Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Things I wish I had known before I started blacksmithing

Recommended Posts

Everything is either hot, heavy, sharp, or dangerous.

Blacksmithing is addictive, once you start you want more and more.

No matter how much space you have, no matter how many tools you have, it is not enough.

With all your tools, someone else can do the same thing with one hammer, one anvil, working outside under a tree. And THEY do not need the tree.

Anyone can start a project, but not everyone can finish a project.

Sitting in a chair reading about blacksmithing is not the same as beating on hot iron.

You can NEVER learn enough, there is always something you did not know.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

so true so spot on. Glenn mate i know how ya feel... even tho i already have more tools then lots of other bladesmiths and blacksmiths i know i still feel like i got to little and always needs to use a tool i have seen but not have.. hehe

and yes reading about it is not the same but i do like to read about it tho and then try out the things and ideas i get from the books

well i think any blacksmith has it this way in some amount :)

and yes we can never learn enough but we can learn more faster with lovely nice forums like this where people give away their best tips and secrets for others info ain't it just great :)


Link to comment
Share on other sites

there is a lot of knockoff xxxx made in other countries by slave workers, that can not compare to the aesthetic beauty of a hand crafted piece.
In order to get any worth out of your work, you either have to have a high end market, or love making gifts for people (that's my choice)
this addiction leads to auction fever, and e-bay-craigslist late night visits.
when you drive by old farms, you wonder, hmmmm does he have an old anvil in there?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is always more to know... and someone who can make you feel like your own work should go back to the scrap pile... but that give incentive to work towards that lofty goal.

I also have found that blacksmiths are very generous with knowledge, friendship, advice and technique.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I started smithing in collage around '92, had to stop in '94. :mad:

I've been a furniture / cabinet maker most of my life, put me through collage etc. What is it... 17 years later- I am finally set up in my own shop, that I own! I can do what ever I want in it. :D

I've been collecting tools for woodworking, smithing, and machining for so long now it seems strange to not need anything desperatly.

I guess its time to go to work!:o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love the smell of hot iron in the morning, afternoon or evening!

Just spent a couple hours dressing tennons and piddling around in general. Getting heat in the shop means the temps outside finally broke! Now if we just don't get ashed on.

Lets see, what do I wish I knew before I got started eh? Hmmmm. I sincerely wish I'd known how to convince Father that I wanted to smith for fun so maybe he would've been more supportive. Maybe he would've introduced me to my great uncle Bert sooner. Oh well, bridges, water and all that.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to agree as well, I'm just getting started but nothing excites me more then working with the metal. I'm close to 56, all my major joints are bad from arthritis, on top of having problems with my left hand thumb joint deteriorating away, thanks to 24 years loading and unloading trucks and hard work. But in all it's not enough to stop me from grabbing a hammer and beating iron. Even my wife is getting irritated at me for doing less and less around the house and spending more time in the shop. May be as close to any type of addiction drugs or other wise I will ever come. All I need do now is get good enough to make a little off my work to justify to the outside world I'm doing something worth while. When we all know it's just the sound of the hammer and the feel of the heat that makes it all worth while to us.

Now that's about as philosophical as I get.
Bill P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I worked the majority of my life in arc welding. General repair, fabrication, then pipefitting. As a youth, The local weldor in our neck of the woods had a portable Lincoln welder on his Ford truck. He was a wizard with an oxy acetylene rig. He did some work now and then on the farm for my Dad. I wish I had known about his anvil, and power hammer then. not that he would have parted with it at that time. I wish I would have known how he sharpened those plowshares. Because when they came back with that nice thin edge, not a grinding mark on them. I wondered how he did it, but that was the extent of it until much later. I later knew he heated them and drew out the edges on the power hammer. Eventually I became a pipe welder(which is as addictive as blacksmithing), going to power plants and refineries, paper mills, steel mills. Late in my career a co-worker was telling me that he would like to get into blacksmithing when he retired. Shortly after that I saw an article in a magazine that showed me what it was all about. I saw the light! I had been too busy trying to make a living in the modern processes to give much thought to the old ways. I wish I would have known sooner but given the addictive nature of forging, its probably better for me, the way it worked out. Anvillain

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A few things I wish I'd realised earlier:
Solid fuel needs to be about the size of a hazel nut before it's useful
Don't skimp with the fuel, it just wastes more in the long run
Don't go overboard with the fuel, there is a law of diminishing returns
Be patient and wait for the heat you need, it'll save time and fuel in the long run
Don't spend too long trying to figure-out the absolute optimal solution; by the time you do you've wasted a whole load of time you could have been forging and getting results
Cross- and straight-pein hammers are improvised with a dip or twist of the wrist
Much commercial charcoal is expensive and poor quality
Think while the iron's in the fire, strike while the iron's hot

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another thought I have on this subject. I have seen many people who are extremely bitter late in life, when asked what artistic creations they have been part of, "nothing" is usually the answer. I believe completely, that there was a very large hole in my life, unbeknownst to me, and when I re-discovered blacksmithing, it became apparent, blacksmithing was the answer. I wish I had known how important artistic creation is to the soul, My wife and kids are my life, yet blacksmithing is something I selfishly do for myself. All in my family benefit from it, and realize how happy it makes me, so a balance has been reached. I thank God and you guys for the endless horizons of creations in iron ahead of me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

New guy, if you are holding steel and heat moves up the steel to where your hand is - turn it loose!

I have two tables one beside the forge and one as a work table directly opposite the forge (behind me when facing the forge). Anything on the forge table is HOT no matter how long it has been there. It is not considered hot, it IS hot. Tongs or pliers are the only things that are allowed to pick up anything from the forge table. Before it is placed on the work table it is dipped into the slack tub (water) to cool and then transferred while still wet to my bare hand. Only the bare hand is allowed to put anything on the work table. I promise you, a dip into the slack tub (water) and it comes out steaming you will dip it again before putting it into your bare hand to move it to the work table. I want no surprises, forge table is always HOT, work table is always NOT HOT.

Black metal in the sun can be just as hot as metal from the forge. If there is ever a question present the BACK of your hand to the metal. It is much more sensitive to heat then the callused palm.

Rick of Ricks Ironworks suggested that instead of tongs, weld any old piece of steel to the end of your work piece. It gives you length to get away from the heat of forging, as well as provides a secure hand hold on even the most awkward piece of metal. I find that 1/4 x 1 flat bar works great as a welded on handle. If you just tack one side, when your finished, just bend the handle to break the weld. Touch the remainder with a grinder to remove any indication of the weld.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...