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Latest update November 15, 2023.
Website has been upgraded to HTTPS. Huge amount of new material coming. I will be adding roughly 500 new photos over the next 3 months and some of these photos should be ready for viewing in a few more weeks.
FINALLY! I'm back. Biggest website updates in literally years coming soon. Added TWO new photos sets at The Post Drill page. Fixed photo links to some of the earlier photos on the Post Drill page and reformatted the page to make it easier to find the different drills. Also began replacing some of the smaller and lower quality photos. Do not take the fake vaccine.
Many of the older photos on this website will slowly be replaced with much higher quality versions. Most of the older photos on this website were made during the days when all I had was a dial-up connection, and thus the very low file size and low quality of those earlier pictures. I will be replacing many of these with much higher quality/resolution photos over time. As some of you already know, my old camera (used from around 2003 to around 2018) was a POS (piece of junk) - I finally bought a good camera. Massive collection of new photos coming.
I will be starting with one of the pages that hasn't been updated here for many years - the vise page. This was project I wanted to expand on but didn't have a good enough camera or time to for photos. This was, and will be a look at buying blacksmith leg vises. Everything from identifying salvagable tools to repairing and putting them back in service again. And links to vendors selling new tools and equipment.
This website was started 24 years ago using MS Frontpage 98. Frontpage has a huge amount of obsolete html code that was thought to be, at that time, the future of internet browsing. It wasn't. And some of that coding causes errors on some servers. All of that obsolete code must be stripped out of every page on this website before I can begin adding updates. These changes are extremely urgent. That 22-year old program won't run on my new computer - I'm using an old laptop to make these changes, and I don't expect this old laptop to last much longer - it's 12 years old. It is easiest to use FrontPage to strip out excessive FrontPage coding. Gotta get it done before I no longer have an old computer capable of running that old program. I am almost finished and should be ready to start adding new material after this coming weekend.
Fire & Roses is an amateur video documentary showing our team of blacksmiths forging a rose from a solid bar of iron. Using only the traditional techniques taught to German blacksmiths for hundreds of years. This is not a sheet metal rose, nor is it a bar that was smashed flat and rolled up as seen on other blacksmith websites. This is the real thing! Performed live for a small audience from Calontir in October of 2002. The Fire & Roses video DVD is now available for purchase by both internet and mail order. Click on the picture at left or follow this link: http://www.beautifuliron.com/events_zarchive_demonstration_iron_rose_video_forging.htm for more details on the video and ordering instructions.
Beautiful Iron (formerly known as Horsefeathers & Hammermen) is dedicated to the display of tools, work methods, and products of the blacksmith, and to the use of horses as the main source of power on a farm. The focus is on 'old technology' which I define as any tools, machines, and work methods used before the year 1915. This is a private website that is open to viewing by the public. There are no professional writers here. Many of the pages and photos on this website were created during the era of slow dial-up connections that most people had at the time. Most of the photos on this site have been replaced multiple times with higher and higher resolution photos as internet connection speeds increased. All remaining low resolution photos will be replaced with higher resolution photos as time permits.
With the first Coal Forge pages being written during the spring of 1998 and first published to the web in May of 1999. Nowhere else can one find so many shops and equipment showcased as they are on this site. With literally hundreds of photos of coal forges and blacksmith shops, a foundation of knowledge was created to be shared and to support the forge designs and theories described in the treatise on Forge Design for blacksmiths that can be accessed by following the links in the Forge & Fire section. This site has grown to include other aspects of work which I, or friends of mine, are involved in. There is something for everyone from beginner to highly advanced ornamental ironworkers. Updates are made as materials are gathered and time permits. This is a work in progress and will continue growing as more photos and material is added, so visitors are invited to check back often. Building on the history of the blacksmith's trade, this website offers a tremendous amount of information and documentation to help other smiths to build their own forges and to see forges other smiths have built.
