A belated 21st birthday surprise for my brother (Jack) saw the Standens descending on rural Devon for a course in black smithing. Hosted by Dave Budd, the course was a three day axe making adventure. Starting with a piece of tool steel, we created a functioning hatchet with handle and sheath. All of this was done by hand on replica Iron-Age clay forges with hand powered air blowers or bellows. The outdoor workshop was really cool, set in the woods where we made camp. All food was carted in and cooked by yours truly for the hungry smiths. "Old Reliable" my dutch oven, did sterling service, even if I did over prepare. Personally I don't think its over the top to bring a cafetiere on a camping trip... We met our friend Will in the wood, he had managed to get from Preston to within about 5 miles of the wood before running out of diesel! On the last night we had a massive home made baked bean and jacket potato dinner with Will's lovely family and Jack kept everyone entertained with plenty of guitar playing.
The course was really interesting, covering all stages of tool making: forging, punching and drifting an eye, hardening, tempering, grinding and sharpening. We also made and fitted a handle of Ash and made a leather sheath to keep fingers safe! We even had a little time to make some ornaments which look great with a glistening coat of bees wax.
The teacher at his forge.
Students listening diligently...
Some processes need an extra pair of hands.
Forged and handled, grinding and sharpening left to do.
The finished articles. Left to right: Will's adze, Jack's axe, Dad's axe, my axe, Dave's axe.
Left to right: Will, Jack, Dave, me and Dad (Terry).
As if I need any more hobbies... This is a good one though, black smithing is so different from any craft I have done before. Its very natural and humble and earthy but it has a tantalising feel of industrialisation and a magic and alchemy of actively changing the material you work (on a molecular level), rather than just modifying it as you might do with wood. I'm looking forward to practicing when we can get a forge up and running...