Modern Blacksmithing Rational Horse Shoeing and Wagon Making
with rules, tables, recipes, etc., useful to manufactures, blacksmiths, machinists, well-drillers, engineers, liverymen, horse-shoers, farmers, wagon-makers, mechanics, amateurs and all others who have occasion to perform the work for which this book is primarily intended. by J.G. Homstrom 1901
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What prompted the author to prepare this book was the often - repeated question, by blacksmiths and mechanics of all kinds, as well as farmers: "Is there a book treating on this or that?" etc., etc. To all these queries I was compelled to answer in the negative, for it is a fact that from the time of Cain, the first mechanic, there has never been a book written by a practical blacksmith on subjects belonging to his trade. If, therefore, there has ever been such a thing as "filling a long-felt want," this must certainly be a case of that kind.
In medicine we find a wide difference of opinion, even amongst practitioners of the same school, in treating diseases. Now, if this is so where there is a system, and authority for the profession, how much more so must there be a difference of opinion in a trade where every practitioner is his own authority. I shall, therefore, ask the older members of the blacksmith fraternity to be lenient in their judgment if my ideas don't coincide with theirs.
To the apprentice and journeyman I would say: do as I do until you find a better way. The author has been eminently successful in his practice, and his ideas have been sought by others wherever he has been, blacksmiths coming even from other States to learn his ways. This little book is fresh from the anvil, the author taking notes during the day while at work, compiling the same into articles at night. He is indebted to a number of writers for article in this book treating on subjects belonging to their trades, in which they have been regarded as expert.
For centuries the blacksmith has been a prominent person, and it is natural he should have been, when we consider the variety of work he had to do. From the heavy axle and tire, down to the smallest rivet in the wagon, they were all made by the smith. Bells and bits as well as the ornamental parts of the harness, they were all made by the smith. From the crowbar and spade down to the butcher and pocket knife, they were all made by the smith. The carpenter's tools, from the broad ax and adz down to the divider and carving steel, they were all made by the smith. From the heavy irons in the fireplace down to the frying-pan and locks on the kitchen doors; knives and forks on the dining-table, they were all made by the smith. From the gun on the shoulder of the soldier and the saber in the hands of the officer, the spurs and pistol for the commander, they were all made by the smith. From the heavy anchor and its chain to the smallest pulley in the rigging of the ship, they were all made by the smith.
From the weather vane on the church spire, and the clock in the tower down to the lock of the doors and the artistic iron cross over the graves in the church yard, they were all made by the smith. No wonder, then, that the smith was respected. Vulgar people swear by the devil, religious by the saints, but the Swedes (the makers of the best iron) prefer to swear by the smith. The smith was a well-liked person in society, respected and even admired for his skill, his gentlemanly behavior and good language. His stories and wit were the sole entertainment in many a social gathering. Things have changed in the last few decades. Most of the articles formerly made by the smith are now manufactured by machinery, and the respect for the smith is diminished in the same proportion. Not because there is not enough of the trade left to command respect-there is yet more left than any man can successfully learn in a short lifetime. But it has made it possible for men with less training and ability to enter the trade and consequently lower the standing of the smith. The result is, that there is a complaint that the smith is not esteemed as formerly, and I have been inclined to join in the lamentation. But instead of doing this I shall ask my brother smiths to unite with me in an effort to elevate the craft.