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Hey, Hypno here.

 

I have been interested in blacksmithing for the last year and I've read all the books but now I'm ready to buy some tools and start. Now this is my dilemma: I can't spend much more than $50 on the whole shabang. The good news is I already have some a couple of hammers and a bench press so those won't have to be purchased. Anyways, I was wondering if any of you knew how I could get/make an anvil and forge to start blacksmithing/bladesmithing for under $50. (Please note I have NO powertools and I myself can't fabricate easily)

 

Your feedback is appreciated! Hypno.

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There is a book called "Wayne Goddar's.$50 Knife Shop (Revised)"

I would spend money on that .

Then wait until you have enough money to buy each tool or material. 

I cereainly understand about not haveing money to do something.

So it sounds like you would just have to go at it at a slow pace until you can buy or TRADE

for what you need.

 

Trading is an option. If not, then waiting and taking a longer time to assemble your tools

and material sounds like another option.  

Only you can manage your priority of how your money is spent.

 

I wish you the best!

Ted T.

 

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I suggest you start by going here, http://www.abana.org/affiliates/affiliate_list.shtml , to see if there is an affiliated club close to you that you could attend a meeting or two.

The local to me group has an open forge one night a week for a couple dollars to pay for fuel usage for members.  If there is something similar close to you that could work for a start.

 

Aside from that, get creative.  The basics of a forge is a hole in the ground that holds fire with an air source to up the temperature.  The basics of an anvil is something that can withstand the heat and pounding (before iron became cheap enough, large rocks were used).  Add some way to hold the steel and some form of hammer.  From there the only thing missing is desire.

 

My first forge was and old weber grill lined with ashes that has a hole in the side for a piece of pipe to supply air.  I was lucky and given a blower but I know a guy that still uses an old hair dryer for his air source after many years.

 

ron

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The short answer is, You Can't.     Take a whole lot of little steps before you buy the bank,

 

The above replies are polite and to the point. First you must have an idea of what you want to do. Second you have to have an idea of how to do it. The knowledge doesn't come to you, by your keyboard. Get off your xxx and work with someone to learn. Join up with others of like mind. Don't ask permission from this or any other forum. Learn by doing!!!

 

Lesson #1- make your tools, you don't HAVE TO buy them. You may have to BUY the knowledge from someone else, who you take a course from.

 

Neil

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If you want to start on the cheap, then you've picked the right hobby.

 

You can lift yourself up by the bootstraps in blacksmithing like you can in no other field.  Money helps, and for certain items like a nice anvil you'll have to have some.  But without money you can develop some amazing workarounds that allow you to develp your skills and flesh out your tool set at the same time.

 

But if you don't have money you are going to need time and scrounging skills.

 

The first thing you need to do is to scrounge a large, heavy piece of steel/cast iron to serve as an anvil.  It doesn't have to be pretty, but it needs one flat working face.

 

There are many options for forges - the absolute cheapest would be a home-built charcoal forge fueled with charcoal you cook yourself in a drum.  This requires only your effort to gather the wood and make charcoal of it.  But it also takes time and you have to be in a location to do such a thing.  Otherwise a good portion of your $50 will be applied to fuel.

 

Start scrounging for steel to work with.  There is scrap available from any number of sources and almost all of it is useful to a patient smith, particularly to a beginner.  You can always use it to make do (and to develop your skills) until something better comes along.  Work with long pieces you can hold one end of until you can make a pair of tongs.  There are plans for a first set of tongs that don't require tongs to make them.  Get those and a piece of 1/4"x 1" steel and use that to make your first pair - then the whole world's your oyster.

 

Everything in life is a trade of time or money, if you don't have one then you need the other.  Don't let the lack of money hold you back, make it your means to self-improvement.  I've made most of my blacksmithing tools and there's no reason you can't do the same or more.

 

Welcome, good luck, and have fun... oh, and spend at least $5 of that $50 on a pair of safety glasses!

