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INSIDE ACCESS: Beach Blacksmith in Norfolk offers classes in the art

Nathan Walker runs Beach Blacksmith in Norfolk, which offers classes in the art of blacksmithing.

NORFOLK, Va. — Blacksmiths have been working with thousands of degrees for thousands of years. You need, patience, precision, power, and patience for this line of metalsmithing. 

Nathan Walker runs Beach Blacksmith in Norfolk with his wife, who he said handles more of the business side of things. 

She suggested that they offer classes in the art of blacksmithing and since then, that has been their niche in the world of modern technology.

Students must be able to stand the heat. “I think they’re most surprised by how they can hold a bar of iron and it’s several thousand degrees just inches from their hand” Walker said. “The bar could be 2600 degrees … but because it’s not conductive … it doesn’t transfer down into your hand.”

The metal is heated in a forge, which they have both gas- and charcoal-powered versions in the shop. The inside of the gas forge looks similar to molten lava. 

Walker uses an insulator made of compressed fibers with the gas forge. Walker said the material, which resembles Styrofoam from the outside, “keeps the outside of the forge 600 degrees while the inside is 3000 degrees.”

The process takes a few hours to finish but smiths must still work quickly while the metal is hot and glowing red. This is when they can alter the shape of the metal into different tools and items.

Beach Blacksmith is at 164 S Military Highway in Norfolk. They offer regular classes to forge and create different items. 

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