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.

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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.

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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!

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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!”



And So It Continues…
December 23, 2017, 10:35 am
Filed under: December 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

hammeringjohnny

December 23, 2017

As a small farmer, especially one who uses draft horses for much of our farm’s power requirements, it is thrilling when a son, grandson or any family member asks me how to do something. I get asked questions about gardening, animal husbandry, woodlands, and many things relating to the vocation that I love. When my grandson John asked me about forging, I was pleased.

I can’t really do too much yet due to my recent knee replacements, but I managed to sit in the shop and guide John as he made some hooks out of horseshoe nails. I got him a hammer better sized for him. Pliers took the place of a set of tongs. Our heat source was a propane torch. That small torch supplied ample heat to make the thin nails red hot, much to the delight of my grandson.

In no time at all he had mastered the skill of hitting a target with the hammer multiple times in the same spot. He is a fan of the television show, “Forged In Fire”. He was sure hammering steel was an easy task, he soon learned differently. As his skills improved, he moved on to using a pair of needle nosed pliers to scroll the hot metal into hooks. After just a couple lessons from me, he had it. He did a great job for a seven year old boy who had never set foot in a shop.

I am sure that we have discovered a “thing” to do. Sure we will talk about metal and projects, but we will also talk about how to treat a woman, the value of giving and keeping your word, the power in an honest man’s eye and that thanks to God above, men as well as steel, get second chances. I hope to guide him as he becomes a man.

I am so blessed to have been able to bond with many, in special relationships. I have taught skills, exposed some to unknown adventures that became life passions and kept a few from doing bad things. I am grateful for these connections. I look forward to passing on my skills, my experiences, my advice and my lifestyle, especially to lose I love and who love me back. The fact that I get to share with folks outside of the family is a wonderful thing as well.

I am elated when I get a note from a friend who has just butchered his first farm raised pig or ate a meal from their garden. I like it when someone lets me know how much they appreciate me helping them make a plan for their woodlot or lay out a farming plan. I gathered my knowledge over time and from folks who could stand the questions from a little boy, and trialing those things in my own life. It is my life’s mission to share these things as often as I can…..and so it continues!