Friday, June 26, 2009

Making a Suffolk-Style Door Latch

One of the enjoyable parts of working in the blacksmith shop is making hardware to be used in the repair and upkeep of the historic buildings here. There are several projects going on this Spring. Repairs to our barns use forged nails, so nail making is a regular task. My nail hod (wooden box) was getting pretty full until the carpenter stopped by the shop. He filled up his apron pockets and took off with my nails! I’ve been working at restocking the 8p and 10p nails.
Another project underway is a Suffolk-style door handle and latch for the Doctor’s Office. It’s not done yet, but will be in a day or two. There are more projects to do after that. Keep looking to see a report on the continued repair of the wooden beam plow!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reading a Horseshoe

Can you tell a forged shoe from a factory made shoe? A front shoe from a hind shoe? Join the detective work at the blacksmith shop and help us get the shoes sorted.

How was it made?
Horse shoes began to be produced in factories after the Civil War. Factory made shoes are identical, and often have a number or makers mark stamped into the shoe. These were sold in small wooded barrels that contained 50 pounds of horseshoes. These came to be called “keg shoes.” Blacksmiths would modify these premade shoes to fit the horse.

Blacksmith-made shoes are forged and are made to exactly fit each foot of the horse. Since all four feet of the horse are different, the shoes will be slightly different as well. There may be custom features like varied placement of the nail holes, special caulks or “corks” to provide traction in mud or snow, or modifications to strengthen the horses feet.
Can you tell which shoes were made in a factory?
Where did it fit?
A horse’s front feet are general a little wider than their hind feet. Front shoes may be more round, and hind shoes from the same horse less wide.
Zeb’s Shoes
Our horse Zeb is a Percheron and has very large shoes. A horse is most likely to scuff or catch the outside edge of their foot on rocks while walking. Zeb’s shoes have four nails on the outside edge and three on the inside edge.
--Can you tell which of his shoes were on his left side and which were on his right?
--Which one was a front shoe and which one was a hind shoe?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Kick up your heels! We're knee deep in clover!

Cows are often thought of as placid and sedate. Seeing a cow or calf be turned out onto green, lush pasture will dispel that notion! Here are some pictures of our sweet Brown Swiss calf in the paddock at the Children’s Barnyard. She was so excited she ran several laps around the pasture complete with high jumps and acrobatic kicks!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two Little Pigs

Before the Museum opens to the public in the morning I often take a walk down to the Lippit Farmstead. Morning is a busy time of day on the farm. The farmers are moving livestock, feeding animals, and doing the morning milking. I like to see what the farmers need from the Blacksmith shop and watch the animals. The sheep and the new lambs get a lot of attention from our visitors but I think they are missing out if they don’t visit the pig pen. We have two pigs on the farm this year, and they are still pretty cute!

Pigs were an essential part of small farms in New York. Most people know that they are very efficient at turning farm crops into future bacon. But many don’t realize how smart and how funny the pigs can be. The farmers have taught our piglets to sit before they get their morning feed. That may not be important now when the pigs are only 50 pounds, but in a few months they will be nearing 250 pounds! When they are that large it is nice to have well mannered and polite pigs!

One of the pigs loves a good scratching from the farmers in the morning. When I visited, he looked up at me, squealed with delight, and fell over on his side like a dog wanting a good scratching! After a good scratching he just laid there with his eyes closed as if he was saying, “Oh, that hit the spot!”

Friday, June 12, 2009

Chickens in the Rain

Chickens don’t really like rain. There has been some cold, rainy weather at The Farmers’ Museum. The chickens are let out of the chicken coop at 8am, and are eager to get out. But where do they go when it rains? They could go back in the coop if it is really cold, but usually won’t. They find a dry place to “roost.” I recently caught the Dominick chickens roosting in the drive shed on the beams, on the wheelbarrow, and even on some farm equipment. Where do our Cayuga ducks go when it rains? Anywhere they want! They spend part of each day in the pond, even when there is ice in the water. They spend the rest wandering around looking for something tasty to eat. Just after seeing the chickens roosting in the barn I spied the ducks wandering up the farm field road looking for worms or new tender shoots. They were muttering and quacking as they walked and seemed to be having a great time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hammer and Tongs

A well-fitted pair of tongs can make a blacksmith’s work much easier. We have a wide variety of tongs in the shop. Some, like the flat jaw and the Farrier pattern are used for multiple purposes. But when we have a job that will be done repeatedly we make tongs just for the size of metal used in that job. We have bolt tongs that hold round stock securely.
Box-jaw tongs hold square or rectangular stock in an iron grip.
Hammer-eye tongs are used to hold a hammer head by the eye while it is forged to shape. The blacksmith is a tool maker, so we can make tongs to suit our work. Having well-fitted tongs makes our work safer and better.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Parts for the Ox Cart

The farmer’s small ox cart needs a new part. We forged a part to keep the ox yoke securely connected to the cart shaft and prevent the tongue from sliding through the chain ring.

I made two copies of the part. Here they are alone on the ground. They look strangely graceful.
Here is the small ox cart.
This part will be attached using the existing bolt holes on the tongue of the cart shaft.

Small carts like this are used for general hauling of feed, straw, rocks, maple sap, and anything else that needs moving at the farm.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Book Review: Otto Schmirler, The Smithy’s Craft and Tools (Werk und Werkzeug des Kunstschmieds)

Learning the shapes of useful tools and the tricks of creating forged shapes can be a challenge for blacksmiths. This book is a wonderful resource to help blacksmiths learn these skills from a talented German smith. Wasmuth’s book on Schmirler’s work is written in German, French, and English. It is beautifully illustrated with photos and with colored sketches of hammers, punches, and the ironwork created with them. The Smithy’s Craft and Tools provides an excellent window into a traditional German blacksmith’s shop and reveals his tools and work.
This book may be hard to find, but is available.

Wasmuth, “Otto Schmirler Werk und Weerkzeug des Kunstschmieds, The Smith’s Craft and Tools,” ca 1981. (Reprinted in 1993) Tubingen, Germany.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin