We have watched and participated in a number of other iron smelts over the years, with variable results.
So John eagerly jumped on the chance to learn more about smelting iron by watching Lee Sauder and his team in action at the 2012 ABANA conference in Rapid City, SD.
Lee provides complete instructions for smelting iron ore to iron on his website and also offers a very helpful DVD.
John took advantage of both of these resources.
When John got home, he began preparing for a smelt of his own here at Tunnel Mill. He rounded up all the needed materials
and got a team together to run the smelt during the annual Tunnel Mill Fall Gathering.
The whole thing went very well and the weather cooperated superbly.
We got about 7 pounds of high quality bloom that needed hardly any consolidation. We also got about another 4 pounds of material that we think we can work with sometime in the future.
According to Lee Sauder's method, we should have gotten about twice a much iron, but we are in contact with Lee to figure out how to improve our output next season.
The furnace stood up very well and we think we can follow Lee's repair directions to get at least one more run from it. All in all, though, we were very happy with the results.
Chunks of Cooled hardened Slag
The Smelt Site while the Furnace is being Cured
The Furnace in operation
Bar of wrought Iron we made with Ore in the foreground
Testing Carbon Content of the Wrought Iron
Record of the Smelting Data
There were several observers at our smelt and most (if not all) of them said this was the most successful smelt they have ever witnessed.