How carbon steel woks are hand forged



“Our challenge for this project was how to extend a craft process without losing craft know-how,†says Robert Thomas of Robert Thomas Iron Design, who was commissioned to create carbon steel woks for the brand. Smithey kitchen utensils.

With the help of a few unique tools and his team of master craftsmen, the challenge was met with enthusiasm. The team decided to use a machine that is primarily used in precision sheet metal work, especially in the aerospace or automotive industry. “This machine was designed to, for example, make a mudguard on a 1965 Ferrari,†Thomas explains. “And somebody’s got to sit there and shape it by hand and eye.”

The machine is equipped with a reciprocal hammer, and the gap between the hammer and the metal it hammers can be adjusted using a foot pedal. It’s similar to the movement and speed of a sewing machine, but instead of a needle, there’s a giant hammer. Annie Cole Arthur, Kitchen Utensils Division Team Leader, shows how she moves a piece of flat sheet metal through and around the machine in a circular motion to make it create the rounded shape she is looking for. “I make quick judgments with every blow of the hammer to manipulate it and move it where I want it to be,†she says. “You really pay attention to the changes in the surface – how it arches, what the radius is. You need to know what it looked like before this hit, what it looked like during this hit, and what it looked like after this hit. The finished product is a smooth, rounded bowl that will serve as the main part of the wok.

Watch the video to see how the team uses traditional forging techniques to create wok handles and how they professionally season the instrument.



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