3/20/2017 9:55:00 AM 81-year-old Illinois man starts blacksmithing club
MCHENRY, Ill. (AP) — During his contracting days, Jerry Freund occasionally would do some welding and metalworking for his jobs.
“That’s when I knew I really liked blacksmithing,” Freund said. “The problem was I never really had a place to do it at for fun.”
The 81-year-old McHenry resident then got the idea to turn his shed into an area for forging. However, Freund knew he wanted to share the forge with others.
“I knew there were blacksmiths in the area, but there was no cohesion between them,” Freund said. “So I wanted us all to come together here.”
Sharing his passion with others, Freund started his own blacksmithing club last spring. The club, called Anvil and Hammer, has more than 20 members and meets monthly at Freund’s McHenry home.
At the meetings, club members have been forging their own materials.
“It’s a really fun club where people who also share this interest can learn more about blacksmithing,” Freund said. “We also bring in a speaker typically every meeting who talks about their blacksmithing history and any stories they want to share about the subject.”
While everyone’s working on their own projects, Freund said he is focused on making more equipment for the forge.
“I had just finished making a hydraulic press, and now I’m in the process of making manufacturing dies for it,” Freund said.
For a more fun project, Freund said he also recently forged his own bottle opener.
“The last club meeting we suggested that everyone bring a bottle opener that they made just to show off how far they’ve come,” Freund said. “It’s neat to see everyone’s different designs.”
One of the club members, Mike Werner of Marengo, said he’s in the process of making a knife out of a railroad spike.
“As a retired firefighter, I’ve always been interested in fire and metal but never had the opportunity to work with it,” Werner said. “Then I saw Jerry Freund’s ad in the newspaper about the club and thought it was interesting, so I got involved.”
In addition to learning how the forging process works, Werner said Freund also showed him how to make his own forge, which Werner now has at his Marengo home.
“But mine is an outdoor forge, so I can’t really use it in the winter,” Werner said. “It’s nice working at Freund’s forge and working with others. This club has taught me how to watch temperatures and how to conserve coal, things I had no knowledge of before joining.”
Some of the other club members include Freund’s three sons.
“I’m just looking to expand my knowledge and know how to work with steel more,” said Bryan Freund, Jerry’s middle son. “I’ve learned more about working with high temperatures here and learning about working with different types of metals.”
“The club is awesome because it gives you a chance to do something you can’t find anywhere else,” said Jeff Freund, Jerry’s oldest son.
The blacksmithing club’s most recent meeting was Saturday, and the next meeting will be in March on a date still to be determined.
For those interested in joining, email Jerry Freund at friend1188(at)sbcglobal.net with the subject “Anvil and Hammer.”
“We are welcoming new members who are also interested in blacksmithing and want to share the passion for it,” Freund said.