The Central Arkansas Chapter of the Blacksmith Organization of Arkansas (CACBOA) met on Saturday, August 15th at the forge of Robert Thompson in Hot Springs Village.
We had seven members present, despite a great deal of confusion regarding who was actually hosting. Of the seven present, three were named Robert.
Robert worked on a very nice cross made from a railroad spike, and Salauddin, newly returned from visiting his home in India, finished up a very nice ladle.
This is the first time we’ve met at Robert Thompson’s forge, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, despite the amount of taco salad we ate. It had been a blisteringly hot week, but the weather turned quite pleasant the day of the meeting.
Robert’s forge doesn’t burn coal or gas—it burns charcoal he makes himself in a 55 gallon metal drum. Robert fills the drum all the way up with whatever wood is handy, and fires it from the top. When the fire reaches the vent holes he has made at the bottom, he covers the top and the vents, and gives it a day or so to cool off. Depending on what type of wood he used, the barrel will be somewhere near half full of charcoal that is ready to use (although he sometimes has to break up the larger bits.)
Robert’s forge has a flat top, upon which he has several full-size firebrick that can be adjusted to shape the fire as needed. This worked VERY nicely. At one point a long, narrow fire was needed to heat a fire-rake for twisting. Robert moved the firebrick into two parallel rows, and it worked perfectly.
Robert has three anvils, and is building a second forge (which will burn coal) so that more smiths can work at once.
Yes, we will be going back to Mr. Thompson’s house!