CULLMAN, Ala. – The Alabama Forge Council is a non-profit organization founded in 1985 by Jim Batson to teach and promote the art of blacksmithing. Mr. Batson wanted to have groups all over the state to make it more accessible. The Cullman chapter was founded in 1990 by David Thompson and meetings would be held at different members’ shops. Allen Kress joined shortly after the Cullman chapter was founded. In the mid-90s, Jim Moody became the forge master. Jim and Allen, in an effort to find a consistent place to hold the monthly meetings, approached the Peinhardts of Peinhardt Living History Farm.
Allen had experience with timber framing and offered to coordinate the framing of the forge shop if the Peinhardts provided the lumber. The forge group brought in George Kobayashi, a Hawaiian timber framer residing in Georgia, to lead the group of timber framers. The forge reached out to Warren Wilson College, which had a program that required students to complete 100 hours of community service before graduation. The forge offered the hours, and the college provided seven or so students to help build the forge building.
By around 2000, The Cullman Forge found its permanent home at the Peinhardt Living History Farm’s Blacksmith shop. Josh Foran joined in November of 2017. Foran is happy to share information about the forge. He says, “The AFC is a great resource full of experienced people who are willing to teach and share knowledge of a forgotten craft. We encourage anyone interested to come out and experience this great craft and what it’s like to make something that will last. One of the biggest draws for me to blacksmithing, other than being able to shape metal by hand, is the fact it brings back to light craftsmanship. In today’s throw-away society, it’s nice to see a focus and value returning to craftsmanship and hand made goods. What is even better, is people wanting to learn these crafts and we want to teach them.”
The Cullman forge meets every first Sunday of each month from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. They have open forge days where people can bring projects to work on or to ask for assistance. The forge offers first time instruction to advanced techniques. There are demos for tool making, knife making, forge welding, damascus, etc. The forge is open to the public and membership is not required to attend. To become a member of Alabama forge council, the cost is $25 a year and provides access to all AFC chapters as well as events like the AFC Blacksmithing Conference and Batson Blade Symposium, both held at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park.
For more information, visit http://alaforge.org/.
Copyright 2021 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.