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close this bookBasic Techiques of Blacksmithing: A Manual for Trainers (Peace Corps, 1982, 102 p.)
close this folderDay 1
View the documentSession: 1. Sharing perceptions of the training program: An ice breaker
View the documentSession: 2. Assessing group resources
View the documentSession: 3. Defining expectations of the training program
View the documentSession: 4. Forge introduction

Session: 1. Sharing perceptions of the training program: An ice breaker

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes


* To get to know one another and to encourage communication
* To set the climate for active participation during the training program

Resources: Attachment 1-A, "Coat of Arms''

Materials: Pens or pencils

Trainer Notes

An alternative activity for getting acquainted goes as follows:

* Convene the group in the blacksmith workshop area.

* Ask participants to browse around for a moment and find a tool or object which they would like to make, and which symbolizes something about their

- personality/character
- work
- background
- aspirations
- etc.

* The trainer should also choose an appropriate object.

* When everyone has made a selection and has had a few moments to reflect, introduce yourself and explain why you selected your object (using humor to help create a relaxed climate).

* Then, moving around the shop, have the participants introduce themselves and share their reasons for selecting their particular tool.


Step 1. (5 minutes)
Distribute copies of Attachment 1A, "Coat of Arms" and explain the exercise.

Trainer Notes

* Explain that the object of the exercise is to draw a symbolic "coat of arms" which will help us begin to get acquainted or find out something new about each other.

* Explain that the participants will draw a symbol or picture in each of the corresponding spaces on the coat of arms that answers one of a series of questions.

Step 2. (15 minutes)
Referring to the list in the Trainer Notes below, read each question in order, allowing time for people to draw their symbol before moving to the next question.

Trainer Notes

* Suggested questions:

- How do you feel right now?
- What were you doing a week ago today?
- What do you hope to get out of this training?
- What can you offer this training?

* Draw your-own "coat of arms" while the group does theirs.

Step 3. (5 minutes)
After everyone has finished drawing his/her coat of arms, share your coat of arms by explaining the meaning of each of your four drawings.

Trainer Notes

Encourage an open climate by explaining your drawings in a relaxed and humorous manner. Also, make your presentation brief to set the pace of the activity.

Step 4. (30-45 minutes) Have each participant explain the meaning of his/her coat of arms.

Step 5. (5 minutes) After all of the drawings have been presented, facilitate a brief discussion of some of the similarities and differences which seem to exist in the group.

Attachment 1-A

Coat of arms

Session: 2. Assessing group resources

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes


* To identify the skills, knowledge, and experience of participants and trainers
* To discuss ways in which the group's skills and knowledge can be used in this program

Materials: Newsprint and felt-tip pens.

Procedures: Step 1. (5 minutes) Review the objectives and procedures For the session.

Step 2. (5 minutes)
Ask the participants to briefly discuss the value of a group resource assessment.

Trainer Notes

Draw on the participants' experiences in working with artisans in small-scale development projects.

Step 3 (10 minutes)
Have the group brainstorm a list of interview questions which could help assess the participants'
skills, knowledge and experience.

Trainer Notes

* To provide focus during the brainstorm, post the key points to be included in the interview: skills, knowledge.

* The resulting questions should be consolidated or pared down so that the list does not exceed 4-5 open-ended questions the will stimulate conversation.

* In this session, the emphasis is not only on those skills, etc. which relate directly to Blacksmithing, but on any resources one might have which would help the group.

Step 4. (5 minutes)
Explain the interview format.

Trainer Notes

The Interview Format

Step 1 (5 minutes)
Find someone in the group whom you don't know well and move to a comfortable location.

Step 2 (30 minutes/15 minutes per person)
Interview one another using the list of questions as guidelines. Jot down brief notes as the conversation proceeds.

Step 3 (10 minutes)
On a clean sheet of paper, write down in legible, paragraph form the information you have gathered from your partner.

Step 4 (5 minutes) Share the interview sheets with your partner and make any modifications or additions.

Step 5 (10 minutes)
Post the sheets on the wall and walk around the room scanning the other interview reports.

* If the training group is a small one, an option to the written reports would be to have the pairs interview each other, reconvene the groups, and ask each participant to describe his/her partner.

Step 5. (60 minutes)
Have the participants carry out the interview procedure.

