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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Favoring thoroughly learned the trade, it is important to keep posted in this matter by reading books and trade journals. As far as books are concerned, we have a few treating on horse-shoeing, with both good and bad ideas. As to blacksmithing, this book, . Modern Blacksmithing," is the first in that line, written by a practical blacksmith and horse-shoer. Our trade journals must be read with discrimination.
They are mostly edited by men having no practical experience in the trade, and are therefore not responsible for the articles these papers contain. Many articles are entirely misleading. Blacksmiths having more experience with the pen than the hammer, and anxious to have their names appear in print, write for these journals.
Prize articles are also doing more harm than good, the judges giving the prizes to men with ideas like their own, not being broad-minded enough to consider anything they don't practice themselves, and the result is a premium on old and foolish ideas.
But we should not stop at this. We should read much. Anything, except bloody novels, will help to elevate the man. No smith should think it idle to read and study. "Every kind of knowledge," observes a writer, "comes into play some time or other, not only systematic study, but fragmentary, even the odds and ends, the merest rag-tags of information." Some fact, or experience, and sometimes an anecdote, recur to the mind, by the power of association, just in the right time and place. A carpenter was observed to be very particular and painstaking in repairing an old chair of a magistrate, and when asked why, said: "I want this chair to be ,easy for me to sit in some time. .. He lived long enough to sit in it.
Hugh Miller found time while pursuing the trade of a stone mason, not only to read, but to write, cultivating his style till he became one of the most facile and brilliant authors of the day. Elihu Burritt acquired a mastery of eighteen languages and twenty-two dialects, not by rare genius, which he disclaimed, but by improving the bits and fragments of time which he had to spare from his occupation as a blacksmith.
Let it be a practice or a habit, if you will, to buy at least one book every year, and to read the same, once, twice, thrice, or until its contents are indelibly impressed upon your mind. It will come back to your mind and be useful when you expect it the least.