Created by a blacksmith to help other blacksmiths, this website is unlike any other. The photos of forges and design theories cannot be found anywhere else on the internet. The photos show blacksmith's forges (hearths) from around the world. Many professional shops and a few museum shops that tried to recreate period blacksmith shops. Often people who have seen my work will ask specific details of how I make my tools, built a coal forge, and learned the trade. More often still they ask me how they can learn the art and where, how, and what to get to set up a little shop of their own. The result was that I often needed to carry about 60 pounds of books and photos and videos everywhere I went. Many of these photos and other references are now posted here on this website so friends can find them at their own leisure and I no longer must carry so much stuff around with me.
My background. I'm an ornamental blacksmith or gatesmith working on all sizes of wrought iron ornamental gates and railings and other items. I am also a mechanic and for those of you who just have to ask, yes I shoe horses- with a preference for heavy draft horses. Gates and decorative work are my main focus along with draft horse shoeing and manufacturing heavy duty hardware and repairing machinery used with draft horses.
November 13th, 2023. Work is currently stalled as I am cleaning up around the property while I still have a helper. Also need to clean up wood shop workspace as well so that renovation and construction work on the shop and house can continue more easily. It is nice to be able to find tools again and actually have more clean space for working.
Shop Update. Before work stopped, the back of the shop was cleared out to make space for building a new forge. Welding table was also cleaned off. Forging area was tested (forged a pair of spring handles for a a couple new spring swages) to make sure that the everything works well before proceeding with forge construction.
Go to the Latest News Updates page to see the rest of the shop update.
October 20th, 2023. An urgent task kept me away for 3 weeks but I am back. With luck, I will be able to stay on new forge construction until it's complete.
Shop Update. Patched hole in floor near older temporary steel forge. The new 460 lbs Fontannini anvil is mounted on the new anvil block and moved over onto the patched floor area. The iron banding on the anvil block still needs decorative nails to permanently fasten them in place, but the block is useable without them for now. This new larger anvil will be used for most of the forging work during construction of the new stone forge. See the rest of this update on the Latest News Updates page.
September 27th, 2023. Steam Power & Antique Engine Shows page updated with highphotos from the 2023 season. I will be posting hundreds more photos from these shows soon. Show dates for the 2024 season will be added later as they are announced.
Shop Update. Switching tasks to begin building the stone forge. Designing and building a good stone forge by hand takes a couple months to complete. Forge construction is now a priority as forge construction must be finished before freezing temperatures and possibility of wintry weather arrive in the next two months... Go to the Latest News Updates page to see the rest of the shop update.
September 15, 2023. Took some time off to visit a few steam power and antique engine farm shows. Photos will be posted on the Steam Power & Antique Engine Shows page soon. Also took some time off from renovation work to test the new shop setup by forging some small hardware items and animal heads.
Shop update. Finished forging the iron banding for the anvil block. The banding still needs handmade rosettes and flower head nails to permanently fasten the the banding in place, and these nails will be forged soon. See the rest of the photos and update on the Latest News Updates page.
August 30th, 2023. Shop update. Last minute work on large wooden anvil stand. First iron band is ready for nailing. Second band nearly complete. After the second iron band is ready for nailing, work changes to making other items for upcoming show and tell. Photos here at right show the band material being prepared and finally the first band is finished and wrapped around the block. Decorative flower head nails will be made soon for permanently attaching the bands to the block. See the Latest News Updates page for the entire shop update post.
August 7th, 2023. Steam power shows coming up every weekend from now thru September. While I list only a few annual events on the Steam Power Shows page, there are many more in other states. See the Steam Power Shows page for upcoming show dates and photos from past steam shows events. All of these steam power show events have at least one working blacksmithing demonstration. The Midwest Old Threshsers has three working blacksmith exhibits... See more plus the latest short Shop Update on the Latest News Updates page.
August 3rd, 2023. Shop update. In between farm repairs and maintenance and a tremendous work schedule at another location lasting from June right through July (and contining through the first part of this month), I did manage to get a new and better anvil log stand started for the 460 lbs anvil. Photo at far right show this latest log stand nearing completion...I chose blue glitter to color the epoxy that was used to fill the large crack on one side of the anvil log. There is no hiding the gap in the side of the log, so the idea here was to turn this flaw into an attractive feature. See more on how this project was done on the Latest News Updates page.
