Blacksmithing is a difficult skill to master, and an even more difficult trade to learn. The terminology used in blacksmithing is often confusing for beginners because of the large number of different words that are used. This blog post will serve as a guide to some of the most common terms you might come across when learning about this art form!
- The Anvil: The anvil is the most important tool a blacksmith will use. It is often the heaviest of all tools, and its weight lends stability when working with hot metal. The lower head may be either flat or concave for bending work.
- The Forge: A forge typically consists of four parts: fire-pot (or hearth), tuyere, ash box and the smithy. The fire-pot is where coal or coke burns to heat the metal in order to forge it. Tuyere provides air which cools the heated metal as well as fueling the fire.
- The Blacksmith’s Tong: A blacksmith’s tong is used for holding hot steel while shaping it with a hammer. There are three types of tongs that have been commonly seen throughout history: Gipsy Style, Full Grip and Half Grip
- Blackhammer (or Smith Hammer): One tool every beginner should invest in! This all purpose hammer can be used several different ways such as drawing out work from an iron bar by striking near one end or upsetting work at its center point.
- Drawing Out: Drawing out is the process of pulling metal from a rough shape into a long rod. This can be done by striking with an even force, in order to lengthen it without upsetting its form too much
- Upsetting: Upsetting is when you push down on one end of a piece of work and raise up on the other end so that it takes the new profile or dimension required by your hammer blows. A blacksmith will usually strike near one point while holding at another point for this action- causing pressure all along the surface
- Hardening & Tempering: In order to prevent metal from becoming brittle during forging, certain steps must be taken such as hardening and tempering. Hardening refers to heating until the metal is red-hot and then quenching it in water or a salt bath. Tempering refers to heating the work, usually until yellow hot, and allowing it to cool slowly
- Losing Your Heat: When crafting with metal for any length of time, you will inevitably lose your heat (i.e., the piece becomes too cold). To restore this heat back into the object being worked on, you must reharden by reheating until just below molten state
- Quench: Quench refers to rapidly cooling an iron bar so that further work can be done without oxidation occurring due to a rapid rise in temperature from forging. This method was often performed by immersing hot items into water quickly after drawing them out through the forge.