Category Archives: Blacksmithing

Jennifer Horn Interview on Farrier Focus Podcast

Jennifer DePollo Horn was interviewed for the  Farrier Focus Podcast. It’s a very informative and interesting interview. Jennifer answers questions about her career as both a Farrier and Blacksmith.

This is only an audio podcast, there is no video. It’s enjoyable, take time to listen!

click text below to go to the podcast page where  you can play;

Interview with Jennifer DePollo Horn, CJF


New Content

Be Sure to Visit Other Pages of OLD MAN FORGE

I recently added some new images to the FORGINGS page.  Every now and then new items get added to pages in this website so I invite you to visit and make repeat trips to the various pages. There is a lot more than the ‘Posts’!

Horse People

Horse people like things to show their affection for their horse, they also like to show they are horse people when they show affection for other people. Purchase one of these to hang at the stall or in the hall! Made from real hand forged horseshoes this sign of affection will last and last and last. It comes with real horseshoe nails that can be used to nail it to your horse’s stall or the hall in your loved one’s home. Send an email to requesting details  to make a purchase. Roughly 10 in. x 20 in.

Price $60
Price $60

100 Year Celebration

100 yr Commemorative


100 Years of the DePollo Building

Great grandfather Giuseppe DiPaolo came to the United States in 1891. He worked in the coal mines of West Virginia in the company town of Coketon until he opened his first general store in 1903. The store was located a mile or so down the road from Coketon in the town of Thomas, West Virginia. The store prospered and in 1915 he moved into a new building that he had commissioned. The DePollo Building had apartments on the second floor and extra rooms on the third floor. He raised his family in this building until each child went their own way. When he passed away in 1940 more than 800 citizens attended the funeral.

The family consisted of daughter Filomina, sons Anthony, Ralph, Harry, John, James and Ottavio. All of the children, except Ottavio who died in 1914, lived in the DePollo Building. Many even lived there with their own families for a time after they first married. Giuseppe DiPaolo, went by the Americanized name of Joseph DePollo (pronounced like Apollo with a D in front). When Joseph passed away his sons John and James inherited the DePollo Building and business, the DePollo Store.  Son James served in the U.S. Army during WWII. He left West Virginia in the 1940’s moving first to Chicago then to California.  Son John DePollo continued to operate the DePollo Store until 1993, he died in 1994. After John’s death his wife, Elsie sold the building because no family member had an interest in continuing to operate the store.

The building was used for a short time as a gift shop, but that failed. Once again the building was sold and this time it became a successful venture called the “Purple Fiddle’, a cafe and music venue. The ‘Purple Fiddle’ is a well known stop for bluegrass bands and has a website where the schedule of bands can be found.

This summer the DePollo family decided to participate in a special celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the building that our patriarch had built. A mini-reunion was quickly organized and about 50 family members traveled to Thomas, West Virginia to participate.

To honor the 100 year anniversary occasion and provide a lasting memorial to the DePollo family I created the memorial tile shown above. The memorial is Travertine marble, double sided (same engraving on both sides) and framed with a stainless steel channel. It is  adorned with hand forged stainless steel grape vines and leaves on both sides of the top corners. The stem of the grape leaves form a loop on each corner to allow the tile to be hung by chain. I asked the two sons of John DePollo to present the memorial tile to the current owner of the building, the proprietor of the Purple Fiddle, John Bright.

Commemorative tile
John II and Joe II presenting Purple Fiddle owner John Bright the commemorative tile on July 18, 2015

Coming Soon! Blacksmith Masters

Blacksmith Masters

Coming soon I will add another page to titled ‘Masters’. This new page will feature Blacksmiths who I know personally and may have had the honor to receive training from.

Tom Willoughby at the 46th Annual Michigan Horseshoers Contest and Clinic where he demonstrated forging techniques
Tom Willoughby at the 46th Annual Michigan Horseshoers Contest and Clinic where he demonstrated forging techniques

Tom Willoughby

I had the privilege of spending time with a true Blacksmith Master this past week at the 46th Annual Michigan Horseshoers Association Contest and Clinic.  Master Blacksmith Tom Willoughby was kind enough to allow me to participate in his demonstration.  He is one of the most skilled and creative Master Blacksmiths that there is. Old Dogs can learn new tricks and being 10 years his senior I am not ashamed to say that young pup taught this old dog plenty this past week.


That’s one of the best ways to describe Tom’s outlook, his demeanor and the creativity that he possesses. For his demonstration this past week he showed the crowd how he forged a caricature pelican that is super cool and just amazing. Tom has many more items in his personal gallery and a link to his website will be added on Old Man Forge. The upcoming ‘Masters’ webpage will go into more detail about my experience with Tom so I don’t want to elaborate any more right now.

Keep an eye out for the addition of ‘Masters’ to the pages and menu bar of Old Man Forge.

Badass Pelican
Badass Pelican


Fix It

Another Couple Projects Completed


Portable Forge

rivet forge

I took on the task of repairing a very old and very cracked portable forge. The bowl of the forge is cast iron and had several very severe cracks. I was actually surprised that the whole thing didn’t fall into pieces.  After cleaning away the soot and grime of nearly a century I got down to bare metal. The number and severity of the cracks became more apparent as many hairline cracks were now visible with the dirt gone. My first attempt was to braze the cracked pieces as the method of repair. Feeling that the bowl of the forge needed greater strength than brazing was going to afford I decided to add some plates of steel to the bottom side of the bowl. The material I used was 3/16 inch thick stainless steel. Holes were drilled through the plates and into the cast iron forge bowl. The holes were tapped for the installation of 1/4 inch bolts. The locations for these bolts was chosen, to a great degree, from the location of the cracks in the bowl. Any portion of bolt sticking through to the  inside of the bowl was ground off. After all the bolts installed the cracks were re-brazed.

The cast iron air supply tube / clinker chute was also cracked nearly in two. The lug ears that allowed it to bolt to the center of the bowl had been burned away from all the years of very high temperature fire in the forge. First I drilled and tapped several spots along the crack, then added screws. Additionally I brazed across most of the crack. Finally, in order to give greater support to the supply tube / clinker chute I fashioned a sheet metal sleeve that surrounds it. The sleeve also has high temperature ceramic insulation between the cast iron and the sheet metal skin. To add a means of hold this to the center of the bowl I added wings made from washers and a 3/8 inch nut which were welded to the sheet metal skin. A high temperature gasket was also added to the joint where this air supply tube / clinker chute meets the bottom of the forge bowl. A tube ring was added to the clinker chute door as a means of more easily opening it. A tool can be inserted into the tube ring to assist in swinging the door open when it’s very hot.

The legs of the forge were re-attached with new bolts and a brand new wind deflector was fabricated and added to one edge . Now this forge is ready for many more years of service. The final step before actual use will be the addition of refractory clay to the inside of the bowl. The clay will help protect the cast iron forge from the very high temperature of the fire.

Bottom of Rivet Forge
Bottom side of an old forge that had severe cracks in the casting. Stainless steel plates were attached to hold the pieces together


Top of Rivet forge
Completed repair. Forge after plates were added, cracks were brazed and a new wind deflector added to one side.


Air Supply / Clinker chute
Bottom side view looking at Air supply port / clinker chute that was cracked nearly into two pieces. It also had the attachment lugs for bolting to the forge bowl burned away. An insulated sheet metal shroud was added that serves to hold the parts together and provide a means to bolt the whole thing to the forge bowl.

Forge Blower

Forge Blower2

The next project was the repair of an antique hand crank forge blower. This blower belongs to a forge other than the one repaired and discussed above. The crank arm of the blower was slipping when someone would try to turn it. That meant that the blower blades would not turn and no air was being produced. After dis-assembly it was discovered that the main drive gear was cracked at the center of the  shaft bore.

To make repair I decided to drill through the cracks, cut threads in the drilled holes and insert screws. Once all the screws were inserted I cut off the majority of any excess screw material. Next I heated the gear  as evenly as possible gradually bringing the center cracked  area to a high enough heat to braze over the cracks. I brazed over the screws and even added some braze material to the center of the shaft bore. I ground off the excess brazing where the parts would contact the original surfaces of the blower housing. Finally I filed the bore hole out until I was able to press fit the crankshaft back in place, I test fit all the pieces and being satisfied I re-filled the crank housing with gear lube and bolted the halves back together.  A few cranks of the handle proved that the repair was good. Plenty of air was generated from the blower. The wooden handle of the crank arm had been taped together as it had probably broken into two halves many years ago. I’ve glued the two halves with gorilla glue which should make it stronger than it’s original manufacture condition. As soon as I fit that back to the assembly this ‘repaired’ blower should also be of service for many more years.

