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I Forge Iron

It takes money to blacksmith !!!!

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If you want to make money and/or a product of any size then yes its expensive..I started years ago with a forge made from the bottom of a 55 gallon drum(well before this website came around) a gift anvil from the scrap yard and a stump from my woodpile..Made small stuff to sell, RR spike items, fish gigs, all the usual hooks etc..Then bought more anvils, bought a gasser, built a bigger coal forge..Bought more and bigger vises..Bought a bladesmith worthy grinder, a swage block and built multiple tools..Then finally a very nice 50 pound LG..Every single item has been bought and paid for from sales of the shop..Lisa is a whize with money and good at saving..She picked out the 50 pounder..
Now our shop is still primitive by some standards but its light years ahead of where I started..Now we have enough anvils that we use them for door stops..yes and expensive hobby but one that can pay for itself if you do it right..Start small and buiild youself up!!

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If you look at my profile, you'll see hobbies that cost $. Seems to be the way I do things.
1 thing I did learn when BBQin is you can learn on your own and spend lots on meat to throw away.
Or you can take a class. But I didn't see that on any list, I could have missed it

But that can be the place you don't want to cut corners.
Good classes will save BIG $$ in meat and supplies

I see the same thing happening here. I joined http://www.nysdb.org/
Every meeting the elders ( LOL, I'm 57 ) teach us something. I can't thank them enough
Somethings don't seem to mean anything, till you look at the whole picture.

I'm just a new guy here trying to learn, Oh thanks for all your help n clues.
You want to learn bbq, I can help, I owe Y'all

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I have seen hobbyist spend more on the hobby than I did as a professional sculptor, why? I guess because they wanted to, not that what they produced was any better or even that they actually tried to make all that much. Perhaps they lit off their forge once a month if that often, I think it was just the thought of having all this stuff and talking the talk not actually doing anything with it. Haven for bid they get a mark on their newly restored anvil face! One fellow loved to come over to the studio and bang on my anvil but if I went over to his place he was always in a dither that I not damage the face of his new Swedish anvil, "It cost me so much more than yours cost you!". What was the use of having all this wonderful equipment and not doing a blessed thing with it? It's the same now that I''m making jewelry, I'm teaching this gal how to solder and she has spent an absolute fortune buy new tools but is so afraid of doing damage to them so she is constantly borrowing my old homemade stuff or secondhand tooling because, well, gee you know it's already been used and dinged up. Sorry for the rant but sometimes I wonder what folk got for brains when it comes to using tools, bat guano?

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this is the way most things are this way
i have a small beef farm and my investment in it is pushing 300grand
this covers land 3 tractors 2 steel kicker wagons 1 rotary rake 2 tedders 1 disc mower 1 dump wagon

2grand in fencing this year so far not counting trips for "free telephone poles"
and there is so much more
heck as well this was a bad year for calving we lost 4 and one heifer so thats a loss of around 5grand to make up

everything costs this is not that amazing a thing
and i know for a fact that our investment for farming is small compared to most of the dairy farms the larger tractors and equipment can get up into the 100s of thousands

sorry i made the mistake of commenting on this string early on and as a result i keep getting updates as more and more people comment

so long story short blacksmithing can be cheap if you have the free time to spend or get lucky
if you are doing this as a hobby and get enjoyment out of building your own tools and slowly building up your shop then you can do this for virtually nothing
if on the other hand you want plug and play spend the cash get to hammering
if you want to do this as a profession on a large scale it can cost like starting up most businesses

i have dont watch much tv but at the end of a day of having things break/kick me(read cow)/or just not get much done
i am lucky in that i find making simple things very relaxing and when i am smart i make things to sell that i can then fold that cash back into improving my set up
some of the equipment is very helpful in the the shop in general so its a win win and while i don't real enjoy straitening gutter cleaner paddles or tedder arms i do get satisfaction out of fire up the forge and saving myself having to buy new parts

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I can understand, that you would not want to have an aprrentice, but I am just wondering if a student, came to you with their own tools and such, would you then be willing to apprentice them, or would you know someone that would, be willing to apprentice someone that came with their own tools and forge? As I am looking at getting into the profession, and the school I am looking at, once you are done their course, you get to keep all your tools, as when you pay for your tuition fees, that part of it, is all of your tools to start up, your own business. I'm Just asking, as I would really, really like to get into the business, and I am well aware that this profession, is not a cheap one.

students are something i have had and that is a whole different kettle of fish... i have been looking into teaching again my current shop is to small to have anyone else in but the local arts center (comm college) has a blacksmith shop for teaching...as far as getting into blacksmithing what angle? there are many different aspects (knifemaking,sculpture,gates and railing, historical reinactment ect...) i saw the other post you posted and ime of the opinion that horseshoeing is not really part of blacksmithing anymore if it ever was... most shoers ive met dont spend much time working metal its more dealing with the horse ...
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  • 1 month later...