Step 6. (5 minutes)
Reconvene the group and facilitate a short discussion of the participants' overall impressions of the resources that exist within the group.

Trainer Notes

During the discussion, point out a number of the identified skills which are particularly useful/necessary in blacksmithing (e.g., carpentry, construction, auto/farm mechanics, welding).

Session: 3. Defining expectations of the training program

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes


* To review the schedule and content of the program
* To define and clarify expectations that the participants have of the training program
* To compare and contrast individual expectations with those of the program.


* Introduction to the Manual, pp. i-ii.
* "Conducting the Training," pp. iv-vi, from the Introduction to the Manual.
* Training Schedule

Materials: Newsprint and felt-tip pens


Step 1. (5 minutes)
Briefly outline the session's objectives and activities.

Step 2. (20 minutes)
Distribute copies of the three resources. Have the participants read them carefully, then ask for questions, clarifications or discussion.

Trainer Notes

Explain that the training philosophy and methodology and the section on conducting the training provide an orientation to the basic program goals and guidelines, while the training schedule presents a day-by-day description of the training.

Step 3. (15 minutes) Have the participants form small groups and discuss their expectations of the program. Ask each group to list on newsprint and post their three most important expectations.

Trainer Notes

* As they develop their lists, participants should be encouraged to consider their needs and desires, as well as constraints in scheduling and programming.

* If the training group is small, you may wish to remain together and make a master list of participants' expectations.

Step 4. (25 minutes)
Reconvene the large group and review each expectation for clarity, understanding, and feasibility.

Trainer Notes

* Identify which expectations will be met directly, those that will be touched upon, those which could be addressed with some schedule changes, and those, given the practical limitations of the program, which may not be met.

* Wherever possible, point out specific sessions in the Training Schedule which deal directly with the group's expectations.

Step 5. (10 minutes)
Conclude the session by facilitating a discussion centered around the following questions:

* Were any of your expectations changed by this activity?
* Is there anything that you have heard about the training program that has not been discussed?
* Do you think the program will meet your needs?

Session: 4. Forge introduction

Total Time: 4 hours


* To identify and define the basic components of a forge
* To practice using basic blacksmithing tools
* To light, maintain and shut down a forge fire
* To make a forge poker/rake and eye
* To discuss forging practices of local blacksmiths


* Attachment 4-A, "Color/Heat Chart"
* Attachment 4-B, "Traditional and Rural Forges"
* Andrews, pages 17-21 and 42-46
* Weygers, pages 20-23 and 94-96

Materials: Approximately 30-36 feet of ½ inch mild steel round bar, newsprint, and felt-tip pens

Trainer Notes

Preparation for this session will involve writing on newsprint an outline of the procedures involved in making a forge poker/rake (see Step 6).


Step 1. (5 minutes)
Distribute Attachment 4-A, "Color/Heat Chart" and Attachment 4-B, "Traditional and Rural Forges" and briefly explain the session objectives and procedures.

Trainer Notes

Explain that the Attachments will be discussed in more detail later in the session.

Step 2. (10 minutes)
Post and briefly define the list of tools and forge components that will be used in making a forge poker/rake.

Trainer Notes

* Post the following list on newsprint in two columns as indicated below:

Forge Components

Firebox and Cleanout
Chimney and Hood
Quench Bucket

Forge Tools

Anvil and Stand
Firetools: Poker/Rake, Shovel Sprinkler

* Stimulate discussion by asking participants to look around the demonstration forge area and point out each of the items listed.

* Ask participants to explain the importance of the positioning of each of the various forge components.

Step 3. (10 minutes)
Ask participants to discuss and define the function of each item on the posted list.

Trainer Notes

* Have participants explain the relationship between each item on the list and the following basic functions:

- fire maintenance
- smoke removal
- clinker removal
- ash removal
- positioning of work during heating

Step 4. (10 minutes)
Demonstrate the proper techniques for lighting a forge.

Trainer Notes

* During the demonstration, it is important to explain the following:

- essential safety precautions
- type of fuel used
- alternative fuels (i.e., coal or propane)
- proper use of bellows or blower
- proper building and banking of fire
- allowing forge bowl to heat

Step 5. (15 minutes)
Have the participants form work teams of two and light the forges at each of their work stations.

Trainer Notes

Circulate among the stations and provide assistance whenever necessary.