July 2nd, 2023. Shop update. Got another larger log (30" by 32" diameter slightly oval shaped) from a friend and this one is much better for a 460 lbs. anvil. The last anvil log stand was a bit too small for the new anvil. So one more round of machining a new anvil log. Weather delays. Rained out 3 days. And more work around the farm. Machining of a new version of this anvil log is now more than 50% complete. Another 4-5 hours of woodwork yet to be done. The reason it takes so long is because after the machining is done I finish the sides with drawknife, mallet, and chisel.
Giving away this log. The log (photos at right) will be given away to somebody that needs a good anvil stand log. The log was intended to finish at an overall anvil height of 31" for use with a 460 lbs Fontanini anvil. Log height is 17-5/8". Anvil depression in the top of the log stand was machined 1-1/8" deep. This allowed the anvil to sit down in a 5/8" depth well, with 1/2" depth layer of sand underneath to deaden noise. If a new owner wishes to use a different brand or size of anvil, this log can be machined flat again to 16-1/2" total height. Log is made of White Oak and was partically treated, beginning with two coats of Cabot all around, and with Thompson's Waterseal on bottom surface. Top surface was coated with Tung Oil before work was stopped. There is nothing actually wrong with the log, I just don't like the finished product and I expect to do a better job with the next one. So I will give this one away to anyone that wants it.
See the full update at the Latest News Updates page.
There is a good reason for everything taking so long. From this point forward, I am literally making three of everything, and thus everything now takes three times longer to finish. Three anvils, three forges, three sets of tools, three sets of vise stands, etc. See the full update at the Latest News Updates page.
May 2nd, 2023. Work in shop is still halted for now. House renovation and landscaping have priority.
Latest additions for the shop include logs for mounting new anvils. These are oak and very heavy. These oak logs are just under 22 inches in diameter and the ends are not cut straight. The ends of these logs need to be flattened and plumb before they can be used for anvil stands. And for this work a router sled was assembled and used for machining the ends of the logs plumb and flat.
As I write this update, these anvil logs are only half finished. A flat and level platform still needs to be set up for final machining of the top anvil surfaces of the logs. See the rest of the update on the Latest News Updates page.
April 11th, 2023. The Anvil page has been updated with new links for buying new two-horn anvils. Forge construction is still on hold as I am still working on house renovation and landscaping. New landscaping equipment that arrived last month took up quite a bit of time to assemble and prepare for work. New photos for this website are being prepared and there are literally hundreds of photos. I will be adding new content here very soon. To see the new format that is being used for all 2020 and later photos, have a look at some of the photo on the Steam Power Shows events page: Steam Power Shows. There are still a few errors on this page, but all of the new photos will be fully updated by tomorrow.
What makes these photos different is their larger size, both the thumbnails and the full size photos are larger and higher resolution. Compared with much older photos and thumbnails that were much smaller in size and resolution. This difference goes back to the old age of this website. When I first built this website, nearly everyone had only very low-speed dial-up internet connections. This meant files took a very long time to download because nobody had high-speed internet connections. And thus early photos were very low quality and size to allow them to download quickly for the slow internet speeds available way back then. As computer memory and monitor resolution increased, and the higher monitor resolution caused low resolution photos to be displayed in smaller and smaller sizes. Font size was affected and shrank in size also. So when visitors look at many of these pages that were created years ago, all of the old photos and thumbnailed photos are tiny and of poor quality. I am working to replace some of these but this is a terribly slow process. Preparing and editing photos to re-introduce them in higher resolution and quality is terribly time consuming - because there are literally hundreds and hundreds of photos to replace - and I have hundreds more of new photos to add.
Solution. This greatly speeds up the photo introduction process, and you will begin seeing many of these here soon. I have chosen a standard format and photo size and will introduce these photos into a single location - where they can be quickly selected and moved into final content pages. This makes the webpage-photo transition faster and easier, reduces searching for misplaced photos, and makes it easier to select the best photos for each article.
