Kettering University students gain access to century old blacksmith equipment thanks to donation

Blacksmithing has a long history, and it’s fun to have a piece of it in the club on campus.”

When Roger Tyyska ‘63 inherited his grandfather’s tools and blacksmith equipment he knew he wanted them to be put to good use. 

Tyyska was on the Kettering University campus and picked up a copy of the student newspaper, The Technician, and noticed a blacksmith club was starting up. Donating the equipment to students seemed like the perfect solution.Blacksmithing was a key metalworking technology over the centuries, Tyyska said. 

“Consider John Deere, a blacksmith who developed a superior agricultural plow, an entrepreneur of his times, whose successors created a worldwide manufacturer of agricultural equipment,” he said. “ Blacksmithing illustrates basic fundamentals of metalworking. In this age of advanced technology, students can gain an appreciation by stepping up to a hot forge and joining or shaping pieces of glowing metal.” 

The forge was last used to make and maintain those items necessary for horse drawn equipment used for lumbering and agricultural purposes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The Blacksmith Club at Kettering University was able to set up and use the donated equipment this month. Tyyska donated a forge, vice and about 20 other tools. 

“The club has been operating for one term now, and one of the biggest problems was the number of people who wanted to work on our one forge,” said Brennen Kunka ‘17, student leader of the Blacksmith Club. “Roger was kind enough to contact me about donating his equipment, and now that it's here we should be able to accommodate more people at once. I think everyone will enjoy using the traditional hand cranked forge and range of specialized tools.”

Tyyska, who spent his career as a manufacturing engineer, has always considered himself a hands-on type of guy. He was happy to be able to pass along something to future engineers. 

He spent his co-op at Chevrolet Flint Manufacturing, and worked at three other General Motors divisions throughout his career in die and body shop engineering. He retired in 2001.  

Kunka said it’s very helpful to have the donated equipment for the Blacksmith Club. Before they had a hard time getting everybody’s work heated in one forge, but now having a modern forge with an electric blower and Tyyska’s century old forge with a hand crank, students can have access to both. 

“Blacksmithing has a long history, and it’s fun to have a piece of it in the club. We can accommodate more people now, and that will help keep attendance high and ensure the relatively new club’s future,” Kunka said. 

If anyone is interested in joining Kettering’s Blacksmith Club they can contact Kunka at to get on the mailing list. Meetings will take place during A-section, Thursdays at 12:20 p.m. in AB 1-817.