Published: Jan 2005
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THE BEGINNINGS OF THE IRON AGE IN AUSTRIA about 3000 years ago mark the start of iron and steel forging, since at that time hot working by hammering was part of the process for producing wrought iron, and for making products in both wrought iron and steel. The crude smelting furnaces using high-grade iron ore, charcoal, and fluxes produced small quantities of iron that had to be forge welded together by hand to produce useful stock. Initially, this was the main purpose of forging. The hammers used were quite substantial, examples weighing about 80 lb (36 kg) having been found. Hand hammer working by smiths persisted as the main shaping procedure for iron and steel until the Middle Ages in Europe when lever operated Olivers were introduced. Several accounts of Olivers  have been traced to the north of England and one at Beaumarais Castle near Anglesey in North Wales in 1335. Their use continued into the eighteenth century. The Oliver consisted of a hammer attached to an axle by a long shaft that was tripped by a foot-operated treadle. A swing shaft then rotated the axle and raised the hammer for the next blow. A sketch (Fig. 1.1) from a book  published in 1770 gives some idea of the apparatus. As demand and the size of the iron blooms increased, the Olivers were superseded by water-powered tilt hammers. The melt and forge shops were generally close together since both operations went hand-in-glove; hence, the modern concept of an integrated melt and forge shop goes back a long way. An example of a water-powered tilt hammer at the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet near Sheffield, England is shown in Fig. 1.2. Another tilt hammer design is shown in Fig. 1.3. This used the elastic energy from bending a wooden board to augment the gravity drop of the hammerhead.