Sunday, January 25, 2015


This week at the Eureka Spring School of the Arts, the Blackmsith Organization of Arkansas built a bloomery for making their own iron from ore. It is a rather small device made from clay and the lengthy process should deliver about 70 lbs. of steel. The ore and charcoal came from Arkansas. The amount of sustained heat requires a huge amount of charcoal, and as this sort of thing is rare, even among blacksmiths, there was a large group in attendance and manning the works. As some tended the furnace, others participated in blacksmithing demonstrations at our coal forge and using "Big Blu" our new power hammer.

In the early days of iron making, huge tracts of forests were laid bare to make charcoal. When the forests were depleted and no fuel was readily available the making of iron would move to another location where forest resources were available. Only one of the members had ever attended the making of iron before. Thanks to ESSA and the BOA (Blacksmith Organization of Arkansas) a few more folks have participated in this arcane art.

A larger version of an iron smelter is shown here. It is now a roadside attraction in Sweden on the road north from Mora. Feeding this furnace would have required the clearing of thousands of acres of forest to make charcoal.

Unfortunately, a hole was punctured in the BOA bloomery during the process. It had to be temporarily delayed as the fix was made. That may have  led to a long night tending the fire.

In my own shop I finished my own four position router table for making my production boxes. This router table will allow me to keep the the fences and router bits for fitting box parts set at close tolerances, and will allow me to fill small orders in a more timely fashion without maintaining a large inventory of finished work.

The knobs shown at left are for locking fences in place and were made with commercially made maple knobs and t-nuts. The maple knobs were drilled for the body of the t-nut and the prongs to fit. Epoxy glue locks the t-nuts permanently in place.

Make, fix and create...

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