Under the spreading chestnut tree / The village smithy stands
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The blacksmith shop, along with all the other buildings on our property, is heavily shaded by trees in the summer. We did this deliberately when we laid out the buildings, orienting them so we’d have to cut as little as possible.
The shop itself has a large hickory in front, slightly smaller hickories on the northeast and west corners. Sassafras saplings ring the building and there’s a small cedar by the door to the shop addition where George works. The large hickory in front of the shop is almost 22 inches in diameter. In the fall hickory nuts hit the shop’s tin roof with a bang.
The canopy provided by the trees surrounding the shop means that in the summer it is almost fully shaded. Not only our shop, but our entire yard is in shade. This makes a huge difference in temperature. In the yard it could be 77 degrees F; in the open, in our garden, it would be 88 degrees F. Having a coal fire in the shop addition, even with all the doors open adds an extra 10 degrees of heat in the summer. Because of all the trees the shop is no hotter than the garden – hot, but not withering.
All the shade in our yard (in some areas only moss and trees grow) severely restricts the amount of light that reaches our forges on rainy days in the summer. Our non-electric shop makes us feel very connected to our brother and sister smiths who made the original ironwork years ago, particularly on dim days. Once leaves fall, things brighten up until next spring. Having everything brighter is one of the benefits that come with cooler temperatures.
Sassafras trees spring up anywhere they can in our woods. They’re the first trees to appear in a burned area. They have variable leaf shapes on the same branch. The mitten shape is an identifier. When we cut through sassafras roots in building our shop, the air became scented with a pleasant root beer-like fragrance. This is a small sapling by the large hickory in front of the shop.
To the south of the shop is a huge red oak. It’s 41 inches in diameter. The photo doesn’t at all give a proper idea of its size. This tree and the woods surrounding it mean that the shop addition, in spite of all of its windows, is darker in the summer than the rest of the shop. Other trees growing in our yard are pine, maple, paw-paw, poplar and white oak. One autumn day we counted the trees and found there are more than 200!
Summers aren’t getting any cooler and we’re glad to be able to live and work in the shade of the trees. The birds they host keep us pleased by their song (our favorite in early summer is the wood thrush’s). The nuts falling on the tin roof keep us alert in autumn. The fallen leaves provide as much mulch as our garden could ever need. And winter’s daylight, though short, is bright.
Go to the next post, The Blacksmith's Fire.
The A Shop Shaded by Trees post originally appeared here.
Blacksmith's Blog Posts
Cutting Steel Cold
Cutting Steel Hot
Blacksmith's Riveting, Brazing and Welding, part 1
Blacksmith's Riveting, Brazing and Welding, part 2
Shaping a Grip
Shaping the Braced Driven Catch
Making a Suffolk Latch -- The Thumber's Slot
Forging a Suffolk Latch Bar
Making a Latch
is a description, with photos, of the steps we go through to make a Suffolk Latch.
Making a Hinge
is a description, like Making a Latch, that shows the steps we go through to make a Butterfly Hinge.
Making a Grip
shows the process for making a Cabinet Grip.
Tools of the Trade
shows some of the tools in Molly’s blacksmith shop.
Making a Living
describes how we became blacksmiths.
Glossary of Blacksmithing Terms
is linked to various words that are not commonly known by non-smiths throughout this section of the site.