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First attempt at hearth steel

Anthony Wetzel

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Hello, after being inspired from seeing the work that Emiliano, Aiden (who helped answer a lot of my questions) and Andrew have done with hearth/bloom steel and iron I decided to give it a go myself. I've been forging for about a year and mostly doing pattern welded knives and swords. So I read as many articles and watched just as many videos on the process. The below photos are kind of the timeline. I started with antique wrought iron nails and wagon wheel and attempted a hearth melt.  It was so much fun! This took place a few months ago during the height of summer so the heat was almost overwhelming. Over a period of 2 weekends or so I made about 12 different pucks from various kinds of wrought iron. My wife even helped out consolidating some of the pucks with a sledge hammer. The below is my first completed knife from it. It tended to crumble and break apart quite a bit but I tried not to lose hope. This was about 250=300 layers with a oak and walnut handle. I wish I could say the finished shape was what I was going for, but I had a bunch of delamination issues and ground the tip too thin and had to re-profile it. I have 3 other multi-bar knives I was working on this same batch  but still need to make handles (last picture). Sorry if the pictures do not show up too well. Anyways really enjoyed reading all the different posts and wanted to contribute. I'm using some of Lee Sauders Bloomery iron for my next go around so wish me luck.







knife 1.jpg

knife 2.jpg

knife 3.jpg

knife 4.jpg

knife 5.jpg

knife 6.jpg


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Oh man fantastic work! Your welding is quite good and the character of the material you made is really organic and beautiful. I really am amazed at how well you did on this and am excited to see more!

The multibar blades are quite nice also. I would recommend having your bars at around 1/4"-38" for twisting, and keeping it hot and doing your twists in 2 twist per heat increments. A lot of the bloomery material and hearth material I've made likes to fight being twisted but it depends on the level of refinement. As far as your layer count it looks quite good especially for medieval/Viking Age metalworking. 


I don't really have much to add, you're clearly well on your way :) 




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Great to see a finished knife from your material! Ditto to Emiliano and Alan about the pattern, it came out quite nicely. Are the twists made form two different irons? It looks like you have some decent contrast there. Incidentally, if a particular source of wrought seems to have trouble picking up carbon in the hearth, it can be a sign that it is high phosphorous, and good for pattern welding.

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Hey Aiden thanks. For the twists it was about 3 different kind of antique wrought iron that I cut and stacked 1-2 times. I wanted to make them tighter but they wanted to separate. It’s a work in progress I’ll keep messing around with it until I’m happy with it. On one of them though I was really happy with the look of the pattern and contrast from the the different wrought. Thanks for all the posts you share, I will work up the courage to do a water quench on one of them I swear. That crack I saw today sounded heartbreaking on the seax you quenched. 



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These look great. Keep going!


“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  





J.States Bladesmith | Facebook



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