Smithing Forges Through the Ages
Smithing Forges Through the Ages
Did you think blacksmithing is a thing of ancient history? Think again! Smithing forges have always been part of our modern world, even though their popularity ebbs and flows. Currently, we’re experiencing a massive resurgence in the field of forging as people reconnect with the artistry of metal crafting and the history of weapons and other cutting tools.
If you’re curious about the origins of forging, explore smithing forges through the ages with Swords of Northshire! Follow along as we discuss forge history here.
The First Forge
The first evidence of a smithing forge is thought to be in ancient Egypt. Archeologists have found the marks of hammered iron to create a dagger shape dating back to 1350 B.C. They think this style of forging was the product of Hittites — an ancient people who kept their ironworking techniques a secret. When they scattered centuries ago, they took their skills to Greece and the Balkans around 800 B.C.
Many early smiths heated their iron over wood fires because eventually, the wood burned down to charcoal that produced a more intense heat. This intensity was often increased with a concentrated blast of air from a bellows, allowing the smith to soften metal for hammering and shaping.
9th Century Forging
While Europe was still learning the basics of forging, Japanese and Chinese smiths were way ahead of the curve. They developed folding techniques for creating high-carbon steel from tamaghane (iron sand). The result was a metal that was flexible and strong. It wouldn’t break during battle, and it could keep an edge sharp enough to slice through hair. The weapons of a samurai were a testament to the skill of Japanese smiths and frequently included a katana, wakizashi, and tachi.
Smithing Forges of the Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages, smiths began to specialize, basing their work on the type of metal they used and the type of work they did. A whitesmith, for example, works with lead, while a blacksmith works with iron. Some smiths only dealt in weaponry and tools, and others worked with chains and nails. Each smith had their own specialty.
Forging in the 16th Century
During the 1500s, cast iron became very popular, and decorative blacksmithing reigned supreme over utilitarian design. Many smiths attracted more customers because of the flair and artistry they put into their work. Smithing forges started focusing on the uniqueness of their goods as well as the usefulness of their products.
As forging equipment and tools have evolved, today’s blacksmiths can create ever more sophisticated items. Forges that can be heated to temperatures in excess of 2,000°F, massive automated hammering tools, and belt sanders make forging that much easier. Many smiths, however, choose to use the same techniques and tools as their ancestors — opting for authenticity over sophistication.
The Forge at Swords of Northshire
Our own smiths use the same ancient Japanese techniques as their forefathers to create amazing weapons, including samurai swords, ninja weapons, knives, and European replicas. Explore our store to find premium-quality, handcrafted swords made through traditional Japanese forging techniques.