Northern Rockies Blacksmith Association

NRBA Spring Conference 2014    May 16 - 18, Roscoe, MT

Hosts Frank Annighofer & Annette Lavalette coordinated a week-long program of ABANA National Curriculum training, school group demonstrations, public demonstrations and auction---in addition to our regular program, this time with renown blacksmithing author and teacher, Mark Aspery.

Mark Aspery demonstrating to members of the NRBA at the Roscoe Community Center, Roscoe, Montana.


Forging a helical actuator for a closed fluidine system.


Passing the operating end through a slit-and-drifted hole in the handle.


Forging the helix.


Regulating the helical dimensions.


  The finished corkscrew

And, it works.



Forging an axe head of mild steel with a forged-in tool steel cutting edge.

Beginning preparation of the blank; laying out the masses of steel where they will need to be.


Continuing shaping of the blank in pursuit of a predictable outcome. Note the indelible reminder on Mark's hammer: the speed of a hammer blow is more important than the weight of the hammer.


The completed axe head blank, ready for forge-welding together


Forge-welding a tool-steel cutting edge into the hand-forged axe head.



Mark, cutting open the mouth of a bear head, using a chisel that he had forged and heat-treated moments before.


  The finished bear


Mark showing the proper "scarf" forged on the ends of two opposing steel bars in preparation to joining by forge-welding.


NRBA member, Hial Steel, hammer unexpectedly thrust into his hand with the steel already at welding temperature, successfully making the forge-weld---proving the process not to be nearly as intimidating as many people suppose.



From the ABANA website:

Mark currently owns and operates his own school for blacksmiths. His training as a smith started in the United Kingdom in 1976 after leaving high-school, working for a small fabrication/engineering firm that boasted a blacksmith shop. He has worked for a number of smiths as well as teaching in trade schools over the years.

Mark is a certified journeyman smith with the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, (a UK guild started in London in 1324) and currently an Associate of the company (AWCB) Mark is also a certified farrier with the American Farriers Association (AFA). He does maintain that these qualifications and a dollar will only get you a cup of pretty poor tasting coffee, but that the endeavors were priceless.

Mark owns and operates the 'Mark Aspery School of Blacksmithing' traveling the USA teaching classes for ABANA affiliates and giving blacksmith demonstrations. Mark has completed the third volume to his 'How to' blacksmith book series, The Skills of a Blacksmith Vol III Joinery and related tooling. Mark is careful not to call himself a traditional smith, perhaps classical is a more apt phrase.

Mark likes to use classical joinery techniques where budget and design allow. An underlying ethos of Mark's work is 'make the tools before you can begin the job'. At this time Mark does not do any regular commission blacksmithing, just the occasional small job, and states "I am a little out-of-touch with that side of the profession. I think that the single most important event that has improved my blacksmithing has been to teach it having to know the root of the skill or information."

Mark maintains that he is as much a student of blacksmithing as the next smith, and is ready to learn more with a subject this vast, how can he say anything else.

About Mark Aspery: www.markaspery      To gain some appreciation of Mark's abilities, view some of the videos at:



Graduates of NRBA's first class of the ABANA National Curriculum instructors program.

L to R: Mark Aspery, Frank Annighofer, John Kimball, Russel Evertz, Nathan Kimpell, Martin Hildreth, Joel Machler, Dean Ellis and Dave Osmundsen


Public auction organized by Frank Annighofer and Annette Lavalette with professional auctioneer, Rick Young. A custom knife by Dean Ellis on the block. Scott Hall, assisting.


NRBA member Nathan Kimpel demonstrating blacksmithing basics to local students as part of the conference..


From the Carbon County News, Red Lodge, MT May 15, 2014


Another Carbon County News article. The caption should read: Blacksmith Curriculum Instructor David Osmundsen from Buffalo, WY with students from Absarokee High School.

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