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Vern Wimmer

The first warm evening

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Of the year and it makes me philosophical. Watched the sun set and the bats were out performing their aerial acrobatics. A night for pondering.

My mind drifts to history, the past in general. I'm thinking about what we do and how we discuss it on the forum and the bladesmithing myths some of us have heard all our lives. I have concluded that the root myth, in America at least, is that of "secret techniques of steels, tempering and such that 'Smith's have kept to themselves and never shared". Now I am not saying that there haven't been 'Smith's that didn't keep methods secret but those kind of folks are that way no matter what they are doing. I don't think, by and large, knife making could have existed and developed in a vaccum. Get a couple of us in a room full of people and we will find each other and will be talking tempering temperatures in about 15 minutes.

We do know more about steel and have far more options than 'Smith's did 150 years ago but I have a feeling they were just like us. They shared knowledge amongst themselves and learned from each other. It is those outside the craft looking in who looked at a knife and couldn't grasp how It was made that started the tales. I have read a lot of old books and histories and it seems that the tales always come out of the mouths of people who didn't make the knife. I have read a lot of "brags" but none from the guy who made the knife. 

Today we probably have more individuals making knives, of all different levels, per capita, than ever before. It only figures because we have more disposable income per capita. How many of us have heard of a 'Smith with some "secret method" today? There are a few, as always, but I am willing to bet, percentage wise, less than in the past. Yes the internet and the science of metallurgy have made  "public information" out of "trade info" but that has been good for all and I have never heard of a 'Smith today who feels threatened by someone else's work or who won't share knowledge with others.

I think we represent the makers of the past very well. If they could have gotten together in a convention it would only differ from this forum in the technology we have today, the conversations would sound very familiar.

Just a warm evening's thoughts.

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Only "Fluffy" uses secret methods....:rolleyes:

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And I hope the forge gods allow him to keep his secrets......All to himself.

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It would be nice to finally meet another bladesmith face to face... You might be right Vern, people generally want to share what they know. 

My best friend used to be my parter in crime when we first started out, but he wasn't in love with it as I was. He was good at it though; as good as me; better at heat treating at the time. He saw the decalescence shadows better. We didn't know the name, or what caused the shadows, but he knew what they meant. Me, I took it to orange and hoped for the best.

But, we started like any other cave dwelling kids may have. We built a campfire, supplied air via a plywood board, and improvised. We slowly evolved off each other's knowledge. He built a coal forge, and then I built one to match. I made a tomahawk, then showed him how I did it.

Someday I'll have to join a guild. 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Zeb Camper said:

 

Someday I'll have to join a guild. 

 

 

You know, being on this forum you already have. After all what is a guild really?

There is another thread in the beginners place that got sidetracked into a discussion of the forum and how nice it is. 99% of that is because of the efforts of those that were here before you and I but I think the other 1% is because of the guild-like feeling here. A beginner with a brake drum charcoal forge and a railroad track anvil can ask a question and get a decent answer from someone with years of experience a costly power hammer, tempering oven, expensive belt grinder, who is probably using the same steel in his pattern welded pieces as the beginner looking at a piece and wondering what to do, and that experienced person remembers those days and treats the beginner as he, himself, would like to have been(and maybe was) treated back then. 

Hard to say that it doesn't amount to a guild.

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Don't get me wrong. I think this is better than a guild. So much info in one place and tons of great people willing to share their know how. 

But, there is no ability to say "hey buddy, you're holding that tool wrong. Try it like this.", or, "You're fluxing that way too much" "get that a bit hotter". You know what I'm saying? 

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Around here that would be called "A boss" and you probably wouldn't like that. Funny, people are fine paying money to get that but resent it at a  job when they are getting paid.

(Sorry, my inner foreman comes out once in a while)

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I think I lost ya. I meant learning by example in a mutual way. Like me and my buddy used to. 

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I was just remembering a certain hammerhead I had on my crew once. Paid money to go to a craft seminar on the weekend but resented it when I was paying him and tried to teach him something

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I'm semi-allergic to anything resembling a club, fully allergic to people politics and BS.

