Saturday, 9 March 2013


Had a brilliant day yesterday smelting the gold for the arrow pass. Mick took us to his workshop, it was like an Aladdin's cave, chock full of wonderful machinery that made me drool.

Being rather woodwork based, I've not often got to see the big stuff. This was great, there was all sorts, milling machine, lathe, huge old weird radial arm drill that I had to ask wha's that??? several forges and a power hammer, all the usual smaller stuff. Power saw, grinders, belt sanders welders, sandblasting booth. The sort of stuff that no home should be without.

It was a real blacksmiths/engineering shop with that lovely smell redolent of old railways and traction engines and loads of stock material of assorted sizes and offcuts of useful stuff under the bench. Mick gave us a thumbnail sketch of some of the stuff he does and picked up what looked like a plain bar with something like '240 layers' chalked on it, a quick clean and etch revealed the multiple layers and pattern of pattern forged steel. I could see the necessity for chalked on notes.

Mick hadn't smelted gold before so we'd talked it over and trawled the web and Youtube to find how to treat my nice new graphite crucible.
It all went smooth as silk, Mick tack welded my mould onto a suitable base plate, the crucible was heated red hot and some borax sprinkled in and melted. The gold was cut up an put in and back into the forge, it melted pretty quick and was poured into the mould which was heated dull red. The last small pic shows the resulting pellet of gold being annealed after some hammering.

The gold formed a bit of a mushroom head above the surface of the mould and we worried it hadn't filled it.
Nope, there was more gold than we'd realised!
I'd made the mold on the small size, expecting only a little gold so we took the opportunity to hammer it out to a larger size, knocking down to about 3mm thick with the power hammer. The power hammer was a thing to behold, I'd not seen one in the flesh before so Mick obliged by heating up some steel bar and forging it between the curved section of the die (jaws/anvils) of the power hammer to stretch it. (The jaws also had a flat section and a curved section, the flat section was used for flattening the gold).
I'd forgotten to take my camera but Shaun took some pics on his phone which give an idea of what was done.
Once we'd done it was back to may place for a well earned egg and bacon buttie and a play with the bows and my stuff.
In the evening I filed down the gold to a shield shape for the arrow plate, taking care to collect all the gold filings.

Saturday Afternoon:-
I've done the inlay and the leather grip just got to give it umpteen coats of Danish oil and we're done.

I've just weighed the dust, there's about 4g which means there's about 6 in the arrow plate. Dunno what carrat gold it is, but it's gotta be over sixty quids worth!

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