Chapter 6 – The Commencement of Work
Putting together the heat-resistant bricks, then filling the remaining holes with the crumbles of clay, a strong and solid furnace which can resist high temperatures was made. It was 3.6 meters tall, 40-something centimeters in width, and 80 centimeters long.
The special shape of the furnace was made so that it could use the reflection of the radiant heat to prominently increase its temperature. The chimney was made long and narrow, in order to improve the effectiveness of the heat. It was also manufactured so that whenever it ceased to work, one could use it straight away without waiting.
Finally – thought Eiji.
In the blacksmith’s workshop there was tons of firewood piling up, and next to it, in the same amount, iron oxide. This all alone took two months of preparation.
Of course, were it not for the aid coming from the village, such as digging up iron ores, getting firewood, and constructing the furnace and the workshop, Eiji wouldn’t be able to make all of this. One could say that it was no ordinary assistance.
As Eiji looked around his workshop, there were still lots of tools missing, such as an anvil, an iron hammer, and clippers. It was clear that from now on, he has to focus on making them.
In exchange, there was a working platform waiting for him, already. If it were a blacksmith’s workshop during Japanese ancient times, the working process would be carried out on the very low floor level. However, in present times, workshops became modernized, making the process possible to be done in a standing position.
Tanya, who came to celebrate the completion of the furnace, gave a sigh of admiration. The workshop was wide, which was crucial to maintain the heat-resistance when using fire.
Because of the walls being made using new and profound bricks, the workshop looked exceptionally beautiful. What’s more, the ceiling used to shelter from rain was firmly built. Eiji could understand that Fernando’s work was well performed.
– Congratulation for the completion, Eiji-kun.
– Tanya-san…. now I can finally start my work and commit myself to the duty. Please forgive me for having lived in your care for every single day.
– Were you not doing your best for the preparation? Even doing your best for the sake of preparation is a part of one’s labor. I believe you were doing your work diligently.
– Tanya-san… thank you.
– Huh? Ain’t you trying to show off there?
– Fernando-san….please don’t butt in.
– Nope, it seemed like I was ignored, so at least let me talk, hahaha.
As Fernando laughed, both Eiji and Tanya, whose faces became red like a beetroot, realized they had been closed inside their own world.
Tanya, who felt particularly embarrassed, covered her face with her hands. You could notice that her ears were flushed red.
Eiji bowed down. He understood that Fernando will not get any reward for building the house.
– Thank you, for the magnificent work you have done here.
– Don’t worry. Was it not a request coming from the village? What’s more, the labor was really fun, thanks to the help of the other guys. It was a nice experience, considering that we rarely build anything using bricks. I was really excited to see the fruit of the labor.
– It would be different, if it was a request made by a blacksmith from other villages, but since you’re one of us, we don’t mind at all. Nevertheless, it’s getting hot, so it’s better to watch it from the distance.
– Well, then please do as you wish. Later, Mike and Jane will join us as well.
– Even though we are next to you, thanks for your consideration.
As Eiji turned his look toward the entrance, the sight of the couple could be seen. Once their eyes met, both sides exchanged bows.
Mike was holding a basket, full of dried meat and fruits. Once he put it forward to Eiji, you could feel him being discontented. When Eiji took the basket, Jane laughed mischievously.
– Congratulation on your workshop, Eiji.
– Mike-san, Jane-san, thank you very much. I’ve been causing you nothing but troubles every single day, but now, I would like to return you the favor, so I’m looking forward to working with you.
– My husband said that he wanted to come and celebrate, no matter what.
– Eh? Wasn’t you the one who-awwie!
– Sorry for my husband, but please treat him well.
– S-same here.
Eiji, dumbfounded because of the situation, saw off Mike, who was still groaning in displeasure. Finally, the tribal chief came to pay a visit.
Even though the village population was only around around 250-something, quite a lot of people came to welcome Eiji, since it was the first blacksmith’s workshop in this area. As the owner of the newly opened workshop, Eiji probably felt some tension rising.
– Oh my, isn’t this place nice? Fernando, you sure are something.
– Thank you.
– And Eiji, I’m looking forward to your contribution.
– Yes, please leave it to me.
– Well then, I shall watch you doing your work.
– Tribal chief?
– Is there any problem?
– No, please feel free to watch, since you deserve it after two months of waiting. Then again, if you wait one more month, I’ll be able to make the full use of my skills, so that I can satisfy you.
Tanya, the tribal chief, and Fernando watched as Eiji was moving around.
Once the furnace is kindled, it requires time to achieve the desired temperature.
It was the strange sight of many people from the past observing Eiji, who came from the future, lighting the furnace.
As he throws some firewood into the furnace, the sound of the wood crackling is heard, and the fire starts to get bigger. He uses a pair of bellows to deliver more wind.
Once the inside of furnace received enough oxygen, the wood started to shine crimson red. Because of the amount of heat radiation, Eiji’s body and face began to produce sweat. The extent of heat was so unbelievable that his sweat vaporized within a blink of an eye.
A long time passed before the furnace heated up. However, the temperature reached an absurd level.
– I apologize for making you wait. Now that preparations are done, allow me to explain. When the temperature of the furnace is ascertained, we throw in some oxidized iron. Then this time, unlike before, we put some charcoal on them.
– That’s fast.
– The actions you take are well planned.
Eiji’s movements were fast. Once he adds iron oxide inside the furnace through the mouth, he stirs it, and then puts some charcoal in.
