The Newsletter of the Houston Area Blacksmith’s Association Inc.


HABA Web Site: www.habairon.org


September 2001 Edition





David W. Koenig President

7418 Branch Point

Houston, TX 77095-2649




Larry Newbern Vice President

4918 Foster School Road

Needville, TX 77461



Frank Walters Secretary

13703 Larkway

Sugar Land, TX        77478




Les Cook

11222 Sagewillow

Houston, TX 77089-4536




Larry Hoff Treasurer


Houston, TX 77070-3747
















October HABA Meeting – Page 2.

Sept. Meetings Summary–Page 3.

Tom Latané Vise Notes – Page 6.

Blacksmithing  By Drew – Page 7.

December Meeting – Page 10.

January Meeting – Page 11.

Renew Membership – Page 11.

For Sale – Page 12.

The Fine Print – Page12.






(Please Note: October 27 is the 4th weekend of October and not the usual HABA Meeting weekend.  The change is necessitated by a number of other events going on the third weekend involving HABA members.) 


The October meeting will be tool making workshop.  The plan is to forge one scribe and two chisels, one straight and one curved.  These tools will be used to make a belt buckle at the November meeting.


The meeting location is Tudor Forge.  Directions are provided below.


The start time is 9:00.


Ed Cotton is going to lead this workshop.  Ed is a very knowledgeable smith and great teacher.  This will be an especially good workshop for all of you who just got a portable forge and want to learn how to temper and harden steel.


What to Bring


ü      Bring your safety glasses with side shields.  Safety glasses with side shields are required.

ü      Hearing protection, gloves, apron, as you prefer.

ü      A forge, hand tools and fuel.

ü      High carbon steel to make the scribe and chisels.  HABA will provide some spring steel in the form of a commercial garage door spring stock (about 3/8 inch diameter) and coil spring stock from about ½ inch to ¾ inch diameter.

ü      A sack lunch if you want to eat at the shop.  There are restaurants within a few minutes of the shop too.

ü      HABA will provide water and soda.


Come to the meeting even if you do not have a forge.  Odds are forge space will be available!


Directions to Tudor Forge

Take 249 NW from Houston.  Travel through the towns of Tomball, Decker Prairie and Pinehurst.  At Pinehurst 249 changes to 1774.  Stay on 1774.  About three miles ahead on 1774 look for a Texaco station on the west side of the road.  One-quarter of a mile past the Texaco station, turn left or west on Tudor Way.  You will find the forge about a mile down the road. 


From the intersection of 1488 and 1774 in Magnolia, go south on 1774 about 4 miles.  Look for Tudor Way just after the Country Jamboree building.  If you see the Texaco station you went too far.





HABA’s Hammerfest VI at Oldenburg, TX was quite a success in one way and a bit disappointing in another.  In the success column are the names of all the people who came to demonstrate and/or sell and those who stopped by to visit and learn. 


First let us welcome five new members of HABA.  They are Steven Green, Tony Ahuero, Patrick Miller, Kevin Crawford and John Hinton.  It was a pleasure to have you at Oldenburg and we certainly hope to see you at future meetings.


There were 27 HABA members including 14 additional family members. 


There were thirteen demonstrators/vendors.  They are: John Forsman, Tom Lundquist*, Charles and Sharon Heathcock, Lee Oates, Frank Walters, Jim Wheeler, Dave Koenig, Larry Hoff, Les Cook, James, Cathy and Richard Porter.  Anita Messer*, A. J. Garrett, and André Gandin.  (*Not HABA Members.)


The HABA and family members not listed above are: Tim and Vicki Bailey, Paul and Elaine Bonner, Bob and Cathy Collier, Kennie and Susan Hall, Bob and Sam James, John Korb, Howard Owen, Bill Preece, David Saylor, Karl and Linda Schuler, Louise Green, Ann Ahuero and Bob Wall.


There were also a number of visitors who expressed a lot of interest in the craft.  We hope these visitors become HABA members soon.  Here are the names of some of the visitors: Mike and Brenda Johnson, Jess Huckemeyer, Cliff Ladd, Greg Schuman, Mark Kilgore and Bob and Mary Richmond.


HABA also wishes to thank all of those people who did stop by Hammerfest VI to purchase something.


In the disappointing column is the lack of customers to purchase what the demonstrators /vendors offered for sale.  Relative to past years few buyers showed up to look around.  Part of this problem was due to the fact that Hamerfest was held one week earlier than previous years and the site needs to have a lot more ‘road appeal’ to the public.


Hammerfest was moved back one week or two reasons.  One was to use the last weekend as a rain date if the second to the last weekend got rained out.  The second reason for moving Hammerfest back a week was to get more buyers on Sunday.


Last April was the first time HABA tried to move the date back and it got rained out big time.  This year the second to the last weekend had perfect weather but there were very few cars on Saturday compared to other events.  There were more cars on Sunday however.


A.J. Garrett, Dave Koenig, Jim Wheeler and Charles and Sharon Heathcock returned on the last weekend of the Round Top Antique Show too.  The number of cars passing Oldenburg on Saturday was significantly larger than the week before.  However there were so few people that only A. J.’s yard art buyers stopped and there were precious few of those.


What did we learn about Hammerfest this year?  There were a couple of things.  First the board needs to rethink using the second to the last weekend as a primary date.  Second, the number of people out buying on the second to the last weekend does not seem to be as many as the last weekend. 


It is imperative to make the Hammerfest site more visible and inviting so the public stops on their way to Warrenton.  More signs advertising what we have to offer and sell are needed.  The site probably needs to be laid out better to make parking more obvious.  Some bright pendants suspended from the light poles to the road may be a helpful too.  If you have any suggestions, we are listening.  Please contact one of the board members with your suggestions.


The real bright side of Hammerfest VI were the number of people who came to learn more about the art and craft of blacksmithing.  It was incredible.  Some people stayed all day and wondered and talked with the demonstrators.  Some people took notes and Jess Huckemeyer picked up a hammer for the first time and forged a spoon!  Asking for more than that kind of a response may be a bit presumptuous.  Learning and teaching others is what we are all about and that was more evident this Hammerfest than any previous Hammerfest.


Another bright spot was the weather for a change.  For the first time in maybe the last three Hammerfests there was no excessive wind, rain, cold, or heat.  The weekend weather was just ideal.  The effect the weather had on everyone did not pass unnoticed.


Another highlight of Hammerfest VI was the presentation of a two pound engraved brass hammer to our most gracious host and lifetime HABA member Kennie Hall.  Hammerfest is possible because of Kennie’s invitation to use his property during the Round Top Antique Show.


Again Kennie and Susan gathered a number of their family and friends and the blacksmiths who spent Saturday night at the site for a BBQ hamburger supper with all of the fixings.  These dinners are most relaxing after 12 hours of talking, demonstrating and in some cases selling.


A very special thanks again goes to Kennie and Susan for providing us space and opening their Oldenburg home to all of us.


A special thanks also goes to Nelson Randerman for distributing the Hammerfest flyers all along his milk route from Victoria to Brenham.  The whole and chocolate milk he provides to all the demonstrators is greatly appreciated too


HABA board members are talking more about how to make Hammerfest at Oldenburg even better for HABA members, visiting blacksmiths and the public!  Already there is a list of possible changes and the list is getting longer. 


Cliff Ladd from Austin, for example, made two simple suggestions when he visited on Saturday.  We could implement one of his recommendations right away and it worked.  That was to park cars near the road so people knew they could drive right in.  It worked.  Cliff’s second recommendation to separate the tents from the demo area will be implemented next year.


HABA is looking for additional ideas to make the Hammerfest site even more productive for everyone.  We have five acres at our disposal.  If you would like to take part in these discussions contact either Frank Walters at 713-896-7566 / oteroforge@wtez.net or Dave Koenig at 281-855-2869 / 76021.3660@compuserve.com.  We will get together some weekend and make a plan for April 2002




Part 4 of 4


All four pages of Tom Latané’s notes can be found on HABA’s web page, www.habairon.org.



