How to Start Blacksmithing: A Beginner’s Guide

To start blacksmithing, you’ll need a forge, an anvil, and basic tools like hammers and tongs. It’s important to research safety procedures and find a qualified instructor or mentor. Consider taking a class or workshop to learn basic techniques, and practice often to improve your skills. As you progress, you can invest in more specialized tools and equipment.

John was a young boy when he first laid eyes on a blacksmith hammering away at a red-hot piece of metal. The sound of the hammer hitting the anvil echoed through the valley, and John was mesmerized. From that moment on, he knew he wanted to be a blacksmith.

For centuries, blacksmithing has been an essential skill, shaping our world and providing the necessary tools for survival. While modern times have brought about changes in manufacturing, blacksmithing still holds a place in our society. It is a craft that requires skill, creativity, and patience.

Starting out in blacksmithing may seem daunting, but it is a rewarding and fulfilling hobby that anyone can learn. In this beginner’s guide, we will cover the basics of blacksmithing, from setting up your workspace to the tools you will need. Whether you’re looking to learn a new skill or simply want to explore your creative side, blacksmithing is an excellent choice.

So, let’s get started on this journey and learn how to start blacksmithing.

Understanding the Basics of Blacksmithing

Blacksmithing with hammer

Blacksmithing involves working with metal using heat, hammer, and anvil. To become a blacksmith, you need to learn how to heat and forge metal, shape it using various tools, and finish it to achieve the desired look. Some of the basic techniques in blacksmithing include forging, punching, bending, twisting, and welding.

Setting up Your Blacksmithing Workspace

To start blacksmithing, you need to set up a safe, well-ventilated workspace with adequate space to move around. Your workspace should have a forge, an anvil, a hammer, tongs, and other necessary tools. It’s also important to have a fire extinguisher nearby and wear safety gear like gloves, safety glasses, and an apron.

Essential Tools and Materials for Blacksmithing

Some of the essential tools and materials you need for blacksmithing include a forge, an anvil, a hammer, tongs, chisels, punches, files, and sandpaper. You also need fuel to heat the forge, such as coal, charcoal, or propane. Other materials you’ll need include metal stock, flux, and oil for quenching.

Heating and Forging Metal

One of the most important aspects of blacksmithing is heating and forging metal. To heat the metal, you’ll need to light the forge and wait for it to reach the desired temperature. Once the metal is hot enough, you can start forging it using a hammer and anvil. It’s important to pay attention to the temperature of the metal and adjust the heat as needed.

Shaping and Finishing Metal

After heating and forging the metal, you can start shaping it using various tools like chisels, punches, and files. You can also create textures and patterns on the metal using specialized tools. Once you’ve finished shaping the metal, you can apply a finish to protect it from rusting or give it a desired look.

Safety Precautions in Blacksmithing

Blacksmithing can be dangerous, so it’s important to take safety precautions to avoid accidents. Always wear safety gear like gloves, safety glasses, and an apron. Make sure your workspace is well-ventilated and have a fire extinguisher nearby. Also, be aware of the temperature of the metal and avoid touching it with your bare hands.

Taking Care of Your Tools and Workspace

To ensure your tools and workspace remain in good condition, it’s important to take care of them properly. After each use, clean and oil your tools to prevent rusting. Make sure to sweep and tidy up your workspace to avoid tripping hazards. Regularly maintain your forge to ensure it’s functioning properly.

Practice Makes Perfect: Tips for Improving Your Blacksmithing Skills

As with any skill, practice is essential to becoming a proficient blacksmith. Here are some tips to help you improve your blacksmithing skills:

  1. Start with simple projects and work your way up to more complex ones.
  2. Take classes or workshops to learn new techniques and skills.
  3. Watch tutorials and videos online to learn from experienced blacksmiths.
  4. Experiment with different materials and tools to discover new techniques.
  5. Join a blacksmithing community to connect with other blacksmiths and share knowledge.

