warm day in the shop – 80+ degrees outside and quite a bit warmer next to the forge, but they persevered.

Chuck shared some memories that inspired them to take the class: a great-grandather’s anvil (who was a blacksmith for Cummins) and hot-forging a cold chisel as a high schooler.

Seeing a few episodes of the History Channel show “Forged in Fire” didn’t hurt either.

Father and Son Knife Class - Brown County Forge

Learn the Fundamentals and Make Something Useful

“Make something useful.” That could be the unofficial motto at Brown County Forge.

Everything that comes out of the shop has a use. Whether it’s a knife, a hook, a fire poker, or a bottle opener, it’s an object that is handmade to be used.

It’s great to see what each person comes up with in class each Saturday and Sunday. Every piece is different. Each one is unique.

Knife Making Class Indiana - Brown County Forge

Interested in taking a class? Feel free to take a look at the Classes page or check out the class calendar to see the next available date.

January Forgings – Rebar Fire Tools, Railroad Spike Knives

Tempering Colors Railroad Spike Knives

We’ve been busy at the Forge this month making S hooks, J hooks, Rebar Fire Tools, and Railroad Spike Knives. The knives pictured above were hand-hammered from old rusty railroad spikes, ground into shape, polished with emory paper, hardened, tempered, and finally sharpened.

You can see photos from the process below.

Hand Forging a Railroad Spike Knife

First, we got the spike up to an even heat. By keeping the heat even throughout the piece of metal, we’re able to control where the metal goes a little better.

You can see videos of the process on Brown County Forge’s YouTube channel.

To hammer thick steel like this, we use a much heavier hammer than we normally would. In this case, we’re using a 4 lb. cross peen instead of the standard 2.5 lb.

Railroad Spike Knife Shaping - Brown County Forge

Once the basic shape of the knife (plus a twist in the handle) is done, there’s a fair amount of grinding work and polishing to give it the final shape. Aaron’s knife has a large sweeping belly and a drop tip.

Tempering Colors Railroad Spike Knives

After the knife is shaped, we bring it back up to a red-hot heat and quench it in oil. This hardens the knife and makes it fairly brittle. The knives are set aside to cool completely before we polish them a second time.

This second polish is done so the shiny metal shows through. This makes it easier to see the color change as we carefully heat it up to temper it. In the picture above you notice a slight wheat color in the blades. This is a good level of temper for a knife blade.

Finished Railroad Spike Knives

And finally we have the finished blades all polished, sharpened, and ready to go.

Next up:

Rebar Fire Tools and Forging with Family

Father and Son Class

Earlier in the month, we had Jerry and Chris out to the forge to learn some of the fundamentals. We made some S hooks that you can see below.

S Hooks Brown County Forge

We also made J hooks and rebar fire tools including a scrolled fire rake and poker. Working with rebar can be a challenge since it’s much denser than the mild steel we use for hooks. It takes a lot of high-heat hammering to get it to move the way you want. Jerry and Chris did a great job and got results.

Rebar Fire Tools Brown County Forge

That’s what we’ve been up to in January so far. If you’re interested in classes we just made more times available. Check out the Classes page.