There are plenty of expensive hobbies out there. If you’ve ever considered giving Blacksmithing a shot, however, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that expensive. While top-notch forges and high-quality equipment could easily cost you several hundred dollars, if not more, that doesn’t need to be the case.
For a person who just wants to start blacksmithing at home, you can get everything you need for around $300. If you really want to cut costs, it’s possible to get this figure as low as $200 in total. The biggest cost will come down to your forge, followed by coals/gas, safety equipment, and tools. If you know what you’re doing and can build a basic forge on your own, then it’s possible to get start blacksmithing for as little as $100.
Let’s break down exactly what you need to get started, and how much it’s going to cost for every little piece of equipment.
The single biggest expense for any beginner blacksmith is finding a proper forge to use. If you go on the websites of many blacksmithing supplies out there, you’ll see that many forges cost anywhere from $500 to as much as $1,000!
For the most part, there are two different types of forges; coal and gas forges. There are pros and cons to each type, and many blacksmiths swear by each.
Coal Forge Pros;
- Higher max temperatures
- More traditional
- No dangerous gases/ventilation problems
- Low noise
- Low fuel use (when idle)
- Can use hand-powered blowers
Coal Forge Cons;
- Potentially messy
- Very smoky
- Bad smell
- Less beginner-friendly
As you can see, coal forges tend to require a bit more skill to operate. Besides being more traditional, they are harder to get started and could lead to making a bit of a mess if you don’t know what you’re doing. They definitely feel more “traditional,” but beginners might not be able to get started using one as easily as an expert blacksmith.
As you would expect, gas-powered forges tend to have the opposite strengths and weaknesses.
Gas Forge Pros;
- Clean and simple to operate
- No chimney/smoke
- Easy to maintain heat levels
Gas Forge Cons;
- Noisy and loud
- Lower maximum temperature (depending on model)
- Radiates more heat outward
- Need ventilation (carbon monoxide risk)
While gas-powered forges are easy to start and operate, for the most part, beginner blacksmiths still need to be careful about handling. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a real risk if you’re not careful with how you ventilate your gas. However, once running, they take little maintenance and can stay at the same temperature with little work from the blacksmith.
What’s the Verdict?
I would say that going for a gas-powered forge is better for beginners, mainly due to the simplicity.
As for the cost, you can find relatively cheap gas forges on Amazon and even Etsy. One of my favorites is the Hells Forge Portable Propane Single Burner, which is being sold by the company on Etsy for around $200. The double-burner variant, which is larger, sells for around $300.
These forges are also pretty light, coming in at around 25 pounds overall. That makes them pretty darn portable in comparison to some of the heavier 40 pound-plus forges out there on the market.
If you’re still looking for a quality coal forge, however, be warned that you could easily end up spending several hundred dollars on one. Instead, you could always try to make your own instead as well.
Fuel for Your Forge
Whether its coals or propane, you’re going to need to spend some money on something that will fuel your forge’s fire. Luckily, you won’t be spending that much money in this area.
If you have a used propane tank lying around, you can fill it up or exchange it at a gas station for a pre-filled one for around $20. If not, then you’ll likely spend closer to $50 for a tank and gas.
Coals cost a similar amount of money. A 50-pound bag could cost you anywhere from $30 to as much as $50 depending on which brand of coal you buy. I’ve found lower prices in some of the local stores in my area, as opposed to online companies.
Overall, however, it shouldn’t cost you that much, and a single bag of coal or tank of propane could last you months depending on how frequently you run your forge.
It’s important to have some safety gear on when you work on your craft, especially if you are a beginner blacksmith looking to get started at home. While it might be tempting to just give it a go without taking heed for basic safety, it could easily end up backfiring on you if a spark flies directly into your eye.
First of all (and perhaps most importantly) is having a pair of goggles on while you work. They don’t have to be fancy; anything can do. Even a pair of swimming goggles will do the job if necessary, and you can buy these between $5 to $10 per pair if you know where to look.
Next of all would be a basic apron. Now, you can find high-quality leather blacksmith aprons on the market for around $70 to $100. While these are definitely high quality and you should consider buying one in the future, they aren’t an absolute necessity for beginner blacksmiths.
Instead, a basic apron that wouldn’t catch on fire would work quite well. Expect to pay around $20 to $30 for a cheap, non-flammable apron of some kind.
Gloves and Shoes
You also can’t forget about gloves. As you work with hot metal, it’s easy to accidentally burn your hand in the process. A good pair of fire-resistance gloves that I would recommend is the RAPICCA forge welding leather gloves. These will set you back around $20 for a pair, and will be able to protect your hands in up to 662 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures.
