September 2015 River Valley Chapter Meeting


It was a fun time at the Pirate Invasion at Dogpatch held the 5th and 6th of September but the River Valley Team met in my absence.

Thanks to Todd Rowland for hosting the meeting with six members present. Todd’s wife fed the crew gumbo for lunch.

I hear the business meeting was short as usual with only one topic being discussed.

Next month the meeting will again be in Greenwood held in conjunction with the fall festival. We will be demonstrating at the festival in Bell Park, follow your nose to the smell of burning coal and watch for the sign.

The trade item will be the last of the door series: Door Knocker.
See directions in sidebar, to left.

The November meeting will be at Dallas “Big D” Roberson’s in Lavaca and the trade item will be a meat fork.

Ross Wilkinson
RVBOA Secretary




September 2015 Northwest Chapter Meeting


September 12, 2015

The Northwest Area BOA September meeting was held at Tired Iron, in Gentry. Dale called the meeting to order and thanked Bryan for allowing us to demonstrate at the Tired Iron forge. Dale thanked Bob and Evelyn Lock for the pizza, Mississippi Mud Brownies and pumpkin sugar cookies they provided for lunch.

BOA members in attendance at this meeting included Tom Bates, Samuel Bollman, Wayne Bollman, Joseph Breer, Michael Breer, Dale Custer, Clyde Foster, Jerry Holmes, Drew Janes, Bob Lock, Nathan Low, Steve Low, Kevin McDonald, Cheryl Miskell, Ed Osoris, Jimmy Owen, Bryan Parsons, Elmer Polston, Ervin Potter, Ron Shiery, Hardy Todd, Ron Wells, and Ross Wilkinson. Bob Lock’s wife and Ross Wilkinson’s wife and three sons were guests. Kevin McDonald and Ron Shiery joined BOA at this meeting.

Old Business:

Ron introduced Gabriel Stewart and Trey (great grandsons of Don Mayes) as guests, with their father.

The first weekend in October is Harvest Homecoming. The event starts on October 2 and runs through the 3th. Details are forthcoming, and will be in the newsletter. Ron will pick up the trailer from Cheryl’s house and take it to Harrison. (Just a reminder: Dale has encouraged everyone to make lots of items to sell at Harvest Homecoming!)

The January meeting will be at Cheryl Miskell’s forge in Marble Falls. The trade item is TBD.

The February meeting is traditionally held at Richard’s forge. Dale will check to make sure.

The submission date for the newsletter has been changed. Dale adjured everyone to get their stuff in on time. Robert, our intrepid editor, was thanked for his industry and alacrity by both Hardy and Dale. Dale observed that BOA has had some “growing pains” with regards to choosing a post office which would provide the quickest delivery of our newsletter.

New Business:

Steve Low has contributed a three foot fan to the club. Dale thanked Steve for the fan.
Bob asked about how many T-shirts have to be requested before we can order. Dale said we would need 25 to order. Dale doesn’t have a count yet, but will provide the information soon.

NEXT NORTHWEST MEETING
The October Northwest Area BOA meeting will be held on October 10th.
Rusty Wheels
5772 Hwy 65 S
Harrison, AR 72601
The trade item will “Tongs”

You can find us just about 6 miles south of Harrison AR at 5772 Hwy 65 South.
If you’re coming south out of Harrison, we’ll be on your right hand side, but if you’re coming north on Hwy 65, we’ll be on your left. Either way we’re not hard to find. There’s a big steam train and some tractors sitting in our front yard.

Mark Morrow is scheduled to demonstrate for BOA again. At Rusty Wheels, Mark will show members how to fit a guard, handle and pommel on a bowie knife.

Dale will be contacting ESSA to schedule our next smelt for November 5. Dale will keep members posted about this upcoming event. Ross has submitted an article about the January smelt. Dale and

Ross will contact Robert about including this article in the next newsletter.

