By: Charles Fogg – Published 2008
Price : $ – Amazon
Philip’s Ranking: 4
Beginner Blacksmith: 0
Advanced Blacksmith: 0
Video Review: N/A
A relatively new book, published in 2008, Charles Fogg Chains and Chainmaking is a short book at only 32 pages long but it’s a topic that I love and Charles does a great job covering the history of the subject and mixing in interesting personal stories.
I personally fell in love with the history of chainmaking when I started learning to forge weld and decided chainmaking was the way to get good at it. I still haven’t found a better project to repeatedly practice weld after weld after weld. Keeping a welding fire going while you forge hot link after link while sparks are flying is both a lot of fun and incredibly hard work. It gives me a great deal of respect for those that did this work for day after day for decades at a stretch.
Chainmaking in the UK is an area with a fascinating history because it was spread across such a wide variety of producers. Large heavy chain was made in major chainmaking factories with multiple chain makers working on individual links. Medium to light chain was forged in production chainmaking shops with forges running up and down a long building each smith cranking out link after link and these smiths were frequently women. The lightest chain was made in a craft industry with, predominantly, women and children forging links at home with chain material being dropped off at the start of the week and the completed chains being picked up at the end of the week.
Probably one of the most surprising things I learned from the book was that commercial hand forged chain only stopped being produced at the end of the 1970s. Today chain is made in largely automated factories by machines that use modern welding techniques and can produce links at a rate that would have been
Charles also does a great job providing some highlights of the sorts of tools used in the hand forged chain industry with both photographs and illustrations.
At 32 pages and with a UK focus this certainly isn’t an exhaustive history of chainmaking but it is fascinating to read and well worth picking up if chainmaking is an area that interests you.
And if you need to learn to forge weld it’s a great way to practice.
For my overall rating I’ve given the book a 4 in part because it is a subject I personally really like. If you aren’t interested in chain making then both beginner and advanced blacksmiths can skip this book. If you do want to make chain this is a great inspirational book so I’ve given it a 3 because if you don’t want to make chain there isn’t a lot in here for you.
How to Forge Chain
My video on learning to forge weld by making chain links.