While most beginner blacksmiths that want to get started with the hobby dream about doing something complex. Usually, that comes in the form of making something like a sword they saw on YouTube, or some elaborate metal ornament. However, these can be quite challenging for beginners just looking to get started.
Instead, beginner blacksmiths should consider focusing on projects that aren’t as tricky, but still can improve your skill level as a smith. Here are 15 easy blacksmithing projects that every beginner should learn to master early on in their careers.
While all the items on this list are relatively simple, they can still have tremendous learning opportunities for beginner blacksmiths trying to hone their skills.
In one of my earlier articles I wrote when I first started this blog, The 7 Best Blacksmithing Projects for Beginners, one of the very first things I mentioned beginner blacksmiths should learn to make are hooks. As such, it should be to no one’s surprise that at the top of this list, I’m mentioning hooks again.
Like most things on this list, there are many different types of hooks for blacksmiths to make. The most common of which is the S hook, but J hooks are incredibly popular as well. They make excellent coat hangars, whether on a wall or in your closet. Best of all, they are simple enough to a complete beginner to make but can be modified as much as you need in order for them to be challenging enough to suit whatever your skill level.
There’s also plenty of ways that you can make your hooks more ornamental. For example, try twisting the middle section of your hook a few times to add a nice pattern to it. It also helps that hooks can be made out of any metal you have lying around. Unlike some other projects, which work better with certain materials, you can even use any plain rebar you have lying around.
Hooks are a wonderfully practical and functional project for any beginner blacksmith looking to get started. They are easy enough for a complete newcomer to get started but challenging enough that they can be a little tricky.
2. Chef knives
Chef knives can be pretty darn expensive, with a full set costing you over one hundred dollars in some cases. Why not try making your own? For the most part, knives are pretty simple to make for a beginner, especially if you’re making a solid, all-metal knife where both the handle and the blade are made from the same piece of steel.
The trickiest part for beginner blacksmiths would be making the edge or blade of the knife. When you first start off, expect your edge or blade to be pretty low quality. Having a grindstone or something else that you can use to sharpen your knife is almost essential. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be surprised by how sharp you can make your knives to be.
While making the blade has its own challenges, forging the handle can prove tricky for beginners as well. You’re going to learn how to make a smooth, round handle that’s comfortable for gripping. Again, this can be a little tricky for beginners, but learning how to make a somewhat smooth handle for gripping is an invaluable skillset, especially if you want to move on to other hand-held objects, like swords or axes.
Hand-forged chef knives can also make a pretty nice gift for friends and family. Even if they are not up to the same quality as industrially manufactured knife sets, they should still be sharp enough to cut cheeses, vegetables, and softer meats.
3. Cooking utensils
While we are on the cooking subject, I think it makes sense to list a few more culinary-related blacksmithing ideas. Since we’ve just mentioned chef knives, why not extend this concept out to cooking utensils as well?
Spatulas are especially simple to make for beginner blacksmiths looking to get started. From there, spoons (both small and large) can be a bit harder, as you need to be able to make a round indentation where the liquid will be held. \
Perhaps the hardest utensil of them all is the humble fork. Making all the individual prongs can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. However, it’s a challenge that definitely will make you a much better blacksmith in the long run.
4. Pots and pans
To finish up the cooking topic, pots and pans definitely are a worthwhile mention for beginner blacksmiths looking for a relatively simple project to start on. While not as challenging as some other projects on this list, there are some things you need to remember before you start.
For one, pots and pans can be a bit challenging because of their size. Whereas most projects on this list are pretty small, requiring a high degree of precision, pots and pans are much larger. The big thing is whether or not you have a forge that can heat up the entire piece of metal you’re working with.
My favorite forge for beginners, the Hell’s Forge Propane Burner, is mainly designed for longer, narrower pieces of metal. Most gas forges might not have enough diameter to fit an entire frying pan. As such, you might end up having to heat up one section of your pan or pot at a time.
Lastly, make sure to be careful in regards to what type of metal you’re using. While this is true for cooking utensils and chef knives, it’s especially serious when it comes to pots and pans which you use to cook with. Depending on the type of metal you’re working with, it could end up leeching off substances into your food while you’re heating them up to cook something.
Galvanized metals, for instance, will leech off zinc when heated up in a forge, producing potentially dangerous gases as a consequence. To be safe, only use carbon steel as a material for pots and pans. If you don’t know exactly what metal you’re using, don’t take the risk.
As a blacksmith, you’re going to need to have a number of different hammers for whatever the job is. Of course, having high-quality, professionally made hammers makes a world of difference, but it’s not like its all that difficult to make your own if you want to save money. Why not try making your own?
There are plenty of different hammer types out there, but the most common of which is the cross peen hammer. Even with these types of hammers, however, there’s plenty of variation. Do you want a hammer where both sides of the head are flat? Maybe you want a hammer where one side is flat, and the other is angled?
Nor is that the only choice you will be making. You’re also going to need to decide whether you want to make a hammer out of a single piece of metal or whether to have a wooden handle to attach your hammerhead too. Both choices have their challenges but are also just as rewarding for beginner blacksmiths.
Now that we’ve covered making hammers, I think it makes sense we pivot slightly to making another hand-held instrument, the hatchet. If you go to your local survival or hiking store, you’ll likely find small axes or hatchets that range from $50 or more. Instead, you can make your own in almost the same way that you can make a hammer.
While axes need to be sharp, they don’t need to be as sharp as something like a chef’s knife. Instead, as long as they have a reasonably sharp edge, they’ll work fine for chopping wood or other hiking purposes.