Blacksmithing Tongs: Tongs are essential tools in blacksmithing as they allow you to hold and manipulate hot metal safely. There are different types of tongs for various purposes, such as flat tongs, wolf jaw tongs, and scrolling tongs. It’s important to have a variety of tongs in your blacksmithing toolkit to accommodate different sizes and shapes of metal.

Industrial Blacksmithing: While many people pursue blacksmithing as a hobby, it’s worth noting that there is also a professional aspect to it. Industrial blacksmithing involves the production of large-scale metalwork, such as architectural elements, machinery parts, and tools. Industrial blacksmiths often work in manufacturing settings and use specialized equipment to handle larger projects.

Galvanized Metal: Galvanized metal refers to metal that has been coated with a layer of zinc to protect it from rust and corrosion. When working with galvanized metal, it’s important to be cautious as heating or welding it can release harmful fumes. Proper ventilation and safety precautions should be followed when working with galvanized metal.

Black Metal: Black metal, sometimes referred to as wrought iron, is a type of iron alloy that has a low carbon content. It is known for its malleability and ability to be forged and shaped easily. Black metal is commonly used in traditional blacksmithing projects, such as gates, railings, and decorative items.

Heated Metal: Heating metal is a crucial step in blacksmithing as it allows the metal to become malleable and easier to work with. The metal is heated in the forge until it reaches the desired temperature, which can vary depending on the type of metal and the intended purpose. Proper heating techniques and temperature control are essential for successful forging.

Metal Malleable: The malleability of a metal refers to its ability to be shaped and formed without breaking or cracking. When metal is heated, it becomes more malleable, allowing the blacksmith to manipulate and forge it into various shapes. Different metals have different levels of malleability, and understanding their properties is important for effective blacksmithing.

Metal Material: In blacksmithing, a variety of metal materials can be used, including steel, iron, copper, brass, and bronze. Each metal has its own characteristics, such as hardness, strength, and color, which influence its suitability for specific projects. Choosing the right metal material for your project is an important consideration in blacksmithing.

Type of Forge: There are different types of forges used in blacksmithing, including propane forges, coal forges, and gas forges. Each type has its own advantages and considerations in terms of cost, fuel efficiency, heat control, and accessibility. The choice of forge depends on individual preferences and the specific requirements of the project.

Brake Drum Forge: A brake drum forge is a type of homemade forge that is often used by beginner blacksmiths due to its simplicity and affordability. It is typically made by repurposing a brake drum from a vehicle and constructing a simple air supply system. While it may not offer the same precision and control as more advanced forges, a brake drum forge can still be effective for basic blacksmithing tasks.

Additional Tools: In addition to the basic tools mentioned earlier, there are other tools that can be useful in blacksmithing. These include a swage block, which is a multi-purpose tool with various shaped indentations for forming metal, and a post vise, which is a large clamp mounted on a sturdy post or bench for holding and securing metal during forging.

Heavy Tools: Blacksmithing often requires the use of heavy tools, such as sledgehammers and larger hammers, to shape and manipulate metal. These tools provide the necessary force to effectively forge and shape the metal. It’s important to use these heavy tools with caution and proper technique to avoid accidents and injury.

Safety in Mind: Safety is paramount in blacksmithing to prevent accidents and protect yourself. Always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from flying debris, and use safety gloves to shield your hands from heat and sharp edges. Additionally, having proper ventilation in your workspace is crucial to remove fumes and maintain good air quality.

Safety Glasses: Safety glasses are essential in blacksmithing to protect your eyes from flying sparks, debris, and harmful substances. It’s important to choose safety glasses that are impact-resistant and provide adequate coverage for your eyes. Regular safety glasses or goggles may not provide sufficient protection, so it’s recommended to use safety glasses specifically designed for blacksmithing or industrial work.

