Spinning black iron pans at Netherton
We've had lots of requests to see how we spin our black iron woks, frying and saucepans.
It’s no secret that we are big fans of spun Iron (and copper), and one of the most commonly asked questions we get is “what is spinning?” In this video clip we see Ryan spinning one of our 12'' frying pan bodies at our Cleobury works.
We certainly didn’t invent metal spinning. It’s a craft that can be traced back thousands of years. Metal spinning is a method of forming a flat metal disk on a lathe into many different shapes. (Made in Britain, 2021). Primitive versions of spinning (probably copper alloys) were depicted in Ancient Egyptian tombs showing what is thought to have been two wooden posts which were positioned horizontally to serve as a mount for a spindle, with a rope looped around to provide movement. Back then this was a two person job, one would operate the spindle movement and another craftsman would form the workpiece.
It's still a two person job for some of our thicker pans, here Ryan and Colin tackling a steak skillet.
The first Iron spinning was believed to be found in the Middle Ages where the craftsmen introduced a pedal to gain a better focus on accuracy and precision. The way we spin our pans isn’t quite that old, but it does date back to the Industrial Revolution and the invention of powered metal spinning lathes. Initially steam and water driven, from the 1920’s the lathes began to be fitted with independent electric motors. At Netherton Foundry we continue to use traditional hand spinning methods that date back to the industrial revolution, a combination of hand skills and engineering principles. Our three lathes are nearly 100 years old and were built by lathe manufacturer, E.G.Wilson & Son, Birmingham.
In the last 50 years metal spinning has become dwindling art. As manufacturing moved overseas a generation of spinners was lost. Netherton Foundry plans to ensure we preserve these skills so we can continue to create genuinely handmade housewares. We have two spinners; our master spinne,r Colin, has been spinning metal for over 40 years. He has been teaching Ryan (our accomplished pan maker) more tricks of the trade to perfect his metal spinning skills. We hope by showing off Ryan’s skill we can inspire a new generation of younger craft spinners.
Why have we continued to use this traditional method? It’s not fast or cheap! However, spun iron has many properties that make it perfect for cookware, it’s lighter than cast iron but durable enough to last a lifetime. And with our re-seasonable flaxseed oil coating it means that your frying pan is no longer headed to landfill when your eggs begin to stick… but when it has been hand crafted to order just for you why would you ever want to?
If you want to learn more about the history of metal spinning you can here: https://www.madeinbritain.org/news/a-metal-spinning-history