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#96968 - 02/26/03 10:06 AM A blacksmith's word
Anneal: The process of softening metal. For ferrous metals, that is those containing iron, the
process involves heating the steel up to its critcal temperature and then slowly cooling it. For
non-ferrous metals such as brass, bronze, silver, gold, aluminum and the like, the process is
exactly opposite. The metal is heated to the critical temperature and then quickly quenched
in water, snow,urine, or oil. What annealing actually does on a molecular level is to allow the
metal crystals to realign, moving them into their morerelaxed state. When the metal is worked,
the crystals are moved out of alignment, contributing to both hardness and brittleness.
Practically, in the production of arms and armour the metal must be annealed as it is worked,
otherwise the metal might stress enough that it will crack.
Hear treatment of metals takes many forms. An automobile crankshaft for instance wouldn't
go even thirty thousand miles if not heat treated. I remember back in 1949 the workers in heat
treatment department at Mercury went on strike, so unheated crankshafts were put into
cars and sold. The cars didn't last very long. Both management and labor were irresponsible,
and didn't give a damn about the buyer. Thank the Japanese for curing Detroit of a lot of
I still remember my father making punches by case hardening ordinary nails, until they could be
driven into a piece of soft steel. I never learned how to do it.
#96969 - 03/01/03 09:13 PM Re: A blacksmith's word
Loc: Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
Interesting...all the time I've spent chatting with the village blacksmith over the past few years, and he explained a lot...but he never mentioned this. I'll have to ask him about it the next time I see him. You wouldn't want to see the tips of his fingers (or what's left of them), though (ouch!).
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