I'll tell yall i know it takes money to get started in the blacksmithing field, and i am quite prepared to do what it takes to get started. and i thank yall for the oppinions and I sure as heck aint ever lookin for hand outs just asking oppinions so then i can make an educated decision

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I know it takes money to get started in the blacksmithing field, and I am quite prepared to do what it takes. I thank everyone for their input and I am definitely not looking for hand outs. I am simply asking for information so I can make an educated decision (about what?)

My apologies but I not sure that I understand what question(s) you are asking. Are you asking about becoming a farrier? Are you asking about the cost of establishing a shop to become an artist-blacksmith? Are you asking about the availability of someone mentoring you in their shop?

If you are asking about becoming a farrier, then perhaps a forum that focuses on farriers would be more appropriate place to ask your question. This is not a forum that is likely to provide answers about being a farrier.
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I have couple of comments:

- for me blacksmithing is a hobby; my spouse isn't a sports widow (sports are other folks interests, good on them) instead there's a small smithy building in the back yard. With any hobby there's an investment made of time and money in differing ratios, but all done for personal satisfaction. And if the hobby becomes self-financing, BONUS!!! To quote a deceased friend: "If it isn't fun, it's futile" - Mike Glickson.

- Dixie, if by now you haven't contacted and/or attended a meeting of the Vancouver Island Blacksmithing Association (VIBA), please do so. I visited them back in 2005 and found them to be welcoming, imaginative and resourceful group of people. If nothing else meeting them and getting their comments will help you make a more informed decision (just like reading postings here.) And, greetings from a former Comox Valley boy.

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Equipment is money, buildings are money and your time is money.

Between purchasing and or making tooling you have a considerable investment in the set up. Add up the costs of a building and the monthly cost of power, gassses, coal, consumables and upkeep. Now sum the machinery, tooling and shop cost. This roough gross figure will help you determine the estimated houtly cost of operating your shop.

Talk R&D for a project for a moment. Drawings have to be made. Special tooling that the project may require has to be fabricated and tested. Meetings with the client, where they may decided to alter or change the original concept. The development costs come out of your commission if you don't charge for that portion of the project you will not recover the costs.

Add up all the costs, hidden and actual for any particualr undertaking and use that number when preparing the bid. As an example, even a small 1 man shop has an overhead cost of between 50 and 60 dollars an hour to opperate when you factor in your total costs. Like any production facility, the product run has to reflect the costs involved.


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Look into Neo-tribal metalsmithing; they will be doing hobby blacksmithing for far less than US$100---and some of them are selling blades in the close to $1000 range!

Yes it would take serious money to try to duplicate my current shop---but I once built a complete beginners set up: Forge, blower, anvil and basic tools; for less than US$25 And it was a good forge too it was my favorite billet welder for several years. Also the most complex tool I used to build the set up was a 1/4" drill! Now it didn't have a london pattern anvil BUT YOU DON'T NEED A LONDON PATTERN ANVIL TO DO BLACKSMITHING. So all the posts on how much a good london pattern anvil costs are not germane to the discussion---why yes there are cars that cost over a million dollars but you can buy a car that will get you places for less!

I have a lot of pretty toys most bought on a strictly limited budget---I used to get US$15 a week to spend on all my hobbies and vises---I'm up to $25 now. That allowance + various windfalls that happen when I sell something or do outside work that accrues to me and not my day job that supports the family has bought the Anvils, swage block, cone, screwpress, postvises, vises, hammers, etc. I have hardly ever been given anything free but I have bought everything CHEAP!

It has been a long process finding it all and the "hunt" is a big part of my entertainment. Who needs a detective story on TV when you can be tracking down a rumour of a triphammer being sold for scrap rate somewhere in your county!

Just about a week and a half ago I was stopping at a rural scrapyard next door to where we take our trash and found a PEXTO stake plate buried in the dirt, mint condition and it cost me less than $10---made me happy all week!