By James M. Drew

Former Instructor In Black-Smithing, School Of Agriculture, University Of Minnesota


The Webb Publishing Company, Saint Paul, Minnesota 1947

Copyright 1935 By Webb Book Publishing Company


The Albert R. Mann Library at Cornell University

 is pleased to grant permission for the one-time, nonexclusive use, without cost, of the Preface and the sections on the swivel and the screwdriver from James. M. Drew's Blacksmithing for use in the newsletter of the Houston Area Blacksmith's Association.  We request that you credit :


The Core Historical Literature of Agriculture Collection, Cornell University Library




(Please take time to look at this digital library of smithing books and other titles no longer in print.  Editor.)




Since the automobile has taken the place of the horse and buggy, and the tractor has almost supplanted the farm team, there is so little work left for the horseshoer and wagon maker that these tradesmen are fast disappearing from the scene.  The village or crossroads blacksmith, once an important factor in the working force of the rural neighborhood, if he has not already retired, is beginning to see the end of any profit in his business; and as no young men are learning his trade, his race bids fair to soon reach the vanishing point.


In the future, whatever blacksmithing is necessary to be done in connection with farm tools and machinery, and the farm teams, must be done by the farmer or his sons.


It is this condition of affairs that has brought about a recent demand for a book on the subject of farm blacksmithing.  This book has been written in the attempt to supply that demand.  The author, who, during a long term of years, had the pleasure of teaching the elements of forge work to several thousand Minnesota farm boys, hopes that this little book may be of help to those farmers and farmers’ sons who wish to, or through force of circumstances are obliged to, do the work which formerly fell to the lot of the village blacksmith.


SWIVEL         Log chains are often broken because of becoming twisted. This is especially true in logging work.  To avoid twisting, every log chain should have a swivel at about its middle point.  Making a swivel is a good exercise in forging.  To make a swivel it is necessary first to have a mandrel over which to form the middle part of the swivel.  For the mandrel it is best to use a piece of 7/8.inch round, mild steel.  One end of this should be heated and a very short piece of the end, about 1/2 inch, should be drawn out to about ½ inch in size as shown at A in Figure 20.

The material for the main part of the swivel should be a piece of mild steel 1 inch wide and 1/2 inch thick.  One end of the bar should be drawn out to ~/8 inch in size and 3 inches long; the middle section about 1 inch long, should be left the original size; and the other end also drawn out to ~/s inch the same as the first part, as shown at B. A ½-inch hole is to be punched through the middle section, and the piece heated to a white heat and placed on the mandrel to be worked into the shape shown at C.


The eye is made by welding the end of a 7/16-inch rod back on itself to form the opening, then working the shank down to 1/2 inch as shown at D. The shank should be just long enough to go through the main part of the swivel, through a washer, E, with enough space to make a good head when riveted.  The riveting should be done while the end of the shank is red hot.  The two arms of the swivel should then be bent together and welded in the same manner as the chain link described on page 33.  The completed swivels shown at F.


Riveting the shank in place will probably make it so tight that it will not turn easily.  The cure for this condition is to heat the whole swivel to a light red heat and turn the shank around a few times while hot.




In the days of our grandfathers, when tool steel was very costly in comparison with the price of iron, many tools were made partly of iron and partly of steel.  For example, hand hammers were made of iron with a face of steel welded on.  Iron plowshares had a strip of steel welded, or “laid”, as the old smiths expressed it, along the edge.  This is what gives the commonly used name of “lay” to that part of a plow.


In these days of comparatively cheap steel, it is cheaper to make a whole tool of steel than to do the welding that formerly was done.  There are, however, occasions when it is desirable and practical to weld steel and iron, and the farm smith should be able to do the trick and make a good job of it.


A very good crowbar may be made of a piece of mild steel shafting by welding a piece of tool steel in one end and drawing it down to the proper shape.


A good churning drill for work in rock may be made in the same way.


In making a heavy screw driver, where it would seem a waste of tool steel to make it entirely of that material, mild steel may be used for all but a little wedge of tool steel welded in the end.