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Have patience.  Be willing to spend small amounts of money to move toward your goal.  Be very picky, especially with Ebay.  Garage sales are great, but not for anvils.  Pretend you are looking for an anvil, but don't do it seriously, else you will be 15 minutes later than the anvil collector every time.  If I had waited to buy an anvil, tongs or forge, I would still be waiting 10 years later.  But, I did fine two great vises, one of them an inexpensive Wilton bullet, all kinds of inexpensive steel (much better than scrounged), enough A2 bar to Ebay off and buy all kinds of stuff that I really needed, and so on.  Make your own forge out of junk, scrounge a steel block at a scrapyard or somewhere for cheap (these don't attract anvil collectors).  Forge your own sets of tongs.  Do not make a hammer.  It isn't worth it.  Get one with a broken handle for cheap at a garage sale.  Garage sales are great, but not for obvious blacksmithing tools.  Some kind of gremlin is snapping these all up.  I have only seen two good garage sales in years.  One was an old blacksmith liquidating his stuff.  He did it during a citywide garage sale, so he did not advertise.  Most people did not know what he was selling.  The other was a slick auction that was heavily advertised.  By the time the bidding opened, there were old men shoulder to shoulder shouting and jostling for deals.  Never seen so many come out of the woodwork.

 

If you are really intent to pick up a cheap anvil at a garage sale, get a cheap welder instead.  A welder can be used to create an anvil, but an anvil cannot create a welder in a reasonable amount of time.  Believe me, I tried.  It works a lot better the correct direction.

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I started with a piece of RR track that I got from asking a railyard for.  They gave me a 3' section for free which after cleaned up I mounted vertically.  My forge was & is a brake drum forge which I made w/ scrap angle iron.  The refractory cement was the most expensive part of it.  You can get 2" pipe from a place that installs sprinkler systems for cheap.  You are going to need to know how to weld, or have a good friend who will do it for you for cheap.  I'd recommend learning if you don't already know how.  A Lincoln 220 arc tombstone can usually be found for cheap and won't do you wrong.  Here are some pics of what I'm using.  The anvil I eventually bought using the money I made from selling openers, knives, gardening tools & stuff from railroad spikes (which the guys at the railyard give me for free in exchange for openers & beer)  Don't scrounge for spikes on RR tracks, highly illegal and belongs to the RR, they will prosecute.

 

Look for ways to save money on materials.  Steel fabrication shops usually have cut offs that sell for scrap prices, Home Depot or rental places sell their worn jackhammer bit cheap which can be used for hardy tools.  Search these forums, there's a lot of great ideas that will get you going. 

 

For your forge blower scrounge up a squirrel cage.  Here are pics to show how I'm using mine.

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Why would you restrict your self to such a low dollar amount $50 is less than a tank of gas or a trip to the grocery store.  You will probably spend this in gas and time tiring not to spend the money in the first place. Yes its possible with some good luck but you will be working with a very limited and frustrating set up, couple this with the fact that you have not the skills to make the most of this limited equipment.  Why restrict your self so much right out of the gate there is much to learn do and see.  Buy good tools do the best you can and be serious this is the king of crafts. 

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As soon as you put a dollar restriction on yourself, you have doomed yourself to frustration and maybe failure....

 

Go collect recycle items and cash in at local recycle center or offer to mow lawns .... Money is out there (even in our uncertain times) just pursue it...

 

 You do not have to be "rich" but you have to be proactive and look for any opportunity to acquire things you need for the  "hobby"....

 

Brake drum forges are not expensive to build, any hammer will do (heavier the better) and block of steel will act as pounding surface (anvil).... IF you restrict your self from the start, you will never succeed...

 

I have maybe $50 invested in home shop made forge, $250 in two quality hammers (about $38 each)  and 6 pairs of tongs (inexpensive one at about $30 each), and my wonderful loving wife bought me a  #100 pound anvil for my birthday.... I have put a certain restriction on my self at this point  to not buy anything more unless I can justify it by actual "need"... Also have a few assorted freebies and hand me down to round out what I think I need ...I now feel I have the basics in tools...  Now I have to lean how to use them....

