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Houston, TX 77095-2649


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Board of Directors

  • President
    Les Cook
    11222 Sagewillow
    Houston, TX 77089-4536

  • Vice President
    Richard Boswell

  • Past President
    Dave Koenig

  • Secretary
    Frank Walters

  • Treasurer
    James Porter
    1925 Anchor Way Dickinson TX 77539

  • Board Member
    Larry Hoff


To Preserve and Promote the Art and Craft of Blacksmithing Through Education.

Welcome to HABAIRON.ORG, the website of the Houston Area Blacksmith's Association, the Internet resource of choice for the blacksmith in and around Houston, Texas. We have the technology!

May 24-25, 2003

Tool Making Work Shop
with John Crouchet

In May our attention will turn to tools for the Treadle Hammer and Fly Press and is schedued for May 24 and 25. Les Cook (at anvil@flash.net) is organizing the meeting. Details are in The HABA Letter . The intent is to learn how to make our own tools that will work in either machine.

The work shop will be 2 days.

The Tools:

  • 2 chisels 1 for hot work and 1 for cold
  • 2 "V" blocks 1 large and 1 small
  • 1/2" fuller (upper and lower)
  • Butcher (upper and lower)
  • a removable tool holder (handle)
  • For the flypress folks a bottom plate with a 1" hardie hole on the diamond 4 X 18 X 5/8 - mild steel

Example tools:
Fullers.jpg Butcher, set hammer and chisel.jpg Bender.jpg
Treadle hammer $80.00
Treadle hammer/Flypress $120.00
Treadle hammer $90.00
Treadle hammer/Flypress$130.00
** To actively participate, a 6 month membership is required and included for insurance reasons.

Treadle/Fly includes 5/8” hardy plate and stock needed to make the bender/straightner tool for the Flypress.

Everyone receives:
  • 24” of ¾” S-7 round stock (tool steel)
  • 24” of ¾” H-13 round stock(tool steel)
  • 24” of ½” x 2” S-7 flat stock(tool steel)

You make 2 chisels and a butcher set with the tool steel & keep what is left over. The mild steel is part of the cost.

Cost includes BBQ and beverages



Les Cook
11222 Sagewillow
Houston, TX 77089-4536
James Porter
1925 Anchor Way
Dickinson, TX 77539

Please send your check to James Porter no later than May 10.
Make checks payable to HABA (Houston Area Blacksmith Assoc.). Please make a note for May Tool Workshop.

When & Where :

Saturday & Sunday, May 24-25, 2003 :

Robert Killbuck's Shop in Magnolia : 10727 Crestwater Circle ; 281-252-6061

The schedule looks like this:

  • Saturday 8:00 : Sign in and setup
  • Sunday 9:00 : Continue and Complete

What to Bring


Bring safety glasses with side shields. This is a requirement!

If you can bring a TIG and MIG welder please contact Les. Other tools may be needed also. Please bring small tools, small grinders, extension chords, work tables, vises, welding clamps.

If you do not have a forge and tools, please come anyway. There will be plenty of room at some forge during the workshop and someone to lend you a hand if you need it.

You do not have to be a member to attend our meetings! Bring a Guest!
Please Join and be a part of HABA today to receive the current Newsletter ! Call James Porter at 281-337-5384 for the latest information.


A collection of articles form recent HABA Letters is available for download by clicking HABA FLYPRESS TOOLING WORKSHOP : May 2003 which is an Adobe 5.0 pdf file.

Some relevent on-line links for your viewing....

Old World Anvils Flypress Maneklal Exports Fly Press Mounts
Reil's Fly Press Page Jeff Fetty's Fly Press Fly Press and Die Cutting
Treadle Hammer Dies Clay Spenser's Vertical Motion Treadle Hammer

Directions to Work Shop

Robert Killbuck's Shop in Magnolia : 10727 Crestwater Circle ; 281-252-6061

An Interview with John Crouchet by Reynolds Cushman

In March 2002 HABA conducted a treadle hammer building workshop and successfully completed 30, Clay Spencer styled #80 hammers. A little over one year later HABA followed up on the that successful event with a 2-day workshop on tool making for treadle hammer (TH) and flypress (FP) at the shop of Robert Killbuck, outside Magnolia, Texas.