Crank drive gear taped
Drive gear of hand cranked blower had severe cracks at shaft bore. Cracks were drilled through, taped for screws.


Gear with Screws
Screws were inserted in threaded holes to help hold pieces together and added strength. After installing the screws the excess was cut off (drill tip at cut off screw)


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Gear was brazed to help hold pieces in place and reduce size of bore hole.


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Brazing was ground flat again to regain surface that will meet against rest of blower housing,


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Both sides ground flat. The bore hold is yet to be filed out to accept the crank arm shaft.


I still have to deliver these two items,  and  I hope this makes my favorite blacksmith happy!


Alberta House – Sault Ste. Marie

The Alberta House in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan is currently showcasing pieces of blacksmith art by Jennifer Horn, Otto  Bacon and William Morrison. Jennifer Horn’s pieces can be seen on, so, in order to save space the images shown here are the works of Otto Bacon and William Morrison.

You can click on to go see Jennifer Horn’s art or you can also find a link under my favorite links.

Many of the pieces in the show are for sale. If you happen to visit Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan be sure to look for the Alberta House (it’s near Lake Superior State University). Stop in and check out these amazing items.  Look for the Aberta House on Facebook!


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Ladies slipper and tennis shoe forged from steel.


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Both the wall hanger and the cap on it are forged from steel!

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Cold Forging

Forging without Fire

Sometimes we need to proto-type a project or maybe just practice without going through the effort and expense of building a coal or coke fire. So how do we do that? We ‘cold forge’! Of course fire makes moving metal into shape easier because the heat brings the metal to a more pliable state, but there are ways around that. Working with soft metals or other pliable substances allows proto-typing and practice. When working metals cold there is the draw-back that the metal becomes what is known as ‘work-hardened’. Metal that gets work-hardened is brittle and fractures easily, usually as it continues to be worked toward a final shape. That can be frustrating because you spend a lot of time hammering, filing and shaping only to have it ruined by a sudden fracture.

Copper and Aluminum are two common metals that are soft enough to easily be ‘cold forged’. Copper is mostly worked cold but ‘annealed’ numerous times to relieve the molecular stress and take it down from a work hardened state. Aluminum can be worked quite a bit more before an issue of work-hardening comes into play.

Modelers’ clay is also often used by ‘Smiths to proto-type a project. Of course the drawback is that it’s clay! The advantage is that you can simulate hammering, bending and twisting to get an idea of the steps that you need to take when you are working hot steel.

Over the past couple days I did a little ‘cold forging’ of some ideas I had wanted to try. I had some aluminum sheet scraps of various thicknesses and wanted to see what I could make. I used no heat whatsoever. The starting shapes were chiseled out of the aluminum scraps then worked with hammers over anvils. I forged elements resembling the trillium flowers and other shapes from various pieces of scrap aluminum. Strips of scrap about 1/2 inch wide were hammered into rolled up tubes to create stems for some of the flower shapes that I made.

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Cold Forged Trillium


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Cold Forged Elements for practice
Combining Copper, Aluminum and Steel  for a multi-metal project
Combining Copper, Aluminum and Steel for a multi-metal project


The ‘Trillium’ project keeps growing! Today another flower sprouted out of the aluminum pile…. practice, practice, practice.


A piece of scrap became something to play around with to see what could be done. The scrap was triangular to begin with.


Added stamen and a leaf to one of the Trillium.
Added stamen and a longer stem with leaf to one of the Trillium.


Daisy Hill Forge

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Daisy Hill Forge is located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It’s a Blacksmith Shop operated by a single Mom of two young adult boys. She’s working hard to put her two sons through school. The eldest son will graduate, within a month, from Lake Superior State University with a degree in engineering.  Her second son is studying motorcycle mechanics in Florida. She works as a full time Farrier (horseshoer).  Her passion is forging steel into decorative and functional pieces that demonstrate the skills of blacksmithing. These are works that will last for generations and serve as heirlooms to be passed down over time.

Visit and have a look at the sample of items she has made over the years. Her prices are reasonable and the quality is top rate. She welcomes your interest and can use the business to help pay for those student loans!

I have had the honor work at the forge and anvil with her. I’ve had the pleasure assisting in creating the new shop building.  I’ve learned a great deal from the blacksmithing instructions and mentoring she has given. I look forward to many more days of education, collaboration and accomplishment through her tutoring at  Daisy Hill Forge.

Place an order at Daisy Hill Forge!