A Look at a Blacksmithed Item
Blacksmithing is an interesting topic. I, and many other people, maybe even you have given some thought to taking some classes and learning a bit about this medieval art form. Here is a little bit about it. If you are interested in the art of blacksmithing I also have a complete section with videos pictures and a guide to blacksmithing
I have a friend who took a blacksmithing class, which is a rather interesting subject and something I have always wanted to do. He has loaned me an item that he made in the class and told me a little bit about it.
This is the thing he made. It's not a sword. To make a sword is out of the realm of an introductory course to blacksmithing. But he did learn some interesting things about the whole process. This is a fire poker of sorts and the blacksmith had him make this because it shows several of the different tools and processes that a real blacksmith uses.
First off, the Metal used is Iron. Just plain old Iron and you wouldn't make a sword out of something like this, although there was a thousand year period in the past when they did. Since then we have better metals and better technologies for making swords.
This Tool Started out as just a cylilndrical piece of Iron. Think of it as like a thin broomstick handle.
You can see the cylindrical shape of the bar in the lower left hand corner of this picture.
But notice as you move up the bar it flattens out. This is the basic process and the first tool of blacksmithing. The Blacksmith heated the bar, placed it on the anvil and hammered a flat spot. Exactly what you think of when thinking about blacksmithing.
But this isn't all that can be done with a bar of steel. You can see here in this picture that the end of the bar was hammered flat too, but it is also split. This is an interesting process and it was done by heating the end then placing it on the anvil and using a wedge cutting tool that was hammered the end was split into two halves. This is very similiar to what you would do if you split a log in half. You put a wedge and then hit it with a hammer.
The above picture was of the handle end of the tool. This picture shows the business end of the tool and that it was too split in the same way. The interesting thing here is that you can see once it is split you can also hammer the split ends into cylinders once again.
Iron that is heated to the right temperature is very malleable and can be shaped in many ways. Think of it as similar to modeling clay.
There are many different things you can do with iron, as a blacksmith and another technique demonstrated on this tool is the twist. The center of the bar was heated and the bar was twisted one full turn. The person who made this tool said that this is only one full twist. It looks like it's been twisted more but it's only one full turn.
Notice how the twist has a nice sharp and defined edge to it. This is because before twisting it was hammered into a square shape first.
Some Interesting Notes from the Creator of this Blacksmithing Fire Poker
He remarked that he was really surprised to learn that an anvil is much more than we think of. We usually think of the anvil as the flat part that is hammered on. But the other end, the pointy end of the anvil is used quite a lot. This is where you create lots of shapes and where you do a lot of the molding of the piece into exactly what you want.
This is well displayed by this picture of the handle end of the poker. See the curved lines? you couldn't just grab this with pliers and bend it. You used the curved nose end of the anvil to gently hammer this into shape.
He also said that working with Iron takes some practice and a keen eye for the metal. You can't just stick it in the forge and heat it up. You have to monitor it and get it to the right temperature. And keep it at the right temperature while you work on it. One of the things you have to be conscious of is overheating of the metal.
He showed me small parts on the surface of the poker that had a flaky look to them. This, he said, is due to a bit of overheating.
You can't really see the flaking clearly but by this picture you can get a sense of the graininess of the bar where it is flaky. This isn't a thick flake it is just a very thin and light layer. But it is indicative of overheating.
Blacksmithing, overall is a very fascinating pursuit and there are still plenty of blacksmiths out there that supply handmade items such as swords and other weapons. I plan on taking a course on this and I have another friend who is considering building a blacksmith forge in his backyard. I will keep you posted on any further blacksmith developments.
Would you like to learn about blacksmithing? I have a section of my website all about the art and craft of blacksmithing
Ever Wanted to Actually forge a sword for real? I have done it and I created a series of youtube videos showing you exactly how to do it from start to finish, raw piece of steel to polished sword. The first video is right here: How to Forge a Sword
I have a whole series of videos on the art and craft of blacksmithing. Check them out right here:
RESOURCES AND MORE
There is an increasing interest and revival in the art of blacksmithing as a hobby and art, and both men and women are becoming at-home blacksmiths. Blacksmithing is a simple, rewarding craft anyone can enjoy in their backyard or home workshop -- even beginners can produce useful and beautiful projects on their first try.
The perfect tour guide to the world's most fascinating castles and strongholds.
New: A look inside the blacksmith shop of a medieval castle. I took a trip to a medieval castle, which was pretty cool. And the castle of course had a blacksmithery including a built in forge. Here is some information about it and some pictures. A medieval blacksmith's shop inside a castle.
If you are interested in learning more about blacksmithing you may want to consider picking up a book on the subject. I have put together a nice store in association with Amazon.com The Blacksmith's Bookstore