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!

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HABA Mentor/Demonstrator Notes

This page is dedicated to those who teach themselves and others how to do blacksmithing skills.

Have you got a favorite tip to share, or perhaps a photo of a good demonstrator (including yourself) ? Please send a note to your webmaster.

HABA Training Progression
One of the most important tools provided by HABA to the Membership is education, and this is offered in an organized structure within the HABA Training Progression. Select either TP-Word or TP-pdf for downloading.

The Progression is defined as four levels commonly recognized within the art:
  • I. Introduction
  • II. Basic
  • III. Intermediate
  • IV. Advanced
At the conclusion of each phase is a signature block for a designated HABA reviewer and date. When the Progression is complete, the HABA President will sign and date the document, and arrange for appropriate recognition of the Member.

Here are some tips for your review submitted by HABA Members....

Other links with information you can use in teaching......

Making a Coal Fire Light

by Richard Boswell

One of the best ways to learn this is to attend local blacksmith meetings, get there early when they are starting their forges and watch. You will find there is no single best way to do this. I will assume you have a coal forge with standard features, and either a manual crank blower or an electric squirrel type fan blower.

First, you must be in a well ventilated place. Check the equipment and plumbing, and make sure the ash trap is empty. Clean the space around you to prevent accidental fires from starting. Have a fire extinguisher nearby.

I like to start my fire with the coal piled around and outside the firepot. I like to start with a small fire and build the coal bed around it.

I use an easy to start combustible material such as :
  1. charcoal that I have made from wood,
  2. pine straw, oak bark/leaves,
  3. oily cloths, or
  4. newspaper wadded up to a ball.
Place a small amount of this material over the opened air inlet. This is typically a handful of material.

Use a small amount of lighter fluid if you want to. Put a match to it.

As it begins to burn, add a small flow of air from your blower.

Add a bit of green coal or previously made coke to the top and side of your small fire.Use the air to accelerate the burn. As your starter material gets going good, add more coal. Maintain a chimmney in the pile using a poker.

Keep a steady flow of air and burn the green coal to make coke. This makes a lot of smoke and you can smell the sulfur.

Eventually the smoke becomes less, and the fire above the firepot becomes quite hot. Use your poker/rake to make a nest. Use coal for a roof over a chamber that your work piece is heated in.

Sprinkle water on the coal bed outside the firepot to prevent un needed and widespread heat you don't need. Keep the fire in the middle.

Use your clinker breaker to keep junk from plugging the bottom.

Slow down or stop the air flow when the iron is not in the fire.

At the end of the session, I pull the coal back to the sides where it will cool rapidly. Sprinkle with water to bring it down faster.

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Demo Safety

by Richard Boswell

Blacksmithing is a bit of a lost art for what was once an essential technical trade and skill. Yet it has been rebirthing during the past 20 years due to the contributions of great people and organiztions such as ABANA that tells us about those great people and their art and craft. HABA is an Affiliate of ABANA and some of our members such as Dave Koenig are very active in this worldwide organization.

So what is "demonstrating" ?

Demonstrating is showing the public how ironworking is performed. It is an educational opportunity coming and going.

It can be done as a one man show, or a a group event. Team work is effective when you can help by taking turns between the forge and the public interface. Do your homework and educate the public.

It can be done recklessly or professionally with safe practices. Obviously, we must not be reckless because someone can get hurt. The blacksmith must know how to practice and perform his work safely for himself and those around him.

Several links on this website provide useful information about demonstrating. One of these is from ABANA with guidelines for how to demonstrate. A good summary of shop safety can be found at the Appalachian Blacksmiths Association site. Refresh yourself on these good tips. Keep Safety first and last for yourself and the rest of us.

HABA events are special and a lot of effort goes into them. Here are some suggestions from experienced members:

Frank Walters likes to have a sign next to his anvil warning the public not to be too helpful in picking up his tools and metal off the ground because they may still be hot enough to injure. A shade canopy is very important outside to help you see the fire color properly.

Dave Koenig reminds us that coke fuel can pop and explode, sending hot fuels in all directions. So use coal, not coke in public! Also, don't forge weld in public for same reasons. Wear appropriate cotton clothing and leather boots.The more you share, the more you learn!

James Porter reminds us that hammers and anvils can chip, also sending out projectiles. Inspect your tools for damage! Wear eye protection when hammering and grinding.

Reynolds Cushman points out that good hammer technique is important to protect your elbows and hands from overstrains. Keep your work area clean and free from litter.

Larry Hoff reminds us to use good practice in lifting our heavy anvils. Get help with those heavy loads and protect your back, feet, and hands. Wear a hat when working outside in the direct sun.

Charlie Heathcock plans ahead and uses the proper tool for the job. Be helpful and friendly to your coworkers and public. Be sure to compliment your wife since she may sell more than you do!

Jim Wheeler says we should keep it simple.

David Bailey takes great notes and sketches when he attends demos, then learns from them in his shop.

Steve Green learns a lot by voluteering to assist the demonstrator whenever possible.

Lee Oates is always entertaining and engages the audience with stories and conversation. Make your demo fun!

Richard Boswell reminds us that you need to drink plenty of non alcoholic fluids and don't overheat yourself. Have a first-aid kit handy and know how to use it, especially burn treatments. Also, be polite and thank your hosts, and practice good work ethics.

Les Cook recommends a good barricade to keep the public at a safe distance. Think ahead and bring the tools and equipment you will need. And because of insurance requirements, you need a current HABA Membership to work at the forge and anvil in public as a HABA Demonstrator.

Here are some photos of HABA members demonstrating for the love of their art:

Dave Koenig at work Sat. 4/26/03 demonstrating on Railroad Street in Navasota during Flag Festival
Reynolds Cushman demonstrating at "Tombstone, Texas" near College Station, Texas on Sat 4/26/03
John Crouchet with Fly Press at IronFrest-2003Jun02_62.jpg

Have you got a favorite tip to share, or perhaps a photo of a good demonstrator (including yourself) ? Please send a note to your webmaster.

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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 .

Page crerated on February 06, 2004
Last updates were on December 27, 2010

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