Randy Dack is no ordinary blacksmith. He refers to himself as a utilitarian blacksmith, according to The Grand Island Independent.
“I like my iron to be used, not just looked at,” Dack says. “I make a lot of tools, camping equipment and things to that nature because I like my stuff to be used.”
Having started out as a farrier after attending the Oklahoma Horseshoeing School, Dack credits his wife Sarah for introducing him to blacksmithing after seeing a piece she liked in a country sampler magazine.
“I was too cheap to buy it through the magazine,” Dack says. “I went to town, spent three times as much money, bought some scrap iron and used the forge that I had for making horseshoes. From there, I figured out how to make it.”
Dack believes that imagination is what makes a good blacksmith.
“You can do anything you want to a piece of iron,” Dack says. “You’re only limited by your imagination.”
None of his creations is like another. He can do things in a fire that aren’t feasible in a machine. It is for that reason Dack believes blacksmiths are still needed in the modern era.
“I tell a lot of my customers, ‘If you want something identical to this, go talk to a machinist,’” he says. “Each hammer mark that’s in that iron gives it its own character.”
Dack loves rediscovering old techniques.
“You can see an old piece and try to reproduce it, but until you figure out how that was made, you can’t reproduce it,” he says. “Finding the way that that was done excites the heck out of me.“
He also enjoys demonstrating blacksmithing for kids at the Stuhr Museum in Grand Island, Neb., seeing their eyes light up when they finally understand what Dack is making.
“That is probably the most enjoyable part of blacksmithing to me is watching the kids finally understand you don’t have to get that at Wal-Mart, you can make it,” Dack says.