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A person can get a great start with the proper equipment on the cheap "IF" they are persistant and have patienece. Places to look, locally at auctions, flea markets and craigslist.

Ive never paid more than $12 for any tong or hammer,

Post vises are cheap in the right places,

Anvils, craigslsit or word of mouth , requires cash in hand and quick reaction

It can be Done

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When I get my air supply (hairdryer), I reckon my little shop have set me back ~700 bucks (keep in mind tho, things are more expensive here). But the joy it'll for sure grant me with for years to come will be all worth it. Besides, I'd like to think that those money will come in again one day in the form of sold products.

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Tool and equipment acquisition does not end whether you are a pro or a hobbyist. As time marches on, you will sometimes get a freebie. At other times, you pay through the nose. Occasionally, you get a reasonably priced item. It's iffy. The timing needs to be right for you to have the money, and it also has to to with desire. I once desired very much to have a big cone mandrel, about 4 1/2 feet tall. I paid too much for it, I thought, but now I'm happy to see it in use in the shop.

Sometimes, tools and equipment are bought for investment and/or for resale. Nothing wrong with that.

Beware. There is the possibility of becoming a collector. I do have a collection of period ironwork and tools that I have gathered together over the years. In classes, I use them for show-and-tell.

Whatever we have acquired, we must realize that the items do not have instant liquidity.

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The hunt for cheap and free stuff is fun! Sometimes it's so disappointing to hear a rumor of something only to arrive a day late or dollar short. But that's part of the fun, isn't it?

But, to be practical, a beginner should be fair of mind and acknowledge that a certain outlay of cash is required to enter this field. It's the price of being all grown up and getting to play with the big boy toys.

And, honestly, for as much metal as we save from the landfill by recycling it into other things, it's only fair that we spend money somewhere!

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Lets see, my Wife bought the anvil, small blower and pole vice for an $150 before we were married. My first forge was was all scrap welded together. My second forge(the one I use now) cost around $60, my large blower cost $100 and my hood cost $30. My third forge is scrap. One hammer was a gift and the other I paid $8 for. My shop cost ~$120(nearly all for tin).

Somewhere around $450 invested in everything.

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It took me more than seven years so far to build up my little hobby shop to the point where I am today, so that I can start considering making money out of it. And I bought almost everything in the town where I live, considering that it is a small non-industrial town/ non-internet is a bit of a miracle. Even my refractory for the forge were purchased close by, after I accidently discovered the company.

If I have to do it over to make money, I would seriously consider buying new/decent stuff. Even at my bargain priced shop I payed about 50% of what it would have if I did it the money spending way.

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I think it's also worth to consider that just because you purchase something for a relatively high price, doesn't mean it's actually more expensive. It might last a lot longer and be of better quality than something cheaper.

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Here's my two cents......the discussion has wandered from what I perceive is the intent of the original poster. He is correct that it IS expensive to become a dedicated, full-time 'smith. Yet, it seems that, again, everyone is right in this discussion, based upon the individual's perspective. As has been pointed out, if you are a hobbyist 'smith, just doing for fun and maybe every now and again selling something, the cost can be very low to get into the hobby....but the investment goes up based upon the desired outcome - if it is to supplement income, the equipment cost generally rises as the need requires either equipment in much better shape, or more specialized equipment. If the outcome is to be a full time 'smith, of course price goes up again. Production requires labor costs to be kept to a minimum, thus power hammers come into view, larger forges, heat treating equipment, faster welders, mig, tig, plasma cutters, etc.

I am a hobbyist 'smith and have gotten better equipment by buying and selling up. For example, my first post vise was a 3.5-inch jaw missing the screw box I got for free, but it worked...sold it for $75 and bought a 5-inch jaw missing the mount for $60. So, I am $15 ahead in that race, but the labor to make the mount (and the metal involved) made it break even from a cost standpoint....but that isn't why I am smithing. It is an outlet for my creativity and allows me to great stress relief. Were I to start goiing to fairs and such to sell my wares, I would expect to get better equipment to make it more profitable. So, from a making money perspective, 'smithing can be expensive. From a creativity outlet and hobby, it can be cheap.

