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Blacksmiths, craftsmanship, and why the secrecy

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by ancientsteels, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. golfer1


    Nov 24, 2016
    Time to go for it ancientsteels. You can do this; share your deformity if it is in the way and let the good people help. Ask the questions, get the answers, work the steel. Let us know how it is going.
    Skycool and milkbaby like this.
  2. ancientsteels


    Apr 13, 2018
    Thanks! I appreciate it!
  3. ancientsteels


    Apr 13, 2018
    Interesting. Thanks for the input
  4. ancientsteels


    Apr 13, 2018
    I cant seem to upload a picture of it, but my left arm is half of the length of my right, fused at the elbow, and has only two fingers on the hand.

    My right arm is completely normal.

    I can do most of what normal people do, and I don't have much trouble hanging on to my blacksmiths tongs or other tools with my left hand even though it only has two fingers, but any input is always welcome.
    And as always, if there is anything I can give input on feel free to ask. Ill share what knowledge I have.
  5. ancientsteels


    Apr 13, 2018
    Again thanks for all the replies and input, it is appreciated!
  6. Storm Crow

    Storm Crow

    Apr 12, 2006
    Two random people in the middle of nowhere Arizona (speaking as someone from the middle of nowhere Texas) is not a sampling of the blacksmithing/bladesmithing community at large. I didn't have anyone to learn from locally when I started back in the late '90s. Books from the library, Internet forums (initially on long-distance dialup) and later a few videos helped. If your Internet is that slow, visit the nearest library. Make use of inter-library loans.

    The number one resource I recommend to bladesmiths starting out, especially with limited budgets, is the video Hood's Woods Volume 9 featuring Tai Goo and Tim Lively, followed closely by Knifemaking Unplugged by Tim and Marian Lively and Tai Goo's several videos. Tai is around Tucson and occasionally has a hammer-in (not sure how often). Travis Weurtz is in Arizona and has a yearly hammer-in with a lot of folks coming in.

    If you're out in the boonies, you will need to travel to see someone work, or to access information online in a usable format. There is a tremendous amount of information available, as has been said; you aren't able to access it staying just local.
    P.Brewster likes this.
  7. P.Brewster


    Jul 25, 2007
    No need to apologize - I'm not mad whatsoever; this is not an emotional issue.

    Blacksmiths have something valuable that you want - time and knowledge. What have you offered in exchange for this wealth?

    Many people approach this situation as if they are entitled to have a piece of the craftsman's wealth (time and knowledge). My hunch is that you approached them with a sense of entitlement - but I wasn't there, so I'm only speculating. To clarify, if you offered nothing in exchange, then you approached the situation with a sense of entitlement.

    The premise of a how-to forum or hammer-in is that information (e.g. wealth) will be shared freely. This premise does not apply to a meeting between you and a blacksmith.
    12345678910, J. Doyle, javand and 2 others like this.
  8. milkbaby


    Aug 1, 2016
    With the state of the internet now, be you can pretty much teach yourself bladesmithing and knifemaking. Sure there are many different sources with differing info, but over time you can develop a feel for which ones are most reliable. For example, advice from the old timers here tends to be very reliable. This is one of the best places to ask questions when you run into a problem.

    Some people learn quicker with a good mentor in person, but if that's not an option, then you just have to make do.

    As for secrecy, mete already wrote that in the olden days there were guilds to protect esoteric knowledge of masons, bakers, blacksmiths, and other professions. When your family had depended on being the town blacksmith for generations back to the beginning of recorded history, you probably were not interested in sharing your knowledge to others who would become your and your children's competitor taking away your livelihood and standing in society.

    There are still some people who feel that way today, like they are afraid to create their own competitor. I find that the makers willing to share info are the majority though. Some will say they have a special heat treat regimen for specific steels they don't want to share because they spent a lot of time and energy to develop it. However, almost all that stuff is known, and any maker worth their salt will probably do tests each time they start on a new lot or new supplier of steel since the composition can vary within the range of specifications from batch to batch.

    Remember also that one of the best teachers is making mistakes! Screw up then try to figure out what the reason was. If you still can't figure it out, post here about it and it's almost guaranteed somebody will be able to point out the error and how you should correct it.

    Happy making to you!
  9. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2005
  10. Kevin McGovern

    Kevin McGovern KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 31, 2015
    oh, you mean the system that DIDN'T win two world wars?
    Skycool likes this.
  11. gdpolk

    gdpolk KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 19, 2011
    I don't understand your disposition. The vast majority of craftsmen that I have come across have all but bent over backwards to help me and teach me as I learn the craft. NONE of them have done it for free. Sometimes I pay them for their help (although that is extremely rare) but most of the time I have just approached their help with specific questions and offered to help out around their shop with some grunt work or just picking up some to compensate for their time. I bring them a snack or Sonic drink when I come out. I am humble and honest. I neither expect or accept anything for free...EVER! This is not a pride thing but quite frankly this hobby takes a lot of time and money to get into. Even if I show up to their place with all my own materials I'm still using their time (which costs them money in lost sales to teach me) and their tools which cost them both time and money to acquire. I am very respectful of this. My compensation for their knowledge can be in the form of help with car repairs, cleaning the shop a bit, referring them some customers, passing on good deals on tools, helping around the shop, dropping them some good materials that I find on steals, you name it.

    I'm not trying to sound judging as your experience may be different than mine but I don't understand the concept of not being able to acquire quality information and basic mentoring if you are being a friendly, hard working, and honest person. With the advent of Forged in Fire, I know a lot of bladesmiths that are taking in help/apprentices with much more caution than they used to because that show is romanticizing the process and bringing out some folks that really aren't committed to the hard work it takes to succeed as a knifemaker. However, even these guys who have openly admitted to being more cautious with their mentorship in the recent times all routinely have a few hard working guys coming out to learn, me included.
    P.Brewster likes this.
  12. ancientsteels


    Apr 13, 2018
    Have done library, etc. Very few books available. but i will look into the source you mentioned. Thanks!
    P.Brewster likes this.
  13. ancientsteels


    Apr 13, 2018
    I never approach any one with a sense of entitlement (no offense taken), I always offer what I have the most of, my ability and desire to learn, my help cleaning up tools shop etc. I NEVER expect something for nothing. Even here i offer to those who chime in what ever knowledge I may have (which is paltry in comparison to what a lot of you know), but I still offer what I have. I appreciate the feed back. It is good to hear some one make a suggestion and offer advice/critique, and will take what you said to heart.
    P.Brewster likes this.
  14. ancientsteels


    Apr 13, 2018
    Thanks for the input! And like you I NEVER expect or accept something for nothing. But in my position all I have to offer is my desire to learn, and help around the shop cleaning up.
    Maybe these two particular blade-smiths that I mentioned are just really crotchety and unfriendly. Thanks again!

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