While there’s no substitute for actually working on the forge yourself, there is something to be said about learning from books and courses. Although some of these resources – such as online courses or in-person classes – can be pretty expensive, there are much cheaper alternatives as well.
Some of the best blacksmithing books that a beginner could ask for cost as little as $20! In general, you don’t need more than one or two good books to really get started and take your blacksmithing to the next level.
Here are the five best blacksmithing books for beginners that I’ve seen as of August 2020.
1. The Home Blacksmith: Tools, Techniques, and 40 Practical Projects for the Blacksmith Hobbyist
While there are tons of blacksmithing websites out there that have their own book recommendations. However, at Begin to Blacksmith I think it’s best to focus on practical knowledge that can be useful immediately. Forget getting bogged down in theory, concepts, and high-level overviews, sometimes its best just to have a book that tells you simply what you should do and how to do it.
That’s why The Home Blacksmith: Tools, Techniques, and 40 Practical Projects for the Blacksmith Hobbyist by Ryan Ridgwayis the number one book on this list. Coming in at a reasonable 244 pages, this book is literally made for all the beginner blacksmiths out there looking to get started with their projects.
The book contains instructions on doing 40 different projects. Most of these are various tools, like chisels and punches, as well as decorative objects that you can put around in your home. These types of projects are excellent for beginner blacksmiths wondering what they should work on to improve their skills without going overboard on something too fancy.
Instructions are clear and simple to read. There are also plenty of illustrations, and it’s pretty simple overall. Ridgway’s book also goes over in more detail other important blacksmithing concepts as well. This includes understanding the different types of steel and how to use them, various beginner blacksmithing techniques, as well as how to go establish your own blacksmithing shop.
Interesting fact: What I love about Ridgway is that his story is similar to that of many potential blacksmiths out there. Growing up in the Canadian prairies, he took up blacksmithing as a way to pay for his veterinary degree. While not his primary career, he makes a solid living from blacksmithing-related activities.
It goes to prove that you actually can make a living as a beginner blacksmith. I’ve written about the subject in the past before, so go check it out here.
The only real downside to this book is that it’s not available on kindle. You have to order in paperback for $19.99. While that’s a great deal, it’s a bit less convenient than some of the other kindle options available on this list.
2. The Everyday Blacksmith: Learn to Forge 55 Simple Projects You’ll Use Every Day
Another valuable book that’s similar to the one above, The Everyday Blacksmith is a simple book that tells you exactly what you’re going to get. That being, 55 simple projects that you can use every day.
Besides providing plenty of illustrations and clear instructions on how to complete each one of these projects, The Everyday Blacksmith brings together a number of other well-known books into one. The author’s previous classics, The Modern Blacksmith and The Recycling, Use, and Repair of Tools, were both brought together into this one book that you’re looking at now.
At around 304 pages, its not a big book at all. Perhaps best of all, The Everyday Blacksmith comes in at a meager $5.99 on Kindle, making it one of the most accessible and affordable blacksmithing resources out there on the market. Considering the value you’re going to be getting from this one book, forking out a handle of dollars is more than worth what you’re getting in return.
As for the author, Alexander Weygers was one of the classic blacksmithing experts back in the day. His old books were published many years ago, and while still considered classics, started begun to get a little outdated thanks to modern technological improvements. The Everyday Blacksmith helps tidy up and fix the more outdated areas of his previous books and makes them relevant for beginner blacksmiths in 2020.
3. A Modern Guide to Knifemaking: Step-by-step instruction for forging your own knife from expert bladesmiths
Considering how popular knifemaking is within the wider blacksmithing hobby in general, I’d be remiss not to include a dedicating knifeforging book on this list. While I don’t necessarily recommend knifemaking for absolute beginners, they can be a pretty fun and fulfilling project once you know what you’re doing.
To help you bridge that gap, I’d recommend Laura Zerra’s book on the subject. It’s a fairly short book, just 160 pages in total. However, its packed to the brim with useful information on the subject that is invaluable to anyone looking to get started with knifemaking. She goes over exactly how to create a design, make your prototype, buy the steel you need, as well as even how to make your own forge (check out my brief guide on that subject here).
There’s a lot of specific details that she goes into as well with A Modern Guide to Knifemaking, such as how you cut the blades profile, proper heating applications, as well as how to make the edge of your knife. Her book also includes opinions from many of the top knifemakers in the world, such as Kaila Cumings, Mike Jones, and Ken Onion.
Again, making any type of sword or blade takes a lot of experience and practice. Knives are no different. While I wouldn’t recommend making a knife as your first project (or even your tenth, for that matter), picking up this book is something I’d recommend if you’re looking to make knives sometime in the future.
4. The DIY Blacksmithing Book
A simple title with a simple premise, The DIY Blacksmithing Book costs only $10 for a paperback copy to be shipped to your day with Amazon prime. However, the book is completely free if you have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited, making this book the cheapest resource on this list for blacksmiths that are strapped for cash.
The DIY Blacksmithing Book by Terrans Mark focuses precisely on practical, simple ways for beginner blacksmiths to get started with their projects without having to fork out tons of money in the process. This includes the best way to make a forge, the best kinds of anvils to buy, and how one can get started blacksmithing as soon as possible.
This kind of ‘go-out and just get started’ approach is exactly what most beginner blacksmiths need to really get exposed to the hobby. It’s easy to just watch a YouTube video on blacksmithing without actually going out and getting your hands dirty yourself. As such, any book that emphasizes actual, practical strategies rather than theoretical principles gets a thumbs up from me.
More specifically, The DIY Blacksmithing Book focuses on taking a completely new person who has no idea how to get started working on their first project within a week. I’ve warned multiple times that beginner blacksmiths should not spend thousands of dollars on forges, anvils, and tools. Terrans Mark agrees completely, and gives excellent advice on how to make your own forges and anvils that cost a fraction of what you would otherwise spend.
If you’re just getting started and literally don’t know what to do, I’d highly recommend this book. It can save you thousands of dollars. Considering that its almost free if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, I say the book’s a steal of a deal.
5. The Backyard Blacksmith
While it’s debatable whether or not I’ve said the best book for last on this list, The Backyard Blacksmith is definitely one of the most popular and most recommended books for beginner blacksmiths. Coming in at a reasonable $15 for a hardcover (no eBook option is available at the moment), this book has a lot going for it.
Similar to the other books in this list, The Backyard Blacksmith emphasizes simple, beginner-friendly blacksmithing projects that anyone can get started with. These projects don’t cost a lot of money to buy materials, aren’t overly complicated, as well as provide simple instructions on how to do these practice projects.
While not all of the projects listed in this book are necessarily super fun – making nails and hinges after a while aren’t exciting any more – there definitely are some more interesting projects included in this book as well. My favorite is some of the botanical ornaments, which I find to be a nice touch.
The Backyard Blacksmith also includes a lot of traditional blacksmithing theory and techniques as well, which helps make this book fairly well rounded. While it’s not my personal favorite, per se, I definitely think this book has a lot going for it as well.