John Crouchet (Crew-Shay) was gracious enough to venture away from his comfortable ranch near Marble Falls, Texas to join and lead HABA members as they forged, welded and ground some 200 plus tools.

Crouchet began the workshop with general comments about the use, misuse and general misconceptions surrounding THs and FPs. He has a 30-year background in metals, specifically precious metals, having worked as a diamond expert and jewelry manufacturer in Austin. As FPs are commonly used in the making of jewelry, Crouchet has long been familiar with the finer points of using a FP.

In the late 70s Crouchet first saw blacksmithing done at the Texas Renaissance Festival while Joe Pohaska of Salado was set up forging hinges there. “I thought all hinges came from the hardware store,” he chuckled. He said he became intrigued but didn’t actually pick up a hammer until about six years ago when he enrolled in blacksmithing classes at Austin Community College, where he met his boss Larry Crawford. The teacher-student relationship developed and the 53-year-old Crouchet now puts in 3 to 4 days a week in Crawford’s Hammerfest Forge in Marble Falls.

Crawford, keep in mind, has several decades of forging experience and is a self-proclaimed traditionalist Crouchet noted. He would prefer to forge everything on the anvil if he had his choice and efficiency was not an object. But for a shop facing deadlines and labor constraints, efficiency is critical. And Crawford and Crouchet know using the right tool is a must to remain competitive.

But using a TH is not always the tool of choice Crouchet quickly added. For producing components such as leaves and tenons the FP is unrivaled in its ability to make a smith more efficient, he said. “I talk to people about FPs and they tell me FPs are expensive. But fact is, they are cheap. For what it does, its probably the cheapest thing in your shop.”

Crouchet is accustomed to long hours over a jeweler’s bench, and he has transferred that same work ethic into blacksmithing. Years of experience making a living grading and setting fine diamonds has made him keenly aware of productivity, as well as creativity. And he drives home his message about FPs.

Staring over bifocal classes, the salt and pepper-haired Crouchet made his point. “If you are doing professional work, the FP will pay for itself the first week,” he said. “The issue of FP over TH comes up all the time,” he added. Some smiths mistakenly believe that a treadle hammer is all they need to become efficient in their shop. He explained that a TH is not a substitute for a FP, and a FP is not a substitute for a TH. “They are not interchangeable and they do not replace each other,” he emphasized. Each of these tools is uniquely suited to execute certain forging functions with superiority over other options. Crouchet pointed out that a noticeable difference is that the FP has no percussion and that there are no double strikes. A FP will also drive a stamp deeper than a TH, he added.

Control of a treadle hammer is also an issue confronting every user. Crouchet gave the example of forging a seedpod on a TH versus forging it on a FP. “On a TH you will cut through a seedpod sooner or later,” forcing the smith to scrap that item and loose valuable time. “We never run a vein on a treadle,” he quipped. Another benefit to FP use is the skill requirement. The skill necessary to successfully complete work is less on a FP when compared to a TH. “A chimpanzee can do it on a flypress,” he grinned.

“Larry likes to do (veining and stamping) on a TH, so if he could find an excuse, he would,” Crouchet said with a laugh.” But again, using the right tool sometimes leads one to give up a favorite way in favor of the way that will put dollars in your pocket quicker. “If you are a little guy ( in a one or two-man shop) and you are not efficient, you are out of business. That is just how it is,” Crouchet stated.

Crouchet summed up his discussion of tools in one statement. “If you are trying to make a living at forging, the FP is the way to go.”

While Hammerfest Forge does primarily architectural items such as balconies, rails and courtyard gates, Crouchet manages to stick to smaller jobs in his own forge, with his trusty assistant Ruth.

To continue the FP over TH debate, or to get his full name so you can include him in your will, please contact John via email at jac@sycamorecreekranch.net or for those who can’t type while yelling, at 830-798-3710.

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Notes about this Website

This website is Under Development and will continue to evolve for HABA Members.

The use any of the material from this site is at your own risk. All persons associated with this material disclaim any responsibility or liability for damages or injuries resulting from the use or application of this information. They assume no responsibility or liability for the accuracy, fitness, proper design, safety or safe use of any information presented here.

Please send all feedback/correction/omission/suggestions to webmaster .

Last updates were on May 26, 2003

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