 

Dale

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My first forge that I started out with was my charcoal grill. I agree with  the recommendation to get Wayne Goddard's $50 knife shop. He scrounged everything and trolled yard sales.

It was my first guide book to forging as I started out making knives but have moved on to forging other items too.

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I have to move my anvil every time I use it. I went through a time when I was unable to move it. I bought a 20lb. sledge hammer head at a yard sale for $5. It served the purpose. Iron has been worked on very small anvils for a very long time. A forge can be as simple as a hole in the ground. Again, this has been done for a long time. Modern tools are nice, but when looking at history, a lot has been done with a lot less.

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I have to move my anvil every time I use it. I went through a time when I was unable to move it. I bought a 20lb. sledge hammer head at a yard sale for $5. It served the purpose. Iron has been worked on very small anvils for a very long time. A forge can be as simple as a hole in the ground. Again, this has been done for a long time. Modern tools are nice, but when looking at history, a lot has been done with a lot less.

Yes but those people who worked with a lot less had people with generations of knowledge and experience showing them the way.

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I agree with the contention that a fixed and very small budget is a great way to frustrate yourself.  It's very hard to see anything I do regularly with so little invested.  More importantly, there are very few of those things that didn't take time to acquire the tools for.

 

I spent very little for the material in making my forge and box bellows.  However I've been collecting tools and skills for many years which made that possible.

 

I'd like to add that I've rebuilt my forge five times and I've made new bellows twice.  In the four years I've had this hobby, I've spent nearly half my forging season every year trying to get it working better.

 

So in my case what didn't cost me money - dearly cost me in time.  Everybody's got their own tipping point on that score.  I find it's easier to be patient when I don't have a "halfway there" situation going on.  I'd probably opt to buy a working rig from somebody if I  had it to do again.

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If you are just wanting to twonk a bit of metal, then get to a scrapyard and find a truck disc or drum, I went for a disc (ex Citaro bus) as it provides a lump of thik steel around the edge to hammer onto.

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Then make friends with your local railway depot and you are almost there, some coal, a hairdryer, a hammer and you are away.

 

All of above was free, so for $50 you should be laughing.

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Just ask around! I got my brake drum for free when I asked the owner of a local shell station. Yo might have to raise your budget a little to get good results.  See if there is a Blacksmith organization or guild in your area. When I go to guild meetings, I have the opportunity to use the forges and anvils etc.. from shop that the guild runs.

 

http://www.abana-chapter.com/ 

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Thank you guys so much for the feedback and the car brakedrum idea is great! After reading this I priced it all out and it looks like I should be able to go by a couple of places and get everything for around 40$ or so. And I can always keep my eye out for free stuff around town  :)

 

EDIT: Also junk day for my neighborhood is coming up and I will surely be scavenging anything and everything this year. I could probably find an old BBQ'er to forge in or other useful things.

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I have been interested in blacksmithing for the last year and I've read all the books but now I'm ready to buy some tools and start. Now this is my dilemma: I can't spend much more than $50 on the whole shabang. The good news is I already have some a couple of hammers and a bench press so those won't have to be purchased. Anyways, I was wondering if any of you knew how I could get/make an anvil and forge to start blacksmithing/bladesmithing for under $50. (Please note I have NO powertools and I myself can't fabricate easily)

 

Let me rephrase that

You read all the books on blacksmithing in one year. 

You have a couple of hammers and a bench press but no power tools.

You have $50 to spend on an anvil, forge and additional tools.

 

You already have a computer and the internet. It is a wonderful blacksmithing tool. Use it. Read IForgeIron.com,

 

What do you need to get started in Blacksmithing? should answer most of your questions.

 

The anvil section 2,569 topics and 28,677 replies. You should find many different ideas on starter anvils as well as information of what type and condition of anvil to look for in your searches of the flea markets, hammer ins, blacksmith gatherings etc.

 

The forge section lists Solid Fuel Forges, Bellows, Gas Forges, Induction heating, oil forges, etc with 2,201 topics and 20,866 replies. You should find many different types, styles, and forge configurations. Choose the one that works for you.

