Blacksmithing, defined as the working of hot iron with hammer and anvil has been in existence for over 3,000 years. It has been called the " King of Crafts" because the other craftsman were dependent on the blacksmith to forge their metal tools.
In the last century and a half, cold-working metal fabrication methods have taken over the metal industry, mainly due to the labour savings realized through the use of high tech equipment.
As with most modern day smiths, I admit to making use of some of this technology, especially when it comes to making tools. The tool steels of today far surpass what the ancient smiths had to work with. If today's steels had been available to them, I am sure they would have taken advantage of them as well. The same holds true when it comes to using propane as forge fuel. Propane is much cleaner than coal to work with. I recently have made the switch to charcoal from coal, which is much harder to obtain but well worth the effort in terms of cleanliness and with regards to the environment.
One of the reasons I enjoy working with the metal hot is "flexibility of form" When metal is very hot, it can be manipulated much like clay. This plasticity is fundamental to the reproducing of beautiful old world designs that had been constantly improved upon through the centuries, by the old masters. I use the traditional techniques of hot chiseling, fullering, swedging, hot bending, hot punching and upsetting, to achieve the desired end results.
The "truth to materials" concept is another reason why I love to work in this craft. Traditional methods of fastening such as mortise and tenon, riveting, collaring and forge welding , add a sense of timelessness and a hands on feeling that cannot be duplicated with modern high tech tools and equipment. This inherent integrity is quite apparent in traditional iron furniture.