Apprenticeship Session 9

We had some homework to finish before today’s session in anticipation of forge welding the links. We had made a few U-shaped pieces in preparation for making links for our chain during out last session, but we needed to complete more of them – 12 in total – to have enough to work with for today. So we had finished four last time and then at home Rob did four and I did four to round out the dozen links we needed to start with.

So there are several steps to making a link, and we were nervous about how difficult they seemed. (Remember the quote: “Forge welding: The most difficult damn thing you can do!!” – said by someone who’s an expert!) But it turned out to be easier than we feared and went pretty well. Even our “mistakes” turned out good and we learned some good lessons from them.

While we worked much faster today, it was still nearly four hours of work to put the ears on eight pieces and turn out four figure-8 shaped links. Making the ears turned out to be the most fun, at least for me. But the feeling when you hit the metal when doing the welding is pretty satisfying too. You pretty much know if it’s a good weld or not by the feel. One of those things you can only learn by experience.

So next time we’ll get to take two of the figure-8 links and join them with a third link to start the actual chain. (You can see an example of that on the anvil in the pictures.) We may make some additional U-shaped pieces at home to get to the full 26 links of the Måstermyr chain. We ended the day trying to do the math of links. What we were trying to figure out is how many links are used as the chain grows. Because the start of a chain is two links joined by a third link producing a three-link chain. Then you make two of those and join them with another link, so you have seven links, etc. It looks something like:

3 = (1) +1+ (1)
7 = (1+1+1) +1+ (1+1+1) = 3 + 1 + 1
15 = (1+1+1+1+1+1+1) +1+ (1+1+1+1+1+1+1) = 7 + 1 + 7
31 = (1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1) +1+ (1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1) = 15 + 1 + 15

So I’m not quite sure why the Måstermyr chain wound up being 26 links, but we will have to have to work with an uneven set of links somewhere along the way if we want to re-create it. We intend to finish our chain at our next session, so let’s hope that joining link isn’t much tougher than welding the other ones.