Binding Wheels     Other forging        Decorative forging

De Poort isn’t originally a blacksmith shop, unlike the name of the manager would suggest (Smet ≈ Smith). We only started doning blacksmithing about ten years back when all of a sudden it became difficult to find a blacksmith capable of binding the wheels.

This is the first job we had to learn in order to preserve our trade. And we are glad to show you everything about it on the following pages.

Binding wheels

With binding a wheel we mean to put the iron tires around the wood.

Since the late 18th century this is done by shrinking a welded hoop around the wheel. In Diderots encyclopedia you can still see how in an earlier stage they used to press it on the wheel by mean of large beams and so on.

First the iron has to be cut to the exact length. This is done by rolling the wheel over the flat iron. It is cut off a little bit longer.

Then it has to be centered. We use one of the latest machines built to do so, capable of bending tires of one inch by six inches cold! The first and last part of the tire however are already bended the necessary curve on the anvil.

Then, after it has been bended, the tire is made to its exact size. Herefor we use the small iron wheel. It is rolled over the wooden wheel, marking the starting and ending point. Then the same thing is done on the inside of the tire, thus marking the exact length of the wheel. Then it is made shorter depending on the size of the wheel wherafter it is welded together. We don’t do this like the blacksmith would have done in the open fire but in stead use a modern welding machine. We spend a lot of attention to this weld and up to now we never had a weld that broke, even when the tire eventually happened to be to short and the wheel overtightened!

Then it is heated in the forge or more generally in an open fire and put on the wheel that is lying on a wooden platform. We put water on it and eventually place it in large tank where we can cool it off completely so that it suits tightly on the wood. Usually we do this with a larger number of wheels (say about eight to ten at the same time).

Exept for the welding, everything is done the same way as it used to be. The binding of the wheels is usually a kind of festivity, the charcoal of the fire being used for a large barbecue… (and sometimes you could easily roast an ox on these coals!)

Other kinds of forging

Of course we also have to produce all the other iron items that make part of wagons and carts. Mostly the old remains suffer from fatigue and have to be replaced. Springs we either take in from suppliers or make ourselves from silicium steel. When we make them ourselves this is usually done because we spend a lot of attention to the exact design of the original.

Forging that has nothing to do with carriages

Also our forges must work all the time so we produce a lot of items like hangirons or gates.