Jump to content


Photo

Early Medieval Forge Tools


  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 Julia Freeman

Julia Freeman
  • Members
  • 43 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Kent, UK
  • Interests:Anglo-Saxon and Norman history, Bladesmithing,

Posted 19 June 2012 - 01:30 PM

I am slowly muddling my way through the build of my Early Medieval Forge, picking up a few basic tools, and reading up to learn how to make the rest.

But my research is hitting dead ends. I am interested in the period 1000-1200 in the UK/North West Europe. The heaviest Hammer I can find from that period is about 1.5 lb. Which seems quite small for a lot of the work, when you consider they needed to beat the hell out of the bloom before they got to making anything useful. Does anyone have any find evidence for larger hammers?

What about tools like a hot set? I haven't found any finds for these.

How did they punch through a piece of metal onto a stump type anvil that is lacking a hardy hole? Is there a suitable way of doing this?

Finally, What did they use in place of Borax powder as a flux?

Thanks

J

#2 Alan Longmire

Alan Longmire

    Forum Board

  • Super Administrators
  • 9,820 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Johnson City, Tennessee, USA
  • Interests:World Domination

Posted 19 June 2012 - 02:39 PM

The British Museum has a lot of Roman and Saxon forge tools, but I also have not seen a really big hammer. Doesn't mean they didn't have them, of course.

Punching was probably done on a bolster plate set atop a stump, or for that matter just on a stump period. You'll get a hole soon enough that way. ;)

Finally, bloom iron doesn't need much in the way of flux, it's got enough slag of its own. That said, clean white sand or high-silica clay/straw ash could have been used as it was later in history. Too bad nobody bothered to write it down at the time. :( I don't know exactly when borax started in common use. In the USA it seems to have been towards the end of the 19th century.

#3 Mark Green

Mark Green
  • Members
  • 1,806 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:NC
  • Interests:Knight, and Laurel of the SCA, Making Tsuba, learning to make, and forge iron/steel. History, Shooting, learning new stuff.

Posted 19 June 2012 - 04:38 PM

I'll bet a lot of the early stages of bloom compaction was done with stone. on stone. There are some good You-tube vids of this. Surf around a bit, easy to find.

You have seen these right? http://www.google.co...iw=1350&bih=512

And? https://www.google.c...iw=1350&bih=512

And? http://www.pjoarchae...work-part-1.pdf

And dozens of other web sites.

Smithy tool changed very little over a couple thousand years.

Julia, I am researching, and making, a whole AS smithy kit, from bloom steel, I make at home. As well as a side blown charcoal forge, maybe even with bellows. I will be glad to help. PM me.

Mark
Mark Green

I have a way? Is that better then a plan?
(cptn. Mal)

#4 A Bodley

A Bodley
  • Members
  • 75 posts

Posted 19 June 2012 - 05:12 PM

I hope you have found the Mastermyr find. It has a good selection of well documented tools, some blacksmithing and wood working. Here is a link that has other images and reproductions http://netlabs.net/~osan/Mastermyr/
I dont have a copy of the report but seem to remember there was a hammer around 1.5kg. I have also been wracking my brain to see where i remember seeing a reasonanbly large stumpy hammer unfortunatley without luck.
If I come up with any other info i will pass it on.
Andrew

#5 Julia Freeman

Julia Freeman
  • Members
  • 43 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Kent, UK
  • Interests:Anglo-Saxon and Norman history, Bladesmithing,

Posted 19 June 2012 - 06:44 PM

I'll bet a lot of the early stages of bloom compaction was done with stone. on stone. There are some good You-tube vids of this. Surf around a bit, easy to find.

And? http://www.pjoarchae...work-part-1.pdf

And dozens of other web sites.

Smithy tool changed very little over a couple thousand years.

Julia, I am researching, and making, a whole AS smithy kit, from bloom steel, I make at home. As well as a side blown charcoal forge, maybe even with bellows. I will be glad to help. PM me.

Mark


I found the PJO article quite early on, the largest hammer it features (fig 1.g) is only about 700g, and very similar to the Thetford hammer I mentioned in another thread. This is the largest I have been able to find in the UK.

It seems like we are both working on the same project, several thousand miles apart, tho I haven't resorted to making it all from bloom iron. I shall drop you a pm.


I hope you have found the Mastermyr find. It has a good selection of well documented tools, some blacksmithing and wood working. Here is a link that has other images and reproductions http://netlabs.net/~osan/Mastermyr/
I dont have a copy of the report but seem to remember there was a hammer around 1.5kg. I have also been wracking my brain to see where i remember seeing a reasonanbly large stumpy hammer unfortunatley without luck.


I found the Mastermyr find too, but I seem to have entirely failed to spot the 3 Sledge Hammers. Returning to it I find 3 lovely large hammers of (69) 3.3kg, (70) 1.8kg, and (71) 1.5kg in size, these seem perfect for what I was thinking in my mind.

Thanks

J

#6 D.Cederqvist

D.Cederqvist
  • Members
  • 7 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Gotland
  • Interests:artist blacksmith interested in bladesmithing.

