by Jock Dempsey
The Forge & Anvil series was filmed for PBS (the Public Broadcasting System) by the
University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education in Athens, Georgia in the mid 1990's and the video project series and booklet put together in 1995.
The video series has been popular on PBS stations all across the country.
The series was filmed largely as "edu-tainment" but there was also some fair how-to segments.
These were put together in the video project series and booklet reviewed here.
As entertainment the series is pretty good albiet a little slow. A lot has changed in the past 12 years.
Since then video production has become more sophisticated and blacksmithing education has also changed a lot.
Today there is much more emphasis on safety, work posture and basics.
The Forge & Anvil series also does not get into the full complement of standard blacksmithing techniques such as traditional joinery.
These are the things that interest blacksmiths but would bore the public to death.
Most of the assembly methods shown are what is known in the trade as "hack and tack", cut and arc weld together.
The majority of the projects are very simple and would be very good for a young adults class such as with scouts.
Or if you are just interested in puttering in your garage, making a few things and don't know where to start this is a suitable place to do so.
If you are seriously interested in blacksmihing I always recommend books first.
However, there are some folks that cannot learn well from reading how-to's or studying drawings.
If you are one of those this is as good a place as any to start.
||Forge & Anvil Video Volume #1
- DIY coal forge built from a wheel barrow pan
- Fire Poker and Watering Can
- 85 Minutes
The coal forge from wheel barrow pan is an interesting project but moves very slow on the simple wood working and moves too quickly past the tuyeer design and construction and uses a part that is unlikely to be available for the grate.
There is a clean out but no ash dump (very important).
If you combine the details of the tuyeer from our Brake Drum Forge plans with this plan you will get a better overall forge.
The fire poker and watering can are very basic starter projects with little forging.
The chisel project is also simple and shows the blacksmiths method of hardening and tempering which is an important part of this lesson.
In most metals classes the point of making a chisel is to learn heat treating.
Note that the book fluffs over this part claiming you need to see it to understand it (not so).
This is one of the few things covered better in the video than the booklet.
Forge & Anvil Video Volume #2
- Cable Knife
- 72 Minutes
The tong making demo is by Jeff Mohr and is a fair demo of standard tong making techniques.
In the book Rogers insists on calling the reins of the tongs the "handles", they are always "reins".
The Cable Knife is short on details and if you are interested in making these I highly recommend
The Wire Damascus Hunting Knife by Wayne Goddard.
The Trivet is a simple project using scrolls arc welded together.
Forge & Anvil Video Volume #3
This one tape covers two decorative ironwork projects.
The methods used include layout of scrolls, layout of the design on a work table, forging tapers and scrolls, assembly by arc welding.
These projects assume you have an arc welder and know how to use it.
Forge & Anvil Companion Booklet
Spiral bound, 70 pages, 78 B&W photos.
Throughout the videos there is a recommendation that "for best results with these projects you may wish to purchase the FORGE and ANVIL companion book".
Although the booklet has some background information on the video series, some added material about the growth of
blacksmithing and reference material it does not have more details specifically about the projects such as drawings, dimensions, stock lists or drawings not included in the videos.
The projects in the booklet are almost vebatim what is in the videos including minor mistakes such as where in the intro to making tongs Rogers says "we are going to see a power hammer used" and it was cut from the video.
Chapter 3 is titled Weapons and is a text only survey of the history of weapons.
The chapter ends with project 8 which is not included in the videos above.
It is a two page glimpse at a sword making demo with a couple photos and little detail.
If you only need brief instructions to projects and can figure out most of it on your own then the booklet covers the projects and includes photos of the important items making the videos just an extra.
If you feel you need the videos the booklet is a good preview of the videos and has more information about the Forge & Anvil TV series.
Composite title and materials list
The crew, Alan Rogers, Hoofi Hofman and Jeff Mohr|
Forging the tongs jaws
The finished tongs|
The primary references referred to in Forge & Anvil are:
University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education
Distributed in North America by:
Price Videos $35 US
Price Booklet $15 US
Price $ US