Over the past few months, more people than ever have been moving outside of the big cities and towards the countryside. Whether that’s buying up a few acres of land here or there in a rural township or getting a cabin in literally the middle of nowhere, people are embracing countryside, as well as survival-style living. If that’s you, and you’re serious about living in the countryside, blacksmithing is the perfect complementary skill set for the self-sufficient homesteader. Here’s what you need to know about survival-style, off-the-grid blacksmithing, especially right now in 2021.
But first, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind. While being able to smith your own tools, nails, and other things is incredibly useful, you’ll always be dependent on outside sources of raw metal. As such, you’re never going to be completely self-sufficient with your blacksmithing. So in a total survival situation, unless you have a ton of spare rebar or scrap lying around, you might run out of materials sooner or later.
While that’s certainly a downside, as long as you’re not trying to become a complete hermit for the rest of your life, that’s not that big of a deal.
With that said, let’s go over exactly what you need to know.
Use Light Weight Equipment
If you’re planning to move out to the countryside, or even plan to be moving around a lot while you’re traveling, it makes sense to keep yourself light. There’s no point lugging around a massive collection of blacksmithing tools and equipment that’s just going to bog you down.
For that reason, I recommend using smaller, lighter forges, as well as only bringing the bare essentials for what you need. I’ve talked about this before, but in short, I’d recommend smaller, knifeforges that are powered with gas rather than coal.
My single favorite forge for 2021 is the Simond Gas Propane Forge. To keep it brief, it can heat up to 2,600 degrees, enough to work with iron or steel, while also sporting a rigidized coat that protects you from dust particles in your forge. It’s a rather small forge, with the actual forging space just 4.4 inches by 6.3 inches. The full length is 18 inches, which is roughly the length of your fingers to your elbow.
It’s a simple, easy-to-use forge that is also pretty darn light at around 50 pounds. This is generally the heaviest part of your equipment (I really don’t know what else could be heavier than lugging around a forge with you in your RV or truck). Perhaps best of all, it’s also pretty cheap as far as forges go.
The only other heavy piece of equipment you’ll need is an anvil. Again, there are so many small, portable anvils out there that I can make a whole list on the topic. In short, something like a HappyBuy anvil is perfect.
It might be a funny name, but they’re one of the better brands for small anvils out there. There’s a 24-pound version for around $58 on Amazon, which is my personal recommendation. There’s also another smaller anvil made by Olympia Tools that weighs just 9-pounds for half the price. That’s a bit too small for my tastes, as you can’t really do much better than
Besides that, everything else should be pretty simple and straightforward. You’ll need some good blacksmithing hammers, some tongs, basic protection equipment like safety goggles, etc. Again, all of this is pretty light compared to a forge and anvil, and other heavy machinery like belt grinders aren’t that important if you’re on the go.
Having a dedicated shop or garage for blacksmithing is best, as that means you are able to better control your surroundings. There are generally too many safety risks. First involves potential injury to yourself. The other is potentially setting your surroundings on fire.
You’re best bet is to set up a blacksmithing spot in a garage or shed that has enough room. It shouldn’t be too cramped. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want at least six feet of distance from your forge to anything that could possibly catch fire, no matter how unlikely.
What If You Don’t Have Power?
Most of this article assumes you’ll be living in a house or RV somewhere in a rural location, but where you’ll still have access to the necessities of life. In this particular instance, I’m referring to power. Generally, it’s not something you think about, but for some types of forges, you’ll need a steady source of power.
Again, that’s not every type of forge. Traditional, wood-flame fuelled forges don’t, and coal-forges are powered by a hand-turning crank that you operate. However, there are some electric forges that are used by people, and that becomes an issue in a true survivalist, off-the-grid, homesteading-type situation.
Regardless of blacksmithing or not, one thing you’ll really need to have is a portable power supply. There are heavy generators that run of gasoline, but a portable power station can work just as well, not to mention being much more portable.
Jackery makes some of the best portable power stations on the market, but they’re often out of stock (which means you should pick one up if you ever can before supplies right out again). As of writing, Jackery is out of stock, but there are some alternatives that are decent. FF Flashfish has a 330-watt power station for around $230, which is pretty cheap as far as good power stations go.
You’ll also want a way to generate power while you’re in the wilderness. Unless you’re planning to give up electronics altogether, you’ll want a way to power your devices, whether they’re blacksmithing related or not. A reliable 100-watt foldable solar panel is perfect with either of the two power station devices I mentioned above. My favorite is a 100-watt four-folding solar panel from Rockpals, which frequently are on sale for around 33% off or more, so try and see if you can catch a similar deal.
What Did Pre-Industrial Blacksmiths Do?
Pre-industrial-era blacksmiths didn’t use electricity, relying entirely on wood or coal-powered forges. It’s a similar situation nowadays with communities like the Amish, who shun technology. The point is, it’s still possible to blacksmith on the side while living in an off-the-grid, survivalist, countryside lifestyle – whether you’re a homesteader or camping in an RV in the middle of nowhere. However, it’s not that easy, and it’s better to do it the right way (while keeping our modern conveniences, if we can).
Hopefully, you’ve found this somewhat helpful. If you’re looking for more details about how to get started as a beginner blacksmith, check out the following links below.
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