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BLACKSMITH WORK AND THE ART OF FORGING

 

 

Blacksmith and forging, or wrought iron work is used in our shop to fabricate hardware and hinges, lighting, fencing, grilles, railings, doors, locksets, even nails and lightning rods, Olek focuses on replication and restoration of historic designs for landmark buildings of wrought iron and blacksmith ironwork. We replicate historic examples of the blacksmith's trade. We also fabricate new modern custom wrought iron as decorative ornaments for buildings, including entry door handles and pulls, and for lighting including sconces and chandeliers, And Olek also fabricates and restores wrought iron doors and windows, see Custom Iron Doors and Iron Steel Windows.

 


And we repair antique guns, with a master gunsmith and European champion marksman leading our blacksmith and wrought iron work.

 





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History of Wrought Iron in the Blacksmith Shop

Blacksmith work is ancient, dating back almost four thousands years to the Hittites in Persia. First applied to weapons and tool making, the civilizations that mastered its techniques advanced and prospered. Since the advent of continuous steel making processes, and welding early in the 20th century, it is more of an art form, of more aesthetic interest than practically important. Blacksmithing was an important trade early in the history of the United States, for military defense and protection, and waging war against the British Empire's dominance of the Colony. George Washington was a blacksmith, it was a respected profession, and important in that time before the Industrial Revolution flourished. Several forged chains spanned the Hudson River from northern Manhattan and West Point to NJ, with almost 3' long links more than 2" in diameter during the American Revolution, preventing British warships from passing through. More than 200 iron mines flourished in NJ alone, and numerous gunsmiths forging arms for American patriots.

 




Forging remains an essential industrial process, on a much larger scale than found in the traditional Blacksmith's shop. Forging or hammering of heated iron or steel, and casting were the principal means of fabricating iron tools, fences, railings, gates, locks and hardware, and other ornamental metals until the advances of the industrial revolution led to other means of production rise in importance, among them the production of hot and cold rolled steel, stamping and welding. Steel casement windows, popular during the first quarter of the 20th century in Tudor and Gothic style architecture, were forged from hot rolled steel.

 




This wrought iron, copper, and bronze exterior sconce was painted black, and missing some pendant bellflower details. It had been painted in the 1970's, for fear that it would be stolen during that difficult period in NYC history.

 





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Forging a Rat-Tail Hinge for a 16th century Chest





The bottom of the hinge was broken off and missing. The top of the hinge had been replaced, and had a rounded instead of "rat-tail" original shape. The owner had it in his family over 400 years.

 




This is the original intact hinge, to be matched using the old replaced upper portion of the hinge shown in the photo before this.

 




These are the two original hinges shown together. The bottom hinge used an early repaired section on the left, and a newly forged hinge section replacing the missing element on the right. The "blacksmith patina" is obtained heating the steel to over 900 deg. Fahrenheit, and applying a proprietary mix of wax. It is a true chemical patina.

 


This trunk hinge was not a true cast iron, and contained lead and zinc, for a relatively good quality "pot metal" that lasted over 100 years. It could not be repaired, and was instead replicated by forging, cutting, grinding, and finishing. A photo of the refinished trunk appears on the right.

 




This cast iron trunk handle broke, and was not repairable. We forged and cut a new one, matching the original.

 






Hammering is beginning of forging process to restore wrought iron trunk handle.

 




Heating and hammering of metal inside a shaped "hardy", or form starts shaping of the steel.

 




The wrought iron shape of the top of the handles has been created.

 




Cutting and grinding of the wrought iron.

 




The cutting and grinding are almost done

 




After drilling and finishing of the metal the texture of the cast iron is matched

 






Nickel Silver metal restoration - strip lacquer finish, fine sand and apply #4 satin mill finish, lacquer, and reinstall.

 




GRAND CENTRAL GATE PRESERVATION CUSTOM WROUGHT IRON GATE DETAIL


Victorian Period Ornamental Lightning Rod- Original ca. 1860 forged and cast lightning rod rotted through the melon detail. Paint and rust stripped, metal reinforced with welded elements as needed, and re-painted.

 








University Club- 1 West 54th St.- Facilities Dept. Dan Foreman (212) 247-2100





University Club, NYC- Sconces refinished, re-wired, and new glass dome lighting furnished

 



Metal Restoration Gallery



               1st East End Ave., NYC                                                         Steel Painted Kitchen