– Next, we stop using bellows, and close the mouth using bricks.
Inside the mouth of the furnace, bricks started to pile up. So as to observe the inside, holes need to be made, even if it is just a few. However, it had no effect on the flames inside.
As the furnace began to block up, the temperature dropped. At the same time, the room became dim.
The light shining through from the furnace mouth gently illuminated the workplace. Fernando, who was watching the whole process, bent his neck with a curiosity. Because the people in this village commonly uses a stove to ignite the fire, it would be normal for it to become stronger when blown using the wind, and weaker when blocked up.
– If you block the furnace, won’t the fire disappear?
– Yeah, that would be the common knowledge. As you can see, there’s already enough of the component called oxygen for this red iron to continue to shine. If you cut the source of it, which comes from the atmosphere, it would be natural for the flame to disappear. However, this flame uses oxygen coming from iron dioxide, therefore, the flame which you see keeps burning.
– It’s just as you say…
And the light coming from the flame keeps oozing through the holes.
– The temperature of the furnace ranges from around 900 Celsius to 1200-some-odd Celsius. At around 900 Celsius, the oxygen starts to reduce, and by 1200 Celsius, the foreign matter called slag begins to flow out. You can tell how hot it is from the flame. The flame at low temperatures is red. At higher temperatures, it changes color from a bitter orange to yellow, and eventually, becomes white. Well, it should be the right moment soon. We take out the deoxidized iron, together with the slag running off the furnace.
– Around 900 Celsius, what’s that?
– It tells you how hot it is.
Eiji moves quickly again. Once the bricks are taken out, he plans to take out the iron using a shovel. First, the sordid foreign matter runs off. A lava like thing slowly fall off into the water which was laid before the furnace, and a large amount of vapor starts to produce, cooling of the slag.
Inside the furnace, the iron kept burning crimson red.
– Woah, it’s burning crimson red.
– Won’t you get burned?…I’m worried.
– I’ve got leather gloves, so it should make my work easier, but, if I don’t do it fast enough, I’m going to get burned.
– That’s some dangerous work there.
– It won’t be a big deal as long I move fast. My aim is to make an iron hammer, but for the time being, I’ll stay content with the bronze one. The next step is to kick out the remaining slag inside the iron.
As there’s no anvil, Eiji places the lump of iron on the big stone, and strikes it. Sparks and the foreign matter called slag begin to scatter around, illuminating Eiji’s face.
– The foreign matter will be removed when we finish striking the melted iron. Then we can start forming a shape. Because I’ll focus on speed, rather than quality, this time, once the slag is removed, we won’t have to go through the folding procedure.
Folding serves as to clog random spots caused by the components.
Due to the irregular distribution of components which creates spots, the iron that was just taken out has an unstable level of hardness.
But because Eiji’s intention wasn’t to create the iron hammer as the last thing, he omitted this procedure. As the lump of iron cools down, he puts it into the furnace again, and repeats the same procedure of striking it. Then he uses a bronze tip of a spear, as a substitute for a graver, to shape the figure of the iron.
– We increase its hardness by water sprinkling and quenching. Water sprinkling is, in other words, striking with the hammer after it was submerged into water.
A clear sound of striking metal could be heard. As the iron burned, its surface started to oxidized. Due to the level of hardness being low at these places, there was a need to remove them.
As a result of the water sprinkling, the temperature falls rapidly, causing a vapor explosion, which deals with the oxidized parts.
The oscillation caused by the explosion makes the iron shake, to the extent of making everyone surprised.
– We maintain the balance of the iron components by quenching it till it reaches the max temperature. Then, we may put it into water, oil, or in some cases, honey.
Eiji puts the iron hammer into the bucket, which together with the sound of vapor, starts to burn. Inside, the oil that started to burn, even faster than a flash point.
Just like that, Eiji waited for a minute, and once he confirmed that it has obtained the right temperature, he took out the hammer.
– The lower the temperature of the iron, the harder it becomes. To be honest, I want to cool forged items using ice, but I guess I’ll use river water as a substitute. Lastly, once the iron becomes hard, in order to improve the flexibility, you have to perform the tempering procedure.
Martensite’ing is one of the technique used in katanas.
During the tempering procedure, the temperature depends on what you’re making. Therefore, high proficiency has to be maintained during this process.
You have to do it skillfully, otherwise sharp-edged tools become blunt, and hammers become chipped.
After Eiji finished the procedure, he removed the remaining slag that melted inside the furnace, and blew in some wind to increase its temperature.
– I keep repeating the same procedure, so it might be boring…
– That was awesome. To think that this much time is needed to make a single item.
– Yes, I was full of admiration. Incredible.
– Yes, with that I can be at peace.
– Actually, it takes a lot more time, as this had many procedures omitted. I’ll be making more tools from now on, so I’d like to you to back me up.
A lump of iron shining dark., once Eiji inserted the handgrip, he could recognize the hammer which he was used to. However, a performance such as this was enough to charm the spectators, who had never seen anything like this before.
I should record this down – the no.1 tool – he thought.
Translator and reference notes:
: Another process performed after quenching, which aims to eliminate excess of hardness. For more details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempering_%28metallurgy%29
: Although there’s no such process called martensite’ing, the author used the term “martensite”, instead. Martensite refers to a very hard form of steel structure obtained through more rigoristic quenching. For more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martensite
: At least, not for the time being.
: Again Fernando’s speaking.