Let's think about this, if the question is "How much does it cost to get blacksmithing equipment that includes a london pattern anvil, a gas-fired forge, all of the hammers and tongs needed, and a 4 to 6-inch post vise and start within a month?", it is expensive. If the question is "how much does it take to start blacksmithing at home for a hobby and get the equipment over a period of time"? it can be done for cheap, especially if time is not a factor. Again, as I stated at the beginning, everyone's answer is correct, based on their own experience at answering the question "How much did it take you to get into blacksmithing?" So the original poster was right when he said it is expensive to get into 'smithing as he knows what it cost him and a production 'smith such as he must have the right equipment, operating properly, to become as efficient at making things as possible as labor is expensive.

But 'smithing can be cheap if time and making it profitable.are removed from the equation and it is a hobby. We have seen plenty of good deals talked about on this site, but what we don't hear too much about are the times that a person has overpaid (and found out later) or paid the fair price for equipment! To bring this to close, I have seen pictures of amazing stuff done by hobbyists and full-time smiths alike, generally the only difference being the amount of time involved to make them, so in the end, if the perspective is enjoying what you do and being proud of your achievements, the cost is the same for everyone. My two cents, and probably worth what you paid!

I enjoy reading everyone posts on this site and the perspectives they bring. I have been given much food for thought on this forum and the price was free......but the informaton gleaned is priceless. Thanks.

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It takes money to make money, no matter what the trade, craft, art or skill you're talking about.

It's tough to start from nothing and make something.

But, it can be done. I remember an old timer who once told me, "...if you've got a pick up truck, if you can't make $50,000 a year, you ain't tryin."

I'm like a lot of others on this thread, with tens of thousands of dollars invested in a trade (mine happens to be heavy equipment repair). A lot of my tools work well with my hobby of blacksmithing.

But, to translate my hobby of blacksmithing into a money making venture, it'd take many thousands of dollars.

On the other hand, I've only spent a couple of hundred dollars on making my blacksmithing hobby viable for producing Christmas gifts for my kids, practicle items for my wife's garden, things for around the house...

All hobbies cost money. All businesses cost a LOT of money. You've just got to evaluate the return.

Best regards to all,

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Bit of a break down when people ask me, and that I am a small business.
About $1000 to $2000, will easy fund a hobby, or hobby business set up for good second hand gear. then the time chased for the skill to use the gear. that as stated, is the real cost to be measured.
A fair skill, a few tools, can equal money. (in a hobby or spare time scenario, flea markets, family Xmas gifts alone can save a measure)
But who wants to hand hammer, always, the amount required to run a successfull business?.......(depending on what you make?)
In today's market, the faster and cheaper you can turn it out, the more you can be available for.
Ergo, process. Hammers, mechanical, or presses, tooling, work space, in hand with the right marketing,....business.
If you don't own land or a place to forge,
So a shed is about $2000 a month maybe, plus power and insurance...$500 a year?.,
So that's $13 an hour you have to make, for the shed, and say .25 cents an hour for your insurance...non stop......
...........plus..... all your normal living expenses....Rent, car, food, kids, bills,.....you will need a wage, per hour?
An employee, to hopefully increase output, and reduce your labour...will cost per hour,, plus workers comp insurance...per hour?
Stopping to make, or buying tools.
How much an hour are you required to make to live......how much is a set of tongs, or how long did it take you to make them?...so how much did they cost if you made them?, hobby....40mins to an hour....business, the same time frame is worth how much for your time?
.add some machinery...

It does cost to blacksmith

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Don't recall if anyone has mentioned things like Books or Training---probably the most important things for getting from zero to being a working smith.

I think you would do better in the long run hammering on a stone and taking Mr Turley's blacksmithing class than buying a new Nimba and trying to figure things out all on your own!

Looks like I picked up a new student; Mechanical Engineer student who's attended our church a couple of times and got invited to forge; we're working on projects and I'm feeding him the books he should go over and showing him what the words mean at the anvil.

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"It does cost to Blacksmith" Yes, but compared to most other Hobbies/ buissnises it's still relatively cheap.!
And as Thomas pionted out training! In this game that is dirt cheap-especially if you take the one on one type of relationship!

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Well I pointed out to my student that propane ran about as much as attending the local $5 movie theater---about $2 an hour and while he was working on his project I made 6 tentstakes from scrounged stock that I sell for $2 a piece and so paid for the gas 2x over.

Most of the basic blacksmithing tools last forever and their costs can be amortized over decades. It's the consumables you have to pony up for on a regular basis!

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