Blacksmithing & Metal Working

Forge

Home-Made Forge

Keen to try black-smithing, I decided to make my own home-made forge. The basic materials are an old metal bucket, a metal colander and rivets or nuts/bolts.

First the bucket needs a hole around 1/3 from the bottom to allow an air flow to be forced in. Although most coal or charcoal forges are bottom draft - they feed the air up from the bottom, side-draft (the air is fed in from the side) like mine, is an option.

The colander is simply bolted or riveted to the top of the bucket. I cut a notch in the colander to allow the heating metal rod to rest without rolling.

For my first attempt, I have used barbeque charcoal and generally found the result very satisfactory.

 

Bronze Rapier Casting

In 2007 I was lucky enough to work with Neil Burridge to cast a bronze Rapier at Hinchingbrooke. I have previously worked with him on two occasions before in Cornwall casting Pewter bracelets - pewter is an alloy (meaning it is composed of more than one metal). Most modern pewter is composed of 96% tin and 4 % copper although there are variations. It is a soft bright metal and can be shaped easily by hand tools. Due to its low melting point (approximately 230°c) it is ideal for casting.

The Bronze Age is considered to be the second stage of a three-age system for prehistoric societies in Britain from around 2100 to 750 BC; following the stone age (more specifically "Neolithic" or New Stone Age) and before the Iron Age.

The actual place and time of the first use of bronze is not really known - some believe that bronzing was invented independently in the Maykop culture in the North Caucasus as far back as the mid 4th millennium BC.

The greatest quantities of bronze objects found in England were discovered as part of the Isleham Hoard in 1959 where more than 6500 objects were recovered in Isleham (near Ely in East Cambridgeshire). The hoard consisted of swords, spear-heads, arrows, axes, palstaves, knives, daggers, armour, decorative equipment (in particular for horses) and many fragments of sheet bronze. Most of these objects are at the Moyse's Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds, while other items are at West Stow and in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge

 

First the hearth was made ready by adding charcoal. The hearth is of fire-hardened clay.

Within a short time, it is well alight. The white objects on the hearth are the fire-hardened moulds, put there to heat up gradually.

Neil is working hard to get the hearth to the right temperature (about 1000°c) by using the bellows. We were working in the Roundhouse that was on site in Hinchingbrooke.

The bronze (typically 90% copper and 9% tin alloy & trace elements like lead) is heated in a crucible

Here we are pouring the molten bronze into the moulds and in around 1 hour, it will be cool enough to work on.

I am cleaning (or chasing) the rapier blade to remove all the casting marks and slight imperfections to get a polished surface

The polished blade

What is should look like when finished

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