"Metalsmith" Our Quarterly Publication


A Message from the President

Bob Fredell

Since you recieved the last issue of Metalsmith we held a membership meeting at Dick Carlson's shop. What a nice shop he has. It's really large and well equipped. All the interesting old tools hanging on the walls make it even a more fun place in which to work. Dick and Fran Bauer demonstrated the making of a cross peen hammer. Of course, the pot luck dinner and fellowship was wonderful.

At the time of this writing the demonstration at the Minnesota History Center, the August membership meeting and the demonstration at the Nowthen Threshing Show have not yet occured. But, by the time of the next issue of Metalsmith they are history. I hope that I saw you at these events.

The Internet Committee is zinging along real good. It looks as if our page will be looking better than expected. By the time of the next issue of Metalsmith we should have our new site address. We will keep you informed.

A few of us from this area attended the 1996 ABANA Conference this summer and had a wonderful time. The next conference is in 1998 in Asheville, NC. George Dixon is in charge. As you may know, George is a former member of the Guild of Metalsmiths and began his blacksmithing career in Duluth before he gained national prominence. He now lives in Asheville, NC. If I were you, I'd go to this conference.

As of the July board meeting our treasury stood at $7,736.91. Since then we have had a number of large bills so the current balance is somewhat less than the July balance.

Remember, the Guild still has coal for sale at the Minnesota School of Horseshoeing. See the notice in this issue for details.

The Guild is still offering grants to members to take metalworking classes. The grant may pay part or all expenses. Your only obligation would be to give a pay-back workshop. If you are interested call or write me for an application form.

I am reminded of the old saying on the tee-shirts worn by the Williamsburg smiths at the ABANA conference....

"By hammer and hand do all arts stand"

See vou at the next meeting.


Most of us get what we deserve but only                The best way to hear money jingle in
the successful admit it.                               your pocket is to shake a leg.

You are never alone when accompanied                   You can meet most people haltway if you
by noble thoughts.                                     are a good judge of distance.

crossword icon Check your ansewers to Pete Stanaitis' crossword puzzle from the April issue.

The Making of an Iron Logholder

or My Tale of Woe

by Bob Fredell A while back when I was looking through Jack Andrews's book Samuel Yellin. Metal Worker, I noticed on page 81 a photograph of a 1927 log holder. I thought that it would be just dandy to make a similar, but smaller, log holder for our own use. It would be made out of wrought iron from the old High Bridge in St. Paul. The surface would then be finished by pickling in muriatic acid in order to show the black and silver colored stripes of the iron and the slag. I had experimented with this process on smaller items in the past and thought that it should be an easy matter to finish the log holder by pickling it. Little did I understand the wicked effects of Murphy's Law. (Dum de dum dum.) I remember Bob Walsh telling me, "If you can't draw it, you can't make it." Making use of that good advice I set out to make some drawings. I soon found I needed some help from John Yust who, you know, is an architect. I managed to make some reasonably decent drawings. In the process of making the drawings I did indeed find out that the one area that was unclear became clear after making the section drawings. Every time I broke off a tenon George Dixon's words rang through my head, "Work it hot Bob, work it hot. Yes, George I know, but that hot? Yes, that hot. I became an expert at breaking off tenons mostly by splitting them lengthwise. I finally made the eight mortise and tenon joints out of the one inch square wrought iron stock. By working slowly and carefully the mortise and tenon joints turned out to be, on a scale from one to ten, a perfect ten. After all the pieces had been forged so they would fit in perfect harmony with one another, it was time to pickle them in muriatic acid. One fine summer day my lovely wife, Mary, and I set up an assembly line. The iron from the front panel went into the acid and then into the soda water and .then into the rinse water and then we quickly dried them off with towels and a hair dryer. We were both tickled pink to see the black and silver striping of the wrought iron following the contour of the iron. The assembly would commence the next morning. During the night the iron was stored in the oven to slow down any rusting process that might take place. The next morning we took the iron out of the oven and horror of horrors, the striping had almost disappeared. Murphy's Law had begun to set in. Back into the acid, back into the soda, back into the rinse and dry it off. By now it was almost noon. We carefully laid the pieces out on the layout table. We check to see that everything was laid out just right. Mary and I carefully worked out just who would do what during the assembly of the mortise and tenon joints. We joined two of the mortise joints when, oh no, Murphy's Law again! Even though I carefully marked every piece, I ignored those marks and reversed the two uprights. The mortise and tenon joints would not fit hardly at all. Those number ten mortise and tenon joints have now deteriorated to a number two,and by reworking them with a grinder and a file they got up to a number four. We finished assembling the front panel and applied a coat of poly. By now it was evening and we were mentally exhausted. The second panel would have to wait until the next day. Bright and early the next day we pickled, neutralized and rinsed the pieces for the back panel. Lay them out on the layout table. Is it right? Yes, everything is a go. Heat the tenons and peen them over. Oh, no, Murphy's Law again! This time I reversed the bottom rail end for end and those perfect mortise and tenon joints deteriorated to about a number two. Get out the grinder, get out the file, whir, whir, whir. Improve the joints, perhaps to a number four. Now we had both panels assembled and joined together but we were losing the black and white stripes. They were not only turning brown but they were tending to disappear. We finally assembled the whole thing and got a coat of poly on the log holder. It is beginning to acquire a lovely brown appearance but with hardly noticeable stripes. I suppose that isn't too bad. But then, Murphy's Law was not through with us. Around the heads of the tenons the corrosion began to bubble up. No longer did it have a lovely brown patina, but rather and ishy looking corrosion. I heard of a company in Minneapolis that would dip metal and strip it perfectly clean even between the threads of a nut and bolt. Dave Olin informed me that the company was no longer in business. Sigh. Murphy's Law again! My latest thinking is to burn off the varnish with the torch, wire brush the corrosion and soak it good in soda water. Then blacken it with heat and bees wax, sand off the highlights to give it a silver and black effect, and apply poly or wax. Of course, this will lose the wrought iron striping but it is better than having that stupid old corrosion. I learned a few things on this project. First of all, when working with bridge wrought iron, which is not as highly refined as the wrought iron that the blacksmith of old had, the iron must be very hot. When it approaches a red heat it should go back into the fire. The second thing that I learned was that after marking all the pieces, carefully look at the marking to make sure they match. And the third lesson was that the process of pickling wrought iron in acid should be used only with small projects that have relatively few pieces to be processed and joined. This log hold of eighty nine pieces was too much to handle. .
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