RicelandMeadows


Steel Away for the Weekend

tillknif1

August 16, 2018

I had a great time last weekend at Tiller’s International in Scotts Michigan. I took their knife making class. Last year, I took two blacksmithing courses. This was just “continuing education” I guess. I learned a bunch of new stuff thanks to good instruction and hands on learning.

tillknif2

This very simple “clamp” in the photo above, became a good friend as I sanded and rubbed on the steel knife. I forged the blade from 5160 steel, then learned to grind and sand the blade into a functional piece.

tillknif3

We learned to fit a handle on the blade. I am pleased with my first attempt to make a knife, but I see imperfections that I will work on for the next one. This is a good blade… even if it did take me two full days to make it!

tillknif4

I even ventured into file work. I free handed the “X’s” into the back of the blade for my thumb to rest on. Again, I learned things that I will do different, but am satisfied by my efforts. I need to work a bit more on the finish…but… “It will cut” as they say.

Tiller’s International is an institution that strives to bring old, early American methods in farming and homesteading to poor countries. They build small agricultural equipment out of materials found in those poor countries, like rebar, shipping containers, and bicycle parts. They make hand tools and oxen pulled pieces as well.

The international part of the Tiller’s mission, is made possible by training learned from preserving America’s past. I am glad they share. Classes in timber framing, tool making, coopering, tin smithing, commercial barrel making from white oak staves, oxen and draft horse driving basics and more. Check out their website for classes and events at http://www.tillersinternational.org  This non-profit organization can use your help, why not enrich your life while helping them out?  It worked good for me as I was able to “steel away for the weekend!”



Artistic?
May 26, 2018, 12:32 pm
Filed under: May 2018 | Tags: , , , , , ,

coldcowboy

May 26, 2018

I worked in the forge room the other night. I scavenged a couple old horseshoes, a rock and a washer. I made this old cowboy warming himself by the fire. My daughter-in-law says that his fire needs some help, but you get the idea. I thought he was neat. One of my friends said that he could see my artistic side coming out! I never thought about it that way. I can usually just bend words in a pleasing way…this steel bending is very new to me.

ralphforge

I will say that I am enjoying this new hobby. Now that I am retired, I have more time to work and play with it. I can see a whole world opening up. This hobby is only limited by a man’s imagination. I should be fine, because my imagination is practically limitless!

The fields are drying out. Our planting will commence soon. The garden too will be off and growing soon. Hay fields are looking very good and the pastures are lush with grass. The timber harvest is started, so my forge time is on hold a bit. I don’t mind. I waited for a long time to do this, so working it in around my other passions, is no problem.



Spring Chores
May 8, 2018, 2:04 pm
Filed under: May 2018 | Tags: , , , , , ,

hammeringJohn

May 8, 2018

Our spring continued to be evasive. Long hours and too many days at my off farm job has caused delays in getting into the fields. It’s no big deal. The soil is just starting to warm and dry enough to work it anyway. I am spending time with family, especially the little ones.

My grandson continues to like blacksmithing. He is coming along very well. He started banging and bending horseshoe nails. He has now moved up to steel stock. He likes the coal forge and turning the blower crank, but hammering hot iron is his favorite!

Two of our grandchildren live here on the farm with us. They live next door, but seek out Pa-pa and Grammy often. They like feeding the chickens ear corn. They would shell corn until the chickens burst, but understand why we don’t.

sissychick

So spring is here…finally. The horses and I will soon be in the fields. The animals are grazing spring pastures, but are still munching a little hay. The leaves on the trees are starting to pop. Most of the shedding winter coats is a memory and garden planting looms on the horizon. I can’t say that I have wasted one minute…but it is sure time for Spring Chores.



Forging into the New Year
December 31, 2017, 1:12 pm
Filed under: December 2017 | Tags: , , , ,

forgesetup

December 31, 2017

What a year 2017 has been for all of us here at the farm and around the country as well. I, of course, have been outfitted with two new knees. The farm has three new building additions. The feedlot was expanded. The female animal numbers have been increased for future breeding prospects with the sheep and cattle…and Abby the Percheron too I guess. The forge shop is all set up for useful future projects and a little fun too. These things make me happy, but one of the most wonderful things that happened in 2017, was having all of our family present at one time, to break bread and make memories! It was awesome and will be repeated at least annually from now on.

