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I Forge Iron

What did you do in the shop today?


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Didn't get to forge this weekend, but I did get to spend the weekend babysitting the Grandson.  9 months old and is getting very mobile.  The cats learned to keep out of his way.  Now I'm REALLY tired.  Oh well.  Won't be too long until I get to re do my Zoo membership once again.

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Last grinding accident I had,  we went to the Urgent Care for our HMO and I went through 2 nurses and a Dr examining it and telling me "Well there is nothing here to suture!"; *then*  getting it washed and bandaged.

As a frequenter of scrapyards and dumping sites; I keep my tetanus up to date *before* I have to go in with an injury!

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I had the opposite, once tried to open a cardbord box with my knife. Went pretty good until I found they had used wood on the inside to sturdy everything up. Cut the piece between my thumb and pointer about an inch deep, looked at the sting I felt in my hand and was greeted by Metacarpals nr. 2 who was just starting to get adjusted by the light....

So, there I am, staying pretty calm, on colleague turning white and another going into a panic. Another one grabbing a clean rag to wrap my hand and take me to the emergency center, first person who unwraps my hand is all cheerful "most of those cuts we can just glue..... Nope, your going to need stitches hunny"

4 stitches later, anesthesia that did nothing and waiting for 30 min for someone to bandage up my hand only to find out you get fired for not being able to work for about 2 weeks...

Do you have no general practitioner (google told me that is what you call a house doctor" you can just visit? Those are pretty good over here for just small stuff.

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I know that work issue for injuries at work and at home.  I once was working a spring in the forge not realizing there was a zinc based fitting inside it, took a small splash of zinc on my hand for a burn.  Working in a factory they told me that since I did it at home they wouldn't put me on light duty.  So it got tore open working on the line every shift for a couple of weeks.  Made the scar much more impressive!

Different job: I was in IT and was opening a box of computer equipment with my too sharp pocket knife and it *zipped* through the glass reinforced tape and across my thumb.  I went to the plant Dr and they treated it like it was a critical injury, 4 stiches instead of a couple of butterfly bandages, multiple visits to inspect it and "the Talk" from my Boss, who was embarrassed as he knew I was a knife maker...The interesting thing was the last inspection visit I had belly pains and mentioned it to the Dr; he told me to take an aspirin and some heartburn liquid and get back to work---I had a gangrenous appendix removed later that day having not followed his instructions and gone to my personal Dr instead.

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I was under the impression ancestral Iron was made my smashing iron rich ore rocks and heating in bloomery.  As charcoal is added and higher heats are obtained more ore is added and charcoal carbon is chemically mixed with iron to make primitive steel, then billet then sword.

wikipedia:

A bloomery consists of a pit or chimney with heat-resistant walls made of earth, clay, or stone. Near the bottom, one or more pipes (made of clay or metal) enter through the side walls. These pipes, called tuyeres', allow air to enter the furnace, either by natural draught or forced with bellows or a trompe. An opening at the bottom of the bloomery may be used to remove the bloom, or the bloomery can be tipped over and the bloom removed from the top.

The first step taken before the bloomery can be used is the preparation of the charcoal and the iron ore. Charcoal is nearly pure carbon which both produces the high temperature needed for the smelting process and provides the carbon required for the steel alloy.

The ore is broken into small pieces and usually roasted in a fire to remove any moisture in the ore. Any large impurities in the ore can be crushed and removed. Since slag from previous blooms may have a high iron content, it can also be broken up and recycled into the bloomery with the new ore.

In operation, the bloomery is preheated by burning charcoal, and once hot, iron ore and additional charcoal are introduced through the top, in a roughly one-to-one ratio. Inside the furnace, carbon monoxide from the incomplete combustion of the charcoal reduces the iron oxides in the ore to metallic iron, without melting the ore; this allows the bloomery to operate at lower temperatures than the melting temperature of the ore. As the desired product of a bloomery is iron which is easily forgeable, it requires a low carbon content. The temperature and ratio of charcoal to iron ore must be carefully controlled to keep the iron from absorbing too much carbon and thus becoming unforgeable. Cast iron occurs when the iron absorbs 2% to 4% carbon. Because the bloomery is self-fluxing the addition of limestone is not required to form a slag.

The small particles of iron produced in this way fall to the bottom of the furnace, where they combine with molten slag, often consisting of fayalite, a compound of silicon, oxygen and iron mixed with other impurities from the ore. The mixed iron and slag cool to form a spongy mass referred to as the bloom. Because the bloom is highly porous, and its open spaces are full of slag, the bloom must later be reheated and beaten with a hammer to drive the molten slag out of it. Iron treated this way is said to be wrought (worked), and the resulting iron, with reduced amounts of slag, is called wrought iron or bar iron. It is also possible to produce blooms coated in steel by manipulating the charge of and air flow to the bloomery.

As the era of modern commercial steelmaking began, the word bloom was extended to another sense referring to an intermediate-stage piece of steel, of a size comparable to many traditional iron blooms, that was ready to be further worked into billet.

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Wil, I was part of a bloomery team for about a decade building and running a Y1K short stack Scandinavian bloomery  at Pennsic  each year.  Our leads presented a paper on their research at the IronMasters conference.

