Episode #53 Stuart Geisler “A Suit and Tie in Blacksmithing?”

Stuart Geisler is an industrial blacksmith in Pennsylvania.  He specializes in a variety of high quality, hand-made tools for the cooperage industry and the slate quarry industry out of Granville, NY.  He started a blacksmith apprenticeship in 1977 after completing his physics and astrophysics at Villanova University.

Stuart at the trip hammer Cooperage tools Slate Shingle Rippers vatican blacksmith

What We Talked About

  • When he was a little boy, he would visit a place that inspired him to become a blacksmith, the Bryn Athyn Cathedral. The metalwork incorporates animals and plants made of iron and monel (a type of metal alloy similar to wrought iron but has 65% nickel and 25% copper in it and resistant to corrosion).
  • Years later Stuart was studying Physics and Astrophysics as a graduate student at Villanova University. While attending University Stuart was looking for a job in Astronomy as a teacher, but they were hard to come by due to NASA cutbacks in the late 1970’s.  While looking for a job in the classifieds, he saw an advertisement for an apprentice blacksmith in the “A” section since he was looking for an Astronomy position.  He dressed up in a suit and tie for the interview of the apprentice position with master blacksmith, Fyodor Czub.  Czub liked the fact that Stuart had enough respect for the craft and the master to dress up in a suit. They hired him immediately.  He stayed there for 5 years.
  • This position gave Stuart the background to become an industrial blacksmith because of the lifting tools they would make there, such a lifting tongs and clamps to pick up logs and I-beams.
  • Stuart ended up supporting his parents after his father lost his job. This smoothed things over since his parents weren’t too happy he didn’t pursue Astrophysics.
  • Stuart always had a plan to open his own blacksmith business and bought the machinery needed while he was still employed as an apprentice. He left the company on good terms, so good that the company subcontracted forging work from him for the next 15 years.
  • Stuart is still working and teaching classes out of his 40ft x 60ft shop that is situated on 14 acres with the Snake River running through it. The shop is well equipped with trip hammers, seven anvils (including a 700lb Hay Budden), and a lathe.
  • Stuart is very involved with many blacksmith Facebook groups, and he is the Admin of a few such as Blacksmithing for Beginners, Blacksmith Enthusiasts, Blacksmithing for Beginners Tailgate page.
  • One of Stuart’s hobby’s is being a philatelist (aka stamp collector). The most interesting stamp he owns is one from the Vatican depicting a blacksmith.
  • His favorite tool is his 700 lb Hay Budden anvil; he bought it for $650 in 1976!
  • Today Stuart has a few companies that by his hand-made tools for a slate roofing industry, a leather retailer called Waltzing Matilda, and for the cooperage industry in Kentucky.

Guest Links

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

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