Blacksmithing class participants put hammer down

January 13, 2019

If you’re looking to escape a cold and snowy day like Saturday, blacksmithing is one way to do it.

Steve Cukrowicz stood feet away from a 2,800-degree forge as he taught basics of the craft to a handful of people at the Build Guild on Goshen Avenue. A compliance engineer for Fleetwood RV Inc. by trade, he taught himself a couple of years ago to heat and hammer steel.

And now he’s passing along that knowledge to others.

“It’s a dying trade,” Cukrowicz said as people who had paid the $15 instruction fee for the two-hour workshop gathered.

Perhaps, but blacksmithing also appears to be undergoing a bit of a renaissance.

A story published in the Washington Post in 2016 said blacksmiths are finding more work because homeowners are seeking custom metal designs for things such as tables and railings.

The Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America has grown from 92 members in 1973 to nearly 4,100, according to the article.

“Who doesn’t want to learn blacksmithing?” asked Susan Steele, who saw the clinic advertised recently and decided to check it out. “I just wanted to learn a little bit.”

The Build Guild offers space for things such as woodworking, sewing and other projects. The business also hosts workshops.

Cukrowicz said he has “a tool-and-die background” and started molding steel to make tools that last longer than those available in stores. He’s made knives, shovels and pickaxes.

“I picked it up just as a way to make my own tools around the house,” he said. “It’s pretty fun. The limit is pretty much your imagination.”

For workshop participants including Danielle Lackey and husband Chris Gordon, it was a way to try something new while avoiding the snow and cold temperatures outside. They and others took turns hammering steel rods taken from the propane-powered forge and using a tool to punch a hole in a flattened end.

Brian Johnson said his girlfriend, Edith Helbert, first mentioned attending : but she was sick Saturday and stayed home.

“I’ll come with her next time,” Johnson said.


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