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Hey yall,

Well yesterday me and my good friend Dave Custer made a video about the history of blacksmithing and we both did a demonstration.

Check out the video and let me know how you liked it



TTYL,
Trip
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Glad you had a good time!!!! Well maybe we can build you a masonry forge, I've taken all the guess work out of it. LOL

I am glad the shop snake didn't make it's way in the video!!!!! If that had happened there would have been some "snake dancing" going on!!!! LOL

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My system doesn't seem to get the video from your post is there a direct link to it I could use? I'm very interested in the history of blacksmithing especially the several thousand years *before* the 19th century and can't wait to see how you cover it!

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Well I've seen a number of people discuss the "history of smithing" and only cover 10% of it at most---sort of like doing a History of the United states and only covering things since the year 2000. Not wrong just mislabeled.

(Back when I lived in Virginia in grade school I had VA history; we learned about Capt. John Smith (of Jamestown) almost day by day but funny we never covered who won the civil war...and yes it WAS over by the time I was in grade school, my Great Grandfather fought in it!)

I haven't seen the video yet to tell if they meant "History of American Smithing" or "19th century Smithing" or some other subset or if they really did start at the beginning and follow it up to present times.

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Thomas: The videos we took were done to compile them into a 15 minute video for 8th grade school kids. (Trip had someone ask to do the video so he asked me to come help out.) It's not a history of smiths for smiths. We kept it SUPER basic. I gave some of my normal spill that I do at craft shows about what blacksmiths made for the colonial homestead, but Trip did some research and we used the info he came up with to try to fill in the gaps. Not in depth at all.

Also, I do craft shows all the time and I am used to talking to large numbers of people saying the same thing over and over and over. I've got my spill down like the back of my hand. Trip, on the other hand does not do a lot of public demos and so therefore does not get the same practice talking about smiths and smithing. Hence the ummms and all. That'll wear off over time! I was like when I started!

Copy and paste the following link into your address box. That should work!

youtube.com/watch?v=FBmC0Mfcs1A

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@ Sparky; Super basic.. hmmmmm.......... :) If my memory serves me right ( and I think it does) I had to keep telling you that you were getting TOOOO technical LOL I know its a habit. Just like me saying "ummmmm" all the time. LOL

And for the record, I have NEVER done a public demo, but I hope to do some this summer........ guess I should write a speech on my side of the anvil, OR have sign in-front of the anvil that say's I am a mute... :D

I will find out how the school like the video, and let yall know.

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My history spiel usually starts with charcoal for the fuel and bloomery iron and simple forges that are blown with twin bellows. Perhaps discuss why pattern welding helped things out in the early medieval period. Then add in coal in the High middle ages and the switch to the indirect method of producing wrought iron. Hit the start of the industrial revolution and the smelting of iron with coke---Abraham Darby and ride that to the 1850's perhaps mentioning the early steam engines and the complaint of their builder that the smiths only worked to the thickness of a worn shilling in tolerance, (Hope to pick up one of those while I'm in the UK), then the Bessemer converter and how it changed smithing from wrought iron to mild steel and a discussion on how the material became the term for the items usually using the analogy of the Linens Department at a store now having *nothing* made from linen in it but that sort of thing *used* to be made from linen so the name stuck. I discuss how the "frontier" in America coloured our vision of smiths being jack of all trades and how the Smiths often did anything they could to survive as the craft waned. Then I usually hit them up with the renaissance of the craft in Modern Times and try to drag interested folks into attending an ABANA Affiliate meeting...

Depending on the audience I might also discuss sword making misconceptions or the Blacksmith vs Farrier division---mentioning the *old* B&W westerns where a town had both a Blacksmith's shop *and* a forge at the Livery stable just for shoeing. (But they have to be old enough to remember Regan as an actor not just the President!)

Yeah after the first 2 to 3 hundred times it gets fairly trimmed down and fast!

Of course medieval and renaissance smithing is my area of interest and having visited smiths in a number of countries I'm aware of how the craft differed in say Europe than the USA.

I'll check out the video after work tonight.

First Demo I gave was the spring of 1981 IIRC, Medieval Fair in Norman OK.

