Starting each January, April, and September, beginning and intermediate blacksmith classes are offered at the Bandy Blacksmith Shop through the Escondido History Center. Classes are limited in size to five students for ten weeks of three-hour sessions each Saturday. Each students works with an individual forge. Classes are not scheduled during the summer because of the heat. Phil Ewing taught blacksmith classes for fourteen years until the wheelwright shop was constructed and now John Kowalski, one of Phil’s former students, teaches all the blacksmith classes. For information about classes, call the Escondido History Center office at (760) 743-8207.
The beginning blacksmith classes are held in the afternoon and the curriculum includes:
Building coal fires
An introduction to the tools and their use
How to straighten out automobile coil springs to make chisels and center punches
How to temper metal
Forge welding and lap welding methods
How to make tongs and hammer heads
Once the basics are mastered, students work on a wide variety of individual projects of their choice.
Intermediate classes are held in the mornings and students bring in their own projects. Most are ornamental, though some are tool making. One student made a power hammer, which works like a trip-hammer. The most unusual student project has been gunsmithing - a student folded and forge-welded the barrel for a 4-gauge shotgun using soft iron.
Blacksmithing skills are a prerequisite to taking the wheelwright classes. Students in the wheelwright classes are taught to build wheelbarrow wheels similar to the ones instructor Phil Ewing learned to build while stationed in Germany in the army (1962-64). Most of the wheels constructed by students have Sarven hubs, although a few have built wheels with PA bolted hubs. Students have built several miniature wagons and two-wheeled carts. The shop is in the process of building a large dray wagon to hold a portable blacksmith shop for demonstrations. For information about wheelwright classes call the Escondido History Center office at (760) 743-8207.