Introduction to metal working

We meet Mark, from KV Forge, in Kangaroo Valley. He makes beautiful metal tools and knives. All by hand. We are interested in this trade as it is not so common anymore to be able to work metal. If you have time, it can be useful and fascinating to learn such a trade for a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

Mark welcomes us in his workshop, a shed where he set up work benches with all his tools around him. He takes us through the basic steps. Everything else is skills and years of practice of course.

First you have to select the material you want to work on. Depending on the object you want to make, you can use medium steel up to stainless steel for example for a harder object.

Then you need a forge. He has two different ones, one which is small but super insulated and with fast heating from a gas bottle, the other which is coke fire based and heats up more slowly but is opened enough to make bigger objects.

He heats up the piece of metal in front of us, using long blacksmith pliers, until it glows bright orange. Then picks up a hammer, he made himself too, and start hammering the heated part of the metal on the anvil. The metal shapes itself under the blows into a flatter piece. Then the heat glow starts to disappear, it is time to it back in the forge. It is a long and very physical process and it is beautiful and meditative at the same time. For more heavy duty work, he uses an electric hammer in order to make the work a bit faster.

The next step he explains, is to heat it up again and then let it cool slowly. This helps to normalize the material texture throughout the object and have a nice homogenous and solid one.

The object is then refined by sanding, either with appropriate sand paper or an abrasive tool.

Finally, the metal is heat up again at the right stage, red color, and then plunged inside water or oil, depending on the effect and hardness you would like to obtain.

Last step is to sharpen it, if it has a sharpened edge.

Facebook : @KangarooValleyForge

Contact him HERE

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