A furnace at full blast kept founders preparing to receive up to a ton of molten liquid iron. Crucible contents were checked frequently and slag impurities that float on top of the heavier molten iron were removed. All preparations had to be complete when the clay plug that held back the fiery liquid was pierced. Founders wore long leather aprons, gloves, and high boots to protect themselves from the searing heat.
Founders used simple hand tools: rakes to remove slag, V-shaped hoes called "ships," and ladles to complex molds. The liquid iron flowed through a network of shallow V-shaped trenches dug in the sand floor. The iron cooled and hardened into heavy bars called "sows."
This fireback was one of the products made at Saugus. Set at the rear of the fireplace, it reflected heat back into the room, thus reducing the amount that escaped up the chimney. Decorative wood carvings were patterns for the firebacks. The wood was pressed into the sand, creating an impression that was filled with molten iron flowing directly from the crucible.
Potters and pattern makers practiced their skills months before the casting work began. Even a simple cast-iron pot required a mold of several pieces. Pot molds were buried in the sand, and the liquid iron was ladled into openings.This small cast-iron pot is one of the products of Hammersmith.