The method generally used in welding tool steel to iron or mild steel for the tools just mentioned, is illustrated in Figure 30.  The bar of iron or mild steel is first upset at the end as shown at A.  It is then split with a thin chisel as at B, spread open as at C, and the two halves flattened out into the form of rather thin, wide lips as at D.  A piece of tool steel of the proper size is then drawn out in the form of a wedge, and the two lips of the bar are wrapped around it as shown at E.  The whole end is then covered with borax and welded.


Steel, enclosed in a coating of borax, will weld at a yellow heat.  Beginners often make the mistake of getting the steel too hot.


As a first attempt at this kind of welding, the amateur smith might well try to make a screw driver by taking a piece of 7/16-inch mild steel about 16 inches long, and welding a wedge of 7/16.inch tool steel in one end.  Then if he will draw the other end to a short point and bend it around and weld it as shown at A in Figure 31, then give it a twist as shown, he will have a good-looking screw driver, the handle of which will never come off.  The steel in the end may be refined by hammering, as in the case of the cold chisel, (see page 56), and should be tempered a trifle softer than the cold chisel.


(Cold Chisel Refining Process from Page 56)


The wedge-shaped part of the tool should next be refined by proper hammering.  The right way to do this is to heat to a dull red and pound it well on both flat sides with a heavy hammer, beginning with heavy blows which should become lighter and lighter as the metal cools, and stopping when the red color has disappeared.  If this pounding has spread the edge out too wide it would be a mistake to try to remedy it by any pounding on the edges, for this would undo what has been done by the hammering on the flat sides.  Any necessary trimming of the sides should be done by grinding or filing after the tool is cold.


The above described refining process is what constitutes the main difference between a first class tool and an ordinary one.  A tool so made and properly tempered will stand more hard usage, and even abuse, than one that has simply been shaped and tempered without the refining process.





The field trip to see the old Louis Snokhous blacksmith shop in West, TX on December 15 is picking up interest.  Several RSVP’s already arrived. 


Less Cook is looking into the possibility of renting a small bus to take a group from Houston, Bryan and College Station up to West.  This would sure make life a lot easier with regard to driving, give us a chance to visit and watch the countryside go by.


If taking a bus sounds like a possibility for you, please contact Les at 281-481-2457 or at anvil@flash.net.  We do not have much time to confirm a bus so please contact Les if you have interest. 


A call to Les right now is not a confirmation but an indication of your interest level.  If we can manage to get a full bus the cost will be about $20 per person.








Our very won Lee Oates will conduct the third annual knife making workshop at C&S Forge in January 2002.  Lee was demonstrating last month at the grand opening of the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.  His demo piece was the blacksmith knife all will have an opportunity to make at the January workshop.  The knife stock was a hay rake tine.


Below is a picture of Lee’s demo piece from the Craft Center.  As you can see the knife is a well-proportioned functional looking knife.  If you look a little closer you will see that it has several problems.  The big problem takes the form of broken blade.  The lesser problems take the forms of four additional cracks that render the blade completely unsalvageable.


Lee asked that the blade be included in this newsletter for two reasons.  One is to show the design of the ‘blacksmith knife’.  The other is to remind everyone not to attempt to harden hay rake tine in water….in spite of what you might think you might be able to do.





This is reminder to everyone that the HABA Membership and HABA Snail Mail Lists will be updated November 1.  HABA is currently an organization with 41 paying members.  This is approximately one half of the paying membership of the 2000/2001 membership year.  If you still wish to support HABA with a membership, now is the time to do it.  HABA would greatly appreciate it!!!


For your information the operating expenses for HABA runs about $200 per month. The expenses per month in general are: insurance $50, newsletter $50, office supplies $25, demonstrators $25, soda $10, and miscellaneous supplies $40.


Please renew your HABA Membership for 2001/2002 with a $20 check sent to the Treasurer, Larry Hoff.  Larry’s address is 8026 Durklyn, Houston, TX 77070-3747.




1.      A Grizzly Model G9742 mitering band saw with the cabinet.  The machine was used once but turned out to be too small for its intended purpose.  $350.00


Twenty-four feet of code railing 42” tall with round pipe rails and circle motif near top.  $100.00


Call John Forsman at 281-300-5184 for more details.




The use any of the material in The HABA Letter 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. 



Dave Koenig

7418 Branch Point

Houston, TX 77095