Wrought Iron and Metalwork Glossary

Speak a Little Wrought Iron - You'll Make a Better Choice


A mixture of two or more metals such as bronze which is made of copper and tin. Alloys are not compounds but mixtures of metals dissolved into each other which crystallized into separate crystals on solidifying.


A heavy object of durable material that resists the inertia of a hammer or mechanical ram while supporting material struck by the moving part. The modern blacksmith’s has a hard, heat treated, tool steel face and a durable soft iron or steel body. The shape and size vary with the application. The average anvil weighs approximately 120 pounds (55kg).


A person who works, repairs and shapes iron using a forge, anvil, hammer, and other tools. The modern blacksmith is an artisan specializing in the hand-wrought manufacture of metal objects, such as wrought iron gates, grills, railings, decorative pieces etc.

This term is sometimes inaccurately used as a synonym for Farrier because modern farriers craft steel horseshoes. They are indeed blacksmiths, but not all Blacksmiths are Farriers.


An alloy made primarily of copper and zinc, golden yellow in colour.


An alloy made primarily of copper and tin, sometimes containing small amounts of other metals. Harder than copper it is often cast to make statues.

Cast Iron

Also called Pig Iron, is iron with high carbon content, making it hard but brittle. It cannot be forged. It must be shaped by casting rather than hammering or beating.


The manufacture of a solid object by pouring molten metal, into a mold and allowing it to cool.


Reddish-brown in color, copper bends easily and is a good conductor of electricity and heat. Copper is the primary metal in the alloys brass and bronze.


A term used when a blacksmiths hammers hot steel in a particular direction, usually making it tapered on one end.


Used to describe metal or another substance that can be hammered, shaped or bent without breaking. Also referred to as Malleable.

Flame Hardening

A surface hardening technique using an intense heat source followed by a water quench.


A flux is a chemical that dissolves metal oxides for the joining of the metals by soldering, brazing or welding. Secondarily the flux may protect the metal from further oxidation while heating.


A device or place to hold an intensified fire for the purpose of metalworking. A typical forge has a forced air source such as a bellows or blower to intensify the fire, a refractory lining or enclosure to hold the fire and a chimney or vent. May be fueled by charcoal, coal or propane.


The act or process of shaping heated metal by hammering, giving the metal a rich surface texture and almost sculptural quality. Steel is heated in a forge until nearly white hot. At this temperature it becomes soft enough to be shaped by hammering on an anvil. Each blow leaves its mark and the work produced is highly detailed with a genuine individuality.


A metal coating applied to metal, usually iron or steel to prevent corrosion.


Mechanical device used to smooth welds and remove burrs from steel in the fabrication process.


The word “iron” is used loosely to describe anything made of cast iron, steel or wrought iron. Pure iron is a soft ductile metal. Unprotected it oxidizes (rusts) rapidly.


Term used to describe metal or another substance that can be hammered, shaped or bent without breaking. Also referred to as Ductile.


Changed into liquid form by heat.


To react or make react with oxygen.


A thin layer formed by corrosion on the surface of some metals, especially the green layer that covers copper and bronze when exposed to air.

Pig Iron

Also called Cast Iron, is iron with high carbon content, making it hard but brittle. The term originated from the practice of casting ingots in triangular section troughs cut in the sand floor of foundries. It cannot be forged. It must be shaped by casting rather than hammering or beating.


To cool hot metal by plunging it into cold water or other liquid.


A reddish-brown coating of iron oxide on the surface of iron or steel that forms when the metal is exposed to air and moisture.


Is iron with a small percentage of carbon allowing it to harden. The more carbon the harder the steel can be made by heat treatment.

When heated until nearly white hot, steel becomes soft enough to be shaped and moved by hammering it on an anvil; the forging process. Careful use of different shaped hammers and well aimed blows allow the blacksmith to control the direction and extent the metal moves. This gives forged steel a rich natural texture and a three dimensional, sculpture like quality.


In metals, it is the hardness resulting from the manufacturing process, heat treating, or aging. In ferrous alloys it is the hardness after heat treating.


Tin is the secondary metal in the alloy bronze and the primary metal in solder. A silvery easily shaped metallic element used extensively in alloys such as solder, bronze and pewter. It is corrosion resistant with a low melting point and used as a protective coating for steel.


A large tweezer like tool used by the blacksmith to hold hot metal.


In forging, it means to increase a section and reduce length by hammering or pressing on the end of a bar. An “upsetter” is a mechanical or hydraulic machine for producing larger masses on the end of a bar.

Wrought Iron

A highly refined form of iron that is easy to shape when heated but is strong and fairly resistant to rust. Wrought iron is also the term used to describe decorative ironwork