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.


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.


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.



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


My latest axe. Made from solid EN45 steel.


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


It is important to have a good lunch!





7 thoughts on “A Blacksmith Makes His Own Tools, and Exercise Equipment

  1. Hi, Sam! How long does it take to complete one thing? Say the crucifix or the blades, or your lunch? Every blog entry makes me more and more impressed!



    • Jacquie,
      There is a range, of course. The large seax knife took me about ten hours, start to finish, although this was the slow pace of figuring it out as I went along. The smaller knives were about 1 1/2 hours each, and the crucifix is much faster, perhaps 30 minutes. Lunch, on the other hand, never takes long to finish! Blacksmithing sure does encourage an appetite. All the best to you and your family — I think of you often. (I’ve been blasting Greensky Bluegrass in the forge recently. It makes great working music.)
      My love to all,


  2. Always excited to hear, and ever proud, of your adventures hither and yon. I keep giggling thinking about Thor. Xox


  3. The exercise equipment is stellar! Very creative. I especially enjoyed the lovely wooden handle from the apple orchard. The crucifix, however is my favorite. Just trying to visualize the folds. Keep that sparkle in your eye and enjoy your new shower.


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