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The Rochester Arc and Flame Center features a blacksmithing shop designed by the New York State Designer Blacksmiths Genesee Region. The RocAFC facility features:
- 5 Coal Forges
- 3 gas forges
- 8 anvils
- 5 post vises
- Large supply of small tools, such as hammers, grinders, tongs, chisels and punches
- Spacious area for larger projects
- Access to welding shop for jigs and fixtures
- Classes for Novices through Advanced Smiths
- Experienced, dedicated instructors and assistants
We are home to the New York State Designer Blacksmith Association (Genesee Region). Our facility houses 5 coal fired forges, 2 propane fired forges and a fully stocked shop, including anvils, post vises, belt grinders, and a large variety of hand tools. We offer discounts on steel and safety supplies available at our partner company Mahany Welding Supply. Our skilled instructors are dedicated to providing you with the best possible blacksmithing experience!
Throughout much of recorded human history, blacksmithing has been one of the most important elements of nearly every society.
In 6000 BC the discovery of bronze began the development of our modern metal smithing techniques. The tools and practices of the smith were developed and haven’t significantly changed since this time. We still use a forge, anvil, tongs and hammers. As early as 4000 BC iron was used ornamentally, then about 2200 BC practical implements started to appear and its use progressed from there.
In the 1790’s two monumental events occurred, the screw cutting lathe was introduced and Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin machine. These pioneering mass-production techniques would initially create a short heyday for the blacksmiths but eventually they would replace much of his work. Finally with the introduction of automobiles, which used factory manufactured, mass produced parts, the number of blacksmiths rapidly declined. In fact most of the first mechanics were actually blacksmiths finding a new line of work. The low point for the US blacksmiths was during the 1960’s, when most of the working blacksmiths were those performing farrier works. Starting in the 1970’s, the return to self-sufficiency also brought the resurgence of the home blacksmith. Thanks in large part to organizations such as ABANA and those like the NYSDB, the blacksmiths have adapted to modern times and found their niche.
While literally tons of items in our modern world are made of metal the craft of forging is what makes blacksmithing unique. Most modern metal pieces are made by melting the steel and pouring it into molds. In contrast the blacksmith forges individual pieces by heating them till they are malleable then shaping them with tools. The fundamental techniques used by a blacksmithing are bending and straightening, drawing out (lengthening the metal), upsetting (thickening and shortening), twisting, punching (making a hole through the metal) and cutting.
Today there are some who make a successful living as full-time blacksmiths, but for the most part blacksmithing has become a hobby activity. Thankfully because of the intrinsic value of handmade goods even the hobby blacksmith can be relatively profitable.