I am the smith, and I have come a long way since I nearly shattered my first knife. Through thorough application of being thrifty, not overworking myself, and pushing through hard times, I have become a blacksmith for the better. Blacksmithing is an incredible art of ancient origin. In these modern times, it has become almost lost, carried on by a select few. These select few can be strengthened by those who consider pursuing a noble interest and can carry on blacksmithing lore for another generation.
After you’ve built a small farm blacksmith shop, one of the first decisions that you’ll need to make is which type of fuel you’ll be using. Most people choose either gas (propane) or coal, however, wood fired forges are also an option. All three fuel types have pros and cons. The final decision will likely be based on the type of forging that you plan to do and the local availability of the fuel.
The forge in Rostrevor was in a very old street known as “The Back Lane.” There to the side of its entrance was a circular flat granite stone with a hole in its centre for shoeing cart wheels. And to the side of that a mountain of broken ploughs and other horse implements infringing on the road. As a child I was told very solemnly that somewhere in the heart of it was a broken chariot belonging to Brian Boru. An archway between houses led to a small yard and then the forge itself – a truly medieval barn. A high space with slates that could do with being pointed and a floor paved with thick wooden sleepers and flagged stone.
Forges fired by wood charcoal have been a mainstay in blacksmithing history for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Regions in North America that did not have access to high quality coal and coke depended on wood based charcoal as a forging heat source. Wood charcoal is still a primary blacksmithing fuel in much of the world. In recent years there’s been a renewed interest here in the Pacific Northwest in utilizing our abundant wood resources to provide fuel as an alternative to coal for smithing.