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Medieval Blacksmith Forge

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The dressed metal goes back in the fire, is brought near to welding heat, removed from the fire, and brushed. Flux is sometimes applied, which prevents oxygen from reaching and burning the metal during forging, and it is returned to the fire. The smith now watches carefully to avoid overheating the metal. There is some challenge to this because, to see the color of the metal, the smith must remove it from the fire—exposing it to air, which can rapidly oxidize it. So the smith might probe into the fire with a bit of steel wire, prodding lightly at the mating faces. When the end of the wire sticks on to the metal, it is at the right temperature (a small weld forms where the wire touches the mating face, so it sticks). The smith commonly places the metal in the fire so he can see it without letting surrounding air contact the surface. (Note that smiths don't always use flux, especially in the UK. ) Now the smith moves with rapid purpose, quickly taking the metal from the fire to the anvil and bringing the mating faces together. A few light hammer taps bring the mating faces into complete contact and squeeze out the flux—and finally, the smith returns the work to the fire. The weld begins with the taps, but often the joint is weak and incomplete, so the smith reheats the joint to welding temperature and works the weld with light blows to "set" the weld and finally to dress it to the shape.

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