The History of the Blacksmith: The art of forging metals to make tools, hardware, weapons, architecture and art dates back to about 4500 B.C. in Mesopotamia. The Sumerians were the founders of metallurgy as we know it today. Fire was initially a source of heat used to protect against animals and as a means to prepare food. People soon found that metal could be shaped with fire which is where the evolution of forging comes from. Pure metals found in nature like gold, silver, and copper were forged into weapons, jewelry, and tools for daily use. Rocks were used as hammers to shape the metal until the 9th Century when metal hammers with handles took their place as a forging tool.Forging – shaping metal using heat and pressure – is one of mankind’s oldest techniques and progressed until the Dark Ages where most industrial advancements came to a halt. Until this time, the possession of metals, especially iron, was a sign of wealth, but during the Dark Ages the production of weapons and tools flourished due to the constant wars in Europe.
One of the most significant developments in forging came from the Roman discovery of water power, which was used to operate bellows and mechanical hammers, along with forging metals. Before this time, the Romans used small shaft furnaces with charcoal using manual bellows and foot pumps to forge clumps of iron. Around 1500, hammer mills were built around rivers where water wheels with beech handles operated iron hammer heads that would hit the anvils. These machines powered by water and the flow of energy out-did human muscle strength many times over. With hammer tips of different weights and increasing hitting frequencies, people were able to produce many finely forged goods. These water powered hammers mills helped shape forging technology into the 19th Century.During the Industrial Revolution the use of steam force in machines was spreading. From this time on, the forging industry became independent of river locations and developed powerful steam and air hammers. Smiths of the early 20th Century used hammers driven by transmission shafts to produce forged parts for railways, the car industry, and for agricultural machinery.
Today, forging has developed into highly automated and computerized forging methods that play a major part in a world-wide industry that has significantly contributed to the development of man. Though forging has made many technological advances in history that help in production of equipment all over the world, these techniques can sometimes take away from the originality and uniqueness of hand crafted forging. Some blacksmiths today combine original contemporary designs with ancient blacksmithing techniques to create and forge high quality metal work.
Forging metal is taking an idea and forming that idea into a work of art. Since the very beginning of forging metal, blacksmiths have used their exceptional craftsmanship and keen attention to detail to create something useful and beautiful. Today, Forge Works combines the ageless skill of the blacksmith and employs the function of the tools of smithing to create custom pieces for our customers.