Blacksmithing Spoken Here

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I have created this glossary of blacksmithing terms so that lay people might have a better understanding of the craft. Check back often for new additions.


Alloy: a combination of two or more metals or elements often with superior properties
Anneal: heating and holding at a certain critical  temperature then cooling at a certain rate to soften, improving workability, and relieving internal stresses
Anvil: a large steel block often with a round horn and possibly a square horn on which a blacksmith hammers metal; usually has a large square hole (hardie hole) which can hold several different tools and a smaller round hole (pritchel hole)
Ball Peen: a hammer with a flat and a half round face
Base Metal: the metal present in the highest proportion in an alloy
Bickern: a stake that has a round horn and a square horn; often used before these elements were integrated into the anvil; also useful for smaller work
Bituminous Coal: also known as soft coal, it has several impurities which can be baked out to form coke; it is the type of coal most often used by blacksmiths
Bobitch: the plate on a candle which collects the dripping wax
Borax: a chemical compound used as a brazing or welding flux
Boss: the part of a gate hinge that holds the pin 2: a locally raised portion of metal
Bronze: traditionally an alloy of copper and tin but can be used as a term for most copper alloys that are yellow in color today 
Brazing: joining pieces of metal with a bronze alloy that is flowed into the thin space between them
Brine: a salt water solution that is used in hardening steel
Burnish: to create a smooth surface on the work piece by moving a polished tool across it
Butcher: an angle faced tool used for creating a shoulder; it can be used to create the illusion of different planes in chasing
Cape Chisel: a narrow chisel used to carve metal or cut groves
Carving: the removal of stock by chiseling; often done with a cape chisel
Calipers: a tool to check thicknesses and diameters often with hinged curved jaws
Chamfer: a beveled edge often for aesthetics
Chasing: to compress certain areas on the surface of metal if the metal is not of sufficient mass it is backed with pitch or lead
Chisel: a metal tool with a sharp edged blade used for cutting or incising
Coke: a pure form of carbon which is formed by baking the impurities out of bituminous coal; it produces a very hot clean burning flame
Collar: a loop of metal that is used to join pieces of metal by banding them together
Cone Mandrel: a a thick walled tapered cone around which rings can be trued up or arcs can be bent
Crenellation: a repeating pattern created by the removal of metal usually notches, scallops, or fleur de lis
Cross Peen: a hammer with a flat face and a straight peen perpendicular to the handle; the most common type of forging hammer
Die: a general term for several tools; most commonly  a tool with which, on which, or between which metal is formed
Dividers: a hinged pair of points used for measuring distances or scribing circles
Drawing: working the metal to make it longer and thinner; reducing the cross-section by forging; stretching the metal
Drift: a tapered steel pin used to open up or size a malleable piece of metal
Emboss: to raise sheet metal with a punch or hammer
Faggot Welding: the bar of steel is bent back on itself and hammer welded to itself
Flashing: the unwanted material that is trimmed away after a piece is formed in a die
Flux: a compound that is used to prevent oxygen from reaching the metal; usually in welding, brazing, or soldering
File: a tool with rows of raised cutting teeth used for stock removal by hand
Fire Welding: to join two or more pieces of steel by heating them up till their surface is semi-molten and touching them together in the forge fire to fuse them; can also be call forge welding; a flux is required
Forge: a furnace that is used to heat metal for forging usually with propane, natural gas, coal, coke, or charcoal as a heat source
Fuller: any of a number of a tools with a rounded ridge on the working end that is used for isolating mass or chasing a surface
Galvanize: the application of a thin coating of zinc by either plating or dipping the piece into a molten bath; used as a method to rust-proof steel
Glut Weld: the joining of a smaller piece of steel to a bigger piece of steel; the bigger piece of steel is heated to forge welding temperature and the smaller piece of steel which is just below forge welding temperature is driven into a previously made socket; a flux is required