Ross and Cheryl discussed doing a blacksmithing demonstration at Pirates Days at Dogpatch last weekend. Ross handed out every business card he had. Several people expressed interest in joining BOA.

The River Valley chapter will demonstrate at the Greenwood Fall festival on October 3rd. This is the same weekend as Harvest Homecoming.

Steve will be demonstrating at Siloam Springs next Saturday, September 19, and will do a demonstration for two of their High School Agriculture classes this semester.

Elmer did a demonstration at the Black Branch forge this past May.

Ron introduced Ron Shiery, a new member as of this meeting. Kevin McDonald is another new member, along with his wife, Robin. Kevin commented on the BOA website and noted that it needs to be updated.

Dale pointed out Mr. Ervin Potter has been a member for twenty years.

Ron commented on supplying coal. He has gotten good advance notice from members who want to purchase coal, and he still has a few bags available after this meeting.

Hardy moved to adjourn, Tom seconded, and all said, “AYE!”

Respectfully submitted,
Cheryl Miskell
NW Secretary




September 2015 Northeast Chapter Meeting


We had a good turn out for the September meeting.

It was a combination meeting and demonstration at the Maynard, AR Pioneer Days Festival. We were asked to come and demonstrate traditional blacksmithing as it would have been performed in the 1800’s.

We had 11 members and one guest. Members present were Eddie Mullins, Jim Soehlman, Angie Figueroa, Brad Ussery, Mike DeLoache, Dusty Elliott, John Johnson, Jimmie Barnes, Aldon Philpot, Dan Davis, Rebecca Soehlman. Richard Slayton was our guest.

We were set up and fired up by 9:00 a.m. and stayed active most of the time until 4:00 p.m.

We made wall hooks, nails, flint strikers, tomahawks, meat hooks, “S” hooks and leaves to demonstrate how blacksmithing is learned.

Lots of on lookers came by to talk and look. Some teased us with being in possession of 25# Little Giants…etc.

One fellow bought two bags of coal and said he would be joining us in the near future.

It was a great day for enjoying friends, meeting new people and forging.

October, November and December meeting are as scheduled in last news letter.
Jim Soehlman—NEACBOA Secretary




September 2015 Central Chapter Meeting


The Central Arkansas Chapter of the Blacksmith Organization of Arkansas (CACBOA) met on Saturday, September 19th at the forge of Tim Huddleston in Benton. Or Bryant.

Even Tim isn’t real confident which city he really lives in. Unless your from one or the other, there doesn’t appear to really be any difference.

We had seventeen people present, including four guests. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that many people at a CACBOA meeting before.

Fortunately, Tim’s lovely wife, despite a broken arm, managed to feed us all. They have two teenage boys, so feeding seventeen smiths isn’t really a challenge for her.

Tim demonstrated an unusual wall hook shaped like a musical treble clef. If you have anyone who is musically inclined, that would be a very unique gift I’m sure they would appreciate. Tim did a great job with the demo.

Two of the guests then tried their hand at it, and produced very nice results. Clearly, Tim is a great teacher.

Ross Wilkinson helped Salauddin make a very nice decorative heart. Next month, Salauddin wants to make an arrow to attach to it. Do you have a certain someone in mind Salauddin?

Tim Huddleston and Robert Thompson also helped me hot cut a nail header I had made from what appears to be a leaf spring from a car. Well, I turned the crank on the blower.

Tim and Robert seemed eager to cut the slab down to a handle width, and I seemed eager to let them. I seem to always bring a project to Tim’s that he and others help me finish. It really wasn’t on purpose this time. Honest.

In the business meeting, Dale told us about upcoming meetings for the other chapters (see page 4) and about upcoming events (see page 18). He told us about BOA’s new big fan, and about T-shirt orders.

It was a warm day, but a bit of a breeze came up in the afternoon. All in all, a really nice lazy end-of-the-summer meeting (says the guy who watch other people do his work for him).

