May 11, 2015
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.
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
- 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 completey 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
- 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
- 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'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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