The process of blacksmithing commenced around the 16th Century about the 1500’s BC when the Hittites, an Indo European people located around Syria and Lebanon first discovered the ability to extract metal from the ore that it was contained in. The Hittites who belonged to the Bronze Age were the predecessors to the Iron Age as the developed the manufacturing process of iron, known today as smelting. Metals such as silver, iron, copper and other base metals were extracted and the metal used in tools.
Blacksmithing is the very hard physical process of heating iron ore to such an extent that the metal becomes malleable enough in order to be able to be worked with a hammer and an anvil to shape and bend and create tools.
As is common in viewing movies the blacksmiths we see throughout history made metal products from swords to shoes for horses and metal parts for carriages. So the blacksmith was a critical artisan in any community.
Blacksmiths today don’t need to make swords but are heavily involved in supporting many industries to allow manufacturing and mining and construction processes to roll on. Very often specific tools are required to be made for a machine to be serviced or for an industrial application to lift or demolish.
The rail and mining industry typically require many custom forging tools to be made by blacksmiths and of course today these operations are much more sophisticated than when blacksmiths first started over 3000 years ago. Blacksmiths make tools like metal hooks for lifting too heavy industrial tongs used to lift sleepers in the rail industry to lifting tools for utility companies that need to lift metal plates on footpaths to access underground cabling under streets and to domestic applications such as making iron gates.
Blacksmiths still use the hammer and anvil along with other more sophisticate methods to forge the metal products that are required today. Firstly the Blacksmith must heat the iron to a workable level and wait till the metal achieves the correct temperature for working with. Iron will pass through four color levels from red to yellow to yellow-orange and finally white before melting. The Blacksmith needs the yellow-orange level to work in, and then they will forge the metal into the shapes that are required using the hammer and the anvil. After the forging process, the metal is cooled in a container with water or brine or oil known as the slack tub.