And this last part is HUGE! All amateur photographers are familar with this problem, and here is a fantastic and wonderful solution. For example, when making photos in a darkened blacksmith shop with sunlight streaming through a window or doorway, and the sunlight or flash overexposure causes color washout, and very dark areas behind the light. The extreme differences in light and shadow areas is a serious problem when taking documentary style photos. But there is a very fast and easy way to correct washed out color from the overeposed areas of a photo while simultaneously increasing exposure of dark sections of those same photos. This tool is available in Adobe Photoshop by using the Shadows & Highlights editing tool. And visitors here will be seeing some of these photos here soon.
January 29th, 2023. Getting back in the shop after a long absence. Huge amount of work to do in other areas to get ready for the upcoming year. I plan to halt renovation work in the house and start repairing outbuildings. New equipment has arrived (not blacksmith related) that must be set up, and that equipment currently occupies workspace in the shop (because the shop now has heat and small machinery can now be worked on inside during cold weather). And somewhere in all of this I will get back in the shop to build the new forges and set up new equipment.
October 27th, 2022. Shop renovation update. Shop renovation work has ended. New permanent shop forge will be built during the upcoming winter season, and floor will be fixed after the new forge. Now is time for clean up and getting machines, tools, and equipment ready for service again. Read more on the Latest News Updates page.
October 12th, 2022. Shop renovation update. The forge fire has been lit. Old forge and chimney are now back in their orignial locations. The old forge will be used for making many of the parts for building a new permanent shop forge, and that is why it was necessary to temporarily put it back in its original location. And tonight the forge fire has been lit for the first time since renovation work began. Read the full update on the Latest News Updates page.
October 1st, 2022. Upgraded website to HTTPS. Huge amount of new material is being prepared. I will be adding roughly 500 new photos over the next few months. Shop renovation is nearly finished for the year. Much later than planned, but also much better than originally planned also. Walls finished, windows finished, insulation finished, new electrical outlets finished. Old forge being readied to put back in place temporarily so that it can be used for making parts for building the a new permanent shop forge. See photos and more on the Latest News Updates page.
September 16th, 2022. Steam Power Show schedule page has been updated with photos and links from most recent shows and 2023 show schedule posted. More photos from these shows will be posted later.
Shop update. New walls and electrical outlets were finished three days ago. Some of the old benches and tools storage are being moved to temporary new locations in preparation for building the new shop forge. The old forge is being put back into its original position temporarily for making some of the parts that will be needed for the new forge.
August 16, 2022. Shop update. Walls work is almost done. North wall was finished a few weeks ago in mid July. See nearest photo at right. One last section of wall to finish. See the Latest News Updates page for full details.
Steam power show page is updated. The Steam Power Show page keeps keeps track of dates of Steam Power shows nearest me. These shows are often a good source of old tools and equipment. And for beginner blacksmiths these shows offer live demonstrations of blacksmiths working.
July 11th, 2022. Improving size of photos on several pages including the Old Thresher's Reunion, Mt.Pleasant coal forge page. Many of the photos on this website were very low resolution to avoid using up large amounts of bandwidth more than a decade ago before most people had high speed internet. Computers have much higher resolution monitors and thus all of my original thumbnailed photos appear very tiny on a typical computer screen today. I am making another push at replacing some of the older photos and thumbnailed photos again. This is a huge ungoing project because there are literally thousands of photos on this website. I am also re-writing some of the pages on this site. Currently I am looking for the original photos for re-scanning at higher resolution. I will be posting some of the webpage links here and on the home page as improved photos and thumbnails are added. See the full Latest News Update page.
July 9th, 2022. Updated the Steam Power & Antique Engine Show page.
May 13th, 2022. New coal forge page. Brick forge. Rural village blacksmith. Pella, Iowa, Historical Village. New edition to the Coal Forge series. This is the 5th entry on Coal Forge 3 page. Direct link to this new page is here: http://www.beautifuliron.com/cf_PellaHistoricalVillage.html These photos were from a visit during the Pella Tulip Time festival in Pella, Iowa on May 7, 2022. Find more information about this event here: www.pellahistorical.org
April 30th, 2022. Latest new edition to the shop - the second of two new anvils has just arrived last week (April 21st), the shop now has a total of three good two-horn anvils. (See photo at right) After shop reconstruction is finished, all 3 forging stations will each have a high quality anvil. See the Latest News page for more.