Step 6. (10 minutes)
Reconvene the group and briefly outline the procedures involved in making a forge poker/rake.

Trainer Notes

* Post on newsprint the following outline:

- position cutting plate on anvil
- cold cut 3' length of ½” round bar
- place material in fire
- bring material to proper heat for mild steel
- hammer
- bend an eye
- flatten end

Step 7. (25 minutes)
Demonstrate the procedures and techniques involved in making a forge poker/rake.

Trainer Notes

* Remind participants of the importance of carefully observing each step in the process and taking note of any procedures which may appear confusing or too fast.

* To the extent possible, as the work progresses, provide brief explanations of each essential technique and point out transitions from one step to the next by referring participants to the posted outline.

Step 8. (20 minutes)
Using the posted outline as a guide, ask participants to review and explain the techniques which they observed.

Trainer Notes

* Remind participants of the demonstration format discussed earlier in the day (see Session 3, "Defining Expectations: An Introduction to Training") and stress that it is important to begin to sharpen their observation skills.

* In reviewing the heating of mild steel to the proper temperature, refer participants to Attachment 4-A, "Color/Heat Chart" and explain that this chart will be used later as a guide in hardening steel.

* Before proceeding to the next step, it is important to be certain that all the participants understand each of the techniques demonstrated as well as the necessary safety precautions involved in handling the hot metal.

* Encourage participants to ask questions and seek clarifications.

* If necessary, repeat some or all of the techniques until participants are satisfied that they are ready to begin work at their stations.

Step 9. (65 minutes)
Have participants return to their work stations and make a forge poker/rake.

Trainer Notes

* Circulate among the stations and provide assistance whenever necessary.

* If there are any members of the group that have had experience with forging and hammering, ask that they help others who may be experiencing difficulty.

* During this first forge activity, it is essential to carefully monitor each of the work teams and stress the importance of a strict adherence to safety procedures involved in handling hot steel.

* It can be expected that a few of the work teams will finish their pokers in 15-20 minutes. If this occurs, encourage teams to make another poker/rake such that each participant has the opportunity to practice and become comfortable with the techniques involved.

Step 10. (15 minutes)
As each team finishes their poker/rake, have them shut down their fires.

Trainer Notes

* Each team will be completing their work at slightly different times. Briefly explain and demonstrate the proper procedures for shutting down a fire to the first team that finishes.

Ask that they provide assistance to the next team that finishes. Continue in this manner such that each team has the opportunity to help another shut down a fire.

Step 11. (20 minutes)
Reconvene the group and ask participants to identify and discuss any difficulties which they experienced during the forging activity.

Trainer Notes

* Stimulate discussion by asking how each difficulty was resolved.

* Explain that the basic techniques used in bending and forming the eye of the poker/rake will be used in Session 9 on Day 3 to make eye hooks and links and ask participants to identify examples of potential uses for eye hooks and links.

Step 12. (15 minutes)
Ask participants to discuss how the techniques used in this activity compare with techniques that they have seen used by local blacksmiths in their work sites.

Trainer Notes

* Refer participants to Attachment 4-B, "Traditional and
Rural Forges" and stimulate discussion by asking:

- How are the tools and forges used by local blacksmiths different from those used here in the training? Why?
- Are the techniques used by local blacksmiths more efficient? Less efficient? How?
- What are some cultural and economic factors which determine the techniques used by local blacksmiths?

Step 13. (20 minutes)
Conclude by asking participants to summarize the basic blacksmithing techniques used during the session.

Trainer Notes

* Some important points to include in the summary are:

- fire building
- fire maintenance
- air flow control
- safety precautions
- heating steel
- color/temperature ratio
- drawing out
- spreading/peening
- making eyes/links
- bending metal
- proper use of tools
- local blacksmithing techniques
- fire shut-down
- uses of eyes and links

* Explain that the basic techniques and tools introduced during this session will provide a framework upon which to build throughout the training program.

Attachment 4-A


Heat Colors





light yellow










yellow orange





light orange





medium orange





medium cherry





dark cherry





black heat


Color Patina


light blue


dark blue




dark purple




brownish purple (peacock)


dark brown




dark straw


light straw




light yellow

Attachment 4-B


Traditional shop

Rural shop

Hand-powered production shop