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I Forge Iron

Beginning Blacksmithing with Projects

Tim McCoy

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I looked and don't believe I have seen a review of this book listed as yet . . .

"Beginning Blacksmithing with Projects"
Authored by Jim Converse 1986
ISBN 0-8306-0351-4
$11.50 @ Amazon
264 pages with photos and line drawings . . .

Great starter book. 16 chapters with sections related to getting started, simple projects and advanced work. Explanations and drawings are clear and easy to understand. There is even a piece about how to make your own leather apron. In the first chapter of the book there is a discussion about how to convert a hot water heater tank into a forge ... reminiscent of the "55-Forge" ... make a forge pan and legs/base out of one tank and add tuyere and air source and how to create a chimney (with a side draft hood) out of the same kind of tanks. Simple and direct instructions. For the beginner with little or no money there are some good tips about basic tools, especially the hacksaw. Used properly a hacksaw can still cut most any size or shape of metal. Proper use, blade style and tips for cutting faster are all detailed here. Low tech and human powered, hacksaws still provide a fine method of cutting cold metal.

Whether its fire, forge, tongs, punches, hacksaws, anvil choices or hand held tools, it's all here for the beginner. I found the book very helpful with forge welding and heat treating. I liked especially the advice offered in the last paragraph of the book, "Always remember to think things out, to keep records, and to maintain safety habits. Be creative and experiment with expressing modern shapes and ideas in this traditional medium. Above all, enjoy your work."


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  • 7 years later...

I'm not sure if it is really worth commenting on this as it is seven years old, but just in case other nubs like myself stumble across this I have to agree.  This book is pretty great on a lot of levels.  Everything is very broken down and the content is pretty spelled out.  It does come across as a little patronizing, but patronizing is needed.  The author goes into great detail about what exactly is happening whenever you do a given thing.  There are a plethora of projects in this book which all very in intensity.  Supposedly, the author based this book off of his own teaching methods that he used to teach his own students in the shop, then once the book was written he used the book to aid instruction.  So the book is defenitly geared towards building skill as you go and furthering you abilities.  You do get the feeling as you read that the author is sitting across the table from you giving you pointers and guiding your abilities. 

There is a section in the beginning of the book which talks about the most important tool, the hammer, and how not to be afraid of its power and what it can do.  Step one was to talk with the hammer and shake it in around in your hands to get a feel for it and show it who is boss.  There are also a lot of great practice methods for honing mammer technique. 

I personally feel that one of the strongest parts of the book is the writing style.  As stated before, it really feels like the author is sitting with you guiding you through the processes.  The writing is well thought out, easy to follow, and a little humorous.  The humor is more on a dad joke level but it still lightens up the material and makes it worth reading. 

I only just got this book yesterday, so I would take what I wrote with a grain of salt, but I have been using most of my free time to dive into this book and skip around all the sections.  I read the first three or so chapters all the way through, on set up of yourself and shop, safety equipment, basic hammer and tool techniques, and mindset.  After those I have been skipping through the project sections getting a feel for the book.   There is a whole chapter on heat treating so hopefully that can clear up a few things for me.   I cant wait to start using this as an actual guide instead of an interesting reading. 

I think I will buy it at some point but I am not sure as of yet.  Library it up if you can. 

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