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I Forge Iron

A hopeful future blacksmith

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Hello everyone, my name is Joseph. I live in the southern part of Louisiana, close to Lafayette. I am currently 18 years old.

For years, I have been interested in the art of blacksmithing. Its something I have always had a passion to learning...but I have never gotten the chance too. My parents were the types to think it was too dangerous or too silly to actually try doing. However, I knew one day I would/will learn to be a blacksmith. I love the thought of being able to create almost anything you wish to have from metal...and have the satisfaction of you making it, and not have simply buying it.

I have been lurking on the site for the past month or two, and decided to sign up...As I said, I am now 18...and the perfect time to start my blacksmithing journey...however, I have a problem in which I hope you guys can help me, and I do apologize ahead of time if this is the wrong section, and a "stupid question to ask" since I'm sure you guys have seen it more than once. Basically, I know the basics of blacksmithing, but not enough to where I can feel satisfied. I also have no tools (my parents got divorced, I moved out...my dad is planning to buy back the house from mom, which would be good since I'd have plenty of space to start my blacksmithing journey) and honestly, I don't know what all I need other than hammers/a forge/ and an anvil.

So, my question, is there a book (or can you guys recommend absolutely anything) to where I can learn the basics of blacksmithing? Preferably as if I knew absolutely nothing, since I'd like to make sure I know everything I need to know before starting. Also, any recommendations on forges I can buy/build and/or anvils/tools would be greatly appreciated. It may take a good while to get the tools I need (A winn-dixie budget doesn't exactly get you much hobby-time when living on your own haha) but I will get anything/everything necessary to make my hobby how I need/want it.

A little about my hopefulness in blacksmithing:

I'd like to do blacksmithing for the rest of my life....I would like to be a bladesmith one day as well (probably in a few years, since I'd like to be a *pro* at my basics before moving on...I'm a firm believer in learning my basics to perfection, and then move up each piece by piece). Once I have experience, I would also like to one day help beginning blacksmiths out 1on1 since there never really seems to be any of those guys nowadays.

Sorry for the length, and thank you all for anything you can help me with. You all may see me asking questions here and there, so please bare with me.

See you guys around, thanks again,

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Wow, I'm impressed, a young'un interested in blacksmithing and he can make an intelligent, lengthy post without spelling or punctuation jumping out at me. To me that means besides being reasonably articulate, you care enough about yourself and how others perceive you. I like that you want some books and not just "I wanna mak a sord an i got an old spring....yada, yada". Let everyone in your extended family know you are interested in blacksmithing, you'd be surprised who's got some old tools in the shed.

The Louisiana Metalsmiths Association is right in your back yard http://lametalsmiths.org/
In fact they got a big event next weekend

PM me your name and address, I got a few books gathering dust. Maybe a tong or two.

"Hey Ma, gussy up the girl, this one's got some manners"!

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Hello Nakedanvil, I've seen many of your post around the forums, and I must say it is a pleasure to finally say hi.

I will admit there was a time (I would suppose I was 14 or so) when I was the "I wanna make a sword yada yada" type, but I guess I can't really blame myself since I've always been a collector of them. However, I have (I suppose the word would be "matured") enough to know that basics come first.

Thank you for the compliment of perception...I know my grammar isn't the best (Cajuns speak differently I suppose) but I do dislike the new, how they say, "L33t-speek" (You know, "lol" and all that jazz). I guess I'm just an old-fashioned kind of person, and would rather be perceived as at least somewhat educated, instead of a kid that can't spell/talk correctly.

I had no clue that there was a Metalsmith association in Louisiana, thank you greatly for the find...I will surely attend some of the events they host.

I shall PM you soon. Thank you in advance for the books/tongs. Greatly appreciated!

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I hope you are able to go the the LAMA event with Brian Brazeal. I wish I could go... I've been trying to learn from books, not finding any blacksmiths around, and I know that this is not enough although they make things a lot easier than just banging on metal to see what happens. So I'm sure a teacher must make things easier. There are many books that are very good. Mark Aspery's books are excellent, as the books of Lorelei Sims, P. Blanford, Weygers, Randy McDaniel, Francis Whitaker, Andrews, I don't know... I just wish Alfred Habermann had written a book, and Brian Brazeal and Uri Hofi write one or more some day... ;)

For the basics you could download these:




And of course, J B Stokes books available at the FAO web page. It seems that the site is down right now so I'm not including the links. Very important books specially if you are in a blacksmith's barren area like me.