Posted 30 June 2012 - 04:58 AM

Teophilus mentions borax.

#7 Darrell @ warehamforge.ca

Darrell @ warehamforge.ca
  • Members
  • 122 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Wareham - Central Ontario, Canada
  • Interests:iron smelting
    Viking Age material culture
    N. European Pattern Welding
    Design based Artistic Forgings

Posted 02 July 2012 - 08:09 AM

I found the Mastermyr find too, but I seem to have entirely failed to spot the 3 Sledge Hammers. Returning to it I find 3 lovely large hammers of (69) 3.3kg, (70) 1.8kg, and (71) 1.5kg in size, these seem perfect for what I was thinking in my mind.


Julia

If you are serious about this project, I really do recommend that you invest in a copy of the primary report on the Mastermyr find:
The Mastermyr Find
Arwidsson and Berg
91-7402-129

Like a lot of reports of this type, it had originally been published in extremely small number, and was a massive pain to find a copy of. There was enough demand that Norm Larson Books out of California approached and got permission from the authors to get a re-issue. Now the volume is easily available, typically for about $25 - $30.
The book has all the objects described in detail, plus both scaled three view drawings and photographs. You just could not ask for a better reference!

As you mention above, the range of the hammer heads includes some that I would say were fitted with longer handles to use a sledges. One of the problems is that of course none of the actually handles survived. (Those teams working on the total replica series of all the tools have said that with correct handles attached, you can not actually fit all the tools and pieces into the box. There are some questions about just what pieces where found just where in the original discovery. A bit of a mystery!)

Personally, I rarely use a hand hammer over 1 kg, my primary is 800 gm (echoes the 724 gm one in Mastermyr). For me its about control, not power. Remember as well that the primary aim of the VA bloomery process was to produce a very low carbon metal, desired for its relative ease of forging. The modern obsession with high carbon tool steels is just that - a modern concept.

On punching, I have long thought the object described as a 'Nail Making Iron' (# 86) might be more accurately described as a hot punching block. My logic here is that the holes are only very slightly tapered - and the shape might just as easily be an effect of the hot punching method used to make the holes in the first place. Hand forged nails are typically taped *square* cross section - not cylindrical.
There are also two objects in the box described as 'Underlays' (# 77 & 78). These are simple ring shapes of thick rectangular stock. Again these would function well to provide the dead air space required for completing the hot punch process.

I have used the method suggested of completing a hot punch by laying the working bar on top of a wood block. Huge amount of smoke (!) but it certainly works well.

There is actually one surviving anvil from the VA that does have a hole in it for hot punching. (I had this pointed out to me by Mark Pilgrim at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC.) This artifact was included in the exhibit 'Full Circle, First Contact' which travelled Canada and the USA after 2000. The object is illustrated in that catalogue (page 21) with the caption : "Iron Anvil, Norway, c.1000 AD. Courtesy of Bergen Museum, University of Bergen, Norway." (I've stuck my reference image on here) I should warn you that there are not very many surviving artifacts from the Viking Age, and this is the only anvil with any kind of a hole in it I have ever noticed (and one of the few with a horn for that matter)

Attached Images

  • 46831_04.jpg

website: www.warehamforge.ca
Blog : http://warehamforgeblog.blogspot.com
(topics include iron smelting, blacksmithing, Viking Age)

NOTE : Any posted comments may be converted into a future blog article!

#8 Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
  • Members
  • 1,109 posts
  • Interests:Bronze age, iron age, early medieval.

Posted 02 July 2012 - 05:05 PM

The thing to keep in mind when you look at ancient tool sets that have been found: what where they intended for? As far as I'm aware, there are no tool sets found that can be linked to working bloom. All of the tools that have been found are tools of local smiths that worked traded iron, recycled old iron artifacts or just did some maintenance work on existing tools etc. I would guess that the most common set: a small anvil, small hammer and tongs, is a small local smith or even just a farmer with some tools to make and maintain his tools to work around the farm. The Mastermyr set is clearly the tool chest of a professional smith. But finds like that are very rare. To work bloom, I strongly suspect that they had big thongs and sledges available, rather then working with stone tools. The amount of speed you get with the sledges allows you to make a lot more iron with the same efford, so you can easily spare some to use on big hammers that will last a lifetime anyway. But you'd have to be really lucky to find such tools in the archeological record. The archeological record does not give a complete overview of all the tools that were in use, not even an evenly distributed section. It just shows the ones lucky enough for some reason to get into the ground, survive until this day, and being discovered and recognized for what they are. There's a good chance that if such sledges are found, they are just brought to the scrapyard as old iron. This means you do have to fill in gaps yourself. But that's not necessarily less accurate then using found tools, particularly when you're applying them for a job for which they weren't originally intended.
Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Bronze age living history in the Netherlands: http://1501bc.com/index_en.html
Barbarian metalworking: http://1501bc.com/metalworking/
Museum photos: http://1501bc.com/page/index2.html
Information about saxes: http://1501bc.com/fi...about_saxes.zip




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users