Barry Can't Arf Weld
November 19, 2014 6:25 AM   Subscribe

A short film about large scale Forging of special steels. Filmed at Firth Rixson in Sheffield. If you'd like to see very large machines bashing the crap out of very hot pieces of metal guided by very skilled workers, this is eight minutes of beautifully shot film that is very much for you.
posted by Happy Dave (34 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
Now that is some teamwork and trust. Beautiful video, thanks for sharing.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:40 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

they should show the outtakes, I bet they'd be a smash hit! Uh, sorry chap, but look on the bright side, you no longer have to take your big foam finger to the football match!
posted by any major dude at 6:56 AM on November 19, 2014

In those first moments I half expected to see Oliver Reed in his Munchausen Vulcan costume standing by, upraised hammer in hand.

Interesting to note that these men are not young. Some skills take time. Steelmaking is a brutal affair requiring titanic forces; this film captured some of its beauty and poetry.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:59 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I really enjoyed this, thank you!
posted by Setec Astronomy at 7:09 AM on November 19, 2014

Oh, wow. Thanks for that. I'll be typing extra hard today as I forge this VBA.
posted by chazlarson at 7:17 AM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Saw the comment about the film being down for a few days a few months ago and now I'm super curious what secret proprietary doohickey or technique I might have caught a glimpse of.
posted by Wretch729 at 7:19 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ok, just as a total derail but we've had posts that overlap. What we need in outer space is equipment like this. Workers that can forge and build heavy duty parts for the space stations.
posted by sammyo at 7:25 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I could watch videos on metal fabrication for for hours. Awesome soundtrack - reminds me of the eerie, ambient music in The Thing.
posted by mister_oxenfree at 7:28 AM on November 19, 2014

You're right. That was for me.
posted by rlk at 7:32 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Interesting to note that these men are not young. Some skills take time.

Yes, and demand for this kind of work has plummeted (at British wage prices), meaning there isn't a massive amount of future potential in it for younger workers.

Here's another video by the same guy of a worker at Ernest Wright and Sons, one of the last makers of handmade scissors in the UK.

And here's another video showing some younger workers at the same company. But it's one of the last ones. So there's only ever going to be a few people who can make be trained up to do such work as these kind of high-end, handmade products continue to become a niche for very few, in-the-know customers or those with custom, specialised requirements.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:32 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

On the one hand: Amazing footage. Makes me want to write bad Victorian industrial poetry.

One the other hand: Before we got coal's issues sorted out, most of the trees in Europe got cut down to do this incredibly heat-intensive work.
posted by clawsoon at 7:32 AM on November 19, 2014

It's neat, but it is so context free, with no narrator, no finished product at the end (except maybe the rings, but they don't feel finished/assembled/done).. What are they making ? Why throw sand in while it's being pressed ? Is it flux ? questions, questions questions..
posted by k5.user at 7:42 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sand keeps the forging from sticking to the die, I believe.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:53 AM on November 19, 2014

k5.user, check out the second link. The company in question does all kinds of custom work for oil and gas, defence, aerospace, power generation and so on. They've got a lot of information on their site about what they produce.

No idea about the sand though.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:56 AM on November 19, 2014

I'm pretty sure I saw a wrist pin in there and that last part is definitely a rod cap, so at least some of these parts are for a very large internal-combustion motor. Like, approaching the size of a semi trailer.
posted by bizwank at 7:58 AM on November 19, 2014

I could watch videos on metal fabrication for for hours

I was just reading about ASMR this week (thanks Comedy Bang Bang!), and I have a theory that fabrication/skilled craft videos have a similar pleasing effect on me, though definitely less stimulating than those ASMR folk. I watched a 1/2 hour video about a water-powered sawmill awhile ago. I'll spend hours watching videos of lathework.
posted by Think_Long at 8:05 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

This was very cool. I did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did.
posted by Thistledown at 8:31 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

“If you haven't been this close to superhumans, you don't understand what it's like to fight them. Even when you've got powers yourself, the predominant impression is one of shock. The forces moving around you are out of human scale, and your nervous system doesn't know how to deal with it. It's like being in a car accident, over and over again. You never feel the pain until later.”

- Austin Grossman, "Soon I Will Be Invincible"

For some reason, this whole movie reminded me of that line.
posted by mhoye at 8:37 AM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

Hot stuff, coming through!
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:39 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Man, they could've made this video 3 hours long and I would've watched it. Really, really cool, thank you.
posted by nevercalm at 8:52 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Amazing and great photography.

