BUTTE — A hot forge, red-hot metal, and the sound of hammers slamming are present at Montana Tech’s metallurgy program, which is celebrating 100 years.
“And it’s cool! It’s really fun and it’s a great opportunity for us to outreach to other students,” said Montana Tech graduate student Morgan Ashbaugh.
Ashbaugh started the Blacksmith and Caster Club in 2019 to give students a chance to apply what they’ve learned by using high heat, anvils, and hammers to forge tools. One group was pounding out old railroad spikes to make them into knives.
“Your arm will be sore after a day of working. It’s definitely a workout,” said Ashbaugh.
Tech student Spencer Toomey said the blacksmith club convinced him to switch his major.
“I was originally here for mechanical engineering, but during the tour, they showed me this lab and I was like, ‘you know what, I think metallurgy’s going to be fun.’ So, I decided to join metallurgy, and great decision so far. I’m loving it,” said Toomey.
WEB EXTRA: Tech students demonstrate and discuss blacksmithing
Unlike the chess club, this club requires protective gear since they work with a forge that reaches temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and slamming molten metal with heavy hammers.
“Earlier I dropped one of the knives. If that were to hit me, this would make sure nothing happens with that, it just bounces off, so you don’t want to just be doing this in a T-shirt,” said Seager Nentwig.
“It’s also great like a great stress reliever, you’re just like, had a really bad day at chem and then you just come out here and smack some metal out. It’s great! I love it,” added Toomey.