Twenty years ago today marks my first day of working with Mr. Schrock and beginning to learn the techniques of blacksmithing.
Here is an excerpt from the journal I kept during that experience at the age of fourteen:
Wednesday, April 29 (1992)
“Take your time…speed comes later”, the old blacksmith who taught me used to say. –Emmanuel A. Schrock
Today I started working with Mr. Schrock, my teacher, and he is nicer than I thought he would be. He picked me up at 7:30AM, and we drove to his shop in Fredricksburg, Ohio. It got really wild with him driving over hills and around curves, but I decided he must know what he was doing since he drives to work safely every day. He has a huge shop full of tools and scrap metal. The building he works in was once a livery stable. Mr. Schrock says everyone used to come to town on the train and rent a horse and carriage to ride around in. That’s how they did their business. Now the automobile has taken over. As we started up the fire and arranged our equipment for the day, a customer walked in who had been across the street getting his horses shoed. He asked Mr. Schrock to make a bunch of plant holders for a gazebo he was designing.
When I started my apprenticeship, I thought I might have to sweep floors first, but, to my surprise, I got to forge right away. It took a lot of practice runs, but I finally made some fancy hooks for the wall, and Mr. Schrock said they sell well at the flea market.
After lunch, Mr. Schrock went to the city of Wooster for awhile, and I heat treated (hardened) some triangle bells he had made. I also tried making some “cold-worked” s-hooks. Almost all the tools, except the power ones, were made by Mr.Schrock—including the forge. I did okay for my first day, considering he’s had 40 years of practice.