This banished my mistaken belief that all big steel stuff was rusting away in Pennsylvania, made in China, or done by robots somewhere....

I felt scared and fascinated, at the same time, by the big machines....

I wonder what something hand-forged like that big donut thing that they kept punching out ends up costing?

Is there a catalog with prices for this custom stuff somewhere?
posted by CrowGoat at 9:13 AM on November 19, 2014

I watched a 1/2 hour video about a water-powered sawmill awhile ago.

Don't be a tease, now, where's the link?
posted by echo target at 10:02 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Now That's What I Call Metal Machine Music!
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:09 AM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Thank you for the awesome video - my grandfather was a steel worker in Cardiff, though I'm not sure what his exact task was - all I remember him saying about the steelworks was that it was very hot and noisy. Also my big brother works for Krupp - a steel import/exporter.... so I'm going to send him a link right now. I know he visited some works in India where half the workers were barefoot...
posted by Monkeymoo at 10:15 AM on November 19, 2014

Apparently Valyrian steel is so great it doesn't need to be forged at all, you just melt it down and pour it into a sword-shaped mold. No, I'm not getting over it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:27 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't be a tease, now, where's the link?

Ben's Mill. The Folkstreamer profile has quite a few similar videos of traditional skilled crafts.

Look also to videos of traditional Japanese woodworking, and wood inlay and lamination. All fun and soothing and inspiring.
posted by Think_Long at 10:38 AM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]

I used to work in a place where we had a division that did forging of big hunks of metal - big tractor & truck springs and a bunch of other stuff. I worked next door in the parts dept, but what I remember from my occasional trips over there is the heat. Even when it was -40C outside it would be +36 to +40C in the forge, with big forklifts carrying red-hot pieces of metal from the forge to the stamping machines/hammers, or picking metal up with giant tongs on the overhead crane. I wish I could say it was like the fires of hell or something, but it was really interesting.
posted by sneebler at 6:04 PM on November 19, 2014

This was excellent, thanks for sharing. And could the music have been more perfect? Incredible.
posted by !Jim at 6:28 PM on November 19, 2014

Great film. Loved the audio, and the parts where the camera visibly shakes because a giant steel press is doing it's business ten feet away.

Outstanding subject matter. I love how Sheffield has this totally deserved Iron/Steel rep, and it's always these old dudes running the show. My Great Grandfather worked in steel mills in the NE almost a hundred years ago, and I've always had an affinity for them. That scene in Deer Hunter where they're in the mill was my favorite part of the whole movie.

One quibble.

Holy crap, it only happens a couple of times, but hot damn get the camera set before you go for the shot. What, you didn't know they were gonna put the glowy metal ring on that little stand thing and you had to change your shot? Watch them go through it once maybe? Ask one of the lowbies what's coming next? I was taught to establish your shot and stick with it. If you need to adjust your shot, go for another take. Don't let your desire for the perfect shot kill an otherwise good or fixable shot. God! /editing rant
posted by Sphinx at 7:57 PM on November 19, 2014

I looked at the second link, and I still want to know what those giant rings are for. Railroad car wheels? The washer for god's own faucet?
posted by axiom at 8:02 PM on November 19, 2014

Gear for a large engine.
posted by Nevin at 10:33 PM on November 19, 2014

"Tha's t'internet ferya i'n't it?"
posted by cthuljew at 11:44 PM on November 19, 2014

The sand is a forging flux, probably a fine high-silica sand. It creates a air-impermeable coating that helps prevent oxidation (scale) and loss of carbon (decarb), keeps the work from sticking, and acts as a lubricant to allow the metal to flow around and conform to the die shape. Without it, there would be liquified iron oxide flying around all over the shop, complex dies might not infill or might stick to the work, and the work would have to be forged oversized then ground down to remove excessive scale and decarb. I use power hammers and forging presses on a much smaller scale, and use borax similarly, or occasionally a suspension of bentonite clay in a solvent base designed specifically for coating hot work tools to prevent sticking.
posted by Blackanvil at 1:25 PM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

I love the fact that pretty much every hand tool in sight was likely made there for exactly whatever purpose they're used for.
posted by mikelieman at 3:47 PM on November 22, 2014

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