I"m currently mid way through forging legs for a commissioned coffee table. I wanted a strong and traditional joint to connect the stretcher and legs. I've bee wanting to practice "heeled tenons" for quite some time now. After seeing some nice heeled tenons on gates in Ireland my interest grew and I only needed an opportunity to try it. This commission seems liked a good opportunity to try the technique on a smallish scale as the stock is only 5/8" square. One of the best resources I've found for learning how to make these is Mark Aspery's Volume 3 book traditional joinery. He also has a video specifically on forging simple heeled tenons.
I needed a smaller guillotine tool for some decorative work, so I fabricated this one. The dies are 1/2" x 2". The body is 3/8" plate.
Next stop was the Sliabh Aughty Furnace Project in Woodford co. Galway, a week+ long bloomery smelting festival. The goal of the project, organized by Paul Rondelez, was to bring together experts and enthusiasts from all over the world, harvest local bog ore, and see if it could be smelted in a variety of different style furnaces. I worked under the guidance of Jake Keen from England. Our team built three furnaces of similar design using clay, straw, and sand. We built our furnaces rather small to further investigate Jake's work to understand the minimum feasible size for a vertical shaft furnace.
My next stop was across to County Galway to Blacksmith Stephen Quinn. His shop is a beautiful space with lots of natural light and all the "candy" one could want (as he would say). I was especially fond of his many fly presses.
My next stop was to visit blacksmith Finin Liam Christie in County Wexford. While there I helped him forge some hammers and tongs. He has a beautiful double tuyere, side blast forge and some amazing, large anvils. Finin is a kind fellow with a very interesting past. Listen to an interview with him on "Blacksmither Radio".
I recently visited Ireland to attend the Sliabh Aughty Furnace Project. A multi-national gathering of bloomery smelting experts and enthusiasts with the purpose of smelting the first Irish bog ore in 200 years. While in Ireland I also took the opportunity to visit a few blacksmiths as well. Before all of this, however, was a visit (ok.. I went three different times) to the Dublin museum of Archaeology, which featured a spectacular exhibit on Viking ironwork from Ireland. This will be a multi-part blog post working chronologically through some of the iron-related highlights of the trip beginning with the Dublin National Archaeology Museum.
I'll let the photos do lots of the talking.
A year and a half ago I made this adze as a commission for woodworker Yoav Liberman. Yoav writes a blog for Popular Woodworking and we discussed that I would make the tool without a handle so that he could write up an article on his method attaching a secure handle. The adze is traditionally forged out of mild steel with a tool still bit inserted which gives the tool the toughness of the softer iron and the edge-holding power of the steel.
Yoav has since written a two part article on his techniques for hanging a tool handle, and specifically how he hung the handle for this adze. His writing is exceptionally easy to understand despite the depth that he goes into on the subject, and his photos are clear and equally informing.
To read the articles follow these links for click the images below:
We visited "The Art of Iron" exhibit at the Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA today. A selection of wrought ironwork loaned from The Musée Le Secq des Tournelles in France, one of the world's largest museums solely showing traditional ironwork. The exhibit was an interesting mix of intricate traditional work in the form of store front signs, practical items such as dog protective collars and candle snuffers, to key and locking mechanisms. Click the image for a larger version.