Week 7 Data Report: Group D

This week, our Thursday lab was centered around the medieval (and early modern) technology of blacksmithing. Special guest blacksmith Martin Pansch taught us the process of heating up our fires and forging roves (square washers) and nails for construction. This was largely an experiential lab, with it almost impossible to collect unique hard data and no real variables between our groups. As a result, we have little quantitative data this week.

Our lab group (plus Ashton Macklin) was around a forge using stone coal. This was heated to around 1000 degrees celsius, which is near the ideal range to forge steal (approximately 1100 degrees celsius). We learned from Martin that steel melts at around 1200 degrees celsius, so it would be good to keep our steel in the central heat of the forge for only brief times to prevent a deterioration of its properties.

General Observations:

It took around 9 minutes to get our fire up to a proper temperature of around 600 degrees celsius without constant additions of air by the bellows.

We each took approximately 50 minutes to make a nail. Each member of our group struggled with the different aspects of blacksmithing. Roves were a bit easier, and once we had about 6 inches of the steel rod flattened, we were able to make two roves in relatively quick succession. This process took about 35 minutes in total. As a result, our group made three nails and two roves during the entire lab.

Our Forge (from the Second World War) with Coal Burning at Approximately 900 Degrees Celsius

The following are three charts produced in our Friday class with Professor Sarah Kennedy and a pXRF machine, which analyzed the elemental composition of several forged items and a few students’ jewelry. While the pXRF does not provide material composition, archeologists can analyze the results of scans to get a better sense (with a bit of interpretation) of the context and makeup of certain objects.

The Metal Knife forged from Iron Smelted in Austin Mason’s Making Early Medieval England Course
A Copper Brooch
A Nail Forged During Our Lab

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