Episode #28 – Don Hanson “Beginner Blacksmiths- Start with simple blacksmithing tools”

Don Hanson is a hobby blacksmith who lives in Colorado Springs, CO.  He is a retired Fiber Optics Project Manager and has been blacksmithing since 2001.  Don designs and forges architectural ironwork, home furnishings, and roses for a local festival called Territory Days.

Don Hummingbirds  Roy Orbison logo (800x600)

What We Talked About

  • Don was introduced to blacksmithing at Colorado’s historic Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Park.  The foreman, Andy Morris, invited Don to join a beginner blacksmithing class there; after the first class, Don was hooked!
  •  He continued his learning by taking two Mark Aspery classes.
  •  Blacksmithing is not his only hobby.  He also enjoys fishing, target shooting, and rebuilding street rod cars.  He has a 1951 Ford pickup truck that he has completely rebuilt, there’s a picture of it below.
  •  Don likes to keep blacksmithing as a hobby because he didn’t want to come up with the business marketing and advertising plans required to run a successful business.
  •  His projects got larger in size by making his own skillset and toolset larger.
  • The most informative advice Don has gotten was to “make your forged pieces as if the next person who sees it will be a better blacksmith that than you”.
  •  A great tip from Don on collecting tools for your shop; ask everyone you know if they have any blacksmithing tools.  Sometimes what they think are a pair of “pliers” turn out to actually be a very nice pair of tongs!
  •  Don’s shop is very well equipped with the usual blacksmith tools; three anvils (250 lb Peter Wright, 160 lb Hay Budden, and a small 95 lb travelling anvil), layout table, treadle hammer, a good stock of steel and an air hammer the he built with a friend.
  •  A very good way to perfect your skills and techniques is to volunteer as a period blacksmith
  •  Don and his first teacher Andy Morris collaborated for nearly eight months on an entry gate for the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site.  There are over 100 collars in the piece (pictured below).
  •  When Don demonstrates at an event, the crowd really loves to see a square piece of solid stock being twisted in the vise, with the mill scale falling off.  There are always a bunch of “ooohs” and “ahhh’s”.
  •  Don’s advice to beginner blacksmiths: Proper safety is the most important thing to know.  Most of the blacksmithing books touch on the best practices and safety tips of blacksmithing.  Also, start with simple tools, not big complicated tools like a power hammer.
Don Hanson helped with building this peacock gate started by Andy Morris


Don Hanson’s Links:

Well, Don doesnt spend too much time at the computer, so he doesn’t have any!

A Big Thank You to today’s sponsor – Nimba Anvils, www.nimbaanvils.com

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