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I Forge Iron

medieval demo forge/smithy


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Well lets see that covers a good chunk of the earth and about 1000 years of time---could you narrow that down a bit?

I've been doing this for decades gradually improving my set up over time.

Generally if you were traveling you would use the local village's set up. Most people didn't travel with a blacksmith anymore than we would travel with a mechanic today. You needed their services you would limp in to where they were at!

If for some reason this was not the case; the simplest set up is probably to select a portion of the campfire as the "forge" and pull hot coals over to it and use a bellows to increase the heat. (remember that coal was not a smithing fuel till the high /late medieval period and charcoal was still the primary fuel used for centuries!) I used this set up at Real Viking I; have to see if I can find any Pics.

Of course building a forge of turves would make things more convenient if you want to get off the ground! (though the hole in the ground forge is common even to this day many places in the world). Not generally allowed most places these days.

I skirt around this by building a simple adobe forge atop a soapstone slab on a table, fueled with charcoal and blown by two single action bellows as described by Theophilus in 1120 A.D. Working on such a table is not proper but my knees can't handle the ground work anymore---If I was alive in medieval times---I'd be DEAD!

Now the london pattern anvil is right out for medieval use. So I use a 25# "cube" anvil with a spike that I can drive into a stump. I also forged a T stake anvil so I have a horn to use. The cube anvil is based on one in the Roman Museum in Bath England and I have documented it pretty much as in use every century since that time until the French and Indian War in the 1700's...

Luckily you can easily make tongs that will fit any any time from Roman through 19th century---take a look at the ones from the Mastermyre Chest for example. (I found a 19th century set at a fleamarket in Ohio there were spot on a roman pair!)

Also remember that mild steel dates *after* the 1850's and real wrought iron, bloomery produced, would be the metal used.

See Also: the Heylstadt Stave Church carvings, "Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel"

(off till next week)

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14thc is what I was thinking. What I'm trying to do is have something more appropriate that my welded forge table and hand crank blower :). Doesn't have to be a period example just pass the oh I can see that being used rule. I saw a nice set up somewhere, it was a simple box and clay set up with a double lung bellow. Just looking for any examples to get the creative juices flowing.

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  • 1 month later...

Thought you might like these.  Taken at a medieval re-enactment in France 18 months ago.  This guy was making small items and knives using a bellows operated charcoal burning dragons head forge, the bellows were incorporated into its body.  Pictures don't really do it justice - it might not be any use for bigger stuff but it was the best looking forge I have seen.  Enjoy.




















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I agree with John M.  It may not be authentic, but he is making an effort to provide something nice..... and it has a bellows and not a blower.  Maybe I am just mellowing in my old age, as seeing a bellows at a public historical demonstration tends to keep me calm now-adays.  :D

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