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Trip I understand that you did a lot of research on the subject the 5 millennium is older than the 2nd you can find this information on line. I am glad you put together this video you and dave did a good job.

he history of ferrous metallurgy began far back in prehistory. The earliest surviving iron artifacts, from the 5th millennium BC in Iran and 2nd millennium BC in China, were made from meteoritic iron-nickel.[1] By the end of the 2nd millennium BC iron was being produced from iron ores from South of the Saharan Africa to China.[2] The use of wrought iron was known in the 1st millennium BC. During the medieval period, means were found in Europe of producing wrought iron from cast iron (in this context known as pig iron) using finery forges. For all these processes, charcoal was required as fuel.

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OK started watching I think you need to research more on China as you seem to have been misled by their early work in cast iron without considering the bloomery work done in the middle east. China was not 1800 years ahead of the rest of the world and actually lagged in the use of the bloomery furnace! As far as smithing goes bloomery is much more important a process than casting iron!

Also a "typo" The vikings were one of the earliest peoples in the new world"---besides the ones that showed up 20,000+ years earlier? Probably meant to say the first people to work hot iron on this continent, (Inuit did limited cold work of meteoric iron )

Good coverage of use of charcoal vs coal except for coal burning hotter. Coal and charcoal have about the same BTUs per pound. Charcoal is just less dense. The Japanese forge weld their swords with charcoal to this day.

Note the wedding stuff is pure BS it is based on a quirk in English law where in England you were required to announce a wedding several times before it occurred---publishing the banns and had to have permission from the parents of the bride and groom if they were under 21 years old. However Scotland had different marriage laws that allowed a form of marriage to be done without parental permission and by the participants themselves announcing publicly with witnesses that they were married. Gretna Green was the first town over the border along the main coaching road to Scotland and the blacksmith shop was a public place with witnesses to hand! The blacksmith served no other purpose than as an official witness.

Gotta go to a meeting.

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OK! interesting and unknown (to me) info for the most part. I never touch on pre-revelutionary war history when demoing, so I am completely in the dark about any smithing history prior to that time.
As far as who if anyone was here 20,000 years ago, I think that is a subject disconnected from smithing, so we need not go there!
Once again, whether or not the Vikings were or were not the first smiths here is not something that I've studied on. Trip did the research there and conveyed the information he gathered to me. That seemed like the logical source to me....seemed to make sense!

OK so being that charcoal is less dense than coal, does that translate into coal has a more concentrated fire? Would this then mean that, even though the temperatures are about the same, a coal fire will heat faster because of more heat concentration?

LOL Trip was the one that told me about the wedding stuff as well! I had my doubts which is why I said "as story has it...." I'll have to give him a hard time now! LOL

Trip, sounds like you need to do some more editing, so we don't look like two complete morons! :D

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Hey Dave,

Charcoal and coal both, for practical purposes, in the forge fire are pure carbon in the heart of the fire. They both burn at the same temperature.

The density issue is how "packed" the carbon bits are. Coal being much more tight, it requires a greater air pressure for a given firing rate, but less replenishment for heat a given heat per time output.

Charcoals biggest advantage is that if it is made properly, it has fewer impurities then coal and thusly is more adaptable to bloomery processes. Metallurgical coke took longer to become economical to produce.

In Europe, especially England, the use of wood and charcoal for fueling purposes was a massive buisness prior to coal being readibly available. An issue they had was the amount of forests at hand. So they developed a process to significantly increase the production of wood by trees. It is called the coppicing and pollarding. Coppicing is where a mature tree is cut off to form a short stump. Said stump produces many small sprouts which form suckers. Suckers are branchs that grow straight up and are generally tall and thin(the bane of fruit trees) . Pollarding is the same process, but the tree is cutoff much higher up. Generally high enough so that deer and such can't eat the sprouts and destroy the process or for a road side tree to keep the suckers from getting in the way. In Europe there are many streets which are lined with trees which have been pollarded. The process has been discovered to be at least as early as 3000 BC or so. Keep in mind too that at the time many things were made from "round wood" . That is, wood which had not been carved down to square or rectangular sticks and a bunch of stout rapidly growing suckers can be used for many products.

Maybe if you guys add in a bit at the begining of your video where you say, "Once upon a time, in a land far, far away. . . " you will be freed from a great deal of criticism! HA!!!

As an aside, what do you think about your new hammer?

