FORGED BY HAND
MADE TO LAST
How it works
Each piece is unique
Each piece we make at The Forge starts as a simple bar of steel, we then heat and work these bars until they have reached the correct size, shape and style.
Simple forms, clean lines and functionality; these are the foundations of our work.
Making objects that are built to last is extremely important to us at The Forge and we hope that you get many years of use, and pleasure, from our utensils.
What is forging?
To shape metal by heating in a fire and hammering
To start to understand the life of a blacksmith one has to start to understand the process to which he or she dedicates their life, the fundamental practice that they work at on a daily basis.
FORGING – “to shape metal by heating in a furnace and hammering.”
This is the very heart of the blacksmiths art – to take the steel to the correct temperature in the forge, place it on the anvil and to strike repeatedly until the metal has cooled and then returned to the fire for more heat.
Heat, strike, repeat!
A smith can spend many hours at a time, or even days and weeks, repeatedly heating and striking until the desired shape is reached.
Temperature and hammering technique are, in my opinion, the two most fundamental skills to that anyone will need to lean to be able to progress in the smithy. Of these two temperature is probably the most crucial thing to master and for this the smith gauges by colour, not with a thermometer but by eye (and plenty of experience!).
Steel starts to become soft (or plasticised) at around 650 degrees C (dark red) but is not truly ready to forge until it is 850 degrees C (bright orange) and is ideally forged at 1000 degrees C (bright yellow) for the most efficient results. Yes it is possible to forge steel at low temperatures (unless it is high carbon) but the difference in 150 degrees to its plasticity is huge. However over heating the steel will result in it burning and becoming useless – this happens at around 1250 degrees C. So reaching the right heat for a particular operation is crucial and considering that the smith might strike 20-30,000 times a day something they want to get this right!
There is a saying ‘Blacksmiths go to hell for two reasons, not charging enough and striking black steel’. Given the amount of time spent striking steel it is also vital that the smith learns good technique and good posture for forging. They will be standing well balanced with dominant leg forward, close to the anvil, holding the hammer lightly near the centre of the handle and ready to strike when the steel is hot enough.
The action required for a good strike sees the hammer head lifted up to the level of the ear and then, using shoulder, elbow and then wrist is struck onto the hot steel. Accuracy is lessened the higher the hammer head is lifted so a lighter, more accurate strike is more effective than a heavy misplaced blow.
Holding the hammer handle lightly (in a pinch grip) also enables more control and helps a faster strike (increasing velocity and therefore force), although this ‘whipping’ technique can take many years to master it will eventually becomes second nature.
Each blacksmith develops their own style after a time and this is a very personal thing – no two smiths will have the same style and it can become a sort of trade mark for some people.
Forging is about rhythm and learning ones own way of working, there are no right ways (although there are plenty of wrong ways) to hit a piece of hot metal if the correct results are achieved. Some stand with the anvil horn pointing left or, like myself, they stand with it pointing right (obviously the correct way!). Some use heavy 5lbs sledge hammers and some use custom made 2lbs Swedish patterns …… some only ever use a power hammer!!
There are as many styles as there are smiths but the important thing is to develop your own way and to take the time to understand how your body works and how you forge.