Pritchel Hole and Hardy Hole: The pritchel hole and hardy hole are two features commonly found in anvils. The pritchel hole is a round hole located near the heel of the anvil and is used for punching holes in metal. The hardy hole is a square or rectangular hole in the body of the anvil and is used for holding various blacksmithing tools, such as hardy tools and bottom swages.

Estate Sales and Farm Auctions: Estate sales and farm auctions can be great places to find blacksmithing tools and equipment at affordable prices. These events often offer a wide range of tools, including anvils, hammers, tongs, and other items that may be useful for blacksmithing. It’s worth keeping an eye out for such sales and auctions to find bargains and expand your tool collection.

Quenching Liquid: Quenching is the process of rapidly cooling hot metal to harden it. Quenching liquids, such as water, oil, or brine, are used for this purpose. The choice of quenching liquid depends on the type of metal and desired hardness. It’s important to follow proper quenching techniques to avoid cracking or warping the metal.

Angle Grinder: An angle grinder is a versatile power tool that can be useful in blacksmithing for various tasks, such as grinding, cutting, and polishing metal. It consists of a motor with a rotating abrasive disc that can be used to remove material, shape edges, or clean up rough surfaces. When using an angle grinder, it’s important to wear appropriate safety gear, such as gloves and eye protection.

Flat Hammer and Heavy Hammer: Hammers are fundamental tools in blacksmithing, and different types of hammers are used for different purposes. A flat hammer, also known as a cross-peen hammer, has one flat face and one tapered or cross-peen face. It is commonly used for drawing out and shaping metal. A heavy hammer, on the other hand, is a larger and heavier hammer that provides more force and is used for heavier forging tasks.

Mild Steel: Mild steel is a type of low-carbon steel that is commonly used in blacksmithing due to its affordability, availability, and ease of working. It is relatively soft and malleable, making it suitable for various forging and shaping processes. Mild steel is often used for practice projects, functional items, and decorative pieces.

Hot Steel: When working with steel in blacksmithing, it needs to be heated to a high temperature to become malleable. Hot steel refers to steel that has been heated in the forge to the appropriate temperature for forging and shaping. It’s important to handle hot steel with caution, using appropriate tools and protective gear to avoid burns and injuries.

Basic Techniques: Blacksmithing involves various basic techniques that are foundational to the craft. Some of these techniques include forging (shaping metal by hammering), punching (creating holes in metal), bending (changing the shape of metal by applying force), twisting (creating spirals or helical shapes), and welding (joining pieces of metal together). Mastering these basic techniques is essential for advancing in blacksmithing.

Essential Techniques: In addition to the basic techniques, there are other essential techniques in blacksmithing that are worth learning. These include scrolling (creating decorative scrolls), riveting (joining metal pieces with rivets), fullering (creating grooves or hollows in metal), and upsetting (thickening or enlarging a section of metal). Developing proficiency in these techniques expands the range of projects you can tackle as a blacksmith.


Blacksmithing is a rewarding and fulfilling hobby that allows you to create functional and decorative objects out of metal. With the right tools, techniques, and knowledge, anyone can learn how to blacksmith. Remember to prioritize safety and care for your tools and workspace to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience.


Is blacksmithing expensive to start?

Starting out in blacksmithing can be expensive, as you need to invest in essential tools and materials like a forge, an anvil, and metal stock. However, you can start with basic tools and upgrade as you progress.

What kind of metal is best for blacksmithing?

The most commonly used metal for blacksmithing is mild steel. It’s easy to work with and readily available. Other metals like wrought iron, stainless steel, and copper can also be used.

How long does it take to become a proficient blacksmith?

Becoming a proficient blacksmith takes time and practice. It can take several years to develop the necessary skills and techniques.

Can blacksmithing be dangerous?

Yes, blacksmithing can be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken. Always wear safety gear like gloves and safety glasses, and be aware of the temperature of the metal.

Can I make a living as a blacksmith?

Yes, some blacksmiths make a living by selling their work at craft fairs, markets, and online. However, it takes time and effort to establish a successful blacksmithing business.