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How to Get Started in Blacksmithing

I get a lot of email from young people who always dreamed of getting into the art and craft of blacksmithing. This is a wonderful thing. I love blacksmithing and encourage it greatly.

I figured it might be a useful thing if I actually put all these recommendations and suggestions into a webpage for people to refer to and learn from.

SO, if you have been wanting to get into blacksmithing this tutorial will help!

There are a couple of things I recommend you do first. 

1. Get some books,

whether it be on amazon, local library, book store, ebooks etc. Get literature and read it! This will help a whole lot. This is what I did before I had a forge or an anvil. I bought five books from amazon. Including blacksmithing basics and blade making. (Note: I am very much into knives, swords and armor so this is why I bought these books. If you are interested in other aspects of blacksmithing you should get those specialized books.

So, about books. There are two general types. Basic Blacksmiting and specialized Blacksmithing. The first two books here in my list are basic blacksmithing. From there the last three are more specialized, bladesmithing, armor making, knife making.

Here are the five books that I bought:

A Blacksmithing Primer:

A Blacksmithing Primer: A Course in Basic and Intermediate Blacksmithing

The Backyard Blacksmith

The Backyard Blacksmith

The Complete Bladesmith

The Complete Bladesmith: Forging Your Way To Perfection


Techniques Of Medieval Armour Reproduction

Techniques Of Medieval Armour Reproduction: The 14th Century (Medieval & Renaissance)

Wayne Goddard's $50 Knife Shop

Wayne Goddard's $50 Knife Shop, Revised

2. Track down a blacksmith or class - This is a great thing to do. It will allow you to get some hands on work without buying much. Blacksmithing is very hands on and this will give you hands on experience.  And you will get hands on guidance from an actual blacksmith.

Ok, point 3: Safety! This is the most important thing of all. Get appropriate safety gear and this includes gloves and safety glasses.  And safety includes management of the fumes and fire so no damage is  done to the world around the forge. Also safety involves knowing what to forge and what not to forge. Never forge anything with zinc in it. It gives off a dangerous toxic fumes. This includes galvanized metals because  they have zinc in them.

Okie, point 4 : What else to get. I recommend a small anvil to get you started and a small forge. Tools can be improvised a bit. A hammer, a pair of tongs. About the Anvil, difficult to say but you might want to just get a small general purpose anvil in the range of 75 pounds so you can get started cheap. At a later date, in a year or two you will have a really good feeling for what size and type anvil will be next for you. Hammers, hmmm. I would just get some plain old square hammers from a local hardware store, harbour freight etc. Maybe a 2 pounder and a 3 pounder. Get something like you see me using all the time in my videos. Part of this depends on how big you are.

All of this is to get you started, get a feel for the steel and the fire and how it hammers. You can get a lot done this way and as you learn and get better you will know what tools to get, hardy tools, specialized  hammers , more tongs etc. All of these things are collected by blacksmiths over years of practice. 

Where to buy stuff, if you are overseas then I have no clue. But if you live in the US then it is easy. Check craigslist and ebay for a local source to get a used anvil cheap. Harbor freight carries small anvils. And has lots of anvils.  Forge? Hmmm... either make one or buy one. That is a decision. Try craigslist and ebay. A google search will turn up lots of companies that sell modern forges.  hammers, gloves, leather apron, leather sleeves, safety glasses. Piece of cake here. Try Harbor Freight, Tractor Supply or even Home Depot. 

An Anvil

Northern Industrial Cast Iron Anvil - 60-Lb.

Note from Will: There is no Hardy Hole or Pritchel hole in this anvil and that is a consideration. It limits what you can do with it. But it is cheap and easy to get.



An Anvil

Ridgid 68622 Model 5 6-3/7 x 7-3/4-Inch Forged Anvil

The Ridgid 69622 is a model 5 horn anvil. With a face of 3" by 8" this anvil has a large top face, which is ground and drop-forged for a high quality and large work space. This model comes equipped with a Pritchel hole to support the use of various tools as well as an upsetting block.


Watch Some Videos! - This is a great (and free) way to get started. It will give you some basic understanding of the art and craft and it will give you some confidence. Here are my videos on blacksmithing. Click on the playlist button to browse the various videos.



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