Skip to main content Skip to footer

Blacksmithing & Toolmaking

Viking-Era Smelting: Iron-Age Technology in the Modern Era

previous slide
next slide

Course Overview

We’re no stranger to taking materials back to the source: woodworking courses regularly head out to harvest birch; basketmakers can be spotted in local ditches cutting willow, sweetgrass, and cattail; and we even have the occasional sheep on campus for the fiber folk. But taking metalwork straight to the source—you don’t find that just anywhere! Enter Wayne Potratz, well-known sculptor and ironworker. In this unique experience, Wayne will lead students in building two types of smelting furnaces—a Viking-era style furnace and a brick hybrid furnace, then use them to make steel through the direct reduction of Minnesota magnetite iron ore into high-carbon steel. Additionally, the workshop will build small “Aristotle-style” furnaces to consolidate some of the smaller bits of steel produced into more workable blooms. The resulting steel blooms can be consolidated and hammered into billets suitable for tool and blade making. This course will be of interest to knife-makers, blacksmiths, sculptors, metallurgists, and students of the history of technology. Each student should come away with a piece of high carbon steel in an amount suitable for a small blade or other tool.

Required Tools

  • Leather shoes
  • Safety glasses 
  • Cotton clothing (long sleeve shirt, bandana or cotton hat, blue jeans)
  • Leather gloves 
  • Dust mask  


Thu, Sep 21st, 2023  –  Sun, Sep 24th, 2023

Course Details

Hours: 9am-5pm each day
Tuition: $375.00
Materials fee: $140.00
Latest Update: View recent changes →

Meet the Instructor

North House Folk School photo of instructor, Wayne Potratz
Wayne Potratz
Minneapolis, MN

Request a Catalog

Enjoy the tactile sensation of browsing our newsprint catalog of courses? Request your free copy of the North House Catalog here! And browse the digital edition while you wait!

Stay in touch!

Subscribe to our e-newsletter

Be the first to know about new courses and events!

Viking-Era Smelting: Iron-Age Technology in the Modern Era