David Hadl is a seasoned backyard blacksmith whose shop includes a variety of tools that most might consider antiques.
David Hadl is a backyard blacksmith who has lived in northeast Kansas most of his life. A former “woodworker guy” for Reuter Organ Company and parachute rigger for the US Navy, David is enjoying retirement. Spanning the last 30 years, David has made more than 125 knives according to his journal, along with a slew of other tools he has made by hand.
His longtime hobby of blacksmithing has been developing since the late 1980s when his wife, Gay, and he took up residence in Lawrence, Kansas, where they currently live. One might not think a functioning blacksmith shop would be possible in the heart of a bustling town, but David has successfully created his own space for designing and creating one-of-a kind knives, tools and more.
It isn’t too difficult for a person to get started in blacksmithing. A little creativity goes a long way when it comes to finding materials that will work for your forge, anvil and blower, as well as a few hammers and other hand tools. The elements of a backyard blacksmith shop can be easily obtained at farm sales and estate auctions. “A lot of people think these are antiques, but they’re the kind that they need to be put to work,” David says. He’s adamant that a person doesn’t have to have the traditional equipment you might see in a professional’s blacksmith shop. “The main thing is that you can make something out of junk.”
David recommends reading – a lot – and unlike 30 years ago, folks easily have access to articles and videos online to show step-by-step how to set up your own smithy and get started with easy blacksmithing projects. “You get a hundred blacksmiths doing something, and you get a hundred different ways of getting to the same thing.” However you choose to get started, remember safety should be your first priority.
Practical Blacksmithing by Milton T. Richardson, Nabu Press, 2010
The Backyard Blacksmith by Lorelei Sims, Quarry Books, 2006
Blacksmithing: Basics for the Homestead by Joe DeLaRonde, Gibbs Smith, 2008
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