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I Forge Iron

Blacksmithing Must Haves

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Hey guys, So ive looked everywhere for something like this, but I cant seem to find anything. I decided I would just make one. I have a small forge, a ball peen hammer, an engineers hammer, a pair of vice grips, and a home made spike anvil, but thats about it. I was wondering if there was anything else is necessary, or highly recommended? What type of tongs, hardy tools, punches, etc. would a smith want to create knives axes and tools?


Thanks, Ben

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You have everything you need brother. Polish your skills and anything else you want you will be able to make or make something to make it. Start by making tongs. I bought my set but will make some soon, I will say that well fit tongs (to the material you are holding) are a must have. But you can make those with your grips or long enough material so that the part in your hand isn't hot.

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Yeah, some of us so old we started out with a big rock for an anvil, another rock for a hammer, then used green branches for tongs, yeah things used to be rough back in the early iron age. Sounds like you're off to a good start. As you get more experience you will be adding more tools, they just seem to sprout from the ground, things like hammers are always coming along, tongs pop up too, I used to buy old chisels and punches, they are easy to modify so they come in handy. Scrap pieces of steel are handy for making tools, so look for dlo tools to make into other tools but if you're wanting to make knives and axes you will need to know what kinds of steels are best for those kinds of tools. Being a smith means that you will become a scrounger of odd bits and pieces of stuff, we waste nothing as it all can be used for something.

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I'm a newbie myself, so I can tell you a few things that I found helpful to start, I think whats necessary is kind of subjective and depends on what your doing. I'm still figuring that out. The more I do, the more stuff it seems like I need : ) . Making the tools to make more tools or other items is part of the journey for me, and I guess for most or all smiths.


File (&/or angle grinder)

Hot cut (you can make)

Vise or some means to hold work

Hack saw / angle grinder or some means to cut metal until you make hot cut

Container to quench in

Magnet to determine critical temps


I'd highly recommend safety glasses. I also use ear plugs with the angle grinder.


And lastly, time at the forge, with this you'll start developing your own list based on your needs.

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As has been mentioned, you're off to a good start with what you already have and a belt grinder is a good jump up the list of equipment you'll acquire over time.

Use what you have and start making tongs to begin with. Plenty of designs and how-to knowledge on this site. As you make stuff you'll find you'll be regularly making new shaped tongs to deal with the job at hand, all part of the fun and experience.

Eddie highly recommends safety glasses. That's not something that's negotiable mate, glasses are a must. A recommendation could be the hearing protection- a hard-of-hearing 'smith is someone who needs to be yelled at. A blind 'smith is just a sad state of affairs. Personally I use both sight and hearing protection.

Learn as much as you can from this and other sites and get ahold of some scrap metal and start heating and moving it....enjoy

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Agreed on the eye/hearing protection. 

   For safety glasses I use a dark tinted set of safety sunglasses (make sure whatever you use is z87.1 compliant).  I like them because they fit close to my face, and the tint allows me to watch for the metal to start flowing as it approaches welding temperature.  I still use a full faceshield when using grinders, sanders, wire wheels, and other similair equipment.

   For hearing protection I use the "mushroom" earplugs with the solid neckband that you can either hang below your chin or rest on the back of your neck.  The main benefit I find with these is that you can put them in by the neckband and don't have to physically touch them with your hands to either put them in or take them out.  Anyone that uses or has used foamies, even the ones with the string on them, with hands covered in coal/oil/etc. will tell you that they're black before you get them to your ear.  Even if you put them in when your hands are clean, you can't get them back out if you are talking to someone without dirtying them, and I imagine coal dust is not conducive to a clean ear.  With the neckband earplugs, you can pop 'em out, have a conversation, and pop them back in.  No yelling or going "Huh!?", although you might do that anyway once you get used to them and forget to take them out.

   Another option for earplugs is to use the plastic ones with the little baffles on them.  I don't like these because they dig into my ear and really start to hurt, but they do seem to work a little better.  They have a little plastic piece that sticks out just enough that you can pull on it, and it's firm enough that you can push it back in, without getting coal/oil/sand/rust/scale/etc. in your ear.

   Just my 2 hundredths of a dollar.

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Basicly you need 4 things.  A fire to heat the metal, something to place it on, something to hit it with, and something to hold it.   That's all.  You can make everything else.  Vikings used large anvil stones, and large rocks to reduce their blooms.  From there they made everything else.  When I started I had a railroad anvil, that I still use, a pair of visegrips, a couple pairs of channel locks, a forge I made from a break drum that I still use for solid fuel, and a ball peen hammer.  Yep, I still use the hammer.  It doesn't take much to get going.  Sounds like your well on your way.  Welcome to the addiction.  Get ready for a wild ride.

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Yup as the guys have pointed out you don't need much.

I used to be very gung-ho with my attitude to safety but then I started working offshore and ever since I've been much better at it. These days I wear eye and ear protection. I've had a nasty scale burn on my eyelid in the past. It's just not worth it.

It does mean my misses can sneak up on me when she comes home from work though! :/

I'd also suggest making tongs. I bought my first pair off eBay and use them for everything. It took me a couple of goes to make a decent set of tongs, but I got there eventually. This was only about 3 years or so ago and I struggled to find a decent guide. These days there are more how to videos on YouTube which I find a great help. Actually being able to watch some one do it really helps.

After that, you'll find the things you want to make will present themselves over time.

All the best

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