Iron puddler

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An iron puddler (often merely puddler) is an occupation in iron manufacturing. The process of puddling was the occupation's chief responsibility. Puddling was an improved process to convert pig iron into wrought iron with the use of a reverberatory furnace.

Working as a two-man crew, a puddler and helper could produce about 3300lb (1500kg) of iron in a 12-hour shift.[1] The strenuous labor, heat and fumes caused puddlers to have a short life expectancy, with most dying in their 30s.[2] Puddling was never automated because the puddler had to sense when the balls had "come to nature."

James J. Davis, who was born in Tredegar, Wales, emigrated to the United States where he later became a prominent figure in government, serving as a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, and as U.S. Secretary of Labor of Labor under three consecutive Presidents. His book, The Iron Puddler, describing his early experiences as a puddler was ghostwritten by C. L. Edson.[3]


  1. ^ McNeil, Ian (1990). An Encyclopedia of the History of Technology. London: Routledge. p. 165. ISBN 0415147921.
  2. ^ Landes, David. S. (1969). The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present. Cambridge, New York: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. p. 218. ISBN 0-521-09418-6.
  3. ^ Bell, Jonathan Wesley (1976). The Kansas Art Reader. Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas. p. 388. ISBN 0936352027.