Shar­ing the black­smith skills

The Shed - - Blacksmith -

Judy’s time at Ni­chol’s Black­smith Shop is mostly spent giv­ing talks and demon­strat­ing black­smithing tech­niques to vis­i­tors. Peo­ple love to see her twist­ing metal.

“We’ve got a small gas forge here too. We got it through a grant from Merid­ian En­ergy. Vis­i­tors love the coal forge, but the gas is in­stant and it’s a lot cleaner.”

Most of the items made by the vol­un­teers are for sale al­though, Judy points out, Dave Hamer’s work is on dis­play solely to show the vol­un­teers what they might as­pire to: han­dles, a toi­let-roll holder, beau­ti­ful gate hinges, a coat hook made from car valves …

Over the win­ter of 2017 three vol­un­teers held work­ing bees to put guards around the belt-driven drill press, power hack­saw, and grind­ing stones. “Even though it’s not quite au­then­tic, it had to be done to com­ply with safety reg­u­la­tions.”

The forge is open week­ends from Labour week­end in Oc­to­ber to Queen’s Birth­day in June. Judy mounts demon­stra­tions for small groups and con­ducts be­gin­ners’ cour­ses by ap­point­ment.

Black­smith cour­ses for young and old

One thing you have to know: don’t talk to the black­smiths while they’re work­ing at the forge be­cause they can spend an hour mak­ing a piece and one mo­ment’s inat­ten­tion can cause them to burn it and it’s ru­ined.

“You can some­times cut off the dam­aged part and start again, de­pend­ing on where the burnt bit is, but you’ve just lost an hour’s work,” says Judy.

While she gets a lot of plea­sure from work­ing at the forge, more than any­thing Judy is ea­ger to in­tro­duce black­smithing to young peo­ple.

“We’ve es­tab­lished be­gin­ners’ cour­ses for the young ones, and their eyes light up when I kit them out with a leather apron, glasses, and gauntlets and get them go­ing. They work the bel­lows and have a go at ham­mer­ing the hot metal. We re­ally need these young peo­ple. They’re our fu­ture. We need them to be in­spired.

“It’s so re­ward­ing to pass on knowl­edge and skills. That’s where my pas­sion lies. Be­cause I can’t forge as much as I’d like to, I just want to get the young peo­ple in­volved.”

Vis­i­tors love to watch Judy bend­ing and twist­ing metal

A few tools of the trade

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