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Tools of the Trade

Intermediate Blacksmithing

with Megan & Mike of AC Ironworks in Ontario

The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire. – Author Unknown

This class is directed towards the blacksmith who’s looking to outfit their shop with tools for everyday forge work. We will spend each day focusing on one type of tool with any heat treating or finishing work to be done on the last day. Starting with measurement tools that can make a blacksmiths work flow with ease, a basic pair of callipers can help a blacksmith to size their workpiece quickly and efficiently. Next we will cover the basics of tong making and then build on these basics to forge a few different pairs, ranging from box jaw to scrolling tongs. For the hammers section of the class, students will work in teams to each forge a flatter, a top tool great for finishing your work. On the last day we will finish up any unfinished projects and heat treat our flatters. During this course we will be able to work with the beginner with some forging experience to the more advanced smith and if time permits we can tackle a more specialized tool such as 3 leaf dividers.

This course will provide a sound understanding of basic blacksmith skills and tools. Participants will be guided through a series of hands-on lessons that culminate in knowledge of how to move and form hot steel with hammer and anvil.

Outcomes 

  • A variety of tools will be completed for take home.

  • Basic forging skills will be practiced & improved.

  • Practice working in a team for striking.

  • More advanced skills like forge welding & heat treating will be practiced.

Prerequisites

This course can be catered to a wide range of skill levels – from the beginner to the more experienced. Some blacksmithing experience is required with a basic understanding of the process and hammer control skills.

Date: Tuesday, July 2nd – Friday, July 5th 


Tuition: $620
Includes:
  • Early Bird Course Tuition: $495
    20 Hours of Course Time
  • Material & Equipment Fee of $125
  • Daily “Boreal Bites”  
  • Morning Yoga
  • An unforgettable experience

Inclusive Price: $620 – $1070
Inclusive Price varies based on chosen meal plan & accommodation during your time at forestART. See FAQ’s for more info!

Contact Us
We are happy to help answer any questions you have about forestART!

Phone: 306 480 9010
Email: nesscreekforestart@gmail.com

Your Instructors : Megan Carter & Mike Armstrong

Mike Armstrong and Megan Carter began their education as blacksmiths in 2010 at Halliburton School of The Arts and Design. Since then it has been a path of learning and exploration into the medium. In North America where the tradition of apprenticeship is not strong, they have had to seek out their teachers. Spending time visiting and working in other smith’s shops, attending demonstrations and workshops is always a great source of inspiration, providing the fuel to carry on a new path or to try a new technique. During this time of learning from other smiths, Mike and Megan have developed a passion for collecting and studying old ironwork. Working to determine the tools, techniques and process of how these old items were made can be challenging – yet satisfying when a hypothesized technique is tried with success.

In 2012 Mike and Megan joined their skills and efforts to form their business Armstrong and Carter Ironworks located in Georgetown, Ontario. Their work ranges from architectural pieces to custom furniture. Currently their interests have turned towards working with wrought iron to reproduce period pieces more accurately. These projects are usually inspired by antique examples with a focus on locks, door hardware, kitchen utensils and hand tools. More about them here!

Testimonials

“A outstanding and unique learning experience in the wild boreal forest of Saskatchewan. The outdoor "bush" Blacksmithing workshop at Ness Creek was an inspiring environment that supported my creative process.


Debi Anderson
2018 Course Participant
"My instructors, Megan and Mike, made the course material very approachable and did an excellent job of guiding us through developing the Blacksmithing skills we required for the projects. They offered a very personalized level of support tailored to each student's requirements and offered insight into both the historical aspects of the craft as well as what it's like to be a blacksmith in the present. I completed the Intermediate Level course and have every intention of continuing. I highly recommend this experience with them if you are at all interested in trying it out."
Former Student

Photos

FAQ & More Info

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for blacksmithing is mostly common sense. Cotton and leather clothing, no synthetics that melt in high heat or spark.

Safety eye ware is highly recommended. Non prescription safety glasses are easily available. A larger version or goggles can be used over prescription glasses.

Gloves help protect you from burns and blisters. Snug fitting leather gloves offer better dexterity and control while a much looser fit can be flung off in a single motion if required. Craig often wears a glove on his left hand and almost never on his right (hammer) hand.

Hearing protection is a must. Disposable roll-up foam earplugs or the over-the-ear cup-style hearing defenders; both are fine.

Many smiths employ a leather apron or chaps. (The instructor does not.) Canadian Tire, Lee Valley and sometimes Princess Auto sell leather aprons.

Headgear keeps ash from the coal fire out of your hair. A hat, bandana or no head gear is your choice.

– Experience maintaining a nice hot coal fire
–  Hammer control skills and comfort with using hand tools
–  Some experience punching holes or slitting and drifting
–  A basic understanding and comfort level with forging hot metal
  • Outside dimension measuring callipers
  • Two pairs of tongs
  • A flatter with a handle
  • Possibility of another tool of your choice.

If you want to challenge yourself with taking on the 3-leaf divider tool project, you’ll need to have a good wrap on the following: 

  • Precise hammer control
  • Efficiency the forge to achieve each step successfully
  • Comfort with forge welding to achieve the divider arms.

This project can be taken to the next level to also forge weld on steel tips. This requires skill in forge welding.

Tuesday 1pm: Official Start / Group Orientation

 

Tuesday PM:  – shop orientation and safety, light coal forges

                          – double callipers forging demonstration

                          – students forge double callipers and/or single callipers

                          – possible demo of a pair of 3 leaf dividers Tuesday or Wednesday evening.

 

Wednesday: – demo basics of forging tongs discussing different jaw options, forge welding reins or drawings out reins

                        – students forge their first pair of tongs

                        – demo some more advanced tong jaw shapes

                        – students begin their second pair of tongs

 

Thursday: – demonstration of upsetting the flatter face, students follow working in
                      teams

                   – demonstration of punching the eye and finishing the striking end of the tool

                   – students finish their flatters, normalize all flatters

Friday: – harden and temper flatters

              – finish up any outstanding projects.

Daily
Mornings
Optional Morning Yoga prior to Breakfast

Evenings
Early Evening Palette Cleanse Social hour with complimentary boreal bites, an opportunity to socialize and interact with the other art course participants to be inspired and make connections! 

Optional sauna, campfire time, storytelling, walks, swimming, etc.

Supplied by the student:

  • Leather and cotton clothing (no synthetics)
  • leather footware
  • safety eyeware
  • hearing protection
  • hat or bandanna (optional)
  • thermal mug / water bottle
  • note/sketch book
  • BYOB

Supplied by the Instructor – included in $125 Materials & Equipment Fee:

  • A fully equipped blacksmithing shop in the bush! 
  • Coal forges
  • Blacksmith coal
  • Anvils on stands
  • leg/post vises
  • tongs, chisels, punches, swages, fullers, and eye drifts.
  • All the metal need to practice on and for your projects.
  • Hacksaws & hammers
  • Special tooling for making flatters.
  • 4140 tools steel for flatters
  • Wooden handles for flatters.

It’s choose your own adventure, with options to suit every budget! You can cook all your own meals, pay for lunches only, or get the full meal deal. You can camp with or without power, bunk in with some fellow artists in shared accommodation, or rent a private cabin. 

Full Details on our Food & Accommodation Options can be found on the main forestART page or when you go to register!

Are You Joining Us?

We look forward to seeing you in Axes, Hatchets, & Tomahawks with Shawn Cunningham!

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