Are you just getting started as a blacksmith? Wondering where you should start? Look no further. While there are hundreds of different types of metalworking projects you could look into, sometimes it best to stick to the basics and master simpler projects before moving on to something more complex.
One of my best articles in the past is about which beginner blacksmithing projects I’d recommend to people. Fast forward to 2021; here’s an updated list of simple project ideas that are great for any beginner blacksmith looking to get started.
1. Mastering the S Hook
Arguably the king of beginner blacksmithing projects, the humble S hook might not seem all that impressive. However, there’s a lot of different basic skills involved in creating one. You’re going to learn how to bend, twist, and straighten a small piece of metal that might be easy to break. Not only do you need to learn to handle your forge’s heat, but you’ll need to master your hammer work so as to not break your metal stock.
2. Triangle Dinner Bells
Back in the day, these used to be quite common. However, you’d be surprised at just how much people are willing to pay for a simple triangle dinner bell. Not only are triangle dinner bells one of the best blacksmithing projects that sell like crazy, but it’s also quite an instructive project for beginners looking to master their skills. Like the S Hook, the dinner bell requires being able to handle a thin, delicate piece of metal. Sure, it’s just bending it a couple of times to form a triangle, but it’s still important to get it right.
3. Iron Jewelry Rings
This one might surprise you, but basic jewelry is a surprisingly popular request for blacksmiths. I’m not talking about gold and silver, but rather, solid, cast-iron or steel rings and chains. Forging a ring might not be particularly easy compared to the rest of the items on this list, but learning how to do so will automatically elevate you to the status of an intermediate blacksmith.
4. Pots and Pans
Pots and pans are an easy thing for any beginner blacksmith to make. Best of all, there’s always going to be demand, especially if people know they’re handmade by an artisan such as yourself. The main issue with pots and pans is that you’ll need to make sure it’s safe for use. In particular, this means knowing exactly what material you’re going to be using to make a pot or a pan. Certain types of metals should never be used for heating or heating, like galvanized steel, because they emit potentially toxic substances.
5. Cooking Utensils
Just like your pots and pans, everyone needs cooking utensils, so it makes sense for a beginner blacksmith to learn how to make them. The trick with spoons, forks, and knives is that they require a lot more precision fine skill work than making pots and pans. However, once you get the hang of it, I know a lot of beginner blacksmiths that make a killing from smithing just basic cooking utensils. Once again, make sure the material you’re using as a metal is safe for people to put in their mouths.
Forging a metal leaf seems like an incredibly tricky thing to pull off. While it’s true that they require a fair bit of precision and skill – easily broken if you’re not careful – metal leaves are an incredible display of skill on the part of the craftsman involved. There are also a million different ways in which you can improve upon, customize, or modify the actual pattern on a metal leaf that you’re making.
It might sound redundant for a blacksmith to forge his own tools, but it’s quite common nowadays. Instead of going and buying your own hammer and other tools, you can always just try and make your own. To be fair, a complete beginner likely won’t do as good of a job as a professionally manufactured hammer, but it’s still more than doable and a great learning experience.
Continuing on the previous trend, tongs are another type of blacksmithing tool that every blacksmith should be encouraged to make for themselves. There’s no reason to spend $50 for a pair if you’re able to make your own in half an hour or so.
9. Bottle Openers
It’s not like you’re going to need to have a million bottle openers, but they’re simple enough that any beginner blacksmith could forge their own in less than 30 minutes once they get the hang of it. Like most beginner projects, there’s no shortage of online videos out there showing people how to make their own bottle openers. However, the real fun comes in customizing your bottle opener. Making it fancier with a custom design, etc. You can really play around when it comes to this part.
10. Coat Hangars
Another simple project that you can do is making a coat hanger (or a few dozen). There are a few ways to go about it. The most obvious might be just to make a thin piece of metal, like the one used in a triangle dinner bell, and just folding it accordingly to make yourself a coat hanger. You can also opt for making a type of hook instead and screwing or hammering it in place into a piece of wood that’s the actual hangar portion. There are many ways to go about it, but given how everyone always needs around a couple of dozen coat hangers (or more), there are always going to be in demand. They also aren’t that challenging for even the greenest of beginner blacksmiths to learn how to make.
Get the Basics Down First
When starting out, don’t try to do the most complicated thing first. Instead of trying to forge a fancy knife or an elaborate piece of metalworking, make sure you know how to do the simplest of projects first. Once you get that down, start adding ornamentation. Learn to make the simplest of things that you make fancy, unique, creative. Make it distinct, not plain and generic.
Why is that so important? We’re not in the 20th century anymore. People don’t go to blacksmiths because they need something functional. Heck, most people just buy what they need from their local hardware store and move on. The reason why anyone goes to a blacksmith nowadays is that they want something unique. Something customized and beautiful. Instead of just a normal pot or pan they can buy in a department store, they’ll go to you if you can show them a unique, handcrafted set that just blows them away.
That’s why we’ve seen the rise of so many six-figure blacksmiths selling on websites like Etsy. There’s more demand than ever for blacksmiths, but it’s not in the way that it used to be.
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