The January meeting of the Blacksmith Organization of Arkansas (BOA) was held in “Sheridan” at the home of Larry and Scooter Layne. I put Sheridan in quotes, because they actually live deep in the back of beyond. As they say, it’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there.
That said, Larry’s shop is definitely worth the trip. It’s a living museum packed full of early-American iron and woodworking tools, and Larry knows the history of each and every one of them. Put it this way, Larry has a beautiful brick forge, a large, pristine anvil, and two fantastic swage blocks, yet all of us blacksmiths spent most of the morning wandering around the shop asking about this or that tool. I was particularly interested in Larry’s traditional metal engraving tools. That’s something I would love to try on a knife or axe.
Our two interns, Nic Hunter and Julio Castillo, joined us. Dale took them to the fire and walked each through making a small bottle opener than involved tapering, scrolling, twisting, spreading, and bending a small piece of metal. This was an excellent way to teach the young men several smithing techniques. Thanks, Dale!
I had brought a beautiful flint striker that I had made from an old file that, for some reason, did not work at all. I had never been able to draw a single spark from it. Larry not only showed me what I did wrong, he went on to show us how to make char cloth and how to use it with the flint and striker to start a fire. It’s easy to see why Larry was asked to be the demonstrating smith at the Grant County Museum.
Together, the making of the flint steel, the making of char cloth, and the striking techniques made such an interesting demonstration that I plan to write it up for an upcoming newsletter, so all of you can benefit from my failed striker.
While recovering from an amazing lunch spread of smoked meats and salad, we had a short business meeting to discuss the (then) upcoming smelt, and arranged for the next few meeting hosts.
Robert Fox, CACBOA Secretary