Jump to content

Knifemaker Interview Series, a biography workshop

Christopher Price

Recommended Posts

Concerning the musea and getting in their back rooms:

To get in by the front door that's no problem, just pay entrance,

the backroom though has no door, you can only go in there by the window.

Not an easy task, cause you'll have to climb a ladder and I can assure you, its crowded on that ladder, most of them archaeologists . . .

If you succeed and you're in, your blacksmith's eyes will only see a lump of swollen rust


The archaeologist interprets the content by drawing the object and then that's published.

They should be available in North America.

Most of our replica's are done using those drawings.

More elaborate iron objects are often restored: restorer interprets the content of the rust lump by scratching off and adding plastic, that's what you see in the showcase.

Rarely the replica's we forge are done using those restored objects.

I'll never forget the reaction of the Archaeologist when I was holding my hot replica on his plastic original !

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the interest! I'm happy to bring something new at the table!

Thijs; we dont have those problems with that sort of preservation and rebuild with plastic, and i dont hope it will ever be so!

Maybe we dont have as many arceologists fighting about the founds!

So i Think with some help i can put up some Photos in a short time of Nice and simple blades!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those drawings give me goosebumps Jens, especially those from Nydam.

Glad to see the knives, finally after all those years, never saw a drawing of them !

Twenty years back, I managed to get some knives out of the Stiphout bog ore in Eversham.

Forged the blades without intention of replicating anything, just on my feelings and what the Wolf was saying .

That summer Günter just came back from his trip to Danemark, to spent some time in my garden and shop.

As he saw the blades, he cried: " AAHH, die Nydam Klingen !"

and he insisted making the authentic handles on them, from yew each nife cut her own handle.

The handles are a bit square, not round or oval.

Do you think that's correct Jens, those square handles?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jens Said :

Michae Nissen and I was introduced to steel making in 2008 by Darrell Markewitz, when he attended the Iron seminar at Heltborg Museum, hosted by me, he told about the experiments Skip Wiliams and some more did that year with the Aristotle's furnace at Smeltfest in Williamsburg I think? After that time I did some small experiments following what Ole Evenstad wrote. All this is well described by Lee Sauder and Mark Green.


The various links to these pieces (ok - this is from my perspective, errors may exist!)


2008 Iron Symposium at Heltborg



Smeltfest 2009 / Aristotle Furnace development


(My initial exposure to the Aristotle, the Early Iron Group's first tests (that Jens refers to) was in 2008, just before the Heltborg symposium)


Aristotle Furnace :

Lee Sauder


Darrell Markewitz



(Hey Mark: If you have published a description on this, can you share the link? I try to centralize this stuff off my own iron smelting documentation series.)

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!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Jens,

I'll take the second last one, the "Skaftlap", it triggers me . . .especially the "laps" .
Now Jens, my last question on you,
at iron age bloom smithing in Eversham we were only using the two walls side blown smith's hearth.
Do you think it would be authentic to use Ole Evenstad in that place ?
With this, I leave it to you Jens, god jagt !
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my mind is the Evenstad hearth and the hearth we used in Everhams the same, a normal side blast hearth with different shape of the bottom depending of what You are doing! Evenstad write; to make fine iron the hearth have to be 1 inch deep, and for steel 2 inch! And the same hearth is used for normal forging to!

So if someone do it different i Think its wrong when comparing with Evenstads original text!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my mind is the Evenstad hearth and the hearth we used in Everhams the same, a normal side blast hearth with different shape of the bottom depending of what You are doing! Evenstad write; to make fine iron the hearth have to be 1 inch deep, and for steel 2 inch! And the same hearth is used for normal forging to!


So iron age bloomsmithing is done in an Eversham hearth . -_-


Thank you Jens for answering my questions and all the drawings and images !


Looking forward too Lukasz .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This for Jens, but expect Thijs might add something:


Lee Sauder & Skip Williams certainly looked at early experiments in bloom smelting by people like Peter Crew. However, Lee and Skip were primarily interested in the 'best' way of smelting iron using their local ore - with variations in the basic direct process bloomery furnace. One of the big inovations they introduced was using high volume air. This does produce higher yields and much denser blooms - more like at least the few Viking Age artifact samples.


My interest has always been attempting to re-create something more like a historic Northern European method. (Ok, Viking Age again sparked by the smelt in Vinland about 1000 AD).

You can NOT get the high air volumes of the kind L & S employ using Viking Age * blacksmith's * bellows. Honestly, those people using 'double bag' bellows for iron smelting I have seen are using equipment signficantly larger (thus higher volume) than the known illustrations from the VA.

Even how to record, measure or even to document, air volumes seems to vary a huge amount between working teams. Frankly, its hard to even have a discussion about air volumes because of this.


What is your general impression of air volumes used historically against producing dense, puck like bloooms (as seen in artifact)?


Did you ever try a high air volume smelt? (especially after I managed to fail so seriously at Heltborg!)



PS - thank you so much for sharing all those artifact photos and drawings.

Can you describe the general measurements on the blades?

(I expect this will be a surprise to many - how small those working knives often are.)

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!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The knife is small in general! But i have to look in some of the books to look for scale!


And about air volume: i have never succes with High air volume, and Michael Nissen have Lampard the same experiance! And we cant say what the difference betwen US results and ours! But we Can say for sure! -if we run with High air rate the iron is not good!! And we can clearly see that each type of ore need to bee treated its own special way, maybe it coused by the high Phophurus contend? But we realy dont know!