A friend and myself are trying to get the locals together, and my mentor suggested the same, but we've not been very successful so far.

My take on the trade secrets in this game is very simple - you might have the information, the secret, but you still have to do it.......use it.

That's why I share what I've learned at the drop of the hat, invite people over and show them.

Out of several, only one person has taken the initiative. Most of the rest wants to give me a piece of leafspring in exchange for a knife. 

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Wait....a warm evening in Gold Beach??!!

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13 minutes ago, SteveShimanek said:

Wait....a warm evening in Gold Beach??!!

Hey now, it was a whole 68 degrees and the wind actually stopped for 5 minutes in our little valley, well, it shifted direction so it blew over the top of the valley instead of down it .

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I get cold here when it drops below 80....a far cry from my teenage days there running around all winter in just a logger shirt.

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On 6/13/2018 at 7:42 PM, Vern Wimmer said:

I was just remembering a certain hammerhead I had on my crew once. Paid money to go to a craft seminar on the weekend but resented it when I was paying him and tried to teach him something

Do'h

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On 6/15/2018 at 3:45 AM, Gerhard said:

I'm semi-allergic to anything resembling a club, fully allergic to people politics and BS.

I am reminded of a Groucho Marx quote that went something like this:

"I wouldn't belong to any club or organization that would allow someone like me to be a member"

On 6/13/2018 at 6:43 PM, Zeb Camper said:

Don't get me wrong. I think this is better than a guild. So much info in one place and tons of great people willing to share their know how. 

But, there is no ability to say "hey buddy, you're holding that tool wrong. Try it like this.", or, "You're fluxing that way too much" "get that a bit hotter". You know what I'm saying? 

I think what you are saying is that you would benefit from hands-on collaborative working. The answer is yes. There is no comparing the written discussion with two smiths standing at the anvil together. It looks like the closest ABANA affiliate to you is Old Dominion Blacksmith Assoc. You might want to see if they have any open forges or events planned.

https://abana.org/affiliates/affiliate-map-list/#!biz/id/596ff30d9865a16110706f24/Contact

 

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24 minutes ago, Joshua States said:

I am reminded of a Groucho Marx quote that went something like this:

"I wouldn't belong to any club or organization that would allow someone like me to be a member"

 

Watch it!!!!

Groucho also said,

"I've got a good mind to join a club and beat you with it"

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6 hours ago, Joshua States said:

 

I think what you are saying is that you would benefit from hands-on collaborative working. The answer is yes. There is no comparing the written discussion with two smiths standing at the anvil together. It looks like the closest ABANA affiliate to you is Old Dominion Blacksmith Assoc. You might want to see if they have any open forges or events planned.

https://abana.org/affiliates/affiliate-map-list/#!biz/id/596ff30d9865a16110706f24/Contact

 

Exactly!

I'll look into that. Im not sure I have enough spare time and money to make any firm commitments, but I'll look into it. 

Thanks! 

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1 hour ago, Zeb Camper said:

Exactly!

I'll look into that. Im not sure I have enough spare time and money to make any firm commitments, but I'll look into it. 

Thanks! 

Here's the rub, and it's not just aimed at you Zeb, it's just a general statement out there for folks who are in this craft and want to learn more, do more, achieve new goals, etc.

Don't think of it as "Time and money spent". Think of it as an investment in yourself.

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25 minutes ago, Joshua States said:

 

Don't think of it as "Time and money spent". Think of it as an investment in yourself.

You make a good point.

But I just need to decide if this will actually help, or if it's a bunch of 50+ year olds getting drunk watching one guy work. I can't justify 2 hour drives and membership fees if I'm not learning. 

I looked at the website but I got no clear reading on the types of events. For instance, the info posted about the Richmond conference talked about historical sites, scenery, beer, and food. Nothing was mentioned about smithing. The gallery is  practically bare. 

I hear ABANA is a really good group, but I am catiously skeptical. I try to say what I mean, and follow through. I can't yet say that I would join without more info. 

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Well this was a great hint :lol: sounds like fun! 