While you could theoretically use your local leather gloves lying around, the key here is that they be fire-proof. The last thing you want are your gloves catching fire due to a hot spark flying off your hammer.
What about footwear, you might ask? Well, while many blacksmiths would recommend a good pair of fire-resistant shoes, I actually don’t think they are all that important. A good pair of work shoes that won’t catch fire are all that you really need.
Now, if you’re working with large, heavy objects or metals, then you might want to wear some construction-grade shoes that will protect your toes if you drop something on them. Otherwise, I wouldn’t worry too much about them.
On the off chance you have back issues, it’s worth mentioning that proper footwear can help ease your pain while blacksmithing. A good pair of orthotics can make a world of difference.
If this is you, I definitely recommend dropping by your pharmacy for some inserts, or even getting some custom made ones at your local orthopedic doctor.
If you think you need a ton of tools to start Blacksmithing, you’re actually wrong. While experts and professionals often have several types of hammers and instruments, the beginner blacksmith actually only needs a couple of hammers alongside a pair of tongs.
Now, there are a number of different hammer types out there worth mentioning. There are cross peen hammers, otherwise known as forging hammers, which are some of the most common types out there.
This includes straight peen hammers, as well as the rounding hammer, which have started to become much more popular in recent years thanks to well-known YouTube blacksmiths championing their merits. There are also more specialized types that you probably haven’t heard of before, such as Swedish and French hammers.
However, beginners don’t need to get overly confused about the different types and what they mean. If you really want to just get started and not worry too much about the differences, even a simple hammer in your garage could do. In general, I would recommend the cross peen hammer for beginners looking to get started.
My favorite of which is the Estwing Sure Strike, which will set you back around $20. While I tend not to like wooden hammers as much (I’ve had a few break on me before while hammering away, so I’m a little paranoid), there are advantages to wooden hammers as well. If you drop a piece of hot metal on a wooden hammer, for example, it doesn’t run the risk of melting. That’s unlike hammers with plastic grips, which could start melting if you drip anything onto it.
Lastly, you’ll need something to hold the metal you’re working with while you place it in the forge or hammer away at it. There’s really no special difference in tongs, but you could easily find a pair somewhere for around $10 to $15 at your local hardware store.
I’m going to lumping in anything that doesn’t fall in the above-listed sections as ‘miscellaneous.’ This includes having a fire extinguisher nearby just in case your home blacksmithing project goes horribly wrong for some reason. You should always have one on hand wherever you’re working with fire.
Something else you might not have considered is things like respirators. Those of these would technically fall under the category of safety equipment, but for a beginner blacksmith that isn’t doing anything too crazy, I think it’s okay to go without these things.
A proper respirator to protect you from noxious fumes could cost you quite a bit of money. As long as you are not working with galvanized metals (which are coated with a layer of zinc to protect from rusting), then you shouldn’t have to worry too much fumes. Just make sure that, if you are using propane, that you can properly ventilate your forge.
The last thing I should mention, however, are proper earplugs. They don’t cost a lot, but they are crucial if you want to protect your hearing while you’re working away at the anvil. Believe it or not, the sound of hammer hitting a metal can be quite loud, reaching almost 90 dB in some cases. That’s enough to lead to progressive hearing loss if you aren’t careful.
Basic earplugs are all that you need for the most part, so there’s no need to splurge on a fancy pair of noise-cancelling headphones. A box of earplugs will set you back up to $10, whereas a dedicated pair of earphones could cost closer to $50 on the cheap side.
Total Cost: $290-$460
It doesn’t necessarily cost that much to start Blacksmithing as a beginner at home. While $290 to $460 definitely isn’t a small sum for some people, it’s quite a bit cheaper than what many blacksmithing experts would say is needed to get started.
As mentioned before, the biggest cost is going to be your forge. This is also where you could save the most potential money if you know how to build your own forge. While it might be a little dangerous to take a DIY approach to forge-building if you don’t know what you’re doing, it could also save you a lot of money.
If you look on YouTube, you can see a bunch of videos on how to safely make a DIY forge. If you have a wheelbarrow, you can fill it up with dirt, make a hole inside where you put some stones and rocks, and try to light a fire up in there. Then you put some coals on top, and you have a basic forge. Check out this video to get an idea of what I’m talking about.
If you can make your own forge, then you could easily end up paying as little as $100 for all the other necessary supplies to get started. Would I necessarily do that? Probably not. As a beginner getting started a couple of years ago, I think it’s simpler just to have a reliable forge that isn’t a hassle to work with.
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