Half Lap Joint: a joint where bars pass each other and a notch is forged in them half of their thickness so that the joint is flush the bars
Hammer Welding: the joining of two or more pieces of metal by heating them to forge welding temperature and fusing them together by hammering them on the anvil
Hardie: a tool that fits into the hardie hole usually a cutoff but can be any tool that fits into a hardie hole
Hardie Hole: the square hole on an anvil which can hold several different types of tools
Incise: to chisel cut a pattern onto the metal's surface
Inlay: to cut a groove with a chisel (usually in a decorative pattern) in metal, under cut the groove on the sides to raise lips, insert a different type of metal into the groove, and then chase the lips of the groove shut over the inlayed metal to synch it permanently into place  
Jig: a tool that is used to produce consistent parts
Lap Joint: the ends of both bars reduce to half thickness and a place one on top of the other so there is no increase of cross section in the joint area; usually in corners
Low Carbon Steel: steel that contains less than %.2 carbon and cannot be hardened
Mandrel: a tapered form around which metal is shaped
Mild Steel: another name for Low Carbon Steel
Monel: an alloy of %60 Nickel 30% Copper; a silvery metal that is extremely corrosion resistant, it may develop a slight green or black patina depending on the environment it is in
Mortise: a hole that is forged in a piece of metal to accept the tenon from another piece of metal
Normalize: to heat a piece of tool steel to its critical temperature and then air cool it to relieve internal stresses
Patina: colored oxidation on metal surfaces, simulated by chemical action or from long exposure to the air
Pig Iron: a cast ingot that can be refined by forging
Pin rivet: a rivet that is of very thin stock that is used to hold pieces together but remains hidden to view
Post Vice: a vice that is anchored to a bench and has a long leg that extends from the rear jaw to the floor
Power Hammer: a machine used for forging metal instead of a Striker or if the cross section is too large; the size of a power hammer is based on the falling weight of its ram
Pritchel Hole: the round hole in the tail of an anvil
Punch: a tapered tool with a profiled (to desired shape) flat end that is used to punch holes in hot metal; punched holes are then drifted to size
Pure Iron: a commercially pure type of Iron with trace amounts of impurities
Quench: to cool hot steel in a liquid
Reins: the handles of tongs
Repousse: to impart volume to a piece of metal (usually thin) by pushing up from the back side of the piece
Right Angle Bend: a bend where metal has been upset into or hammer welded into the outside corner, to form a sharp outside corner with a radiused corner on the inside
Rivet: a pin that is headed on both ends to hold pieces of metal together
Scroll: a form where the metal has been formed into a decrotive spiral shape
Sledge: a heavy hammer (6 pounds or more) that is swung with two hands
Slit & Drift: a slot is chiseled trough a piece of metal and then opened up to size with a drift to allow another piece of metal to pass through it
Slot Punch: a long thin oval shaped punch used to make holes for a slit & drifted hole in place of a chisel
Stake: shaped block used as an anvil for sheet metal work
Striker: an assistant, traditionally an apprentice, that swings a sledge hammer for either heavy forging or to hit top tooling
Swage: to form metal by driving it into a negative cavity of the desired shape 2: a tool with a negative impression in it
Swage Block: a large cast iron block with many holes, hollows, and forms on it
Taper: to draw metal down in cross section or to a point
Tongs: two piece hinged tools used to hold hot metal
Tool Steel: high carbon steel that can be harden and tempered; often it contains several elements for enhanced properties
Treadle Hammer: a foot powered hammer that takes the place of a striker when using top tooling or doing detail work
Tuyere: the pipe through which air enters the forge fire
Twist: a decorative element where the metal is twisted; depending how the stock is worked before, during, or after the twisting process several different designs are possible
Upsetting: to drive metal back on itself to increase cross-section or shorten length
Wrought Iron: Iron produced through the puddling process, it has a very definitive grain and no carbon content


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Tudor Ironworks


Nigel Tudor, Metalsmith
1061 Sugar Run Road
Avella, Pennsylvania 15312

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This page was last updated on Wednesday, 04 January 2006