Colton Corner: Local man teaches metal forging
The steel forging process dates back to 4000 B.C. and began in the land of Mesopotamia. That is many miles away and a long time ago, but if you want to learn the art of forging techniques you can learn it today in Colton at Grumpy's Forge.
Grumpy's Forge is located at the end of the main greenhouse at K's Nursery, 30891 South Oswalt Road. Kenny Carroll is the force behind the forge and is teaching others how to heat, hammer and form metals into useful or decorative items.
Carroll said he was always interested in blacksmithing but had not been able to find anyone to teach him until one evening on his way home from a hunting trip in Montana. He stopped at a garage in that state where it so happened the owner had a forge and after Kenny admired it and told him of his dream, the owner told Kenny, "I'll show you how, but you'll have to come back someday."
The next year after his annual hunting trip, Carroll stopped in at the garage and was given instructions on forging. He started crafting a knife blade at 2:30 p.m. and kept at it, he said, long after everyone else had called it a night, and at 11 p.m. his first knife was complete.
"I'll be eternally grateful for what I learned that day," Carroll said.
He went on to take a blacksmithing class at Oak Bottom Forge in Portland and also joined the Northwest Blacksmith Association where he gets to meet and learn from the top blacksmith artisans.
Now Carroll is teaching others to blacksmith and forge.
"We start with hooks. You make four with a variation of the hook and handle to get to know how to use the forge to get the right heat and to use the hammer and tongs for pounding and bending the metal. After that, we make anything from knives to ladles, campfire tripods to tomahawks and more. The forge has so much on display that you can choose from or bring your own idea.
"One of the things we concentrate on first," Carroll said, "is making the tools to make the tools that will be needed for what you want to make."
The blacksmith students use a lot of repurposed metals including scrap metal and high carbon steel to make knives, swords, fire pokers and more; and they decorate with everything from steer to dragon heads to fish, names and filigree.
But Carroll thinks they have a lot of fun when he just gives them a piece of metal, such as a chain from a chainsaw and says bring on the ideas.
The night I was there, Kenny had a lag bolt for students and said, "Let's see what you can do."
"It is fun," Shannon Reed said. "Everyone helps each other."
Reed took his lag bolt and forged a bottle opener that resembled a scorpion. He also showed some of his other decorative and useful pieces and said he now owns his own home forge (built at Grumpy's) for more "hammer time" and to get in more practice.
"I can teach anyone who wants to learn," Carroll said.
Forging classes are Wednesday nights starting at 6 p.m., but you do need to call 503-824-3939 if you are interested. Space is limited, but right now there is room for a few new students. So call and get started. You might learn even more as Carroll is also a gifted woodcarver and a fine art painter.
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