Blacksmithing Techniques and Processes
– The term ‘blacksmith’ refers to the black firescale that forms on the metal during heating.
– Blacksmiths shape metal by heating it in a forge using fuels like propane, natural gas, coal, charcoal, coke, or oil.
– Color is important for indicating the temperature and workability of the metal.
– Smithing techniques include forging, welding, heat-treating, and finishing.
Forging is the process of shaping metal by hammering, without removing material.
– Common forging operations include drawing down, shrinking, bending, upsetting, swaging, punching, and forge welding.
– Bending is done by heating the metal and using a hammer or bending fork.
– Upsetting makes the metal thicker in one dimension through shortening in the other.
– Punching is used to create decorative patterns or make holes in the metal.
– The five basic forging processes are often combined to produce finished products.
– Welding is the joining of the same or similar kind of metal.
– Blacksmiths have a range of options and tools for welding.
– The basic types of welding commonly used in a modern workshop include forge welding, oxyacetylene welding, and arc welding.
– Finishing a piece may involve breaking off scale, brushing with a wire brush, shaping with files, heat treatment, case-hardening, and further shaping and polishing with grinding stones, abrasive paper, and emery wheels.

Blacksmith’s Materials
– When iron ore is smelted into usable metal, a certain amount of carbon is usually alloyed with the iron.
Cast iron has a high carbon content, making it easily cast but brittle and unsuitable for blacksmithing.
– Tool steel has a carbon content between 0.25% and 2% and can be heat treated.
Wrought iron, with a low carbon content, was traditionally the material of choice for blacksmiths.
– Blacksmiths may also incorporate materials such as bronze, copper, or brass in artistic products.
– Aluminum and titanium can also be forged by the blacksmithing process.
– Each material responds differently under the hammer and requires separate study by the blacksmith.
– Blacksmiths may also use electrolytic-process pure iron as a substitute for wrought iron.

History, Mythology, and Cultural References
– Blacksmiths have been prominent figures in various mythologies and religious beliefs.
– Examples include Tvastar in Hindu mythology, Hephaestus in Greek and Roman mythology, Goibhniu and Gofannon in Celtic mythology, Kurdalægon/Tlepsh in Nart mythology, Wayland Smith in Anglo-Saxon mythology, and Ogun in Yoruba mythology.
– The artist William Blake used the blacksmith as a motif in his mythology, depicted in his poem ‘Jerusalem.’
– Seppo Ilmarinen, known as the Eternal Hammerer, is a blacksmith and inventor in Finnish mythology.
– Tubal-Cain is mentioned in the Bible as the original smith.

Pre-Iron Age Metalworking
– Gold, silver, and copper were the first metals worked by humans due to their malleability.
– Techniques such as smelting, casting, and riveting were developed for copper and bronze during the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age.
– Bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, offered advantages over copper in terms of hardness and resistance to corrosion.
– Bronze could be hardened by cold working techniques such as localized stress-cycling and grinding.
– Bronze artifacts are more likely to survive compared to iron artifacts due to their corrosion resistance.

Iron Age and Iron Discoveries
– Iron artifacts made of meteoric iron, containing up to 40% nickel, have been found but were rare due to the scarcity of meteoric iron.
– The Hittites of Anatolia discovered or developed iron smelting around 1500 BC, maintaining a near monopoly on iron production for centuries.
– The knowledge of iron production spread when the Hittite empire collapsed around 1200 BC.
– Inughuit, northern Greenlandic Inuit, were found making iron knives from large nickel-iron meteors during the early 20th century polar exploration.Sources: