Huntsman experimented in steel manufacture, first at Doncaster. Then in 1740 he moved to Handsworth, near Sheffield. Eventually, after many experiments, Huntsman was able to make satisfactory cast steel, in clay pots or crucibles holding about 34 pounds of blistered steel each. A flux was added and they were covered and heated by means of coke for about three hours. The molten steel is then poured into moulds and the crucibles reused. The local cutlery manufacturers refused to buy it as it was harder than the German steel they were accustomed to using. For a long time Huntsman exported his whole output to France.
The growing competition of imported French cutlery made from Huntsman's cast-steel alarmed the Sheffield cutlers, who, after trying to get the export of the steel prohibited by the British government, were compelled in self-defence to use it. Huntsman had not patented his process, and his secret was discovered by a Sheffield iron-founder called Walker. Walker, according to legend, entered Huntsman's works in the disguise of a starving beggar asking to sleep by a fire for the night.
- Samuel Smiles, Industrial Biography (1879) p99
- Samuel Smiles, Industrial Biography (1879), p 103
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Huntsman, Benjamin". Encyclopædia Britannica 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 955.
- "Huntsman, Benjamin". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- Pub Guide, accessed January 2010