That Wiki article only describes the Direct Process of making Wrought Iron; the Indirect Processes, like Puddling, also can produce blooms; but without the bloomery. (I was at Coalbrookdale when the Blists Hill  museum was siting in the steam hammer for shingling the puddling  blooms when they were installing the last commercial Wi factory in England in their museum.)

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They almost appear to be moving. Good work there. 
 

The main problem with my cut is missing skin. The thumb still functions as it did before. I will just keep it wrapped and clean. Same thing the doc would do, but $75 cheaper. 

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Mr. Powers, what an amazing experience it must had been to participate at Pennsic all those years.  Did your Scandinavian team build the bloomery from scratch each year?  I am curious about the short stack build, any pics?  Even better is if you have a link to the ironmaster research paper, would love to read it?  

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Thomas, thanks for the corrections. 

I hate grinder cuts. Not only a cut but burn like... I ran the back of my hand through a surface grinder once. HOOOH doggy did that hurt. 

Got 7 stitches once with no anesthetic. As the doctor was putting in the last one he sadi something about being quick so the anesthetic the nurse gave me does not wear off. i said What nurse? He looked at me kind of puzzled and asked if she came in and gave me a shot? i said nope. He offered one but i said ya done put 6 in may as well finish. 

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Had someone at work jokingly request a heart shaped spoon. I thought it would be a good challenge though so I gave it a shot. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get a spoon shape I was happy with without some kind of swage so I did the spoon part first - mistake. Brass brushed the heart and then let the temper colors stay on the stem instead of going all black since it’s quite a girly piece lol. Made a touch mark as well with the initial of my last name. Going to redo it but at least I have some kind of identifier in the mean time. I really need to work on smoothing everything out at the anvil and removing ugly hammer marks. Being pretty new to this I get excited when something starts to resemble what I’m going for and I start skipping steps. 

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Pat, I have found when making spoons that you need more material for the bowl.  You can either upset the end to get the bowl material or start with larger stock and draw out the handle.  I have never decided which is better/easier.  I lean towards the larger stock method because smaller sizes are harder to upset.  There may be a combination of using both methods.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Scandinavian Short Stack was the type of the viking era bloomery style; we all were from different parts of USA. Yes we built a new one each year and in the beginning we would dig the clay out of a local creek bed---with out hands. Standing  up to waist deep in muddy water wearing our Medieval Grungies (tm).  At the beginning we were lucky to get enough iron for fishhooks; by the end 15# blooms were common.  Air handling was all done manually.  We did an experiment with twinned single action bellows to start, took a bunch of people to trade off and one to pour water when sparks rained down on the bellows thrall.  (We went on to a hand crank blower, 6+ hours of continuous hand cranking with pretty good back pressure for a typical run.)  We were able to source charcoal from a commercial manufacturer in 40# bags and used a range of ores.  I don't have any pictures as it's been  17+ years since I moved out here and several computer crashes.  Towards the end we were building the bloomery from a cob mix: 3 shovelfuls of silty sandy dirt, 2 head sized bunches of chopped straw, 1 shovelful of dried powdered clay and way too little water hand mixed to make a muddy straw looking composite that we could build by hand and start baking out with a small fire in the base almost as soon as we finished the build!.

The IronMasters Conference was held in Athens OH that year, (AKA Historic Ironmaking Conference and associated with the Society for Industrial Archeology group)  I'm trying to remember the details but the TBI is fighting me.

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It's been a few years but there was a series of programs on: Nat Geo, History or PBS channels about making iron in Scandinavia. The programs were produced by or in conjunction with one or more colleges. There were a number of sources discussed and demonstrated: mined ore, bog iron, traded ore and peat. They only discussed trading for refined iron and steel as being prohibitively expensive for anyone who wasn't wealthy.

The blooms produced from ore went pretty much as expected. Break up the ore and roast it.6-8 hours of continuous blast in the waist high bloomery, checking and finally breaking it out to be refined on a boulder with a section of log as a hammer. 

Sourcing iron from peat involved tending a sort of bloomery shaped fire pit probably a meter wide and waist high for days. One comment was historically keeping peat burns going for weeks or longer.

It was an interesting program on so many counts only the time and effort of mining your iron directly from peat REALLY stuck in my memory. Possible and used but far from the chosen or a common method. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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41 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

we would dig the clay out of a local creek bed---with out hands.

Was it only digging the clay or did you have to leave your hands at home for the whole process? :lol:

Cant believe Frosty missed that.

 

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You realize that the Tatara furnace used to produce metal for traditional Japanese swordforging is a bloomery!

It seems to be more in favour in the USA than the Scandinavian version.  However may I commend to your attention a variation on the "traditional" round short stack ones were tried :

http://iron.wlu.edu/Bloomery_Iron.htm

Also "The Mastery and Uses of Fire in Antiquity" Rehder has plans for a modern "foolproof bloomery" in it's appendixes.

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That'll be attractive, I was thinking about how much "Cactus Juice" it'd take. That's the brand name of heat cure epoxy resin used to stabilize wood for knife handles. 

Dad made a couple few coffee tables from slabs of semi precious stones. Yours is going to remind me of the petrified wood table. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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I was digging through this blog looking for more information on bloomery and someone recommended checking out this guy.  Wow!  link removed His research papers are especially interesting.

Forging totally from scratch from ore to axe.  Converting iron oxide to iron and adding carbon to iron in a fire.  There are a lot of copper and gold mines here in northern washington.  Ideas are flowing.

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