[NTLK] o/t blacksmithing

Lord Groundhog lordgroundhog at gmail.com
Mon May 2 14:15:56 EDT 2011

~~~ On 2011/05/01 20:41, Dale Raby at daleraby at gmail.com wrote ~~~

> There is some truth to that.  More and more items, even manufactured
ones, are
> being made by investment casting.  This is vastly cheaper
than forging, but
> there are drawbacks that nobody ever thinks about.

> The other issue is that once an art form or technology dies, it dies
for good
> until somebody re-invents it.  Nobody knows just exactly what
Greek fire was,
> nor have we figured out how the Romans made their
catapults shoot so far.
> Dare I say, that when they scrapped the
remaining Saturn V rockets, they also
> scrapped any chance of
heavy-lift technology that might one day save us from a
> cosmic
disaster.  Blacksmithing almost died and would have, at least
> in
America but for the efforts of Alex Bealer (The Art of Blacksmithing,
> or so).

Yep.  It seems that I'm seeing this everywhere I look:  I'm old enough to
have learned how to do a lot of the repairs on my car -- I even rebuilt the
engine of my second car with a buddy of mine.   Then go back 30-odd years
before that and my Pop was building his first car from junkyard parts.   But
now, so many jobs I'd have done 40 years ago need expensive or specialist
tools, and as likely as not a special computer, and "repair" is fast
becoming a synonym for "throw away the old part and put in a new one".  Are
the cars better now?  Performance-wise, for sure, but that's just a way of
saying the labour-base of people who really can work on a car extensively is
shrinking, and how long would it take if we ever had to "re-invent" a car
out of people's heads (and not off the internet)?

Greek fire and Roman catapults, and dozens of other things.  Add Chinese
metallurgy to that list.  Even simple stuff:  how many people do you know
that could make their own long-bow from scratch, or even good quality
arrows?  My father was learning to do it, and I remember seeing a guy when I
was a kid who went around giving archery demonstrations, but when you bought
his book about hunting there was a whole section in the back to get people
started on bow-making, and you could go to his archery shop for tutorials
and advice.  But now, these amazing contraptions with levers and pulleys and
all, how are you supposed to make that yourself?  I won't even tell you how
I reacted as a calligrapher the first time someone showed me a sheet of
Letraset ...  

I'm happy to say that blacksmithing remained alive and well in the UK,
although I have no idea how similar or dissimilar it is to the US version.

> Had to scratch my head a bit... we speak the same language, but not
quite.  We
> call those items "fire tools" over here in the Colonies.  I
do sometimes make
> pokers, though to do it right, I have to do some
forge or pressure welding...
> a dangerous thing to do in front of a
crowd.  Flux and molten metal can
> splatter for thirty feet around.

Sorry about that.  I'm US born but I've lived over here most of my adult
life and sometimes I get confused which terms I know from which side of the
pond.  It'd be worse if I'd just made a trip home.  You should've seen me
taking my British driving test back in 1984, trying to convince the British
examiner that my response, "divided highway", really was the same thing as a
"dual carriageway" for the purposes of his question.  Getting tangled up
between "traffic circle" and "roundabout" didn't help my cause either.

There is another expression used for fire tools/irons by antique collectors
over here but I've forgotten it.  Good thing, too.

I don't recall this guy doing anything as dangerous as you describe, but I
don't think I'd recognize forge welding if I saw it.  You're talking about
smiting two pieces of very hot metal together into a single unit, right?   I
seem to recall the guy I saw did some work behind a thick transparent shield
of some kind too, so maybe that was his way around the problem.

> ...                                                       I also make
> kitchen tools, trivets, sausage tongs, skewers, toasting forks, etc.

Wow!  That list has just made me curious to watch AND hungry to fire up a
barbecue, both at once.  Nice going.  ;-)

> Time to cut this short, though.  I'm updating my Linux installation to
> 14 with RAID 5 using some drives I got from some old DVR
machines.  If it
> works, I should have a fairly crash-proof

I'm tempted to say "if it goes wrong, take it to the forge", but you've
probably already thought of that in your time.  All the best.

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