Can’t wait to go back in November. I’ve been thinking I need a tenoning jig. Maybe if I bring the stuff and struggle with it a little while, Tim and the crew will let me turn the crank while they finish it for me…

Robert Fox,
CACBOA Secretary




August 2015 River Valley Chapter Meeting


The August meeting occurred Saturday the 1st at Jerry Holmes.

Counting the wonderful cook there was 12 attendees in total.

We did have one visitor, Lori Brewer from Tennessee out and working at the forge.

Jackie cooked a great meal of chicken strips, beans and cornbread but the highlight was the homemade brownies.

Thanks again to Jackie for preparing the meal.




August 2015 Northwest Chapter Meeting


August 8, 2015

The Northwest Area BOA August meeting was held at Cheryl Miskell’s home, in Marble Falls. Dale called the meeting to order and thanked Cheryl for hosting the meeting.

Dale introduced and welcomed Michael and Joseph Breer.

BOA members in attendance at this meeting included Bill Angle, Tom Bates, Joseph Breer, Michael Breer, Dale Custer, Buck Dahlstrom, Clyde Foster, Sam Hibbs, Bob Lock, Steve Low, Heidi McLaughlin, Cheryl Miskell, Bryan Parsons, Bob Patrick, Elmer Polston, Hardy Todd, Ron Wells, and Ross Wilkinson. Ross was accompanied by his wife, Gail and youngest son, Daniel.

Dale reminded members that the September meeting will be at Tired Iron on September 12. The trade item is anything made out of a horseshoe. Dale noted we may have to bring our own lunches. Bryan will keep us posted on this, as now there’s “no buying or selling of any item on their grounds” (it’s a tax issue).

The October meeting is at Rusty Wheels in Bellefonte. The trade item is tongs.

Harvest Homecoming is the first weekend in October. This is a three day event. Dale encouraged everyone to make lots of items to sell.

Members unanimously approved paying Mark Morrow to finish the cutlass. Mark will finish the handle, pommel, etc. BOA will pay $400 for this work, and will raffle the cutlass, or “find a way to make the most money we can.”

The November meeting will be at the Hefflefingers’ forge in Mountain View. The trade item is TBD.

The submission date for the newsletter is changing. The deadline is the second to last Saturday of the month. In most months, this will be the third Saturday. In months with five Saturdays, the deadline will be the fourth Saturday.

The December meeting will be at Clyde Foster’s forge in Huntsville. Trade item TBD.

Bob asked about another iron smelt. Dale said the next smelt will likely be scheduled for early next year.

Hardy suggested that our club have railroad spikes available, and sell them three for $1. We pay 25¢ per pound.

On T-shirts and hats: per Dale, these will be ordered “when we get enough.” Ron noted that our supplier will do hats in any number.

Ron had extra coal on the truck, and it was spoken for quick, fast and in a hurry.

Clyde made a motion to adjourn, Cheryl seconded, and we wrapped up early because it was TOO HOT FOR WORDS!

Cheryl Miskell,
NWBOA Secretary




August 2015 Northeast Chapter Meeting


NEA chapter held its meeting on August 1st, at Mullins Forge and Metalworks.

We had 11 members and 3 guests.

Members present were; Eddie Mullins, Wes Ford, Larry Ford, Dan Davis, Brad Ussery, Angie Figueroa, Aldon Philpot, Dan Newton, Jimmie Barnes, Raymond Lyerly and Ron Wells.

Visitors present were; Chad Crawford and Russell Baldridge.

We want to thank Ron for coming to the meeting and supplying us with coal. Ron, you make our hearts as well as our forges warm each time you visit us. New members commented that it is “nice to hear from you on what is going on state wide.”

We set up two forging areas. One in the shop and another outside under the shade trees.

Dan made a knife for himself as well as a knife and striker for one of the visitors.

Angie and Brad worked on a spike knife with a twisted handle and Dan helped with some of the final touches. Angie and Brad are doing very well for this to only be their third meeting.