March 18th, 2022. Shop renovation and preparation for re-opening this summer are continuing.
February 9th, 2022. Computer breakdown. All updates on hold for a few more weeks.
January 24th, 2022. Shop renovation update posted at the Latest News page. The Capel Garmon Firedog workshops are now cancelled indefinitely. After planning this series of workshops for months, renovating and preparing the shop for these events since September of last year, it's not going to happen. See the Latest News page for more.
January 2nd. 2022. Shop renovation update. Most of the work planned for the end of year 2021 has been completed. The only items not finished are the rear half of the floor replacement and construction of new forge. These tasks will be completed in spring 2022. Half of the shop now accessible. Most of the equipment is now accessible. The most difficult tasks of 2021 are now complete. New roof, new insulation, new windows and wall on one side of the shop. New electrical outlets on south side of shop. Equipment moved back to south side of shop. Ready for winter. Shop renovation will now stop temporarily while I begin working on house again. Two rooms of house almost complete and need only drywall sanded and painted and new electric outlets installed, and then 2 more need only electrical outlets finished. Then start on 3 more - full tear down to the frame, and rebuild. See more here: Latest News.
December 16th, 2021. Renovation update. First phase of blacksmith shop renovation project is complete. Now cleanup is needed before moving equipment in the shop. Photos coming soon. See more here: Latest News.
December, 5th, 2021. Renovation update. Posted in Latest News. Building upgrades are nearly half way completed. Weather is turning colder. Winter is almost here. I still have one additional task to complete on outside of shop and two very small tasks to finish inside. And the building construction phase will have reached the half-way point and I can finally move half of the equipment back to the side of the shop and start construction of a new main forge. Everything is still on track to partially re-open shop around the end of this month. Read more here: Latest News.
November 18th, 2021. Shop renovation update. Work has finally begun to speed after getting past re-framing some of the older sections of the old structure. More photos posted on the Latest News page.
November 7th, 2021. Shop renovation is continueing slowly and steadily, partial re-opening planned for December this year. Latest update here: Latest News. Shop layout will be changed to allow mutliple forges again, three forges this time if space will allow. New two-horn anvils. I am planning to again offer hands-on workshops and seminars tentatively in early spring. Seminars will include tongs making (flats, bolts, hollow bits, etc.), forging animals and flowers, and ornamental work. I will be posting photos of the shop renovation work soon. These seminars and workshops will be starting at a time when we might very well be seeing a large die-off of the sheeple that took the dangerous fake 'vaccines'. Workshops and seminars will go on no matter what is happening to the sheeple and their scamdemic. There will be NO face diapers, NO satanic distancing, NO covidiots, and NO assinine 'vaccine' mandate garbage. Period. Do not take the fake 'vaccines'. Dragonforger is coming. Only Purebloods have what it takes to survive. Read more here: Latest News.
October 17th, 2021. FINALLY! I'm back. Biggest website updates in literally years coming soon. Added two new photos sets on the Post Drill page. Buffalo No.616 and Champion No.7. Fixed photo links to some of the earlier photos on the Post Drill page and reformatted the page to make it easier to find the different drills. Also began replacing some of the smaller and lower quality photos. Do not take the fake vaccine'\.
October 8th, 2021. Shop renovation begins. I will be re-opening the shop for work again some time early this coming winter. Currenty replacing windows, installing new electric, new insulation, new walls, new exits, 2 new forges, replacing half of floor. Workbenches will be replaced. Work areas will be rearranged for better lighting, more workspace, and more efficiency. Woodworking equipment moved out to another building. Covered grinding workspace to be set up outside to get abrasive grinding dust out of the shop. Rumor is the Dragonforger is coming. Only purebloods will participate. Do not take the fake 'vaccine'.
September 27, 2021. Started new photo set for The Post Drill page.