Be sure to follow the links to the videos Brian Brazeal has posted. They really will help you see details you can't see in books and you can practice them later.

Hope it helps


PS. the link to Stokes' books is working again:



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Their next big event is B.O.B. XVI – Bangin’ on the Bayou
at Beaver Park in Lafayette
Demonstrator: Brian Brazeal

March 13th and 14th - Any reason you can't make it to this?

You might notice I don't always use "correct" spellin' of grammar, can't get the full flavor without pushing' it a little. But the first job of language it to communicate. Sadly, even that is beyond some folks. I'm not a spelling and grammar Nazi, 'least not if I can understand it the first time through.

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Congrats on deciding to take on such a hobby. You will never run out of stuff to do or ideas. It is a craft that gives back more than you put in. The best thing is once you obtain a few tools you can do most anything you want, or will make or design another way to get the same results. Blacksmithing isnt like being a Carpenter , as far as tooling goes. A woodworker must buy so many different tools and it basically never stops thru out their career. Wood is actually alot harder to work and make things with much detail without always needing equipment you can't afford or dont have.

Point being , You get a good hammer, vise, and anvil and a heat source and a grinder and you are off and running. You will have to buy a few things first, like a set of tongs probably , then after that make your own. For the price of a few pieces of flat and round stock you will be on your way. Like was said before, Tell everyone you see about your desire and itemize what you are lacking, Like I need a post vise, most folks are unaware of some of the ancient tooling we require.
I was looking all over for a another anvil and after going everywhere , I stopped by my cousins house and when asked what I was out doing in there area, I found out her husband had a Peter Wright anvil just sitting in the shop, SO...... Always make a point to let everyone you see to be on the look out for you. Tell people at work , church, school, parties, everywhere you go. Go to every flea market you can and look for stuff too.

Sorry for such a long post but , we have all been in your position before. So to answer the Book question, I was impressed with a few that comment on getting set-up and designing your work space and also the basic tooling you will need to get going. They both came highly recommended by ones here.

The Blacksmith Craft , ( A Primer of Tools and Methods)
Charles McRaven

The Backyard Blacksmith ( Traditional Techniques for the Modern Blacksmith)
By: Loreli Sims

Both books are a great resource to have, they have sections on making your own tools ,heat treating charts, making punches, how to use material from junkyard like springs and bars to make tooling. I really liked them both and I believe if you look on this site and some others too, they have alot of reviews on them. I went to Amazon.com and you can get a preview of these books on there and they also had the best prices on them too.

Again, we have all been there and I am like you , I like to know about the in's and out's and find out and read all I can on everything I do. I will say ,this site has been as good a resource for a Blacksmith , no matter what level a person is at. I have really gained alot of knowledge by reading all the good info on here , I still learn something everytime I log on

Good Luck and sorry so long a post , keep us posted on you progress. You can help get Generation Next into the game .

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Hello Joe!
Since no one else has suggested it, try and get a copy of "The Edge of the Anvil" I believe it's now called "the New Edge of the Anvil" by Jack Andrews.
Massively useful book, though difficult to find these days.
Be wary of old books though, they are good reading but most of the authors back then simply skipped over important stuff because of "everyone knew it so why bother saying it?" syndrome. Very frustrating.
However, reading about blacksmithing is NOT the same as doing it. Find someone who is willing to have you come to their shop some afternoon and run you through the basics.
Honestly, I wish I had had that opportunity when I started.
Good luck to you and enjoy this new path!

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Thanks, Grafvitnir.

tomcellwheel, Come to the LAMA conference. I'll be there, and so will LDW, striking for me. They are having me do a 2 day class before the conference, and I'll be demonstrating during the conference. I would like to meet you and help out in any way I can. If you're up for it, you could strike and we could make you a hammer after hours.

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Wow, thanks everyone...I never expected so much help for a "newby blacksmith". I can't really describe the feeling I am witnessing at the moment....I just know its not one I experience often. All I can say is thanks, and wow.

Graf: Thanks for the suggestions! I shall definitely get them all when possible!

NakedAnvil: The only reason would be if I get lost (I'm not much of a direction guru, you see!) But I am definitely going to go.

