The November meeting of Central Arkansas Chapter of the Blacksmith Organization of Arkansas (CACBOA) was held on unseasonably cold 11/15/2014 at the forge of Dale Custer in Little Rock.
The morning demonstration was making a top set tool from a ball-peen hammer: preparing the tool, a discussion of appropriate tongs and hammers, forging the desired shape with the assistance of a striker, finishing and tempering. CACBOA members had the opportunity to make their own top set tools after the demo. Tim Huddleston made a nice heavy punch.
The demonstration gave me several ideas for more top set tools I “need.” I had told my wife that I had enough garage-sale ball peen hammers, but I think I may need to retract that statement.
As is often the case when discussing top set tools, there were passionate words exchanged on both sides of the argument regarding whether the handles should be set in with a wedge to keep them secure, or left un-wedged to facilitate the inevitable re-tempering. No blood was lost, but no opinions were changed, either.
In the business meeting, Dale gave us an update on the plans for the ore smelt. It looks like all the details are finally crystalizing. A lot of us are really looking forward to participating.
We also spent sometime talking about an interesting request we had from Lynita Langley-Ware, the director of the Faulkner County Museum where we demonstrated November 1st (see article, next page), and Dr. Kimberly Little, professor of History at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway. Dr. Little asked if we would be interested in putting together a blacksmithing internship program for a history student next year. The program would need to involve the student in 6-9 hours a week of work throughout the fall semester. Just attending one of our meetings a month would be six hours, and I have a whole list of topics I would love to have a history student researching and writing up for me that could easily fill another 12 hours a month.
But the most interesting turn of events happened when Lynita started talking with BOA members Scooter and Larry Lane. All three of them participate in the same historical re-enactment group that recreate the lifestyle and events of Americans living 200 years ago. Their time period is moving forward all the time, keeping a steady 200 years behind our own.
Through that organization Lynita knows that Larry is the demonstrating blacksmith at the Grant County Museum in Sheridan. I overheard Lynita asking Larry when he was going to build her a blacksmith shop for her Faulkner County Museum. When I asked about this, Lynita showed me the location she is hoping to build the shop, and talked about how it would fit into her charter of preserving local history for public education. Lynita is hoping to convince her board of directors to fund the project.
Having just finished talking to Dr. Little, it occurred to me that we could ask some energetic young college students, in addition to the tasks above, to go take measurements of the Grant County Museum blacksmith shop, interview Larry Lane about his recommendations for construction, safety guidelines, etc., and talk to a professional construction contractor about the cost of building a shop in Conway. This could be put together in a grant proposal which Lynita could take to her board.
The student would get blacksmithing experience, would get to say they were a published author, and would have the creation of a grant proposal on their resume—and course credit to boot. Lynita would get the draft of a grant proposal she could use for her board. BOA would get the goodwill of the community and a great place to have meetings and demonstrations. Win, win, win.
After hearing my passionate appeal, Dale suggested that, if this were to be done under the BOA name, the next step would be to write up the proposal to present to the BOA board. I plan to do just that!
After lunch, we helped Ron bag coal. If you have empty coal bags, bring them back to your next meeting, we sure could use them.