Farm Blacksmithing

by J.M.Drew St. Paul Publishing Company 1918


Assuming that the beginner has the tools mentioned on the preceding pages, or at least the most necessary ones, forge, anvil, hammer, and tongs, let us start a fire. The first thing a blacksmith should try to learn is how to manage his fire so as to get the greatest heat just where he wants it, with the least waste of fuel.

Bend Steel to Form an Eye Figure 5

Start a fire by using pine shavings, or any material which would make good kindling for a fire in a cook stove. After getting a good blaze started, pack a little coal around, not upon, the kindling, so that it will take fire slowly. Now begin to blow gently. After having bad a fire in the forge there will always be coke which may be used instead of coal in starting the fire; but for the first time we are supposed to have only wood and blacksmith's coal. Remember that coal should never be placed upon the fire, but around it. After being near the fire for a short time it is changed to coke by having all its sulphur and other impurities burned out of it. By continually packing the coal about the fire and crowding it toward the center the blacksmith keeps' a supply of coke burning in the middle of his fire, where he needs the most heat, and prevents the fire from spreading. It is often of advantage to wet the coal about the fire in order to pack it harder and thus keep the fire confined to the middle.

Your fire will now present the appearance of a mound of coal with a center of burning coke, and more or less of an opening in the middle through which the blast is coming. Experience will soon show how much blast should be given. The stronger the blast the greater the heat up to the limit where the coke in the middle of the fire begins to be lifted out of place. As a first lesson in blacksmithing, let us make a poker with which to manage our fire. Take a piece of half inch round iron about two feet long. Heat one end to a white heat for a distance of about three inches, and bend in the form of an eye See Fig. 5. Now heat the other end and flatten about four inches and bend as shown in the cut.