Eddie demonstrated how to do different types of scrolls and a few ways to forge a ball onto a bar. (Sorry I missed that Eddie, I’ve been wanting you to show me that ball on a bar thing.)

Dan Newton forged a poker and showed how to use a ringing anvil to call in the crowds when doing a demo. (OK Dan O, you’re first on the anvil when we do the demo at Pioneer Days in Maynard on Sept 19th.)

Aldon, brought his trade item (a fire poker) which I’m told he did a great job on and got rave reviews by the group. He has also been busy at his shop at home and has build a dandy looking inexpensive forge.

We have some changes and updates in our chapter calendar….things change and opportunities arise…hmmm, that’s blacksmithing at its norm I believe.

Jim Soehlman—NEACBOA Secretary




August 2015 Central Chapter Meeting


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!

Robert Fox,
CACBOA Secretary




July 2015 River Valley Chapter Meeting


It is finally hot even in the shade while standing over the forge, but Gary Braswell kept us cool with a big fan. Gary’s meeting brought out some of the RVC regulars along with a couple of visitors.

Jerry’s grandson Blake played Centurion by wearing a coal bucket like a helmet.

Several door pulls were brought or made for the trade item of the month. I cannot wait to see the door latches for the august meeting.

Gary provided a great lunch of chili dogs and chips for lunch.

Gary showed off his new dual belt sander he built with the help of Dallas Robeson.

Ross Wilkinson
RVBOA Secretary




July 2015 Northwest Chapter Meeting


July 11, 2015

The Northwest Area BOA June meeting was at Robert Meuser’s forge, in Mountain Home. Dale called the meeting to order and welcomed Mike Tiller, a guest.

Dale thanked Robert for hosting the meeting.

BOA members in attendance at this meeting included Joe Alsobrooks, Tom Bates, Dale Custer, Harold Enlow, Clyde Foster, Keith Heffelfinger, Lynda Heffelfinger, Sam Hibbs, Gary Lee, Bob Lock, Robert Meuser, Bob Patrick, Elmer Polston, Luke Roberts, Richard Ross, Hardy Todd, and Ron Wells.

Old Business:

Dale reminded members that the August meeting will be at Cheryl Miskell’s forge in Marble Falls on August 8. The trade item is smith’s choice. The September meeting is at Tired Iron in Gentry. The trade item is TBD. The October meeting is at Rusty Wheels in Bellefonte. The trade item is tongs.

New Business:

Someone will have to talk with Mark Morrow about the handle for the finished cutlass.
The November meeting will be at the Hefflefingers’ forge in Mountain View.

Respectfully submitted by Harold Enlow (and typed by Cheryl Miskell—thanks, Harold!)

Cheryl Miskell,
NWBOA Secretary




July 2015 Northeast Chapter Meeting


The July meeting was held at “Forge on the Faultline”, Jim’s shop, July 11th, 8:00 am till 3:00 pm.
We had 11 people and two guests at the meeting.

Old members were; Eddie Mullins, Dusty Elliot, Raymond Lyerly, Rebecca Soehlman and Jim Soehlman.

New members were; Aldon Philpot, Dan Newton, Brad Ussery, Angie Figueroa, Larry Ford and Wes Ford. WOW, new members outnumbered old members.

Guests were Ron Wilkes and Nikki Wilkes.

I am so excited to see the new members that have joined. They are all full of energy to learn blacksmithing and contribute to our group. It’s our duty as older members to keep them on the anvils and advancing in their skills and I am seeing that happening too.

AWESOME meeting. Before the meeting day had ended, Larry and Wes had supplied two stumps for anvils to Eddie and Dusty. Wes said, ” The price of the stumps is – teach me blacksmithing.” Oh did I mention, he threw in some spikes to sweeten the deal, LOL. We had commitments for new hosts in up coming months.

Rebecca Soehlman provided lunch. A feast in my opinion, since I love smoked meat. We had smoked beef brisket, smoked pork loin, baked beans and all the trimmings.

