Hand-forged decorative and ornamental wrought iron

Black Bear Forge

Hand-forged custom iron from the blacksmith shop

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Why Hand-forged Iron?

At Black Bear Forge we are blacksmiths and, to the extent possible, strongly favor traditional blacksmithing techniques over modern substitutes. So, what does this mean to our customers?  Quality, character, design, and authenticity.

Blacksmithing is defined by the process of forming hot metal, generally between the hammer and anvil.  Materials, mild steel in most cases,  are first heated in either a coal-fired forge or propane gas forge to 1500-2000 degrees.  At this heat the iron becomes plastic and can be reworked (forged) into new and exciting shapes as elements of the project.  These elements are then joined using hand-forged methods such as mortise and tenon joints, rivets and hot collars.  Hot forging in the traditional blacksmith's manner gives the iron more life and depth than other more modern methods.  While a railing, for example, can be built with pieces of iron cut by a computerized laser and arc welded together, it will not have the warmth and depth of good hand-forged iron.

Another way modern decorative iron objects are made is through fabrication.  Fabrication generally involves cutting bars to length, arc welding them together, and adding stock decorative elements ordered from a catalog.  Blacksmiths generally refer to this type of work as "cut and paste".  It is nearly impossible to achieve the same look in a purely fabricated piece as in the hand-forged piece, even if both are made from the same design.   This isn't meant to say that fabricated iron work doesn't have its place. Some fabricators do wonders without forging.  Often it is economical to use fabrication for the assembly of hand-forged elements, saving the cost of traditional forged joinery yet retaining the beauty of hand-forged iron.

Hand-forged iron will almost always cost more than modern fabricated ornamental iron, But, if you want the very best for your project, we feel that quality custom forged iron work is the only way to go.

Decorative iron work is often called wrought iron.  However, wrought iron actually designates a material that is no longer made in any quantity today.  The only source I know of for real wrought iron is a historical site in England that is still making it the old way. However, the cost of shipping this wrought iron to the United States makes true wrought iron far too expensive to work with today.  Our material of choice, then, is mild steel -- readily available and a stronger, more predictable material.

This forge-welded corner joint is made possible only by traditional blacksmithing techniques.

forge welded corner

  Site last updated on: 05/06/2017