Jeremy from Seymour, Indiana Forges a Fire Poker
Seymour Indiana is just under an hour from Brown County Forge.
Jeremy made the trip west for the 10 AM Beginners Class at the shop to forge his own fire poker.
In the 2-3 hour Beginners Class, students have the option to make one of three items:
- A traditional “J” hook.
- A bartop bottle opener.
- A fire poker with a twist in the handle.
The decision about what to make usually comes down to what they would find useful.
The goal of every project and product that comes out of the shop is that it look good and be useful.
Jeremy opted for the fire poker so he could use it when he goes camping with his family.
Hammering It Out
To forge the fire poker, we need to get the steel very hot: over 1500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The glowing yellow-orange you see in the photo is the steel’s color straight out of the forge.
Now we have about 15 seconds to hammer on it before it gets too cold again.
We do 30-40 heats per project in the Beginners Class.
The Blacksmith Equipment We Use
Having the right equipment definitely makes it easier to blacksmith.
Jeremy used one of our 70 pound NC Tool Company anvils as his work surface.
Some benefits of this lighter anvil:
- You can work steel up to 1 inch thick.
- It’s easy to move around by yourself.
- It costs a lot less than larger anvils. (A 70 lb, anvil like this will run you about $280.)
Other tools Jeremy used:
- A Majestic Knifemaker Economy Forge – This is a two-burner forge made by a company based in Ohio.
- Centaur Forge V-bit Bolt tongs for holding on to the fire poker while he forges it.
- Vaughan 2.5 pound blacksmith’s hammer. A very solid hammer that has held up for almost a decade of steady use.
Was the Gentleman from Seymour Indiana Successful?
Jeremy came away with a great fire poker that he forged on his own.
He was proud of what he was able to accomplish with no prior experience.
I think this gift from his wife was a success!
At Brown County Forge, we have an age limit of 14 years old for our classes.
In addition, anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult (parent or guardian).
The parent or guardian is not required to take the class, but must remain on site during it.
Why Not Younger than 14?
I’ve given the age question a lot of thought over the years.
Sadly, I’ve had to turn down a few folks and their kids if they weren’t quite old enough.
Here are the main reasons I keep the minimum age at 14:
- From experience, I can be reasonably sure that most 14 year-olds have enough arm strength to safely swing a 2.5-pound hammer for a couple hours.
- Hand-eye coordination is one of the most important skills involved in blacksmithing. While kids are still growing and especially during adolescence, they often have trouble controlling body movements. Adding fire and extreme heat to that equation can be very risky.
- Ability to follow instructions. It’s incredibly important in a blacksmith shop to be able to do exactly as the blacksmith says. If you can’t, the risk of injury skyrockets.
The ultimate goal of the minimum age requirement is to keep everyone safe.
There is no way to guarantee that someone younger than 14 can’t meet those requirements or that anyone over 14 can.
There are many adults who struggle with those same three concepts above and I’ve met some younger kids who can handle the responsibilities very well.
As a rule of thumb, 14 is the minimum.
Other Blacksmithing Opportunities with Lower Age Limits
If you have a youngster with a deep interest in blacksmithing, I can recommend a few resources for learning more:
- The Indiana Blacksmithing Association holds regular Saturday meet-ups that younger folks are welcome to attend. There are often opportunities to get behind an anvil and get to work.
- Conner Prairie has a wide variety of youth-centered activities at their facility in Fishers. Full, hands-on blacksmithing classes may be limited. Classes cost $200+.
- The DIY Blacksmithing Course is open to all ages and can be taken from the comfort of home. It costs $97 for a comprehensive foundation in all necessary blacksmithing skills.