I'll give it a closer look in the morning. 

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Posted (edited)

The ABANA conferences are freaking awesome. Too bad you missed this year's event. The Teaching Tent line up looked killer.

Local ABANA Affiliate events usually have one price for members and a slightly higher price for non-members. (usually $15-$20) Some of them give free entry when you bring something for Iron in the Hat. It looks like Old Dom doesn't charge a membership fee so everyone pays the same. 

Old Dominion doesn't have anything scheduled for July or August, but they do have a September event in Long Island VA. Chances are good that if you go, you will meet a bunch of like-minded folks who you can start to network with. I would say Do it. What have you got to lose? $15, some gas, and a day of your time.

What can you gain?

 

 

Edited by Joshua States

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14 hours ago, Zeb Camper said:

You make a good point.

But I just need to decide if this will actually help, or if it's a bunch of 50+ year olds getting drunk watching one guy work. I can't justify 2 hour drives and membership fees if I'm not learning. 

We are a bunch of old guys standing around watching some other old guy.  Why just a few months ago, we stood around and watched Fred Crist demo in his shop.  
I'm 58. so you'll definitely do not want to come to my workshop.  I only drive 5 hours that day and spend another 4 hours getting everything ready for the show.  
You might want to read the web site or call and ask one of us about whats happening before you post.

 

 

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13 hours ago, Joshua States said:

The ABANA conferences are freaking awesome. Too bad you missed this year's event. The Teaching Tent line up looked killer.

 

The teaching tent was rocking and if blades are your flavor, there was three ABS master smiths doing demos for four days.  Gerald Franklin, John McLellan, Bob Menard, Mark Aspery and myself made up the team of instructors and we ran four classes a day for four days.  If you had gone to a craft school and got the same, it would have been $500-600 just for what the teaching tent did, let alone all the other stuff that was happening.

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You never know what will happen when you join your local guild, ABANA affiliate or not.  My own guild, Bristol Forge at Rocky Mount (confusingly located in Johnson City, Tennessee) has monthly meetings.  Sometimes we stand around and talk (no beer, it's a state park), but usually someone will demo something.  You might see me making a tomahawk or axe, or showing a new kid how to forge bevels.  Once I forged a Tennessee-style buttplate for a longrifle.  I don't demo often, though. You might see a professional smith making reproduction colonial hardware for Historic Housefitters.com.  Three months ago ABS mastersmith Jason Knight dropped in and forged an integral out of 3/4" round 1084 from Hitachi, while at that same meeting a guy who works at a bearing plant brought a bucket of 3.5" ball bearings, 1x2" roller bearings, and several feet of raw 52100 round bar, which he was giving away.  For free. 

Anyone who has been to a class somewhere will demo what they learned when they get back.  If ornamental is your thing, we occasionally have Paul Lundquist, who apprenticed with Francis Whitaker and also with some guy in Germany who had a water-powered trip hammer.

And I may note this guild is in a primitive shop with no power hammers.  Imagine what we'd do with gas forges, power hammers, and presses.  

And you (Zeb) are not all that far away.

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1 hour ago, Gerald Boggs said:

We are a bunch of old guys standing around watching some other old guy.  Why just a few months ago, we stood around and watched Fred Crist demo in his shop.  
I'm 58. so you'll definitely do not want to come to my workshop.  I only drive 5 hours that day and spend another 4 hours getting everything ready for the show.  
You might want to read the web site or call and ask one of us about whats happening before you post.

 

 

Sorry if I offended you Gerald. That's totally not what I meant by that. 

 I tried reading your guy's website, but it didn't give me much info. I guess I should have messaged you directly and I apologize.

I am a hands on learner and was just unsure of what goes on. The activities I described were meant to be taken in a light hearted joking manner. Whenever I try to type more formal messages such as this one I feel like the tone is too seriouse to fit my personality. But that is the trouble with text; the tone is interpreted by the reader. As I said, you guys have a great aura or reputation as one of the best guilds (if not the best).

Should we ever meet I hope I could change your impression of me as I can sense a lot of negativity. 

It won't happen again :) 

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