I am going to break this down into two different parts. First off is the tools a blacksmith uses at the forge. These are probably what you are most interested in. But there is also a very wide range of tools that a blacksmith uses at the table away from the forge. Metal working doesn't just occur at the forge.
Blacksmith Tools at the Forge
A Forge: This is the place where fire heats up steel and iron to a high temperature. The forge needs an air supply , bellows or fan, to blow on the fuel source in order to bring the temperature of the fire up above normal burning temperature. And forges come in a lot of different configurations. The first picture shows a common dish forge for coal, the second picture shows a small gas powered forge for making knives and the third pic is my specialized sword making forge. I have more about forges right here: Understanding the Blacksmith Forge
An Anvil: This is a very specialized piece of equipment. People normally think of it as a large piece of steel that the blacksmith can hammer steel and iron on. And this is true. It is that. But anvils have been developed over a hundred years to serve very useful functions, making it much easier for the smith to do his or her job. (Amazon has anvils right here)
And there are specialized anvils depending on if a blacksmith does certain types of work. Here is my anvil. You can see by the various things I point out that the anvil has many functional parts. Take particular note of the Pritchel Hole and the Hardy Hole. We will be covering some very important blacksmithing tools that go in these holes. I have a tutorial on the anvil right here
A Quench: This is a bin or some other kind of container that contains a fluid like water or oil. This is the dramatic part of blacksmithing that you see in movies where the blacksmith submerges hot steel in it and there is lots of hissing and smoking. It is true. Blacksmiths do that and need to do that. It cools the steel quickly so particular characteristics in the steel are locked in.
A Vise: This is a very useful tool for a blacksmith. And often times a smith will have something called a leg vise. It has a very long handle on it so you can handle the hot steel with both your hands and then close the vise with a leg or knee.
Hand Tools at the Forge:
Hammers and Tongs: These are the two must have tools for a smith - A hammer and a pair of tongs. And there are many varieties of each.
Hammers: They come in a lot of different weights, styles, sizes and purposes including general purpose hammers for shaping and bending steel. And these vary in weight typically from 1 pound to 3 pound.
Other types of hammers that blacksmiths use include peen hammers, cross peen hammers, flattening hammers, farrier hammers and punch hammers.
Beginner? Here are my recommendations for a hammer set to get:
- 3 lb cross pein hammer
- straight pein hammer
- ball pein hammer
- Small cross pein hammer
3 Pound Cross Pein Blacksmith Hammer -
- Cross pein hammer
- Used to strike, shape, and bend unhardened metal
- Also use to shape block, brick, and stone
- 16-Inch hickory handle
- 3-Pound head
Planishing Hammer - also called a flatter
Of the many specialized hammers an often used type is the planishing hammer. It has a smooth flat surface on one side. This is used to smooth out metal.
This is a very useful tool when making armor.
They come in an infinite variety of shapes and sizes. The point with the tongs being able to firmly and easily grasp any shape and size material so you can place it into the forge, take it out and hold it firmly while you are working on it.
One of the distinct things about blacksmithing tongs is that they have very long handles. This way you can reach into the forge safely without getting your hand too close.
A very popular, and useful, type of tongs is a round-stock tongs. The jaw of the tongs is shapes in a circular manner so it firmly grasps round stock. These tongs are specifically sized to the shape of the stock you are forging. Round stock tongs are also sometimes referred to as bolt tongs.
Here are my recommendations for a beginner:
- A pair of wolf's Jaw tongs
- Bolt tongs, 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch
- Scrolling tongs
Wolf's Jaw Tongs (12") - Compact 300mm wolf-jaw tongs are great for a variety of small stock, up to 1/2" round or square. Picard has been producing blacksmith tools with German precision for over 150 years.
Hardy and Pritchel Tools:
In the picture above of the anvil you can see something in the anvil called a Hardy hole. It is a square hole in the top surface. This is a holder for hardy tools. It is important that the hole is square and the tools have a square base because this means the tool won't rotate in the hole.And these tools are very useful to a smith. There are many variations of hardy tools that are slid into this hole.
Note that Hardy tools can be tricky to get but ebay has quite a few of them:
Hardy Tools on ebay
Here is a hardy tool called a bending fork. You can see how metal can be put between the uprights then bent and curved.
Here are two more hardy tools. The one on the left is a cutoff tool for cutting off heated pieces and the tool on the right is a swage tool. Swage tools come in a lot of different shapes and they allow you to shape hot metal in particular ways.
The fuller is the groove in the blade of a knife or sword. It is commonly referred to as the blood groove. A fullering tool is a specialized tool for making this groove. The next two pictures show a home made fullering tool. The first picture is of the tool. And in the second picture the tool has been placed in the hardy hole, the sword steel is placed in the tool, and now when hammering on the top of that you can see how the round bar will cause a fuller groove in the steel.
The Pritchel hole: This is another tool that the blacksmith uses. Tool in a general sense of the word not the specific sense. Sometimes a smith needs to pierce a hole in metal. The pritchel hole allows the smith to place the work over the hole then punch through it hammering on a punch.
Some commonly known tools used by a smith:
Cold Chisel: It is used for marking and scoring metal while it is cold.
Punches: They come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes and are used for piercing holes.
Wire Brush: This is a very important tool for a blacksmith. As steels and irons are heated they accumulate slag and scale. This needs to be firmly brushed off. The wire brush is perfect for this.
Center Punch: Is a tool used to place a small divet in metal so it can be accurately drilled.