Blacksmiths Importance In The 1850's

19) Blacksmith's Branding Irons
19) Blacksmith's Anvil

There is often a joke as to who was more important on the goldfields.. the publican or the blacksmith.  The name blacksmith comes from his working iron, a black metal, in a forge. The iron becomes black because of the oxides that are formed during the heating of the metal.

The gauging of colour is very important in the forging process. It is used as an indicator of temperature, and the workability of the metal. In order to work the metal, it has to pass through the red glow, to orange, then yellow . If it gets to white hot, that is not good for forging, as the ideal forging-heat is a bright orange yellow. Most blacksmiths worked in shade, as direct sunlight makes the colours more difficult to see.

Forging is the process where the the metal is hammered into shape on an anvil. There are seven types of work involved; drawing down, shrinking, bending, upsetting, swageing, punching and welding.

The blacksmith was necessary to ensure that men's tools of trade were kept in good condition, whether for the timber industry, farming or mining.  His skill at creating picks and pick axes or welding new sections was essential for miners.

He could also make primitive cutlery, horse shoes, wheel rims  and branding irons. The iron cutlery would need to be washed before using to eat with, to get rid of the surface rust.

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