Sunday Sit-down: Blacksmith Michael J. Saari

It looked like Mike Saari was making a brick-oven pizza.

Only Mr. Saari's "oven" was a gas forge that produces 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit of heat.

The "dish" was an inches-long decorative nail, which he made at the spur of the moment from the end of a 4-foot, quarter-inch round piece of steel.

Demonstrating the blacksmithing process in his workshop, Mr. Saari heated the end of the metal for several minutes until the tip turned orange.

After a few minutes of Mr. Saari beating the tip into shape with an anvil, he reheated the steel and beat it again, to draw down the shank away from the original material.

"That'll be the shank to the head of the nail," he said.

Later, he puts the metal in a header, twists it off and produces the nail.

For much larger and time-consuming works, such as the 20-foot tall steel sculpture commemorating the former American Optical complex in Southbridge, Mr. Saari used his coal forge and a machine called a German

Touring Through Time

  1. There is an array of tools in use at the NMIH tent, including a power hammer, a hacksaw, anvils and a crank-operated forge. The engine-powered hammer weighs about 700 pounds all together, and is powered by a two-horsepower gas engine via a long 
  2. Ian Walker spoke about blacksmithing, which can be both utilitarian, such as a simple, unadorned hook, and artful, as in making a kitchen tool finely crafted and smoothed on all sides. “We think now that handmade is special,” he said. “We want to see
  3. Ramey showed up hoping to use the shop's power hammer to quicken the pace of the pounding required to turn two pieces of high carbon steel into a Damascus knife blank. But the hammer was taken apart in the middle of refurbishing, and he had to resort

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