We got the forge shop all set up last week. I warmed the chimney and built the first fire in the forge. My sessions are very short, but positive none-the-less. Yesterday, I played around and made a tiny cowboy hat paperweight.

cowboyhat1

It was fun to make this little trinket. I have much to learn, but I had a good time. I even felt a little productive!

2018, will be here in a few hours. I wish for all of my readers a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year! I pray that you can fill it with family and friends. The older that I get, the more I realize that family and friends are what truly matters in life…everything else is fluff. Sure, we need jobs and we have to make a living…but don’t get so caught up in making a living that we forget to make a life!            Happy New Year Everyone!



Making Old, New Again
September 19, 2017, 2:45 pm
Filed under: September 2017 | Tags: , , , ,

postvice

September 19, 2017

It is a wonderful feeling to take something old and make it new again. In the photo above an old Leg Vice is pictured. I bought this thing years ago for $75.00. It was buried in dirt and covered in rust and cobwebs. My wife was pretty sure that I was crazy, but I could see what could be. I just needed time to make it new again. Just as my “new” knee replaced my worn out old one, I knew I could make this old blacksmith vice usable again.

I enlisted the help of my friend Ron to do some welding. I bought the scrap round plate from my friend Dave in Michigan. We assembled the vice so that it can be rolled out when needed and stored against the shop wall, out of the way, the rest of the time. I think it turned out very well. I need to forge a new spring to replace the one that is missing, but that will be a fun future project.

I spent almost three days disassembling and cleaning the old vice ( probably should have taken only half a day). I move real slow at the moment. Lifting is a challenge and speed is a memory, but the progress is wonderful. I am thinking very soon I will be using the old vice to make ornamental hooks, latches, candle holders and all sorts of stuff. I am getting excited or perhaps it’s just because all this downtime is making me stir crazy?! Oh well, These little projects are keeping me busy and helping me to do useful things as well! That for sure is making something old new again!



Forging Ahead
September 17, 2017, 10:19 pm
Filed under: September 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

forgeroom

September 17, 2017

I continue to heal and am starting to get around a little. I sit a lot and move slow, but mostly in a forward direction! Progress is slow but steady. I have been working in my old shop. I am slowly turning it into a forge room. I want to do blacksmithing in my retirement years. It is a hobby that I have embraced for years but have not had the time to devote to it.

I have been acquiring tools and equipment for the last 30 years. These last few days, I have been wire brushing tools, hanging up stuff and restoring order. I had to move a bunch of junk (also known as treasure :o)  Some of the stuff my wife has been helping me sort and move. The heavy stuff, I have been relying on friends and family to move as I direct. I am very sure EVERYONE will be happy when my knee replacement is finally healed!

I am pretty impressed with my use of wood. An oak log made good anvil stands. One stump is almost thirty years old. A pair of horses of mine dragged it out of the woods in 1991. My small anvil has sat on it since. I painted it down with boiled linseed oil again today. I think it made it look almost new again.

The cone mandrel ( the dunce looking thing) is actually one that goes in a hardy hole in an anvil. I took a log, shaved it down with my chainsaw and placed the mandrel on top. I’m sure it will work fine to make an occasional ring when needed. I can roll it around the shop as needed when needed. I have less than $80.00 invested, A real one made for the purpose of forming rings costs well over a thousand dollars if you can find one.

I’m pretty happy with my efforts so far. Last week this stuff was covered in rust and dust. I used a bunch of rags, lots of WD-40 and a wire wheel on a drill. I wore out a pair of pants from sitting so long. I messed up an apron, trying to keep some of the grime off me. I’m not sure it worked, because it took almost half a bar of lava soap to clean my face and arms. Oh well, I’m keeping busy and forging ahead.