At the meeting we discussed the need for some more coal and Eddie will contact Ron for when and how much. Also discussed was alternate hosts for monthly meetings. Eddie volunteered for the August meeting. Maynard Pioneer Days wants a blacksmith for a demonstration on Sept 19th. It was felt that two meetings in the same month was a little much, so that is still on the table for discussion.

Jim Soehlman—NEACBOA Secretary




July 2015 Central Chapter Meeting


The Central Arkansas Chapter of the Blacksmith Organization of Arkansas (CACBOA) met on Saturday, July 18th at the forge of Larry Layne in Sheridan. We had eight members and a guest present. Back in Little Rock, the temperature was in the triple digits, but somehow, even though it was further south, it really wasn’t bad at all in Larry’s shop.

I suspect that’s because Larry’s shop is not entirely of this world. It’s a little bit of heaven, with a solid brick paver floor, rough cut lumber walls, heavy beams, and antique hand tools hanging everywhere. The forge is miles from anywhere, deep in the shade of pine timber country, I’m sure there are animated woodland characters running about somewhere.

Dale and Tim worked with our newest members to teach a few techniques and produce some small items at the forge. I used Larry’s huge set of Centaur swage blocks to dish out some heavy gauge sheet metal for a project that may show up in the newsletter later this year.

Scooter brought out the barbeque for lunch, and I ate so much I nearly had to take a nap. I heard something about cobbler for dessert, but I think by that point I had slid beneath the table.

I came to in the midst of a lively discussion about the new “Forged In Fire” reality show on the history channel, followed by an interesting conversation about the fact that everyone seems to have had an ancestor who was a blacksmith.

We hope to have another intern this fall, but have not finalized arrangements.

We talked about the various demonstrations we have scheduled this fall: Pirate Rendezvous in September, Harrison Harvest Homecoming in October, and the Faulkner Count Museum Open House in November.

We even started making tentative plans for the ABANA conference in Salt Lake City next summer.

When we finally staggered back to the forge, Larry showed us the double-chambered bellows he is rebuilding, and demonstrated his homemade engraving tools.

Or maybe that was all a figment of my food-induced coma…

Robert Fox, CACBOA Secretary




June 2015 BOA River Valley Chapter Meeting


The June meeting occurred on the 6th at Jerry’s and was well attended. Total attendance topped 14 along with two new members: Dalas Robeson and Sam Jones. Jackie Holmes served up a wonderful lunch, Thanks again for grub, Jackie! Jerry called the meeting to order. Ross Wilkinson gave highlights of the May NW meeting where Mike Morrow forged a sword. Several people brought a set of hooks for the trade item.


The July meeting will be moved to the second Saturday due to the 4th of July celebrations in the area. The next meeting will again be at Gary Braswell’s Shop. The trade item will be a door handle. August meeting is scheduled to be held on august 1st at Jerry Holmes and the trade item will be a door latch.
Ross Wilkinson—RVBOA Secretary




June 2015 BOA Northwest Chapter Meeting


The Northwest Area BOA June meeting was at Rusty Wheels, in Bellefonte. Dale called the meeting to order and acknowledge our newest members. Joe Alsobrooks is a new member, this was his second meeting. Garrett Manley attended last month’s meeting, and joined today. Logan Swanson and Eric Lindberg are also new members.

BOA members in attendance at this May 9th meeting included Joe Alsobrooks, Bill Angle, James Brantley, Dale Custer, Harold Enlow, Clyde Foster, Brian Griffith, Sam Hibbs, Bob Lock, Garrett Manley, Heidi McLaughlin, Robert Meuser, Cheryl Miskell, Elmer Polston, Logan Swanson, Hardy Todd, Ron Wells, and Ross Wilkinson. Guests included Ross Wilkinson’s youngest son, Daniel, and James Brantley’s wife, Frankie.

Old Business:

Dale reminded members that the July meeting will be at Robert Meuser’s forge in Mountain Home on July 11. The trade item is a spoon.

