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I Forge Iron

Roman Hammer Marks?

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Hi everyone,

I have to talk about Roman hammer marks on iron in my coursework.

I have to talk about what Roman iron which was worked with a hammer felt like and how it was worked.

Is there anyone out there who could tell me anything about what worked Roman iron work feels like and what texture it has, especially with hammer marks?

Many thanks!

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Romans would be using bloomery wrought iron. It would require working at close to welding heat to keep from splitting up and at those temperatures it would be very very soft under the hammer. Forge welds could disappear and you could tie knots in it.

At these high heats the ferrous silicates in the real wrought iron would be molten and and would get extruded out where the hammer compressed the metal and a silicate spicule would intersect the surface. This would form little balls that would drop to the ground along with the scale formed by the hot metal and air.

The iron would not ring under the hammer, too soft! The anvil would not be a large one either and would NOT look like the modern london pattern anvil. The Roman Museum in Bath England has a nice roman anvil.

The fuel used would be real wood charcoal, coal was used in smithing centuries later, high to late middle ages. Charcoal throws off more sparks than coal but not the stinky coal smoke.

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I would hazard a guess that there wouln't be many. Most of the pictures of Roman iron work I've seen, didn't have any hammer marks that I could decern. Seems to me that a craftsman would take pride in his work and make it look as good as it possibly could. To my way of thinking hammer maked work is a modern invention. To make it look like work that is hand wrought. In those days did they think that way? Or was perfection more important? I try as hard as I possibly can to finish out my work as smooth as possible with as little or no hammer marks. I don't succeed, but I do try.

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  • 1 month later...

The material, iron, was significantly more valuable than labor. This means that finishing steps taken to make the surface "perfect" were likely taken.

This tendency shows even in much more modern ironwork and tools. Prior to the 1930's decorations and efforts to smooth the surface of tools like post vises were taken. Labor costs were beginning to overtake material costs at the time. Cheaply available steel and iron is a very modern thing.


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