"I needed some hardware, and I didn't know where to get it, and I figured I could make it myself," he said.
He bought his first anvil, along with a small, hand-cranked, coal-fired forge. "I just had a little backyard setup, and as long as it didn't rain or snow too hard I could work outside," he said.
At the time, there were no blacksmithing classes offered locally and there was no Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland, an organization Vincent later helped found. It now has about 200 members and offers blacksmithing classes at the Carroll County Farm Museum and elsewhere.
Vincent took his first classes at a weekend workshop in Dover, Del. That led to his first commission, which was making antique nails for a museum restoration project in that state. He used the proceeds to buy more tools and to take more classes.
"You can stand around in your back yard doing this, but you don't get very far unless you're around other people," he said. "So I also started going down to Arlington, Va., ... to meetings and workshops held by the guild down there."
He also began volunteering at the Carroll County Farm Museum, which by that time had its own small blacksmith shop. The museum eventually became a nexus for a handful of locals interested in learning the craft.
"At the farm museum, I had a place to practice and a place to work in the winter time," Vincent said. "There, you're in front of the public and talking about what you do and making little pieces, and the Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland kind of grew out of the guys who volunteered there.
"Originally there was old Marshall Crumbacker, who ran the shop down there from when the museum opened until the 1970s," he said, referring to the patriarch of local blacksmiths for whom the farm museum's shop is now named.
"Then the next group was Randy McDaniel and Ken Schwartz. The two of them worked there until about when I showed up. Ken went on to Colonial Williamsburg in the early 1980s and now he's the master of the shop down there. Randy is in Redding, Pa., still doing high-end blacksmith work up there.
"We had six or eight people in the guild when we started out, and now we have over 200 members," he said. "We also have a whole teaching facility at the farm museum, which is one of the nicer ones around in the country for what you pay for classes."
In 1991, Vincent decided it was time to chuck his day job and devote himself to full-time to the job he loved best.
"I was 10 years into blacksmithing ... and I began selling at a wholesale market in Philadelphia and people bought like crazy," he said. "One weekend I just had an incredible show, and I came home and quit my job."
He now works longer hours than he ever did as an economic forecaster, but has no regrets.
"Pretty much all the time I have I'm working, but I don't mind putting in the hours, because this is what I do," he said as he leaned over one of his benches and peered at preliminary drawings for another work in progress.
"And I'm always impressed with what I come up with."