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I Forge Iron

Engineering a blacksmith's shop

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It's bottom blast that is recent. Viking forges were side blast as seen by the bellows stone.

I'm assuming they want it period appropriate:

First get your requirements: is this to be a general plantation shop or were they making something specific---like Thomas Jefferson's nail making shop? Many plantations had small industries as part of them. Forge design is totally dependant on what you will be doing in it---a good bladesmithing set up is a terrible one to make railings in.

Second see if there are any information on smithing in their archives---when someone dies they often made a complete list of everything they owned as part of the legal aspects. It's great to have posted such a list and be able to point at the "tools" listed.

Third You are in the same state as Williamsburg which has spend decades researching smithing around that timeperiod---go pick their brains and look over their research!!!!!!!!!!!

While Diderot's Encyclopedia is from the right timeperiod is is continental in aspect and not appropriate for a colonial venue. Moxon's Mechanics Exercises is a bit early for you being published in 1703 but written a bit earlier.

"Bond of Iron" a nonfiction book about an iron smelting company that ran near Lexington VA from 1812 to the Civil War would be a good one to suggest staff read as it covers much detail on the use of slaves alongside of free workers. (I saw a copy on abebooks.com for US$1)

Definitely a colonial pattern anvil, barring that a 19th century Mousehole as looking close.

Safe distance 2 feet to 25 feet depending on what is being done. Note children, being shorter, need to be farther away than adults to be safe and any barrier for crowds *must* be designed to prevent children from climbing on it or through it. If possible have people watching from *higher* than the smith. Forge welding is probably the most dangerous activity and if you restrict that to when folks are not around you can move people closer.

Period forge construction? There are several sites where discusssions on building forges period to 1000 years earlier than when you are interested in have occured; however I don't recall any but discussions of portable artillery forges for army use for your time period.

Note that you will most likely be burning lump charcoal if you are trying to be period accurate. Use a forge design for charcoal and not for coal. (Of course to be accurate you should be using wrought iron and blister or shear steel and not modern steels!)

If the anvil is securely mounted in a period fashon---to a end of a log burried 4-6 feet in the ground it should be fairly secure. OTOH since most colonial anvils are pretty small it could be moved into wherever the tools are being stored and brought out as needed. I bought a damaged anvil---no heel or hardy hole to leave out where it was more likely to be subject to theft. Nobody seems to have wanted it yet, (inner city Columbus OH and rural NM)

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I work with Fort Loudoun in Vonore, TN.
We are F&I War, 1756-60, British garrison (Independant Company of South Carolina, Charlestown)

Check out the pictures in my Fort Loudoun gallery:

Fort Loudoun pictures

We got a colonial repro anvil from Jymm Hoffman, and it is really nice.

Our masonry was done in the early 1980's based on existing documentation. If we had it to do now, it would probably look a little different.

We use a double action bellows in the side bast configuration and charcoal as fuel.

Here's a picture of my #1 teacher at the forge:

Steve at the forge


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