New Business:

The August meeting will be at Cheryl Miskell’s house in Marble Falls. The trade item is TBD. Our September meeting will be at Tired Iron in Gentry.

Mark Morrow will finish the cutlass he forged at the May meeting for $75. Bob Lock made a motion that we pay Mark to finish the cutlass, Robert Meuser seconded, and members voted unanimously to pay Mark for a finished cutlass.

Danny Robb’s family sent a thank you to acknowledge the sympathy card we sent.
Bob Lock needs volunteers for WOW, which is scheduled for the same weekend as Harvest Homecoming.

Dale got a call from a museum in western Arkansas, wanting someone to teach blacksmithing. They want a class of 15 students, which will not work—so we are in negotiations. Dale emailed Bob Patrick about it, but he’s too busy.

Arkansas Natural Science Museum outside of Hot Springs wanted a demo, but they asked six days ago. We may do a demonstration in the future.

Bob Lock noted that Joe Alsobrooks volunteered last weekend and netted a one-on-one class with Bob Patrick as a result. Bob encourages all members to volunteer—no telling what will happen.

Hardy made a motion to adjourn, Bob seconded, and the meeting ended.

Cheryl Miskell,
NWBOA Secretary




June 2015 BOA Northeast Chapter Meeting


The June meeting was attended by three members, Eddie Mullins, Dusty Elliot and Lloyd Clayton.
Dusty continues to work on making more steak turners (she has quite a collection now), while Eddie demonstrated how to make a set of bolt tongs for Lloyd.

Dusty was in charge of the meal for the meeting and served Bar-B-Q chicken, chips, pasta salad and beans….WOW see what happens when you miss a meeting…someone serves a feast. The meeting lasted from 9 am until 2 pm. Plans for the upcoming demonstration at Crowley’s Ridge State Park were discussed.

Crowley’s Ridge State Park demonstration was held on June 20th and was attended by nine members (Eddie Mullins, Raymond Lyerly, Dan Davis, Dusty Elliot, Lloyd Clayton, John Johnson, Jimmie Barnes, Jim and Rebecca Soehlman). According to Elizabeth Whaley, park interpreter, we drew a crowd of visitors to the park of 70+ people. I would like to recognize Dylon Nelson (family member) for helping with name tags for all the members while we were setting up the area and Bruce and Angie Reichardt who stayed all day and then helped us load up equipment.

We signed up five new members (Mike DeLoache, Aldon Philpot, Harold Edwards and Bruce and Angie Reichardt) and two more took applications to return at the next regular meeting.

We loaded up three coal forges, one gas forge, four anvils, a pedal grinding stone, a post vise, tool rack….a bunch of stuff and headed to the park.

We fired the forges and started drawing metal and people. In just a short time we had guests in aprons, gloves and safety glasses making their first items.

Half way through the day I was asked by Elizabeth if we were willing to come back and do another demo later in the year and also to become a vendor for the park so they could sell items that we would make for them.

This was a great experience and tons of fun!!!

I want to thank all the members that came out to help…absolutely an amazing day. To the members that didn’t make, I know some of you had commitments that have to come first but we will do this again.

Jim Soehlman—NEACBOA Secretary




June 2015 BOA Central Chapter Meeting


The Central Arkansas Chapter of the Blacksmith Organization of Arkansas (CACBOA) met on Saturday, June 20th at the forge of Tim Huddleston in Bryant. We had 11 members present, despite the heat. Let this be a lesson to us all—sign up early for your turn to host, so you can pick the best months. I’m not sure how Tim got stuck with June, but he managed to host a great meeting anyway. Several members were busy making tongs.

One member brought an anvil that had been manufactured from several sections of a forklift tine, cut, stacked, and welded. This shop built anvil rang like the bells of Notre Dame. I’m talking Quasimodo “The bells! The bells!” loud. But after we put rubber under it and slapped magnets all over it, it toned down to just “loud.” The metal, as you might image, is actually incredibly strong, hard, flat stuff. It should make a fine anvil… for someone with no neighbors.

