Back to the Forge
As we’ve written here before, the oldest form of welding is old-fashioned blacksmithing at a forge. This tried-and-true way to weld metals together is alive and well in the modern world, too. Forge welding is favored by many traditionalists because it requires no electricity, or even welding gas, just a strong enough fire—and arms! Hitting metal with Thor’s hammer is an almost primal way to change metal’s shape. With the aid of a hot wood fire plus old-timey welding equipment in the form of tools like anvils and vises, iron working is a dependable way to make almost anything if you have the proper skills and time.
FORGED FROM THE FIRE
You can get the big items made, like wrought iron fences and chain-link bridges, or you can hand-make the finer objects like arts, crafts, and all kinds of tools, from knives to hammers. With the rise of all things retro, lots of artisans are returning to this welding method to create usable art for sale among old-time enthusiasts such as those who flock to renaissance and medieval fairs in droves. It is increasingly common to find the kitschy welded to the useful with items such as deer-horn knives made from finely forged steel. Iron nails, one of the oldest item made by metallurgists through history, can be found made by blacksmith’s welding equipment for use in home building with traditional methods.
OLD SCHOOL DIY WELDING
Welding at the blacksmith’s forge is a continuously practiced art everywhere, from our own Atlanta, GA to the rest of the country, too. Mark Petzold is a Missourian blacksmith whose creative business is thriving. He makes custom objects in his home-studio forge that he sells at local festivals. In a recent article in the Southeast Missourian, this American welder recounted how he works with long rods of 3/8” iron. It’s an exciting process with all kinds of noisy fire and fury. He reaches the square rod into the fire that he stokes with a bellows, and then works the metal to his liking against the anvil while it is glowing white and red. Then he dips the crafted metal into a bucket of water to cool it off. The acrid steam wafts into the workroom and out a chimney.
This kind of welding method is slow and laborious, but if you like working with your hands at your own pace, it can be a rewarding way to shape metal into creative and useful objects. If you are interested in making fine items with blades like always popular toys like swords and knives, then you must master the additional skill of tempering the metal for strength.
If you’d like to try your hand at welding with more modern welding supplies, you can find them at Sidney Lee Welding Supply in the Atlanta, GA region.