I have a coal fire burning in my forge. We use a forge grade coal and on its own it gets pretty hot, but it doesn’t quite get hot enough for my purposes. I need to get the steel extremely hot. I need to get it up somewhere in the vicinity of about 2,000 degrees.
So what I’m doing is I’m using this device right here called a blower. It blows air on my fire. When I turn this crank, it activates two gears in this box which turns a fan in this casing back here and spins around and generates air which is forced down through the pipe and up into the bottom of the fire where it makes the fire hotter.
This device was invented about 1850, so by the late 1800s, a smith would have this in his shop.
So I add more air to my fire which means more oxygen, which means the coal combusts at a higher rate, which means I get more energy, which means I get more heat, which means my streel gets hotter, which means it gets softer, which means I can work it a little easier.
And that’s what I’m after. Somewhere in the vicinity of around 2,000 degrees and the only reason I know that is because of the color.
Now I hit it between my hammer and my anvil and that flattens it out. The hammer flattens one side while the anvil flattens the other. Then I turn it 90 degrees at a time and that way I’m working all four sides of it equally and that’s what draws the metal down, basically, so I’m making it longer and thinner.
You can see already it moved pretty well, a little thinner than it was when I started. This is close to the diameter that I’m going for. I actually need to bring it down a little bit more. If you can see up here where it started.
And I’ll just keep continuing this process until it gets down to where I want it to be. So back in the fire it goes.
The expression that I’m sure everyone is familiar with “you got to strike while the iron is hot.” Well for me, it’s a literal expression. That’s where it comes from because you can see it cools down really, really quickly. It’s not glowing the way it was.
As soon as I pull it out of the fire, it starts to give up that heat to the air. When I put it on my anvil, my anvil absorbs heat, my hammer absorbs heat. The more I work it, the faster, the smaller it gets, the thinner it gets, the faster it gives up that heat so I have to work really, really fast.