Blacksmithing might seem like a complicated hobby, but it’s not really that difficult to get into. The main hurdle for most beginner blacksmiths is getting the necessary tools and equipment needed to start forging. Getting everything you need in one place can set you back a little bit, but it’s not the most expensive hobby around. If you’re on a budget, you can start blacksmithing in 2021 with just $300 to $400 if you know what to look for and buy.
Besides actually getting everything you need (which we’ll cover shortly), there’s also the question of knowing exactly what to smith. Most of the time, beginner blacksmiths get so caught up trying to forge a sword or an axe or something complicated – something clearly above their skill level – that they simply get overwhelmed and, eventually, give.
There’s a time and place for that, but first, you should focus on mastering the basics – making simple, useful metal crafts that will make you feel good about your newfound hobby, as well impressing your friends and family.
With that said, let’s go over exactly what you need to start blacksmithing in 2021.
Getting Your Equipment
There are a few different things you’ll need as a beginner blacksmith. At the most simple level, you’re going to need a forge, a hammer and tongs, as well as some metal.
Out of everything you’re going to buy, picking a forge is probably going to be the most expensive thing on this list. When looking for a forge, you’re going to need to make a decision between either a gas propane forge or a coal forge.
Both cost roughly the same, and I’ve found models of both that range around $200. If you want to save yourself some time, here are links to the single best gas forge as well as the top coal forge I’ve found in 2021 for beginner blacksmiths.
Gas or Coal Forge?
Gas forges tend to be what I recommend for beginners. They are easier to use in that they stay at a constant temperature throughout, unlike coal forges, where you need to constantly be checking and putting new coals in the fire to keep the flames hot. Gas forges also are a lot tidier, in that you don’t need to worry about getting messy. The main downside with gas is that it could be a potential liability to yourself. There’s always a small risk, so make sure you are in a well-ventilated area if you opt for the gas forge route.
However, a lot of beginner blacksmiths still opt for the coal forge route, despite everything mentioned above. I actually enjoy working with coals more than gas, but it is a bit more complicated and tricky for a complete beginner. The main benefit is that coal forges give off a more “traditional” and “old-school” vibe when you’re using them. It’s something that your ancestors likely would have used in their own blacksmithing shops.
No matter what type of forge you opt for, making sure its not super expensive. You can find high end forges with all the bells and whistles for thousands of dollars, but beginner blacksmiths don’t need to spend more than $200 to $300 on a simple forge to start off.
Your basic tools include blacksmithing hammers, tongs, and other equipment. Some of the more elaborate pieces of equipment include belt grinders, which help smoothen out and sharpen pieces of metal. This is essential if you want to do something like forge a knife, where you’ll need a way to sharpen the edge of your blade, as well as refine any impurities in the post-forging process. However, that’s not absolutely necessary, especially if just starting out.
You might also want to invest in a set of hole punchers. These are needed if you’re going to want to screw anything into your piece of metal, such as a wooden grip in the case of a knife or blade. Again, these are optional. There are also things like waxes and polishes, but again, that’s secondary.
One area you don’t want to skip out on is safety equipment. This includes safety goggles, gloves, an apron, as well as earbuds. You might be surprised by that last one, but the constant ringing of metal as you hammer away can actually give you hearing loss. Protect your hearing, as well as the rest of your body.
What to Make as a Beginner Blacksmith?
Now that you have the basics, the next part is knowing exactly what you’ll want to smith. More than anything, do what you’re passionate about. Even if I recommend staying away from forging a knife if you’re a complete beginner, if that’s where your heart is set, go for it. Just don’t get burned out or disappointed if it proves a bit beyond your skill level.
I’ve written a short article about the best projects for beginner blacksmiths before, and I’d suggest taking a look through it. In general, the best projects are those that are relatively simple and that you can make quickly. Usually, these emphasize a certain skill or aspect of smithing but has learning how to twist and bend metal, in the case of the S Hook. The idea is that by being simple and fast to make, it’s easy to make dozens or hundreds of pieces quickly, hence mastering the required skill in the process.
Think of it this way, if it takes you 10 hours to forge a sword, in 100 hours, you’ll have made ten swords. In contrast, if it takes just 30 minutes or less to make an S Hook, you’ll have made over 200 of them in the same period.
As the famous saying from Bruce Lee goes;
“I fear not the man who knows a thousand kicks, but the man who has practiced one kick a thousand times.”
It’s a similar idea with any skill or hobby. If you want to master blacksmithing, you’ll get there much faster by focusing on a few simple, easily repeated beginner projects rather than trying to do something complicated and elaborate.
Best of all, a lot of these simple projects can be sold for a surprising profit online. You’ll be surprised at just how many beginner blacksmiths are making a killing online selling their leftover projects on websites like Etsy. If making a side income by blacksmithing in your spare time interests you, check out this article on beginner blacksmithing projects that sell like crazy.
Where to Actually Learn how to Blacksmith?
Now that we live in the 21st century, there are a few ways that you can learn. Maybe the easiest is simply to get yourself a few books on blacksmithing. There are a number of highly recommended blacksmithing books for beginners you can find on Amazon.
Besides that, a simple YouTube or Google search can find you a video on almost anything you need. Best of all, it’s completely free! Instead of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for in-person lessons, coaching, or online courses, a simple YouTube video could give you all you need to get started today.
Sooner or later, you’ll want to invest in some actual training or courses. But for a complete beginner blacksmith, everything you need to get started can be accessed in a few minutes on your computer.
Hopefully, you’ve found this somewhat helpful. If you’re looking for more detailed notes on any of these subjects mentioned above, I’d recommend checking out the following links as well;
Info for Beginner Blacksmiths
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