Blacksmithing Terminology: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Blacksmithing terminology can be extensive, but some common terms include:

  1. Forge: A furnace or hearth used for heating metal to a malleable state.
  2. Anvil: A heavy metal block used as a surface for shaping and hammering heated metal.
  3. Tongs: Tools used to hold and manipulate heated metal.
  4. Hammer: A tool used for striking the metal to shape it.
  5. Quench: The process of cooling the metal quickly to harden it.
  6. Forge Welding: Joining two or more pieces of metal by heating them to a malleable state and hammering them together.
  7. Fullering: Creating a groove or indentation in the metal using a fuller tool.
  8. Punch: A tool used to create holes in the metal.
  9. Swage: A tool used to shape or form the metal, usually with a specific pattern or design.
  10. Hardy Hole: A square hole in the anvil used for holding various tooling.

Blacksmithing is the art of heating and shaping metal with a forge and hammer. It’s an ancient craft that has been practiced for thousands of years, and it still has a place in modern society.

As a blacksmith, I have always been fascinated by the rich history and language of our craft. The terms and techniques used in blacksmithing have been passed down through generations, each smith adding its own unique twist and expertise to the art form. But for beginners just starting out, the terminology can be overwhelming and intimidating. 

That’s why I’ve created this comprehensive guide to blacksmithing terminology, designed to help new smiths understand the essential terms and techniques they’ll need to know to get started in this time-honored craft. From “forge welding” to “quenching” and everything in between, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and confidence you need to become a skilled blacksmith. So grab your hammer and join me on this journey through the fascinating world of blacksmithing terminology.

Basic Tools and Equipment

The following are some of the most essential tools and equipment you’ll need to begin blacksmithing:


The anvil is a heavy block of steel or iron that serves as the work surface for blacksmithing. It has a flat top and a horn on one end and often has various holes and shapes for different purposes. The anvil is where the metal is shaped and hammered into the desired form.


The forge is where the metal is heated to a malleable state. It’s typically a brick or metal structure with a fire pot and a blower to control the heat. The forge can be fueled by coal, propane, or other fuels.


The hammer is the primary tool for shaping the metal. It comes in a variety of sizes and shapes and is used to strike the metal on the anvil. The weight and shape of the hammer determine the force and direction of the blows.


Tongs are used to hold and manipulate the hot metal in the forge and on the anvil. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are designed for specific purposes.

Advanced Tools and Equipment

Once you’ve mastered the basic tools, you may want to invest in some more specialized equipment:

Swage Block

A swage block is a multi-purpose tool that’s used for shaping and forming metal. It has various holes and shapes for bending, punching, and twisting the metal.


A Hardie is a square or rectangular tool that fits into a hole in the anvil. It’s used for cutting and shaping metal and can be used with various attachments.


A pritchel is a round tool that fits into a hole in the anvil. It’s used for punching holes in metal and other tasks.


A vice is a tool that’s used to hold the metal while it’s being worked on. It can be attached to the anvil or to a separate stand.

Techniques and Processes

Blacksmithing involves a variety of techniques and processes for shaping and manipulating the metal:

Forge Welding

Forge welding is the process of joining two pieces of metal by heating them to a high temperature and hammering them together. It requires skill and practice, but it’s essential in many blacksmithing projects.

Drawing Out

Drawing out is the process of elongating the metal by hammering it in a specific direction. It’s often used to create tapers, points, and other shapes.


Quenching is the process of rapidly cooling the metal in water or oil to harden it. It can also be used to create specific color patterns on the surface of the metal.


Annealing is the process of heating the metal to a specific temperature and then allowing it to cool slowly. This softens the metal and makes it easier to work with.

Metals and Alloys

Different metals and alloys have different properties and are used for different purposes in blacksmithing:

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is a popular choice for blacksmithing because of its strength and durability. It contains carbon and other elements and can be heat-treated to produce different levels of hardness.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a type of steel that contains chromium, which makes it resistant to rust and corrosion. It’s often used for decorative pieces and kitchenware.

Wrought Iron

Wrought iron is a type of iron that’s low in carbon and has a fibrous grain structure. It’s known for its malleability and is often used for decorative pieces.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is a type of iron that’s high in carbon and has a crystalline structure. It’s known for its hardness and is often used for tools and machinery.


Blacksmithing is a fascinating and rewarding craft that requires skill, patience, and a knowledge of terminology. By learning the basics of blacksmithing terminology, you’ll be able to communicate with other blacksmiths and understand the techniques and processes involved in the craft. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced blacksmith, there’s always more to learn, so don’t be afraid to dive in and start hammering away.


What is the difference between a blacksmith and a farrier?

A blacksmith is someone who works with metal to create tools, decorative pieces, and other items, while a farrier is someone who shoes horses and other animals.

Do I need a lot of expensive equipment to start blacksmithing?

No, you can start with just a few basic tools like a forge, an anvil, and a hammer. You can always add more specialized equipment as you gain experience.

Can I make money as a blacksmith?

Yes, there is a market for handcrafted metalwork, and many blacksmiths sell their pieces online, at craft fairs, and in other venues.

Is blacksmithing dangerous?

Yes, blacksmithing involves working with hot metal and heavy tools, so it’s important to take safety precautions and use protective gear like gloves, goggles, and aprons.

Can blacksmithing be done indoors?

Yes, with the right equipment and ventilation, blacksmithing can be done indoors. However, it’s important to be aware of the risks of carbon monoxide and other fumes.