Tuesday, July 19, 2011

updates from the forge and other stuff

Various construction projects have continued around the place, along with the maintainance for 60 acres, so that has pretty effectively taken me away from the blacksmith shop for a while. Our work is not completely unrelated, as the construction we are doing is all in the barn/shop. Every day we spend working on that, is one day closer to having the shop finished. I still have to close in the open wall next to my forge, finish out the steel room walls, cut out the steps to the steel room, and wire the steel room and one whole wall in my shop area. I'm going to convert my old steel rack to a scrap steel rack for holding short bars under 5 feet in length, and I'm making an upright steel rack to replace the old one, for long stock. That is a several-days project there. PLENTY TO DO!

I went outside of my shop the other day, only to notice that the first five foot section of flue pipe that pulls the smoke off of the forge fire is burned out. It is thin pipe and it works good for smoke but it can't take the heat. Now I can punch my finger through it. This will require a trip to the steel yard to purchase some sheet metal. I will use the sheet material to fabricate my own flue pipe. It will be a heavier material and will be able to withstand the higher temperatures that reach the first section of pipe.

While I have not been able to do much real blacksmithing lately, I have still been working to improve tools and fix up the shop.

The power hammer I bought is controlled by a foot pedal like all power hammers. The difference with mine though, was that the foot pedal was not attached to the hammer. This means that while I'm trying to press the pedal in to hammer metal, the foot pedal is constantly wanting to slide around on me. I decided to do away with the detached pedal and convert it to an attached pedal. This type pedal gives the hammer a more tidy appearence, and also makes it possible to work from any angle around the hammer.
This is the new pedal!

This is the air valve system that the pedal controls.

These are recovery springs that hold the weight of the treadle.

I also made what is known as a "guilotine tool." The guilotine tool is a VERY handy tool around the blacksmith shop, as it takes the place of tools that require three hands to use. Seeing that I only have two hands, a tool that requires three hands to use is quite a pain. The purpose of the guilotine tool is to isolate metal. It works quite like a pair of scissors. Metal goes between the top and bottom "dies" of the guilotine tool and the top "die" is hammered by the smith. Depending on the type of "die" in the guilotine tool, the metal can be cut, rounded, or thinned in a certain area. The guilotine tool fits into the square hole on the anvil.

My little brother Titus is getting not so little. He is nearly as tall as I am, even though there are six years between us. (I can still stomp on him if he get's cocky though!)
Anyway, he has gotten long enough to drive the tractor. It's a good thing too because we have 30 acres of pasture that need cutting.

My turn to teach as my Grandad and my Dad taught me!

It would appear that Dad is downsizing in his "older" age!

If you will click on THIS LINK you will see that my older sister, Kayla, seems to find some amusement in posting odd pictures of me. (It doesn't seem to be difficult to get those odd pictures, I will confess. I seem to be pretty good at doing odd things frequently.) So anyway, I've got a couple of her myself. (Well, she should know better than to give me her camera and say "take some pictures for me!")

This is one of her "come Dave, just tell me how to operate this stupid thing will-ya?" moments!

And finally I'll do an odd one of both of us. I got my bow out of one of our storage buildings yesterday. There is a little rubber tube on it that I had to replace, and the thing about it is you have to put this TINY rubber tube over a very large plastic stob. Well, after I had tried with negative success, I wrapped my arm around Kayla (much to her distress,) and said, " would you PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAASE help me." She was working on turning a pocket-book strap that she had just made, right side out, and she was having a difficult time doing it. So, she said "sure I'll do it," and took the bow from me and handed me the pocket-book strap.

Just a bit backwards, I know!

Dave Custer
Fiery Furnace Forge Blacksmith LLC

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Custom Fireplace Screen: private residence Louisville, Kentucky
 fireplace set with an organic tree theme, private residence, North Carolina

detail of tool handles

detail of hooks on tool stand

custom fireplace mantle for a client in Columbia Kentucky
This particular fireplace mantle was designed and built to feature hidden joinery, a hook bar for Christmas stockings, beautiful flared fish-tail ends, and a hammer-textured and hand-sanded finish.


special order leaf hooks installed as bath towel hangers
private residence, North Carolina

sample cabinet pull created for a client in Louisville Kentucky

leaf-themed hand towel holder
private residence, North Carolina

custom design oven door for an exterior stone, wood-fired oven in North Georgia
This door was built so that a ceramic centerpiece could slide into the center. The clients home theme is frogs, so I used a chisel texture on the door to give it a rippling water affect.