Tim has ninja welding skills and almost as many tools as Herman Ginger, so we all, of course, brought the projects that were too big for us wanna-be’s to tackle at our shops.
I brought a monstrosity I’ve made out of the tank from an old hot water heater. It is supposed to be a “socket” to fit on top of a 6×6 post, designed to receive 6×6 blocks with various tooling in them—a cutting plate, an extra hardy socket, a dishing tool, etc. If it turns out like I have in my head, I’ll make some project notes out of it.

Tim had seen it at my Dad’s shop last month, and told me he would help me use his acetylene torch to heat and bend it. That tank had to be 16 gauge steel—maybe even 14 gauge. It was definitely not bendable by hand—not even standing my 270 pounds on top of it and jumping up and down.
Which makes it sounds like an excellent source of heavy gauge steel, right? Especially at the price (free).

The problem we found was that the coating on the inside of the tank, which looked like just thin, high-gloss paint, was actually enamel (think glass). Poor Tim, who was doing the torchwork while I held the piece, not only had to deal with being miserably hot, but also had to deal with the enamel spalling off in tiny, razor-sharp shards of glass all over his arms.

So, while I learned that free water heater tanks may not be as good a deal as I had thought, I also learned that Tim is even more of a gentleman and friend than I had thought. Thanks Tim, for putting up with us. I won’t do that to you again!

But it is looking good…

Robert Fox, CACBOA Secretary




Mark Morrow - Swordsmith


As you saw in the NW chapter meeting minutes this month, we were fortunate enough to have Mark Morrow in town to do a demo for us. Mark grew up near Harrison, but now lives in New Jersey. He is still an active member of BOA, and was, in fact, a past president.
Mark makes his living as a swordsmith, and has built quite a reputation for himself. I have heard more than one expert claim that there is not another one-man shop in the world that can compete with the blades produced by Mark.

So we were very fortunate indeed to have Mark volunteer to demonstrate his trade to us in the form of a naval cutlass. As Dale explained last month, a naval cutlass is similar to a cavalry saber, only shorter and thicker to allow for the thicker melee and the need to clear away rigging, etc. on a naval vessel. A cutlass has edges on one side and on both sides near the point.

I arrived late, and when I arrived, the initial blank already had a tang and was already tapered slightly along its length. Mark was putting the point on the tip as I walked up. Mark was a wealth of information about every aspect of the process. For example, he pointed out that the point had a slight curve on the back side too—a historically accurate detail necessary for scabbarding the weapon without damage.

 

He also discussed the techniques that were used in wielding this blade in battle, how they were stored aboard ship, and the differences between an officer’s blade and those stockpiled for the crew.
Much to my surprise, Mark did not then start tapering the cross-section of the blade. Instead, he used a fullering jig very much like a Smithin’ Magician to set a deep fuller along the length of the blade.

Because the fuller was on the spine edge, the expanding metal gave the blade a reverse taper, curving inward toward the cutting edge. I don’t believe anyone expected this.

At a certain point of fullering and curvature, apparent to Mark but not to the rest of us, Mark began drawing out the edge of the blade. Did I mention that this was all done with hand tools and strength of arm alone? Mark has power hammers in his shop, but seemed perfectly at home moving the metal the old-fashioned way.

Much to my surprise, the drawing out of the edge straightened the blade right back out, ending with the proper cutlass curvature. All without any forcing of the metal into position. It was easily apparent that Mark has been doing this a while.

At lunch, I asked Mark how long he has been blacksmithing (he began at thirteen). When I asked him about the first thing he ever forged, it was, of course, a sword. He wanted one of his own, and couldn’t afford even the cheap props available in magazines, so he made his own.

Of course, someone asked how much the blade he made today would go for. Mark said that, after adding the guard, hilt, and pommel, and polishing the blade, the cutlass would sell for around $2400.00.

Not bad for a boy from Harrison!

Robert Fox, BOA Editor