There are plenty of expensive hobbies out there. Blacksmithing, however, isn’t one of them. In fact, it’s easy to get started blacksmithing at home with your first project for around a couple hundred dollars.
If you think that sounds unbelievable, it’s not. In today’s era with various online suppliers, as well as a little bit of ingenuity, you can get a forge operational and working sooner than you think. You just need to be a little bit creative and know where to look to find good deals.
Let’s go over exactly what you need to start blacksmithing at home on a budget. In summary, this is what you’ll need;
- A forge
- An air supply
- Coals or gas
- Blacksmithing tools
- Safety gear
Getting a Forge ($100 approx)
The first thing you need to get is a forge. Depending on what type and model, you could easily end up paying hundreds of dollars on just a forge alone. However, it’s quite possible to make your own DIY forge for a fraction of the cost. It’s still going to be the most expensive part of your kit, but it’s possible to come up with something that’s fairly cheap.
The first thing you need to ask is whether you’re going for a gas or a coal forge. Now, there’s a lot of things going for gas forges. They are easier to use, leave less of a mess, and could be moved around more easily. However, they can get very pricey.
On the other hand, coal forges are much cheaper in comparison. It’s also much simpler to do a DIY version of a coal forge in comparison to a gas forge.
Normally, you’d go on a website and buy a specifically designed coal forge.
Unfortunately, these range between $500 to $1,000 depending on the model. Far outside of our $100 budget range.
So, what do we do? We improvise. Check this out.
This came up for me on Home Depot while searching for outdoor fireplaces. Its CA$149 (so closer to $100 USD for most of you all), which isn’t that bad.
Now, is this exactly a forge? No, but it’s pretty close. Put a metal grate inside this outdoor chimenea that can hold coals, and you have essentially a basic forge.
Now, I’m not saying that this specific model is perfect. I’d prefer something that doesn’t have those grate openings. However, the point here is that if you buy something similar to this, you can – with a few modifications – essentially make your own forge. Best of all, you’re saving several hundred dollars in the process.
Forge Blower ($20 approx)
Now, the issue you will have when a DIY forge like what I’ve just mentioned is making sure you have a source of air. To answer that, you’re going to need to get some sort of an air blower.
Now, there are automatic air blowers which are absolutely great. They save you a ton of effort and time. However, they are more expensive, and for the purpose of this article, we’re trying to get you started blacksmithing at home for less than $200 (hopefully).
So, instead, we’re going to opt for a manual air blower. The good news here is that they are, as you expect, cheaper. While automatic air blowers can come in around $100, a quick search on Amazon yielded a pretty decent manual air blower for less than $20!
Can you find better air blowers out there, or maybe some cheaper ones? Sure. The point here is that it’s pretty easy to find a good air blower for a pretty cheap price.
Blacksmithing Coals ($30 per 50lb bag)
While we’re still somewhat on the topic of forges, you’re going to have to spend a bit of money on blacksmithing coal. Now, I’d recommend checking out your local home improvement store to see if they can point you in a good direction. Where I live, I’ve found some decent local deals for blacksmithing coal that I think are pretty good.
Going on Amazon or some specialty sites, I see bags of blacksmithing coal range from $35 to $45 per 50-pound bag. While that is doable, most people can find better prices out there if they do some digging.
Try to find a 50-pound bag for around $25. That’s a pretty good deal from what I’ve seen in my local area. Certain websites are offering a similar price point for blacksmithing coal as well.
Blacksmithing Tools ($20 approx)
While having proper tools for the job definitely is important, if we end this article here, we’ve covered the most important things. Having a basic DIY forge alongside an air blower is the most important things. As for tools themselves, technically any hammer and a pair of tongs can work well enough for a beginner blacksmith looking for basic practice.
On the off chance you don’t have a basic hammer lying around the home, you can buy one at a hardware store for around $15. Truth be told, you don’t need anything fancy. Getting yourself a basic ball-pine hammer alongside a mini sledgehammer and that’s all you need to start working on blacksmithing projects at home.
Safety Equipment ($10 approx)
Don’t think you can forget about having proper safety equipment. A spark flying into your face or your eye could result in an emergency trip to the hospital. Play it safe and make sure you have everything you need beforehand.
The good news here is that any safety equipment is pretty cheap. It essentially boils down to an apron and something to cover your eyes. While you could use a face shield, a pair of goggles would suffice as well. Just make sure you’re wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants to cover yourself from potential sparks or filings.
Materials (mostly free)
Of course, as blacksmiths, we’re going to need something to hammer away at. One question that frequently comes up for beginner blacksmiths is where to buy (or find) quality metal to work with.
Most scrap metal lying around your garage would work. Rebar, for instance, tends to be a little hard to work with, but makes a good practice material. Now, if you’re looking to try and make something seriously in a beginner project, then you should use a better metal. That could be industrial-grade steel, iron ingots, or something equivalent.
However, make sure you’re not using a piece of metal that’s galvanized! If you’re not careful and lack the proper ventilation, heating up galvanized metals could kill you due to the fumes. In short, galvanization is when a play of zinc is applied over a piece of steel or iron to prevent it from rusting. This isn’t super common, but if you search what galvanized metal looks like, you can see its appearance and know what to avoid.
Now, should you pay money for metal? To be honest, I don’t think so. As a beginner blacksmithing looking to get started, I think you can find everything you’d need on a site like Craigslist. There are tons of ads of people offering random steel or metal materials lying around, often times for free. The only catch is you would need to go pick it up. If you can’t find anything, post an ad saying you’re willing to drive and take any steel lying around, and often times people will let you take this stuff at no cost. To them, it’s pretty much junk. For beginner blacksmiths like ourselves, however, its valuable practice material.
Beginner blacksmiths don’t need to spend a fortune to get a basic setup going. One of the biggest mistakes I see some people make is that they end up forking over a thousand dollars for a forge and materials when they don’t have to.
All in all, getting everything you need to start blacksmithing at home shouldn’t cost you more than $250 or $300 at most if you know what you’re doing.