candle holder featuring water-leaf accents, rippled candle cups and wax trays, and all traditional joinery


detail of potrack installed in a North Carolina cabin
this design features antique style hammer-texturing, hand-sanded surfaces, traditional joinery, adjustable pot hook positioning.

custom fireplace screen designed to feature hammer-texured and hand-sanded surfaces, traditional and hidden joinery, upset flared ends, double twisted ring handles, and copper accents


My touchmark is set in an antiqued copper plate

custom horseshoe sign for a North Georgia client

matching set of 20-inch steak turners

historical reproductions

custom cooking hook for one of my North Georgia clients

set of custom door hasps built to the specs of a North Georgia client.

traditionaly forged, 18th century kettle tilter and hook

traditionaly forged, 18th century four-bar grill

traditionaly forged, 18th century side crane for fireplace cooking

Fiery Furnace Forge Blacksmith LLC

Sunday, July 10, 2011

John C Campbell

Once again I have complete another week of blacksmithing instruction at John C Campbell Folk School. This class was the most taxing of the classes I have taken, and it took my utmost exertion to keep up and complete the projects. The projects themselves were not large projects, but they each contained several parts and many new techniques.

This class was all about 18th Century Hearth Equipment.

For the most part we used traditional methods and did not use a lot of modern tooling. Some people would argue that using a drill press or power hammer is not traditional but that just shows their historical ignorance on blacksmithing. Drill presses have been around in a variety of forms since Roman times and so have power hammers. The driving force behind these tools is the only thing that has changed, and their purpose and principle of function remains the same. (Hole punching was always more prominent than drilling because punches lasted longer than drills. Punching is a fundamental blacksmithing skill.)

Havng cleared up that fog, let us continue!

We travelled the day before Independence Day, and since our route lays across the tourest area of the Occoee River, traffic was bad. However, we arrived safely and without incident.

We were camping this time, so after we registered, we went to stake our claim in the campground, pitch the tent, awning, and set up the loads of comfies I brought along!

After supper, Mom went shopping and I went to meet the instructor and the class-mates I would share the week with. (CLARIFICATION: Mom and I were the ones who made this trip. Mom was a guest of the folk school.)

This class was so fast paced that I was not able to take time to get pictures. Mom visited the shop once with the camera and got a few shots but that is about all. I do have a couple of interesting photos of the scenery and some other stuff though.

First, before the trip we noticed the back left tire of the truck was sagging. We filled it up and made the trip without any problems. However, by day number two on the campus, it WAS sagging big time! Mom drove the truck to the blacksith shop, and my friend Chase and I played pit crew for a few minutes. As a matter of course, we had to pop the hood to change the tire.

I popped the lug nut cap, and jacked the truck up while Chase dropped the spare. 

How many teenage boys does it take to change a tire?

People at John C. Campbell have the right idea about coffee. In fact there is a whole room of the main Campus house that is called the Coffee Room. They serve coffee there from 6 A.M. to 10 P.M. I take full advantage of such a wonderful thing!

Here is some of the scenery found everywhere around the campus.

Here are a few shop photos.

One: Tending the fire!

Two: This is one of two or three seconds total that I had for leisure time! :D

Three: Back to work!

I got a lot of pictures from show and tell where all the classes show-case the work that they have completed throughout the week. Here are a couple. 
First: wood carving. The entire wood carving class including the teacher had left, save for one man and this AMAZING piece he completed. 

This is the young lady that braved the campground with us along with her project in mixed media.

This is one of my class-mates standing beside the blacksmith show table.

The blacksmith table.

The instructor and one of my classmates.

This was completed in the wood-turning class. The whole class turned out some of the most beautiful wood-turned pieces I have ever seen.

Ok so that is all from the school. Since it is difficult to see the pieces when they are sitting on the table at show and tell, I did a photo run of my pieces here in my shop.

First project completed on Monday the fourth: 18th Century Kettle Tilter and hook.

The kettle tilter holds a water kettle to always keep water warm. When the water is hot, the long handle is rotated downward. A thumb holds the kettle in place as it is tilted and the water poured out.

Here is the thumb that holds the pot down. See how it is attached back to the long handle at the pivot point. 

Second project done on Tuesday the fifth: 18th Century Four-Bar Grill.

Third projected completed on Wednesday the sixth: The 18th Century Lark Spit.
Actually no one finished the lark spit on the Wednesday. We had to finish it Thursay.

Fourth project completed on Thrusday the seventh: 18th Century Side Crane.
The brackets on the left are what the crane swings on. These brackets are installed into the concrete on either side of the fireplace.
These brackets are called pintels.

And that is all folks!