From Steel to Sword–Here’s How Blacksmiths Mold Metal


[Laughs] This is Arnon. It’s all authentic, man. You know I worked for three hours to get that
dirt on just right. He’s a blacksmith who loves chemistry. Arnon founded Bridgetown Forge in Portland,
Oregon in the early 2000s, and that’s where the Reactions team met up with him. We were lucky enough to get some time with
Arnon, who showed us how to make this sweet dagger by blending together art and chemistry. Arnon started with a cylinder of metal and
drew it out to what you see here. To do this, he heated the metal in a forge,
then molded it by using a pneumatic power hammer and some good old fashioned hammering. Then Arnon repeated this process until he
was happy with how the blade looked. But more on that later. First up… Blacksmithing is just a very generic term
describing somebody who heats metal, usually steel, and hammers it. Hundreds of years ago, blacksmiths played
a key role in society–making all of this stuff. And you might be thinking…didn’t the Industrial
Revolution drive them to extinction? Not quite. You can still find blacksmiths making swords
and daggers, and more common stuff like furniture, kitchen cutlery, and sculptures in their shop–called
a forge or a smithy. Blacksmiths mostly work with mixtures of metals. Mixing different metals creates what’s called
an alloy – a new substance that has its own characteristics…and personality. Brass, for example, is an alloy of copper
and zinc, and it’s really resistant to corrosion and has great acoustic properties, so it’s
used in instruments like the trumpet. Blacksmiths usually choose an alloy you know:
steel. Steel is mostly made of iron, some carbon,
and oftentimes other elements. The exact steel alloy a blacksmith chooses
to work with depends on what they’re making. Knives and tools that can cut through metal
need to be strong and able to keep a sharp edge. To make that happen, blacksmiths use high
carbon steel, which usually has between 0.8% and 1.5% carbon mixed in. This steel will hold an edge better, but the
downside is it’s also more brittle. If a blacksmith wants flexibility, like for
a foil, they’ll use low carbon steel, which usually has

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