Aside from the switch to gas-fuelled forges instead of coal forges, blacksmithing remains a very physical craft that relies on elbow grease, heat and a variety of tools for results, most of them basic hand tools. At a minimum, a blacksmith needs a forge, an anvil -- a specialised work surface -- and a specialised hammer or chisel to work the hot metal. A blacksmith may use tools on hot or cold material; most tools are built especially for one or the other.
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Smithing iron requires extreme heat, and a forge provides that heat. Coal fuels traditional forges, and they require constant attention and effort to maintain. The smith uses a bellows, or a hand-cranked or electric blower to control airflow into the firepot. Neglecting the forge can create a heat so intense that it burns up metal left in it too long. Gas-fuelled forges are simpler to control and are cleaner. Smiths still need to remove impurities called "clinker" deposit at the bottom of the fire; otherwise, they block airflow and stick to metal.
The anvil provides a flat, metal work surface upon which the smith shapes metal. It has a wide base and an elevated surface, and typically a "hardy hole," an opening where a hardy tool sits. The hardy tool is used for cutting. A "pritchel hole" provides a place to punch a hole into hot metal, instead of drilling a hole. The anvil's "horn" allows the smith to make circular shapes, as in a horseshoe.
A blacksmith has a variety of tools that he uses to bang, twist and shape hot iron. Basic tools include a variety of hammers that he bangs on the iron at an angle. The sledgehammer, traditionally used by an assistant, requires two hands. A cross-peen hammer, used in forging, has one flat face. The blacksmith may swing a hammer or set it against the piece's surface and hit it with a sledge held by the assistant.
A round punch replaces a drill to make holes in hot iron. A hot chisel cuts hot metal, isn't hardened and is never used to cut cold metal. The hot set is a hot chisel with a long handle, while a cold chisel is a hardened, tempered tool that cuts cold, mild steel and has a long handle. A fuller is a chisel-like tool with a rounded tip instead of a blade used to make grooves.
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