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Hanging sign for Red Pig Tools in Boring, Oregon, is a red wooden pig with Garden Tools & Blacksmith in white paint
Jarrod Lyman | 02/07/2018 | Arts & Heritage, Boring, Shopping

Blacksmithing Gardening Implements At Red Pig Garden Tools

Closeup of the blazing flames inside the brick forge at Red Pig Garden Tool blacksmith shop in Boring Oregon

Oregon is known for its makers' culture. Why buy something when you can make it, grow it or brew it yourself? Nowhere is this more evident than at Red Pig Garden Tools in the town of Boring.

Red Pig is owned by Bob and Rita Denman. Bob has been swinging a mighty hammer for 30 years, crafting all sorts of garden implements. More than 200 in fact, which in all honestly blew me away. I know about the normal things you'll find in almost any garden or shed: hoes, rakes, shovels etc. But Bob quizzed me on a myriad of specialized tools, all forged in his workshop and each with its own unique special use. Things like asparagus forks, ball weeders, and a reverse trowel that makes prepping potted plants a cinch. 

I'll be honest, I've been fascinated by the idea of blacksmithing for years. The ability to take a hunk of metal and beat it until it's transformed into something useful is impressive. I find it even more so now that I've had the chance to try it. Bob guided me through the process of making a weeder. He did each step first and then let me try it on another piece. After fixing my errors, he would then move on to the next stop on his piece. Thanks to his patient guidance (and frequent corrections) I crafted an actual usable tool that mostly resembled his piece. I even got to keep it. Probably because he'd have to sell it at a discount if he could sell it all, but it still goes to show the wonderfully friendly nature of this old fashioned business owner.

There's also a museum above the store at Red Pig Garden Tools. All wide variety of tools are on display, ranging from antique implements and new creations; even some that you'll only find in Bob's workshop. You can order all of these implements from their website, but it's definitely worth visiting the store, if just to meet Bob and see everything that he's built with his own two hands right there on site. 

So as spring arrives in your neck of the woods and you start planning your projects for the season, don't forget the tools you'll need. And then head on over to Red Pig Garden Tools to get your gardening on.  

Master blacksmith and helper shape a hot metal piece into a Red Pig Garden Tool using sledgehammer on large anvil

Bob from Red Pig Garden Tools adds the split to the end of the weeding tool. This takes a bit more skill than someone like who, who's never done this before has. So my job was to use the large tongs to hold it steady. 

Blacksmith and assistant bend hot metal in vise to make a weeder at Red Pig Garden Tools in Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory

Once the hammering is done, it's time to bend the heck out of the thing to get the fulcrum that allows you to easily remove weeds from your garden. A special die is used to get the right bend at the right positions, making for optimum angle. Plus it's fun to bend metal so easily when it's 1800 or so degrees. 

Worker quenching (rapidly cooling) a metal tool being constructed in the blacksmith shop at Red Pig Garden Tools in Boring

After the final shaping and hammering out a few imperfections, it's time to quench the weeding tool. I guess it gets pretty thirsty after continually getting placed in a furnace and heated up to nearly 2,000 degrees. 

Sparks fly form the grinder as balcksmith grinds down edges of a Red Pig Garden Tool

Bob took the weeding tool over to the grinder to smooth out any rough edges and give it a more finished look. He probably had to do a bit more grinding on my piece than he normally would...

Closeup of drill bit boring through wooden handle being affixed to metal portion of a Red Pig Garden Tool

Once the rough edges are smoothed out, Bob fitted a handle on the end of the tool and drilled a hole for a fastening peg to keep everything in place. 

Worker shows off the weeding tool he just made on the forge and anvil in blacksmtih shop at Red Pig Garden Tools

And it's all done! A weeding tool I made all by myself. Okay, Bob helped some. Okay, Bob did most of the work. But you can bet I'll tell everyone I did it when I show them my nifty Red Pig Garden Tools weeding tool. 

We'd love to see all the awesome tools you purchased from Red Pig. Better yet, show us the stuff you bought in use! Next time you share a gardening shot on social media, use our #omht hashtag and point out the awesome stuff you got from there. We want to see those awesome implements in the field! Literally. 

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