But i Can say for sure that the belows they used in ancient times have been run by realy strong arms! - I was helping excavating a furnace from around 1000-1200 AD 40 cm in diameter and it was totaly burnt all way around inside!!! And from that i Can say for sure; - the bellows was maybe small but the Arms tja pumped Them was powerfull like hell!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darell: In Norway and Sweden many furnaces is found in pair of 2! And when i comparing that with what Evenstad mention about how to make Nice forgeable iron or fine iron he say that raw iron even the best sort, is for NO USE AT ALL! Even You Can forge it to rough tools, but when it brake You cant weld it again!!!

And to make it to fine iron You have to resmelt it the smithy!

When i comparing what he say and the pair furnaces, I Think that the reason to build Them in pair is that You first make the Raw iron in the first furnace and Then resmelt it in the second furnace!

This is a reasonable explanation for me to make the furnace s in pair and how to make nice solid and forgeable blooms, as we know they did in ancient times!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jens, I agree totally, with you on that point. It make a whole lot of sense!!


I'm not sure if they knew why this worked. Lee Sauder, feels the first step was removing the high P. While that does seem to be the case, I would doubt that the smelters of the time knew anything about P. They just knew that the process worked to fix the problem. And, through further experiments, found that this same process, could make fine steel.


What a great bonus!!


I believe, that the smelters had figured this out a VERY long time ago. There does seem to be documentation for it.

Besides the fact, that it is just a natural progression.


Cool stuff.


Thanks, for sharing you life/knowledge, of old school, iron making




Mark Green


I have a way? Is that better then a plan?

(cptn. Mal)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its time to start the interview with my very good friend Lukazs! I meth Lukazs in 2007 when i first time was invited to arceological festival in Biskupin in Poland! I was there to show the way I make iron in a slagpit furnace, and Lukazs had his workshop in the Craal, the place for all hot work, like forging, Ironsmelting, bronzecasting, saltmaking and tarmaking!

From the very first minut we meth I we was in very good contact, Lukazs was very friendly and very interesting in Ironsmelting!

But Lukazs please tell the story about why You started with blacksmithing!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I first wanted to thank you for inviting me to this interview.


Actually my story starts at the same place I met you a couple of years later. I was visiting Biskupin market as a tourist, walking around trying to find something interesting to see and than BANG! I saw a man, one of my friends today, forging an arrowhead. Can't explain it, but it felt like that's it! That is what I want to do! I stood out there for an hour and than bought one of hes arrowheads which I later drowned in the garden pond and never found it again. What else was there to do but to build my own forge and try it myself? I still laugh when I think about it.


I t was great meeting you out there! Finally someone crazy like myself. Whole thing about iron smelting was so fascinating! We were talking about it for hours and hours. I remember when we built that huge slag taping furnace? We used three sets of bellows and made 16 kg bloom? I was folding and welding it for several days. Many great markets and learning by experimenting different aspects.

Edited by Lukasz
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I strarted like many others, with old vacuum cleaner, BBQ set and crapy industrial anvil from scrapyard. I spent weeks trying to forge arrowheads, surfing for materials, reading books and watching LOTR movies. Then in 2003 I joined a viking re-enactment group. I also found out that there are people interested in buing my some of my works, so I decided to build a real workshop, collect more tools and start forging more difficoult things. I had to invest in a new anvil. I found it on an internet auction for around 150 dollars. It has fascinating story. Man who dug it up said that he found it in the woods neear by old military base wraped in linen cloth covered with grease. It was 39kg Swedish anvil from 1928 in perfect shape. Till this day I didn't find anything better than that. My primary interest was always historical replicas and items inspired by historical artifacts from different periods. From year 2007 I started to visit more re-enactment markets to meet new people, find inspiration.




Viking way...

Edited by Lukasz
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is so fantastic. I'm so happy our European friends are joining us here, and sharing their history, their stories, and their techniques. I've worried that we've been too isolated here in North America, and I deeply appreciate the input from you guys over there.


I've updated the front page again to reflect the recent interviews.


And, I hope, you gentlemen don't find offense if I give some of the forms you've posted up a try...

The Tidewater Forge

Christopher Price, Bladesmith

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can say for sure Criss Price, I'm happy to share my knowledge, so if You and others find some inspiration it only make me happy!

Lukasz; You have to tell more about the way You learnt to forge, did You just start without noone to teach You?

I know how You did; but most readers dont! And for me its make your story a lot better knowing this!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Before I answer your question Id like to share one more thing, more spiritual. It was at Wolin market 2008 in Poland. One of my friends asked me about being a part of a night show called Slavic Myth- Creation Of The World. I was supposed to forge a world out of glowing iron. It seemed to boring just to go out there and hit the red hot iron, nothing special. We thought that It should be something more spectacular than just that. I had this brilliant idea, to fold huge billet out of several plates and forge weld it during the show. I started. Public sat down, may by ten meters from me. Only thought that i had in my head was, they will all run away when... well, you know what I mean. Billet was cooking inside the fire for more than ten minutes ant then BOOM! BOOOM! Bright light illuminated all over, I could hear people shouting WOOOW! and running at the same time, than some Russians saying, it couldn't be just iron! One of the best memories ever!





Back to the subject.


Basically i learned a lot by myself. I never liked when someone was telling me that I should do it this way or another. Of course, someone can have an influence on you, show you how they make it, inspire you, may by teach you some things. But, everyone must have his own space to be creative. It allowed you to be recognizable, be one of a kind. That is my personal opinion. I remember many other blacksmiths telling me that i should fix longer handles for some of my hammers, i didn't give a damn about that.
I had a lot of help from books, internet and chatting with other blacksmiths. Then I met Jens, crazy iron maker from Denmark. He had huge influence in smelting matter for me. At that time there was no one smelting iron with in Poland that could show any positive results. The only people i knew were burning tons of charcoal and resulting in huge lake of slag. Jens also introduced me to Skip's carbonizing furnace.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...