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Blacksmithing Terms and definitions

The art of the blacksmith is an old art. And this also means that a lot of the old terms and definitions are still used. This adds a bit of medieval flavor to the whole art! But it also means, as in any other art or pursuit, you have to learn a whole new set of words, terms and definitions. I have put together a list here to help you understand the major stuff when it comes to blacksmithing.

 

Forge - The setup for burning coal at a very high temperature in order to heat metal to a temperature that makes it malleable. A forge, if indoors or partially enclosed will have some kind of vent set up to guide the smoke and ash away from the blacksmith. And a forge has some kind of a blower that will blow air onto the hot coals (from underneath). This flow of air will raise the temperature of the coals. The picture below shows a home made forge. It was welded together from various parts. The actual pan that the fire sits in is the deck from a lawn mower. The green tube protruding from the underside is attached to the blower. You can see more about this forge The Making of a Forge

A home made forge

Anvil - A large metal object that a blacksmith uses to hammer on.

Hardy Hole (alternate spelling: Hardie Hole) - This is a hole in the top of the anvil that you can insert tools into. These tools are called Hardy Tools. And they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. These hardy holes vary in size depending on the size of the anvil. The arrow in the picture below shows the hardy hole.

The Hardy Hole

 

  • Borax - This is a commonly available cleaning compound that comes in powder form. It is used by blacksmiths as a flux to help in the process of forge welding.
  • Pritchel Hole - A round hole on the top surface of the anvil that is used as a punch so you can punch holes through metal.
  • Tongs - a hand held tool that is used to pick up and hold hot metal.
  • Drawing out - Extending the length of a piece of metal. This is done by heating and hammering.
  • Forging - the art and skill of heating metal and hammering it into shape and form.
  • Forge Welding - Heating two or more pieces of metal to the melting point where they will be joined together into a single piece of metal. They become homogenous.
  • Farrier - A blacksmith who specializes is shoeing horses and oxen.

 

Forge welding steel

This picture shows two pieces of steel being forge welded together. You have to get all the pieces of metal up to a very high temperature for a successful forge weld. They become one piece.

I have a youtube video on forge welding right here

 

A closer look at some blacksmithing tools

An interesting thing about blacksmithing tools is that it is an ever changing topic and because you are blacksmithing you can make up a tool to fit your specific need. There are literally an unlimited number of tools you can custom make to fit your needs. But I will give you an overview of some of the more basic ones.

Some Common Definitions:

Annealing - The process of heating up a metal so it is softer and malleable, able to be worked on the forge. Typically this is about 2/3rds of the melting point of the metal. With steel it is 50F above the temperature of final ferrite stability.

bolster in a knife

Bolster - A small piece of metal or wood on a knife where the blade meets the handle. The picture above shows a bolster.

A fuller in a sword

Fuller - A groove down the length of a blade and usually on both sides. It makes the blade lighter and stronger with less whipping action upon swinging. The picture above shows a fuller in a Japanese Katana.

scake flaking off the  steel

Scale - This is a layer of oxides that forms a black coating on the steel as it is heated. Hammering the steel breaks this off in flakes and it is easily brushed off with a wire brush..

 

Types of welded joints used in blacksmithing (There are many types of welded joints. These are the three basic and most common:

Scarf Welding - This is a technique of welding two pieces of metal together where the joint is angular.

Butt Welding - The Parts are butted together

Lap Welding - The Parts are overlapped.