Getting started as a blacksmith isn’t that hard, but it helps to start off with blacksmithing projects that aren’t all that complicated. While everyone wants to make something fancy, like a serrated survival knife or even a sword, it might be a better idea to start off with something a little less complex until you’ve mastered the basics.
Here are a few simple project ideas that are perfect for beginner blacksmiths to hone their skills.
1. S Hooks
The humble S hook is a great project for a beginner blacksmith to get started on as it teaches beginners how to twist, bend, straighten a metal. S Hook’s, especially the more complicated ones that involve a twisted middle portion (for example, look at something like this), are an excellent way for beginners to also master hammer control as well as working with the heat.
S Hooks don’t need to be made from any fancy metal, even something ordinary such as rebar would suffice for practice. These little things are the perfect project for beginners looking to master the basics of metalworking without going overboard on something outside their skill level.
There’s also the added benefit that S Hooks look pretty neat and have a functional purpose. A lot of blacksmithing instructors do something boring like teaching their students how to work with nails. Imagine spending an hour just hammering nails – it’s boring, there’s no sense of accomplishment, and it’s just monotonous.
S Hooks are a great project for beginners to start with – just don’t underestimate them, they can be tricky until you master what’s required of you.
It’s pretty darn simple, but hammers are a staple for beginners looking to get started. It might seem simple at first, but making a hammer definitely takes a bit of skill. Beginner blacksmiths need to know how to manage their metal, properly heat it, as well as skillfully using their hammer to shape the metal as you desire.
Now, you’re welcome to just work on a basic hammer with a square head, but you’re also welcome to try something a bit more complex. How about a hammer with a round head? Or a hammer where the width and shape are different on both ends? There are tons of non-typical hammers out there. After you feel confident with the basics, go on to try something more exotic.
3. Dinner Bells
Specifically, a triangular dinner bell. These are pretty darn simple, even for beginners, but are a fun little toy you can make for yourself, friends, and family. Just take a small, thin piece of metal, heat it up, and bend it accordingly into a triangle.
Tada, you have a simple dinner bell.
Now just forge yourself a little clanger from another thin piece of metal and you’re good to go!
Forging a leaf is another project that many beginners are recommended to try out, and for good reason. They require are a fair bit of precision and tact, and they can easily be broken if you’re not careful. Being able to master this little project will help give you the control needed for more delicate, finer projects you’ll wish to do in the future.
If you’re looking for even more of a challenge, instead of just forging a plain leaf, see if you can work on adding some texture to the metal itself. Here’s an excellent YouTube video on how you can do exactly that.
Just be careful. If you’re using a coal forge or if your temperature is too hot, you can melt your leaf extremely quickly, losing all your progress.
Another party favor that’s simple to do but an excellent blacksmithing project for beginners. Learning how to make corkscrews means you need to master the art of twisting your metal, especially towards the finer endpoint. When working with thin metals, using too much force can break your corkscrew, and using too much heat can also melt your fine point.
Once you’ve got the basics down, you are welcome to make your corkscrews more ornamental. While the bottom end of your corkscrew will still be normal, the top end of your corkscrew can be made into anything you want. Use your imagination and see what you can come up with. Maybe a rose, or a creepy eyeball (perfect for Halloween!).
A classic for beginner blacksmiths, tongs are a great project to get started with. Just like hammers, you’ll be using plenty of tongs for your own blacksmithing projects, and when they break, it’s nice to know that you can just make your own whenever you want rather than having to buy some for $10 or $15.
7. Bottle Openers
Again, another classic. You’re not going to have tons of use for bottle openers, but you’re welcome to give some away to your friends. As with most of these basic blacksmithing projects, there are tons of videos out there on making bottle openers. As I keep mentioning, as you get a grip on how to make some basic bottle openers start getting ornamental. Try playing around with the handle itself, see if you can twist it or add some creativity to it.
Notice a Pattern?
You’ll notice in many of these examples there’s a common pattern. I first recommend you try making the most basic version of something, like a hammer, corkscrew, or leaf, and once you’ve got a handle on it, start adding some ornamentation.
The reason is that in the 21st century, blacksmithing isn’t just about functionality anymore. People don’t go to blacksmiths to buy regular, functional supplies like hammers and nails – they’ll just go to the hardware store.
More often than not, people go to blacksmiths for something more special. Whether that’s a custom project, like a sword or knife, or something a bit more ornamental, you’ll notice that making something that looks nice and fancy is what’s in fashion nowadays.
Now, if you’re a professional blacksmith running a store in a small rural town, sure, you’ll get a fair bit of standard, functional requests.
But if you look at what some blacksmiths are doing to make a living, especially when it comes to selling online, you’ll see its less about functionality and more about the detail you put into it.
I wrote an article a little way ago touching exactly on that, and how some blacksmiths (even beginners) are making tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars per year by selling their handiwork online.
You can find it here;
Until next time,
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