 

No power tools?  Blacksmithing was around over 2000 years (give or take a few years) before they had electric power for the *power* tools. It certainly did not stop those blacksmiths from working the craft. Read how they did it back then and it can be done the same way today. *Power tools* just makes it easier.

 

As others have said, do not limit yourself to $50. You can build most of the tools you will need from scrap that can be found in alleys or dumpsters, or free for the asking.

 

Back to the computer and use it as a blacksmithing tool. Set aside a period of time each day for research, say 2 hours. That is only 14 hours a week. Spend those hours in TEXT MODE, READING about blacksmithing. Think of it as taking a class that you will be tested on at the forge. You will find how well you learned as soon as the hammer drops. If you were intense and dedicated it will be easy. If you were a slacker it will show in frustration. That is not to say it will be easy, or that you do not need to reread some things, or do more study. That is a life long process that stops only when you do.

 

Once you have a forge, now shift and spend 2 times the hours at the forge for every hour that you spend reading. Practice each process or technique you read about until you understand how the metal moves and that technique.

 

Until you have a base knowledge about the craft you can not tell if a video is telling the truth or not. Shift and spend 3 times the hours at the forge for every hour that you spend watching the videos.

 

This should serve you will and get you started in the craft. Locate a blacksmithing group near you and attend the meetings. The time will jump start your knowledge like nothing else can.  Take classes. Read and learn all you can. Your education stops only when you stop learning.

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The BEST use for that $50 is a membership with your local blacksmithing club. If you aren't a complete jerk, you'll probably find one or more of the members with a well equipped shop willing to let you come in and tinker a little so you can get a handle on what you really need and what you want to do. Some of the clubs also have a clubhouse and a regular weekly forging night. Save your pennies and aquire the big tools as you can, make what you can, learn what you can.

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Thank you guys so much for the feedback and the car brakedrum idea is great! After reading this I priced it all out and it looks like I should be able to go by a couple of places and get everything for around 40$ or so. And I can always keep my eye out for free stuff around town  :)

 

EDIT: Also junk day for my neighborhood is coming up and I will surely be scavenging anything and everything this year. I could probably find an old BBQ'er to forge in or other useful things.

 

Old base (cart) for BBQ could make wonderful base for brake drum forge (that is what I used) and if its large enough it can double as a rack for all your tongs....

 

Dale

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Hello all. Here's my thought (remember, you asked!):  All of the above is good advice.  but here's what I think is a summary of the best:

1.  Spent the $50 on a membership to your local Blacksmithing organization. 

2.  Go to the meetings, let folks know you are willing to work and learn and BE NICE!

3.  Use the time that you are rebuilding your savings helping the closest smith that wants your help, and when they are getting a heat on their project, use the heat from the forge to tinker under their guidance, paying attention to what they are suggesting (providing your own steel is a nice touch, but often not necessary).

4.  Try to get more than one smith to teach you (everyone has 'their' way of doing it right).

5.  When you buy anvils and vices, don't skimp on price, buy as big as you can.  My first anvil was 85# and my first vice was had 4": jaws.  I quickly (within a month or two) realized I wanted/needed bigger.  I now wish my first outlay of cash was for either a bigger anvil or bigger vice, because I did upgrade, and now have both.  Neat 'cause I've got 2 anvils and 2 vices, but much more $ was spent.

6.  Most importantly, have FUN!

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If you have a local state park with a blacksmith shop, you may be able to get started for 'free'! All you have to do is volunteer your time. Then you have access to a forge, an anvil, and tongs as well as 'free' steel. (There is a bit of paperwork, so the state can be sure you're not going to snatch up the first child you see, but it's not too tedious.) I'm down in Coloma on Fridays, and it's usually an enjoyable afternoon in the shop. I don't have to set anything up, and I only have to put away what I pulled out. :D

 

Alternatively, according to the Yellow Pages, you have several working shops in Fresno. Stick a nose in around closing time so you don't interrupt their work, and ask about local gatherings or volunteering in the shop.

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