Caleb Ramsby

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Maybe if you guys add in a bit at the begining of your video where you say, "Once upon a time, in a land far, far away. . . " you will be freed from a great deal of criticism! HA!!!

As an aside, what do you think about your new hammer?

Caleb Ramsby


LOL maybe that is a good idea! Pretty neat info about charcoal and Europe too! Thanks!

The new hammer is AWESOME! Just the change in hammers makes an amazing difference, and combining that with using the right techniques with that hammer, is lethal to metal! :D

Trip: As a word of caution! You are a newish, youngish member, and a certain amount of respect is due to smiths who have been at this longer than you or I have been alive, and who have traveled the WORLD studying smithing and the history of smithing. Thomas has helped hundreds if not thousands of people get started on here, and I'd say that the "certain ammount of respect due to him" is a very LARGE amount of respect. I'd take the word of someone like that over a few hours of internet searching, ANY day of the week. Take it from someone that has been on the forum for four or five years with 1200 posts and hasn't made (to my knowledge,) a single enemy on here! Tone it down!
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As an aside to the historical direction this thread has taken. I would like to comment on that fine hammer that Dave was using. Cool to see you using the hammer that you made with Brian. Looks like it works great!

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Oh No I love it when people argue if they can post their sources---that's the way we learn new stuff. So can Trip list where he read the bit about blacksmiths and marriages and I'll see if I can dig out the laws about marriages.



"Gretna's famous "runaway marriages" began in 1753 when Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act was passed in England; it stated that if both parties to a marriage were not at least 21 years old, then parents had to consent to the marriage. The Act did not apply in Scotland, where it was possible for boys to marry at 14 and girls at 12 years old with or without parental consent (see Marriage in Scotland). Many elopers fled England, and the first Scottish village they encountered was Gretna Green. The Old Blacksmith's Shop, built around 1712, and Gretna Hall Blacksmith's Shop (1710) became, in popular folklore at least, the focal tourist points for the marriage trade. The Old Blacksmith's opened to the public as a visitor attraction as early as 1887.

The local blacksmith and his anvil have become the lasting symbols of Gretna Green weddings. Scottish law allowed for "irregular marriages", meaning that if a declaration was made before two witnesses, almost anybody had the authority to conduct the marriage ceremony. The blacksmiths in Gretna became known as "anvil priests". "


So the smiths did not have any special legal powers to perform marriages. The marriage laws here in the USA would be on a state by state basis and all the ones I have lived in have required either a JP or other Court Official or a properly certified Priest/Pastor/Rabbi/Religeous Leader.

Trip; you're up!


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OK, it took me a while to remember where I read that, but here it is .


For couples that could not secure their families' blessings, this was a consolation.
You joined hands and declared that you took each other to be a lawfully wedded spouse, and lived together. Henceforth you were man and wife. This short but sweet ritual went by the name "handfasting" or "spousal." Parental permission did not enter the picture. No priest, minister, magistrate, or license was called for, although it was not unusual for blacksmiths to officiate—the anvil becoming a symbol of where long-lasting unions were forged.

Here is the link to the website where I read that. http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/holiday07/court.cfm

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Now to check out those sources in the bibliography---though I wouldn't use the term "officiate" for something done by the couple themselves where the smith had no part but as witness. Seems to limit it to english colonists too.

But at least you do have a better source than all the blacksmith urban legends that are so often spread. My apologies.

Don't know how deep I'll get to go as I'm prepping for a trip to the UK right now; mayhap I'll find one of those sources while I am in Hay on Wye book buying.

Most of my sources to hand deal with medieval and ancient times. (And it's amazing how bad some info by renowned scholars can be! Norman Cantor of "Inventing the Middle Ages" fame was editor of a Medieval Encyclopedia that still had the victorian canard about knights needing a crane to lift them onto their horses before battle---when in actuality a knight's armour weighed a lot less than what a friend of mine was supposed to carry and fight with as Special Forces in Nam!---and distributed better to boot! Of course his area of expertise was not in armour and so he couldn't judge the entry properly.)

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OK so being that charcoal is less dense than coal, does that translate into coal has a more concentrated fire? Would this then mean that, even though the temperatures are about the same, a coal fire will heat faster because of more heat concentration?

Dave the reason that smith switch to coal was deforestation charcoal was used in all walks of life in the middle ages for cooking and so no.

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