Smelting Research

This is the place where I do my best to share what I've learned about bloomery smelting over the years. Below, you'll find two sections: one of articles that I've published elsewhere, and one of more informal reports of ongoing research. This "Shop Reports" section as a bit like a blog, but much more occasional and more deeply considered. So check back every once in a while to see if I've got anything new here. The articles are PDF's so you can easily print 'em out and take 'em to the shop. The how-to videos and trailers for full-length movies are in the "Videos" tab to the left.

I'm sharing my knowledge and ideas because I believe that's what folks should do with what they learn. But I finance this work by the sweat of my brow. So if you find this information useful, it would help me out if you hit the donate button below and give whatever amount you'd like. The research will happen without your support, but the writing might not! But if you're broke, don't feel guilty, just dig on in to the info. ...

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Published Articles

A Practical Treatise on the Smelting and Smithing of Bloomery Iron

This is the paper I wrote for Historical Metallurgy 36(2) 2002, reporting our early work and challenging some of the prevailing notions about bloomery smelting.

Update on the “Practical Treatise"

An excerpt from a paper published in the proceedings of the HMS 2010 conference. This summarizes some of the changes in my technique since the original paper.

The Basics of Bloomery Smelting

An introductory paper I wrote for The Anvil’s Ring, Winter 2000.

Practical Bloomery Smelting

A paper from 2001 for the Materials Research Society. Similar to the HMS paper, but a lot more concise.

Aristotle's Steel

Another paper from the Historical Metallurgy Society's 2010 Conference proceedings, describing an easy way to convert iron into steel.

A Journey Into Medieval Ironmaking

Written for the Anvil's Ring in 2010, reporting on my trip to England, and the work inspired by it.

Osmium isotope analysis as an innovative tool

for provenancing ancient iron.

This article, written with Michael Brauns, Naama Yahalom-Mack, Ivan Stepanov ID, Jake Keen, and Adi Eliyahu-Behar ID was published in March, 2020 in Plos One

Greensmithing In which I attempt to run a carbon neutral blacksmith shop.

Shop Reports
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Bloomery Construction

Step by step instructions for building a clay bloomery furnace.

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Remelting Bloom Iron for Phosphorus Reduction

A quick report on an experiment with the Evenstad process.

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Quickie Cementation

A quick and simple method to convert iron to steel in a charcoal forge.

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A Different Method of Forging Sword "Fullers"

A different angle on an old forging problem from the Viking era.

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A Wrought Iron Tuyere Design for both Smelting and Forging

A very robust and useful tuyere based on a mid 19th century artifact.

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Bloom Forging Hints

Some tips on consolidating a bloom into a rough bar.

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The Iron Dumpling Assay Essay

A fire assay method intended to provide a simple comparative number to test and compare unknown ores.