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I Forge Iron

How blacksmithing works?

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I am looking to get some information on blacksmithing. I don't know a whole lot about the steps involved to get from raw metal to finished product. The reason I am asking is because I have always been fascinated by and admired the work produced by blacksmiths. I basically am looking for a generic workflow of what you do to produce an item. I'm assuming this may be drastically different depending on the material used and the item being crafted. If anyone feels they can break it down for me that would be great.

I'm especially interested in traditional techniques. I realize new technology has probably altered the process to some degree. Also if anyone knows of a good website with info about traditional smithing that would be great as well. This is mostly just to satisfy my own curiousity. I don't plan to actually take up the skill as I lack the time and resources. :)

Any details would be much appreciated.

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1. Heat it.

2. Beat it.

3. Repeat steps 1 thru 2.


Sorry... couldn't resist.

Seriously though, you are at the right place. Jump on over to the www.iforgeiron.com side and dig in. There is a ton of good and useful information here. Be sure to check out the Blueprint section.

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Blacksmithing is simplified into 3 steps:

* Get it hot,

* Hit it hard,

* Quit when you finish.

Blacksmiths have always used whatever tools and materials that were available to make the work faster and easier. There are several traditionalist on this forum that can explain the traditional techniques much better than I can.

As to the web sites, try Blacksmithforum.com where you ask questions and get answers from people that know what they are doing. Or Iforgeiron.com a good source for lots of information.

This is mostly just to satisfy my own curiousity. I don't plan to actually take up the skill as I lack the time and resources.

We all started blacksmithing by seeing it done, or being curious and trying to learn just a little. When you built a forge just to "try it out", be careful not to end up with a warehouse full of equiptment, then trying to convince your wife she needs to go to work to support your habit.
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Thanks for the link http://www.lucianaveryblacksmith.com/smithing.htm its just what I need I have watched all the videos several times and I hope it will improve my very very basic skills I dont suppose there is any more streaming videos or can anyone recomend a video top but as I need a little help being out in the sticks I can not a blacksmiths course so have to learn by myself and Im struggling especially on heating any part of the metal except the end as everytime I pull the work out of the forge it rips the fire to bits cheers RIK

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I'd break it down into

1: Figure out what you want to do (design)

2: scrounge the materials needed

3: Heat&beat

4: finish (filing wirebrushing painting, etc)

5: repeat

"Traditional" is a very loaded term in smithing---traditional to when? 1930's, 1830's, 1030's, 30's, -30's, -1030's ????

Generally the term is used for stuff that does not use arc or OA welding but rather mass manipulation, forge welding, collaring, riviting, mortoise and tennon, etc joinery

*BUT* the material commonly used for smithing nowdays, mild steels or A36 only dates to the last half of the 19th century with the commercialization of the Bessemer and open hearth processes. Prior to that Wrought Iron was actually made from a material that was called "Wrought iron"---just like today your bed and bath linens are actually made from cotton---but they used to be made from linen!

Real wrought iron is difficult to find nowdays and not too many smiths do much work in it.

One of the current smithing memes is the Neo-Tribals who try to bring smithing back to it's earliest roots---some even using stones for anvils and forges based on the simple "hole in the ground" there are a couple of Neo-Tribal forums out there.

Gotta go


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If your using coal as a fuel and working ends, pile it a little deeper and let it crust over forming a cave of sorts. You can gently blow air into the forge to get the interior up to temps but will have to add new coke into through the opening to keep enough fuel on the fire. You must have hot coals in contact with the metal in order to transfer heat. Otherwise you burn all the fuel inside the cave, get a large void, and little heat to the metal.

Another way to do the same thing is not let it crust together, but to keep the fire loose and broken up. You keep the volumn of the fire constant by continually dragging in new coke to replace what fuel has been consumed. Fire maintance is easily learned. You just have to keep the fire fueled, hot, and in good working order when needed as you forge. With this type fire, lay the middle of the metal in or across the fire and being loose, rake the fire over the metal. It will act like a blanket and hold heat against the metal.

Start wth a fireball the size of a grapefruit or some 4" in diameter at least, for a small fire. Larger or strange sizes may take a larger fire in order to fit the material and need. I made some tent stakes (1/2" stock) last night and had a 6" ball of fire, but I was running things a little hot, a fair volumn of electric blown air, and usually 6 pieces of metal in the coal fire at a time. But that is just my way on doing things. Your forge is different and your technique is designed around your forge.

I will let others explain their methods of fire maintance and how to locate the fires "sweet spot".

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"Traditional" is a very loaded term in smithing---traditional to when? 1930's, 1830's, 1030's, 30's, -30's, -1030's ????

Right, I didn't think about that. I guess the most interesting time for me would be bronze age and the transition to iron and steel later on. How the process was to make armor and weapons of the time and if the technique was vastly different for different types of metal. Also what other types of metal were used? These are all things that interest me and I'm hoping to learn more about. I guess some of this is more history than anything else and I suppose I'll have to look into learning about the different types of ores/metals.

I should probably narrow my focus down to a more specific time period :lol:
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Let me suggest that since your starting blacksmithing, start with todays metals, and forges you can build. Gain the experience in blacksmithing as you also study the "traditional" ways of doing things. No use looking for a glob of dirt and spending the time to form it into iron, when all you want to do is hit a piece of hot iron that can be purchased at the hardware store, or found in any junk yard, back yard, or along most any road or alley.

Nothing wrong with study, we all encourage you to do just that. But till you whack a piece of iron, bend a collar, or set a rivet, you can not appreciate the effort that went into the knowledge listed in the books. They did it first, and wrote about it second.

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