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Building a forge/ foundry (Carlsbad NM)


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Im planning on building a forge and foundry in my back yard. I want them to be as midevil as i can make it. I plan on making both out of brick and having it use coal (if you can make a coal foundry). Any suggestions?

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I'm sure Thomas Powers can point you to some good books on Medieval forging. If you do a little searching he has suggested them before on another post or 5. Just one quick post I dug up, scroll down to Thomas' post.

 

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7 hours ago, Chris Barber said:

Im planning on building a forge and foundry in my back yard. I want them to be as midevil as i can make it. I plan on making both out of brick and having it use coal

A forge and a furnace are two different animals, and have different needs, so building one unit is not practical, if you intended to have both types in the first place,

I also assume you meant medieval, and they didnt really have coal in Europe until the  the high renaissance  period, they used charcoal, 

There are many plans for a simple forge in the forge section of the site.  You need to be researching a bloomery.  I doubt they used much brick for building furnaces either. but I have been wrong before,

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medieval covers a long timespan, which part of it as things changed a lot ( a decade, or even a century helps )

which part of the world do you want to recreate as that can mean many things are different ( a country or better still a region of a country )

to do it accurately  you need to decide these things first or your research will be wasted

if you are researching " midevil " then you will not find much that is correct

you choice of coal and bricks shows that you actually need to do some proper research before wasting time and money on making the wrong things

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Chris: Please don't think we're just picking your ideas apart but you've posed your ideas to a group 47,000 strong, around the world from all walks of life and profession and I'm afraid you're operating under a modern American education.  Medieval means a whole lot more than old times. Copper age covers the early and maybe mid Egyptian dynasties. The iron dagger from Tutankhaman's tomb is meteoric, not refined by the dynasty. 

Humans were generally working iron and steel come medieval times though steel was precious as gold in many if not most cases. Humans were making and using steel a millennia before coal came into common use. 

We all have misconceptions and it can be tough to give up what we THINK for what is. I've never heard of copper armor from any period other than decorative pieces and dolls. 

Situations where a forge was used to melt metals were pretty rare, certainly not by craftsmen capable of doing high end work. Were you aware much of the copper that drove the bronze age is chemically identical to copper mined in Upper Michigan? Yeah, it was mined and smelted in N. America and traded to ancient Greece. Copper artifacts found in Central and South America are made with copper mined in Alaska, both Latouche Island and Kennicot deposits.  And guess what, S. American silver artifacts are found here. Humans have been trading a lot longer than recorded history.

The point of that is humans specialize, if there were any choice no craftsman would use the same furnace to both cast and forge with, it's just not economical. Think using deep sea fishing gear to fly fish for trout. A clever and resourceful enough person COULD do it but it'd be faster, cheaper and easier to just make another. 

Believe me we'll be more than happy to help you out but it has to be something workable. We're not going to help you waste time or heaven's forbid do something needlessly dangerous. Okay? Stick around Chris, we're pulling for you.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Medieval aesthetic vs. Medieval accuracy, I think, is the split point for most people. Historical recreation of methods, materials, tools, etc. is one thing. On the other hand, I think most people have an idea of a medieval aesthetic that appeals to them. 

If you find that a naturally lit space, devoid of electrical power, suited to a single craftsman  appeals to your sense of the medieval, by all means, go for it. Just know that history buffs are always going to point out the innumerable ways that picture is as far from medieval reality as it could be. It's definitely more fantasy genre smithing than true medieval forging. 

So, again, I'd suggest that if that aesthetic appeals to you, do it. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just not medieval in the historical sense.

If you want historical accuracy, there's help to be had. I'm not a history nut myself, but there's a few around... they'll point you in the right direction.

 

PS if I had a bunch of money and was going to build a themed shop it'd probably be something steampunky, or fantasy dwarvish. But that lets me have power hammers... B)

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3 hours ago, Exo313 said:

PS if I had a bunch of money and was going to build a themed shop it'd probably be something steampunky, or fantasy dwarvish. But that lets me have power hammers... B)

Good points all. I was mostly thinking copper as armor vs. any known period. 

So, money being no object, where might you locate your steampunk headquarters? 

Myself a steampunk Victorian dwarvin smith is almost a given. Steam Beard, Brazen Shield lives in the next manor down. My middle name is Alvin so I'd be of the bronze whistle clan of steam elves. Or . . . I like to write though sci fi is more my genre than fantasy. Steampunk is a happy meeting grounds.

Frosty The Lucky.

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at my place we do commissions of historically accurate pieces, one recently was a large 'Lead' (a vessel made from lead or copper or brass) this one was made of brass but not just any brass, it had to be a historically correct type then over 200 copper rivets with the right shaped heads and then soldered with a tin based solder as that is correct.

this vessel when filled up holds one third of a ton of water

we have made anvils and tools inspired by ones from the 11 century

 

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Chris I'm probably the closest medieval forging person to you and would be happy to help you out---I have a small library dedicated to historical smithing too.  Have you looked at the illuminations of smithing in "Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel", Gies & Gies, to get an idea of what was actually used in the European Medieval Period? You should be able to ILL it at the local public library...It also mentions when coal started being used---but note charcoal NEVER stopped being used. (real charcoal NOT briquettes!!!)

As for power'd hammers in Europe; the earliest one I have seen good documentation on was in the 900's (Medieval Technology Conference at Penn State several decades ago)

Now for the hard part: how many folks do you have to work in your smithy?  The smith being the only person in a smithy is very much a 20th century (motors!) and fantasy thing.

Anyway; decide on a where and when and I can help you research it.  I build a viking era forge from time to time when I have a bellows thrall available...

BTW are you in the SCA?

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