Blacksmithing can be hot, dirty, and physically demanding. At the same time, however, it cane be an incredibly rewarding. Besides building your body, the discipline of forging a piece of metal into something unique helps forge your mind as well.
If you want to learn about this long-cherished art and trade, then you are going to need to face all the challenges and hurdles required for beginner blacksmiths looking to get started. Why anyone can learn if they want, that doesn’t mean everyone will be able to.
Anyone can learn blacksmithing if he is mentally ready to take up the hammer and experience the heat of the forge. Many people are interested in learning the blacksmithing craft, but they don’t know how to get started. Since they think it can be learned only in the industrial environment, under the supervision of some expert. However, this isn’t true.
Of course, the professional-level industrial training facilitates learning the highs and lows of blacksmithing, but you can learn this craft on your own as well.
1. Get The Right Tools
Financially, this is one of the most difficult steps. The tools are expensive and it is imperative to procure them if you are serious about this craft.
The first thing you need to buy is the ‘Forge‘. This is used to produce extreme heat that makes the act of stroking and reshaping easy. When you burn the metal in intense heat, it becomes a bit soft and workable. You can bend and cut it with no trouble.
Next, we have anvils. This is surprisingly inexpensive and available in many types. Blacksmiths use anvils for shaping, bending, and cutting the metal. With anvil, it is necessary to get a tong as well, because you obviously don’t want to touch nearly molten iron with your hands. Tongs hold the hot metal and make the bending and handling process easier.
Last but not least, get a hammer; you use it to strike metals on top of anvils.
We have many other blacksmithing tools also, but you don’t have to buy all of them at once. Get these basic tools first and start practicing. You can buy the other ones as time goes on.
You can see a full list of some of the things I recommend here.
NOTE: If you are financially strapped, don’t worry. It’s possible to get started for pretty cheap. Here’s a short article listing how anyone can get started with DIY (do-it-yourself) blacksmithing tools for under $200.
2. Join Blacksmithing Classes
Luckily, today we don’t have to visit the industries to learn blacksmithing. There are many free introductory online blacksmithing classes that require no prior knowledge about blacksmithing. All you need is to just sit and watch how the experts use their tools to create a masterpiece.
It is possible to opt for paid workshops/classes also. They have many levels in their courses; it is mostly up to you to decide which education level you need.
- The basic level is all about how to start blacksmithing. You learn the name of the tools and study things like how to swing the hammer properly.
- The education about creating and shaping starts at the intermediate level. At this level, the professional blacksmith teachers teach you how to modify the metal and make small items. It is a bit difficult level as you also work on different projects also from a small list provided by the online instructor. The intermediate level takes more than one class; it is lengthy and expensive. After taking the intermediate class, you can start working professionally. It will be easy to create different items and sell them for profits.
- The advanced blacksmithing classes teach you about unique tools that are rarely used in blacksmithing, such as, sets, hardy, drifts, fullers, and swages.
Of course, if you don’t think you can afford to take blacksmithing classes (or simply want to figure things out for yourself), there are a number of good resources you can check out as well. For instance, here’s are 5 books that every beginner and intermediate blacksmith needs to read at least once.
3. Learn The Important Techniques
Don’t try to be the jack of all trades.
First, decide what exactly you want to do or create and then focus on it. For instance, create a ‘Fire Poker’. It is an essential item for tending fireplaces. Build the best and most functional fire pokers in the town so that you can sell them for some money.
If you are more into decorative items, try things like decorating heart, keychain, knife, sword, bottle openers, etc. People are so much interested in decorative items; they purchase them for giving gifts to their loved ones.
You don’t need a formal education to create these items.
Just some experience and knowledge will assist greatly in forming unique and eye-catching products. All the above items can be built in a million ways. You can even give them a vintage touch and tag them with some era to increase their prices.
It is possible to enter a post-secondary degree program in case you are serious about your education and want to learn new techniques. This program teaches you both traditional and contemporary blacksmithing skills. In the degree programs, you have both lectures and seminars that tie together professional and creative practices.
Blacksmithing has a ‘Master’ class as well, however, it is mostly about polishing your skills.
4. Understand Your Project(s)
A blacksmith deals with many tasks and duties while working on a project. This job is not just about heating up the metal inside a forge and hammering it.
You need to know many other things, like:
- How to forge-weld different metal parts by heating hammering them.
- Maintain daily activity and records if you working on a big project.
- Know which metal is appropriate for your product.
- Work with a blacksmith team on large, complex products.
- Use blacksmithing skills to cut templates and trace features on the material.
- Use welding equipment and finishes expertly.
- Explore the fascinating phenomenon of metal and types of oxidation.
- How to utilize different tools to work on different materials like brass and copper.
- Identify and select the machinery properly according to the job’s requirements.
- Read and interpret the drawings correctly to create products.
This is the reason why paid classes are the best bang for your bucks. You learn all these small, technical details and get all your questions answered before diving into this field.
If you want to learn blacksmithing, it doesn’t need to be that complicated. You would be surprised at just how quickly you can pick up all the basic skills required to start creating beautiful, practical, and beginner-friendly projects.
Once you follow all the above steps, you swing your hammer proudly and create breathtaking projects. Blacksmithing is a school of skills where you keep on learning and getting better throughout your lifetime. We hope the above guide will help you get started and make it easier for you to choose the blacksmithing career… So, best of luck, and happy smithing!
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