Just like with making a hand-held hammer, a beginner blacksmith will need to decide whether or not he wants to make an axe that’s entirely metal (made out of one piece of metal, that is) or have a separate handle to attach the axe head-on.
7. Dinner bell triangle
Making a triangle bell might sound like a funny idea, but it’s actually a pretty good one for beginner blacksmiths. It’s probably one of the easiest projects on this list to make, but still requires careful handling in how you bend your metal.
Since you’re working with a long, narrow piece of metal, beginner blacksmiths will need to be careful with how they bend the metal to make their triangle. Besides that, however, making a triangle dinner bell is pretty darn simple.
It might be hard to believe, but many beginner blacksmiths are making a ton of money selling these triangular dinner bells on websites such as Etsy. In some cases, you can find triangles selling for over $60 from a professionally made supplier. If you want to find a way to make some money will practicing your hobby, you’d be surprised at how much people are willing to pay for hand-forged products.
8. Fire poker
Another relatively simple project on this list, fire pokers ae a perfect example of a blacksmithing project that’s perfect for beginners. It’s not overly complicated but will still teach a beginner how to make a smooth, cylindrical piece of metal.
As is the case with most projects on this list that involve hand-held items, you have the choice of either making a fully metal fire poker or adding a handle of some kind to the base. Once again, it’s up to you, but either way, you’ll have a lot to gain by learning to make a simple fire poker by yourself.
9. Marshmallow stick
If we’re still on the topic of camping and fires, it’s fitting to bring up marshmallow sticks as a potential blacksmithing project. While similar in some ways to the fire poker, marshmallow sticks are considerably harder to make considering how much smaller and thinner they tend to be.
Whereas a fire poker can be pretty thick in diameter, the marshmallow stick tends to be pretty small. As such, while you’re hammer away trying to make a smooth, even surface, it’s quite easy to end up accidentally breaking your marshmallow stick.
Like many other projects on this list, beginner blacksmiths will need to learn delicacy and a sensitive touch while working on a marshmallow stick.
Hand-forged corkscrews make surprisingly nice gifts for parties and friends. While the modern corkscrew is a somewhat complicated contraption, old-fashioned corkscrews were a simple handle with a swirling piece of metal that extracts the cork from a wine bottle.
While relatively easy, the one challenge some beginner blacksmiths might have comes down to the swirling, pointy bit. Blacksmiths will need to master twisting your metal, something that can be difficult considering now narrow and thin a corkscrew really is. Using too much force can easily end up breaking your corkscrew. On the other hand, using too much health could make it too soft and cause it to melt.
11. Hand-forged hairpin
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a special someone, whether that be a girlfriend or a wife, then I would strongly encourage you to make a hand-forged hairpin for your beloved partner. There are very few hand-forged pins out there on the market, and making one yourself definitely would mean a lot to your loved one.
It also proves that you have significant talent as a beginner blacksmith if you’re able to make one successfully. While it might not seem that hard at first, just like the corkscrew, making one involves a lot of twisting and turning of a relatively small piece of metal. If you’re not delicate enough, you could easily up and ruining or breaking your project and having to try again.
However, once you’ve mastered this skill, making a hand-forged hairpin is relatively simple. It’s just being able to manipulate and twist metal frequently that is often a problem for beginners.
Are you into archery? If not, then I’d recommend it. Besides the fact that it’s fun, being a blacksmith is a great way to make your own arrows without having to go spend tons of money buying some.
Making arrowheads also isn’t that challenging. Given their smaller size, you can make many more of them in a small amount of time in comparison to some of the other, more complex projects on this list. You can also team up with a fletcher or buy your own arrow shafts to make and sell your own arrows for archers.
Every blacksmith needs a pair of tongs. They are not that complicated for a complete beginner blacksmith to make, and you’re definitely going to need a pair of tongs in your other blacksmithing projects. As long as they get the job done, I’d say its better to make your own rather than spend money needlessly on a pair of tongs in the hardware store.
You can make tongs of any size, both large and small. I’d recommend that beginner blacksmiths make both a large and a small pair, and which one they will use will depend on the exact project their working on.
14. Drawer pulls
If you also happen to be into woodworking, especially making your own furniture such as drawers (or cupboards as well), then being able to sith your own drawer pulls is an incredible convenience.
They are pretty darn easy to make overall, all you really need to do is make sure you have a few holes where to put some screws in. Other than that, basic drawer pulls are a breeze, even for a complete beginner blacksmith.
Even veteran smiths can enjoy a challenge with making more intricate drawer pulls. A quick Google search will reveal hundreds of elaborate, challenging drawer pull designs that can take you forever to do. But once you do make one, however, you can make everyone envious with your impressive skills.
It might sound like a boring thing to suggest, but making nails has always been one of those things that beginner blacksmiths are told to do, despite how repetitive it can be. As it turns out, there’s a good reason why making nails is still remains one of the best things you can do to improve your skills as a smith.
For one, the sheer volume of nails you can make in a short period of time means you really get to master making something quickly. Unlike most of the other projects on this list, which can take some time just to do once, making a nail is a relatively quick process. That means in the same amount of time, you’ll make many times more nails then you would have anything else.
While it’s a little repetitive, I definitely think beginner blacksmiths should spend at least some time making nails. However, the last thing I want for you is to make you feel like this hobby is a chore. Do what you want to do and have fun doing it.
While most of these projects are beginner-friendly, not all of them are equal in terms of complexity. Some, like arrowheads, drawer pulls, and nails, are relatively quick to make and aren’t overly complicated. Making a hand-forged hairpin takes quite a bit longer. However, all of these projects are invaluable learning experiences for beginner blacksmiths.