Zig: Thanks for the help, I'll have to see if one of my grandparents have any tools they may not be using anymore...perhaps I'll be as lucky as you!

Spike: Thank you! I think I may have heard of that one before, I'll have to try and get my hands on it.

Brian: I will definitely be coming (I assume I only need to bring the form filled out and some cash, yes?) and I would be honored to meet you. I will warn you now, I've never striked before, so I suppose I should ask that you have patience with me, but I would be very grateful if you wouldn't mind teaching me a bit. I look forward to next weekend!

Thanks for everything guys, looks like I've got some reading to do, and I couldn't be happier. If you guys would like (or at least wouldn't mind) I will keep you all updated on my blacksmithing journey.

Edit: Brian, you are truly generous and I thank you, but I think I'll work an off-day this week, and I'll be able to afford it. I couldn't ask you to do such a thing, but I thank you for such an offer! I look forward to meeting you!

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That's funny! We will do it in under 2 hours. It is only a few steps, and it can be done in 1/2 an hour. Don't worry about the time, and don't worry about missed strikes. Everyone misses hits, but the missed hits don't do much. It's the strikes that hit that do the work.
Have you ever split wood? Striking is like splitting wood. If you don't hit it right, it just means you have to hit it again.

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Indeed, I've split wood when I was younger with my Grandfather. Must say, I wasn't tremendous at it (I apparently had a lack in hand-eye co-ordination, but I've tended to have gotten better after a few times), but I got it done! I suppose my biggest drawback will be embarrassment, I tend to expect to much out of myself, and sometimes get embarrassed if I make a mistake. I'll just have to accept that it is bound to happen, and work on making it right, instead of worrying about doing it wrong again.

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I understand that, but you'll see. It will be just like splittig wood and you'll get it done. Step up to the plate and let's get it done. The one's watching will wish they were there. It's all about learning, and you will learn more by doing it than standing by watching. And I guarantee you those standing by watching will think it's great, and not be judgemental.

Don't worry about mistakes. We all learn more from mistakes than we do from successes.

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I like that saying Brian, thanks for the inspiration. NakedAnvil was right when he said its "right in my back yard". 25 min away haha. Its unfortunate that you don't live around here, but I'll definitely have to take you up on those classes one day when I have a decent job.

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Wow! What a nice start for you Joseph! Smiths all over the world will envy your beginning! As you can begin to see the smithing community is something very special! I am sure that many here will be looking forward to reading of your adventures as a beginning smith. I sure will!

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Thank you bigfoot, I agree, I almost find it hard to believe that all of these happenings can just be co-incidental....so this makes me believe even more that blacksmithing is what I not only want to do, but need to do. I'd hate to see it die away within my lifetime, so I will probably one day be a teacher like Brian...so the art is not lost. If I don't travel, I'll definitely teach any children I have and their friends/school if possible.

And Brian, thank you greatly for the offer...may I ask how much five 5-day classes would cost? The summer approaches quickly, and I'd definitely love to come up and see you a few times during the summer. The only thing is I may still be only just as experienced as I get with you this following weekend. As stated earlier, I'm still waiting on my father to buy back our house, then I'll be able to gather all that is needed. I will definitely pick up on any materials/tools I can find though, and stick them in a friends storage unit until I can actually use them.

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No book will ever teach you to be a blacksmith, as everyone says you just go do it, suck it and see, make mistakes etc. ..... buuuuuuuut if you lean towards the creative side, I can't recomend highly enough Peter Parkinson's book "The Artist Blacksmith". Maybe's not the best for learning the basics from but worth looking at with an eye to the future. I've had the fortune to go on a class run by him and years later I still draw from it. Very nice bloke and so inspirational design wise.

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Hey Tom

You come across as being very polite and incredibly eager to learn.....Keep this good attitude and you will find that people will be very accommodating.

I only wish you lived closer, or else I would invite you over right now :-)

People have recommended books for you to read. I have no doubt that these books are very good instructional guides. I have found that a lot of these books require you to already have a collection of tools on hand.

Seriously....read everything you can find, but there's one link I HIGHLY suggest you pay closer attention to (which has already been posted) is this one:


I only wish I had seen this book when I was your age!

What I love about this book is that it teaches you how to blacksmith while making your own tools, but starting with a very bare amount of equipment. It covers all the basics, and if you do everything in the book, you will have a decent collection of tools and a very good start on your journey.

take care and good luck!


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