Episode #72 Jack Klahm – “Aluminum, the Old Man Metal”

Jack founded Klahm and sons 43 years ago in Hawaii and moved the business to his current location in Florida. He has experienced a variety of opportunities to learn his craft. He began with forging steel, and 20 years later he entered into the aluminum and bronze world of forging.  He has been a member of NOMMA since 1978; and has done numerous demonstrations, and videotapes for education.  Over the course of being a NOMMA member Jack’s business has received more than 100 awards, and they are a two-time Mitch Heitler award winner.

Award winning gate stair railing lighting

What We Talked About

  • Jack’€™s father was a high school Industrial Arts teacher and Jack learned a lot about the metal field through osmosis from his father.
  • 1972 Jack and his parents created the business “€œKlahm and Sons”€, first as a furniture business, then it eventually became a full-on metal blacksmith business making gates and doing large restoration commissions. His shop, then, was 12 ft by 12 ft, with a hand shear, a railroad track for an anvil, oxy/acetylene set up and an AC buzz box.
  • Jack has a family history of metalsmiths,€“ his great grandfather was a blacksmith and grandfather was a stainless steel metal worker in Germany.
  • His shop now has 3 other smiths working with him and they have been there for 10 years.
  • Jack’€™s first restoration project was the Iolani Palace in Hawaii. The project was to bring back the original metal color on a half a mile of fencing, 4 driveway entrance gates and 8 pedestrian gates.
  • The second restoration project was the Royal Mausoleum in Hawaii, where all of the Hawaiian Kings and Queens are buried.
  • Jack’€™s family moved to Florida in 1985 and received another restoration project working on Samuel Yellin’€™s driveway gates at the National Historic Landmark of Vizcaya.
  • All of his skills have all been self-taught. Growing up with dyslexia strengthened his perseverance to succeed, that paired with a high mechanical aptitude has grown his successful business.
  • A turning point happened in 1992, Jack was commissioned by a client who didn’€™t want any rust to show up on the work for years to come, this is when Jack started to work primarily with aluminum.
  • Jack has learned over the years that the stories you can tell about your work. Projects and relationships with clients really sell your work for you.
  • The ABANA 2016 Conference committee has asked Jack to be a demonstrator this summer. He will be giving demonstration€™s on forging aluminum and bronze as well as a slideshow on Saturday showing his works over the past 43 years.  The demonstrations will have a metallurgical flair to them, talking about how to work with the different alloys of aluminum and bronze.
  • 1992, in Asheville North Carolina, was Jack’€™s last ABANA demonstration, where he was the first person to demonstrate forging aluminum.
  • Jack has been a member of the NOMMA organization for many years, this has given him the ability to teach many students who have gone on to win NOMMA awards. Jack has also made teaching videos for NOMMA on creating curved staircases.
  • When asked if he could learn from any blacksmith for a day, dead or alive, who would that be -€“ he said from the people who aren’€™t with us anymore, Bill Gichner, Ernest Wiemann.  He also mentioned Steve Schwarzer, who lives close to Jack, Michael Bondi and Bob Bergman.


Guest Links

A Big Thank You to today’€™s sponsor -€“ ABANA 2016 Conference, ABANA Conf Poster

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