A Blacksmith Makes His Own Tools, and Exercise Equipment

It is official: spring is in full swing! Here in Somerset that means intermittent bouts of drizzle and stunning sunshine. Inside everyone there is a joy, that feeling of barely contained excitement that leaks out in grins and a sparkle in the eye. My work boots have had several days off as I work on outdoor projects barefoot. Our shop squirrel, Thor, has had several baby squirrelets…obviously we should have named her Sif. We installed a propane-heated outdoor shower, a huge luxury in my little homestead here. I put up the tomahawk target, and subsequently lost all free time to axe-throwing.

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My travels brought me to visiting a few more blacksmiths. Certainly one of the highlights was a day with Jim Horrobin, one of the godfathers of British blacksmithing. He sent such a shock of inspiration through me that I have been buzzing ever since. Not only has he spent a lifetime creating an influential body of work, but now that he is retired he is still active, experimenting with new materials and ideas. Being around him gave me a new interest in such experimentation, as well as the feeling that anything is possible with enough dedication.

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One of my experiments: a folded crucifix. It is unfolded from a single piece, a wonderful little puzzle.

Back at the workshop, Alex and I have been preparing for some axe making courses this June. Fredrik and Simon will be flying over from Gränsfors Bruk to lead a two day and a five day course. Between getting the workshop built up to accommodate a larger class size, making axe tools, and general enthusing, the upcoming event is never far from our minds. It should be a great time of collaboration, sharing of ideas and interests, and the obligatory sweat and blood.

 

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These tools, called drifts in English and don in Swedish, are for shaping the eye of an axe.

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Forged fullers with foraged shafts. Say that 5 times fast!

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A set of tools I refurbished and converted to wood handles.

 

The other projects will have to speak through their images and captions:

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My homemade exercise equipment: fully adjustable dumbbells with 1kg plates I can add or remove.

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I undertook a nailmaking challenge. This is the reject pile. Unfortunately the good nails were not as numerous.

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A seax, a traditional Saxon blade design. Another experiment of form and function.

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More blades for the Ritter Brothers Collection. Neal has made some beautiful handles for my previous knives, which can be viewed on the Laughing Coyote Project Facebook page

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My latest axe. Made from solid EN45 steel.

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I made the handle from scratch, out of wood harvested from the apple orchard next door.

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It is important to have a good lunch!