I have a project in mind and would like to commission 180 Forge Works to create it for me. What are the steps involved to make this happen?
The process is easy...and we'll have fun!
Step 1: Discuss what you have in mind and your budget.
Step 2: I figure out a rough cost for the work and estimate a start date.
Step 3: A small deposit is provided to secure your start date in my queue.
Step 4: When your start date arrives, that is when the creative process begins. I usually provide a sketch for approval and together we adjust the design until you are thrilled with what I will forge.
Step 5: Sorry - this is secret as it involves raging fire, forging hot steel and lots of pixie dust!
Are you a full-time blacksmith?
Yes, I sure am! ...and I have the weathered hands to prove it!
Where are your customers and clients located?
180 Forge Works is located just outside of Ottawa, Ontario in Almonte. While I have shipped my work to just about every state in the US and all across Canada, most of my larger commission work comes from within a 400 km radius.
Does your business have insurance?
Yes, 180 Forge Works is fully insured for any work I do on your behalf.
Do you only work on large commissions?
No, as you can see from my Gallery of Work, there is a wide array of projects that I take on. Many of my commissions take weeks to complete, however I routinely set my hand to, and enjoy, smaller projects.
Do you deliver and install your work?
Yes, I certainly can and typically do so for larger installations such as railings, gates etc.
I want to become a blacksmith (or bladesmith). How can I get started and do you teach?
No, I don't teach. Perhaps I will at some point when steel gets too heavy for me to maneuver around my shop, but for now my focus is on the work itself.
Here are some schools to help get you pointed in the right direction:
Fleming College in Haliburton. They offer a complete blacksmithing program. I don't have personal experience with the school but I have heard good things about it.
The New England School of Metalwork located in Auburn, Maine. It is a well run school with excellent instructors. They have an economical dorm right on site as well as moderately priced hotels nearby. The school is about 7 hours from Ottawa by car. They offer blacksmithing and bladesmithing.
Another excellent option is John C. Campbell Folk School located in Brasstown, NC. They are situated on a beautiful 300 acre campus. Their blacksmith shop is exceptional and the best equipped of any I have seen.
Are there any good books on blacksmithing that you can recommend?
While there are many books on the subject, the best series I have found are by Mark Aspery. There are 3 books in his series (Vol 1, 2 & 3).
You can find them at:
Where can I buy an Anvil?
This is a tough one. A good, used anvil is hard to find. When you do find one, it is often incredibly expensive. The anvil face is where you will be doing most of the hammering on steel. Any cracks or divots in the face will transfer to your steel like fingerprints do in silly putty. You may get lucky on Kijiji and that is always a great place to start. However, if at all possible, I suggest you consider buying a new one. There are several options available when buying new. I like the Peddinghaus anvils which are made by Rigid.
The local distributor is Len Murray Supply in Ottawa.
Either the 165 lb and 276 lb would be an excellent choice.
I'm just starting out in blacksmithing. Could you please tell me where I could buy small hand tools?
What could be more fun that buying tools? I like these guys who are located in the states:
As a blacksmith, one of your most important tools will be your hammer. My absolute favorite is the #2 Hofi style cross peen (2.4lbs) sold by Big Blu Hammers in the states. It is expensive but it comes fully dressed and ready to forge. They also sell power hammers which sure come in handy when forging large stock!
Where can I buy steel?
I suggest the following suppliers:
- Branje Metal Works in Almonte
- Loucon Metal in Ottawa
- Metal Pros in Ottawa
- Russel Metals in Ottawa (may require an account)
- Metal Supermarket in Ottawa
- Kawartha Metal in Peterborough
Can I come watch you work?
Unfortunately, I don't offer demonstrations within my shop. I work as a full-time blacksmith and as such, all the equipment is live which makes for a work site that is too dangerous for visitors while the sparks are flying.
Do you sell stuff from your shop?
I don't have a typical store front or display. However, my customers and clients do come to the shop to discuss their projects and to pick up their completed commissions.