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When to start teaching ?

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Just musing. I've been playing with bladesmithing / hot metal for ten or fifteen years now. (and been involved in forging machinery my whole working life)


I have started to build an instagram presence for my kitchen knives, and every 3rd DM enquiry is now someone wanting to try making a knife.


I still feel like a noob making sometimes, yet I have seen someone who I know has 1 year experience total, and really does not know the basics of forging, running knife making / bladesmithing courses, and seemingly selling them out.


I've 'taught' in so much as I will sometimes have a 1/2 day with someone running them through forging a knife, if they have shown enough interest, and I enjoy doing so. They always go away buzzing. 


At the moment I don't need the money, and have enough on my plate, but charging for teaching could be something on the cards for the future, sooooo, to the gist of the thread!


Teachers, when did you feel ready for teaching ? what was the 'click point' you thought, or knew, you could charge for your experience?


Attendees of courses!  I have taken the odd paid for course, and I know my triggers for doing so, but what would make you part with your hard earned ?


All thoughts, however random, appreciated :)











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I struggled with it John, but it was always on my radar....went to Uni to learn to teach History.


Would think your niche would be to help smiths get more efficient with forging or prototyping their product line....with complement of selling a tool kit to do so.


My hurdles have been many. Insurance being one of them and it took a while to sort out.




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1 hour ago, Joël Mercier said:

Better hurry up before the FiF hype fade out :lol:

I cant wait. Remember when everyone wanted a chopper (useless motorcycle)?


I had wondered the same thing about teaching. I have had 8 people so far who've been interested in "lessons" or "apprenticeship" and I've had 3 down for heat treatment "class" (lessons, or whatevs) free of charge and after signing off on a crude liability statement typed up on an email. I really like teaching people who want to learn, though I think my second class went a little poorly as my grandmother had passed just prior the scheduled "class". The third one I think went really well.


If you can do something the right way and you know the ins and outs well enough to create a good consistent result; I say you're ready to start teaching. Maybe run a few free Guinea pig courses (though it seems you have).


What I do; since I'm new to this in a relative sense, and lack the knowledge and mostly tooling (though I'm working on that) to create a product within a manageable time frame: 

I teach heat treatment. I see this as the make or break for a good knife. They can fill in the other blanks as best they can and still make something hard and springy. 


So, I'll lay out the lowest C wrought I have next to 1018 all the way through W2 (all labeled with name and carbon content) and show them what high carbon sparks look like. Then I'll actually heat a piece of high carbon to welding heat and hold it for 5 minutes or so. Enough to swell the grains. I explain that its simulating a large grain structure similar to a forged piece. Harden and break it in the vise. Let em study it. Then I'll walk them through normalization and decalescence and all that noise to produce the right grain structure. I let them repeat the second and third sub-cycles of each normalizing cycle after I demonstrate the first. Then harden, break, inspect, and talk about temper cycles. If they seem engaged I might talk a little more in depth, but it's a case of information overload most of the time. This way they harden twice and witness decalescence and recalescence nearly a dozen times each. I thought a pamphlet would be a nice addition with all the info that was gone over in it (after running it by the hive mind of course). 


One thing I think is cool is letting them see what your working on now or something you've done as a finished product. I was fortunate enough to have a big ol' pattern welded long sax to show the last kid. His eyes lit up. I think he got hooked! 



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I'm obviously still learning, so I share what I know willingly and free with others on the journey.


What I have done before is friend came and made a knife at cost, and recently an ex-colleague asked to come make a cleaver, he offered to pay my price and do the work, or at least as much as he can, himself.

He's just finished building a guitar using the same deal with somebody else.

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I've been teaching history for 25 years and my first years were filled with the thought that I didn't know enough and "Am I doing this right?"  After 25 years, I still ask myself and colleagues... "is this the best way to do X".  In my opinion, to be a good teacher you need knowledge of the subject, passion for the subject, and a desire to share that with others.  If you have all three, you are ready to teach.  As for charging for your teaching, the cost should be commensurate with your knowledge of the subject and your skill in  conveying that knowledge.  


John, from what you've said (and the work you've shared here) I say you are more than ready to teach whenever you decide to work it into your life.

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