The February meeting of the Central Arkansas Chapter of the Blacksmiths Association of Arkansas (CACBOA) was held on February 15th at the forge of Larry Layne, in Sheridan Arkansas.
Larry’s shop is a shrine to human-powered tools. In addition to the brick forge (laid by Larry’s lovely wife Scooter), Larry has a couple of rivet forges, two really nice swage blocks, two anvils, three post vices, two post drills, an antique bellows, a spring-pole lathe, and a foot-pedal driven grindstone. There are crosscut saws, brace and bits, axes and tools of every description covering the walls.
Larry is retired, but works at the Grant County Museum in Sheridan as the resident blacksmith. His shop is quite literally a museum in itself. He is particularly interested in the processes and the tools which were used to make quality craftsmanship in the pre-industrial age.
After we insisted on the full tour, we cranked up Larry’s forge and tried to use as many of Larry’s tools as possible. We tested the new CACBOA chapter anvil stand, which held up just fine under our enthusiastic hammering. We also tested Herman’s newly repaired rivet forge, and attempted to make a new handle for his blower – again using Larry’s antique tools.
Scooter prepared a delicious lunch of barbeque, baked beans, cole slaw and potato salad back up at the house, which is also filled with antique collections such as powder horns and cast iron cookware. In the business meeting, we had several people interested in the hammer-making class in April. There was some question regarding what kind of hammers would be made. Personally, I’m looking for a heavy rounding hammer. I don’t see anything like that commercially available, and it would be difficult for me to do alone with a gas forge and no power hammer.
We discussed places where we could do demonstrations in order to increase interest and membership, and perhaps sell some items to raise money for some things the chapter needs (like a first aid kit). We discussed the museums in Pine Bluff, Sheridan, Conway, and Little Rock, as well as park events in Saline County (Saline River Bridge Rendezvous), Jacksonville (Reed’s Bridge Civil Ware Battlefield) and Scott (Connection).
The trade item was a corkscrew or bottle opener, with several interesting variations. The March meeting place is TBD, with a trade item a forged tool for the forge (shovel, poker, etc.). The April meeting will be at the forge of Thurston Fox, in Mayflower.
– CACBOA Secretary, Robert Fox