If you don’t want to wait for next year’s conference classes, several of FABA’s professional members teach year-round. Please contact us on info@fabaconference for a referral in your area.
Classes at the conference are designed to share the basics of the craft of blacksmithing. If you learn all the skills in Classes #1 thru #3, you have all the knowledge you need to go further in the craft. It’s just a matter of practice from there.
Our classes are self-assessed; we don’t grade you beforehand. With that in mind, please read the class descriptions thoroughly, and seriously consider whether you have the prerequisite skills. Getting in over your head is a lose/lose undertaking. If you lack significant prerequisite skills, you may be asked to audit only, so that attention is not taken away from students who are prepared. This is solely at the discretion of the instructor, and there are NO REFUNDS.
If you’ve never hit hot metal before, we highly recommend that you take classes #1 through #3 in sequence. You’re welcome–and encouraged!–to take a class several times to better absorb the knowledge and skills shared in that class. Working through the classes in order, you will build a toolkit for success.
Please keep in mind that blacksmithing is a physically demanding activity, and signing up for multiple workshops each day of the conference can be extremely taxing. If you’re not used to swinging a hammer, your shoulder may prefer one class per day. There’s plenty to learn by watching, while giving your body a chance to rest and recover from unfamiliar effort.
Classes #1 through #3 are designed to teach the processes you need to make virtually any project. While you will make projects in the class in order to learn those processes, it is the processes themselves that are the focus of the teaching.
If you have blacksmithing experience already and are confident you know the skills covered in classes #1 and #2, you may go directly to #3, #4, or #5. If you have taken classes previously but don’t get to work at a forge very often, heading to the Open Forges can help you knock the rust off.
Fees for each Basic Blacksmithing class include materials. Classes are available to registered conference participants only, on a “first paid” basis. Classes are 4 hours, and have a maximum of 8 students per class.
Basic Blacksmithing #1
If you’ve never hit hot metal before, this is the class for you. Come learn how to start and maintain a fire in your forge, how to find a comfortable anvil height, good hammer technique, and basic blacksmithing safety. You’ll utilize these as you learn the skills of tapering, spreading, bending, and twisting hot metal.
Basic Blacksmithing #2
This class builds on Class #1. We’ll review fire maintenance, anvil height, hammer technique, and basic safety. We will practice using tapering, spreading, bending, and twisting, as well as adding the skills of splitting, punching, and riveting. Prerequisite for this class is either Basic Blacksmithing #1 or experience with the techniques covered there.
Basic Blacksmithing #3
This class will cover the skills of upsetting and forge welding. We’ll learn how to thicken and join separate pieces of white hot metal into a single solid piece. We’ll start with some basic welds, then combine them with techniques learned in Classes #1 and #2. Prerequisite for this class is a working knowledge of the skills covered in Basic Blacksmithing #1 and #2.
Basic Blacksmithing #4
Blacksmiths have been recyclers since the beginning of their craft. Come learn how to tell if that piece of scrap is wrought iron, mild steel, or tool steel. We’ll do a spark test with metals of known origin to see the spark patterns of wrought iron vs. mild steel vs. tool steel. We’ll also do a break test, a nearly fool-proof way of finding out if that mystery metal is hardenable, if it should be quenched in oil or water, and what tempering colors are right for different uses with that piece of steel. We’ll finish by using the skills learned to make your choice of at least one of the following tools. Square center punch, Round center punch, Square punch, Round punch, Hot chisel, or Cold chisel. Prerequisite for this class is a working knowledge of the skills covered in Basic Blacksmithing #1 and #2.
Basic Blacksmithing #5
This class is for those who want to make their own tongs but aren’t sure where to start. Come learn about half-face hammer blows, shouldering, and the difference between right and left handed tongs as we work on a basic pair of tongs. Prerequisite for this class is a working knowledge of the skills covered in Basic Blacksmithing #1 and #2.
SAFETY & OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
Safety is a concern when dealing with metal often in excess of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. No synthetic fiber clothing! Synthetics melt, stick to your skin, and burn you! Natural fibers only! In Florida, that means wear cotton. Jeans and a long sleeve cotton shirt are suggested, most of us wear jeans and a cotton t-shirt. Wear shorts at your own risk, they are not recommended. Closed toe shoes are required; we recommend high top boots. If you show up in flip-flops we will ask you to change your shoes before entering the forging areas. A hat or a bandana to hold up long hair and keep the soot off your head is desirable. Gloves and a leather or heavy canvas apron are optional depending upon personal preference.
Safety glasses are required at all times in the forging areas. Earplugs are highly recommended. If you have your own, great! If not, they’re available at many stores, and will be for sale at the conference.
Tools will be provided for use in the classes, but if you have a favorite hammer and tools bring them along–there’s open forges and forging contests to think about also. Be sure to mark them so you don’t lose them!
Fees for the Basic Blacksmithing class include materials. Classes are available to registered conference participants only, on a “first paid” basis.