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A blacksmithing forge is a system that allows coals to be heated to a sufficient temperature for heating and bending metal. A blacksmith is a person who uses such a forge to create metal products, and the job is a dangerous one. The fires of a blacksmithing forge get extremely hot, and they must be constantly stoked to maintain that high temperature. Several components of the forge exist: the fan or bellows, the tuyere, the fire pot, and the hearth. Other components may be added for convenience or safety as well, depending on the types of metal products being made.
The fire pot is the location at the center of the blacksmithing forge where the coals are burned. The hearth surrounding the fire pot will also contain coals that are already heated to a sufficient temperature; it is here that the blacksmith will begin to heat the metal, as this is the location where the heat is most consistent. Beneath the fire pot is the tuyere, which is essentially a pipe or system of pipes through which air can be forced to stoke the fires. Ash may also vent through this pipe to ensure a consistent, unclogged air passage for the blacksmithing forge.
At the far end of the tuyere is the fan or blower. In the past, a device known as a bellows was used to blow air directly onto the coals, and an assistant was needed to operate this piece of equipment. This meant another person was lingering around the coals, potentially getting in the way of the blacksmith and having to avoid injuries from burns. More modern versions of the blacksmithing forge use electric or motorized fans mounted at the end of the tuyere to create a more consistent airflow without the need for an assistant to operate it. Early models of such blowers were hand-crank operated, meaning an assistant was still necessary, but that assistant was far enough away from the fires to be out of the blacksmith's way.
The blacksmithing forge allows the blacksmith to heat metals until they are malleable. Once the metal reaches such a temperature, the blacksmith can use other tools such as a hammer and anvil to shape the metal. The piece is then cooled so it hardens in that shape, or it is returned to the fire to be reheated for further bending and shaping. Tongs must be used to handle the metal, as it will be too hot to be moved by hand.
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