Starting each January, April, and September, beginning and intermediate blacksmith classes are offered at the Bandy Blacksmith Shop through the Escondido History Center. Five students at a time learn the art of blacksmithing by working three hours each Saturday for ten weeks, each with their own forge. Classes are not scheduled during the summer because 0f the heat. The intermediate class meets in the morning and the beginning class in the afternoon. Phil Ewing taught blacksmith classes for fourteen years until the wheelwright shop was constructed. John Kowalski, one of Phil's former students, now teaches all the blacksmith classes. For information about classes, call the Escondido History Center office at (760) 743-8207.
Beginning blacksmith students learn to make some simple tools. The basic shop technology includes building coal fires, an introduction to the tools and their use. Students straighten out automobile coil springs to make chisels and center punches. Then, they learn how to temper. Next, they are taught forge welding and lap welding. Finally they make tongs and hammer heads. Once the basics are mastered, students work on a wide variety of individual projects of their choice. Beginning classes are limited to 5 students. For information about beginning classes, call the Escondido History Center office at (760) 743-8207.
Intermediate 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.
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. Blacksmithing skills are a prerequisite to taking the wheelwright classes. For information about wheelwright classes call the Escondido History Center office at (760) 743-8207.