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I Forge Iron

First Project

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You need to start off by learning the basics, Some simple tools are possible with the very basics but not a lot. You need to learn to draw and taper, upset, bend, twist, punch, slit, drift, cut, Weld etc. A goo place to start is to make some simple s or c hooks. Draw the stock down to a nice even taper. Then bend it around the horn of an anvil or other device, twist it to make a c or s hook.

You can't do anything until you learn some basic blacksmith skills. For example you mentioned tongs. A pair of tongs will require drawing and tapering, bending punching, drifting, upsetting and possibly some twisting.

My suggestion is get a piece of metal hit and hit it with a hammer on your anvil and observe what it does. See what effect different typed of hits have and what they cause the metal to do.

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I have come to like throwing spikes as the start. You can never have too many, they are small so fast to make so quick practice, and only require a base knowledge of drawing out a square taper. Make from mild steel. That is where I would start. Then move up to s hooks which gives you more of the same practice but adds bending/scrolling and rounding, then start adding twists to the s hooks, time to make some punches and chisels(I recommend fully hardened tools struck by some mild steel, a good piece of 2 to 3 inch round stock will work well until you buy a soft hammer or make one) from there move on to making some wall hooks for the house witch will give you practice punching holes along with all of the previous, now it's time for some tongs, from there it's a little more wide open and well I haven't thought that far out yet.

If you can't tell I have had some beginners coming around so have been thinking this out for them. The key though is to take a class as soon as you can as hands on will help immensely on the learning curve. Also before you try something new (piece or process) work it out practice it in clay. No heat required moves like hot steel, can use same tools and it's much easier work.

Hope that helps.

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Mo is right, don't try to bite of more than you can chew.  Just like little girls learning ballet practice different moves (yeah, my daughter took ballet) as they master those moves get combined into a dance.  It's the same with smithing.  You'll use various techniques to make differing projects.  Look at each project, determine what procedures you'll use. 

Some small projects like key chain fob's, split crosses, meat flippers, forks and spoons are some small projects where you can practice those moves.

Good luck, share pics!

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My intro class I teach as an adjunct  experience for a Fine Arts Metals Class at the U  consists of having the students make a S hook, two nails and a chile pepper  this takes from around 4 hours for the class.


One suggestion I have to make is to make something *useful* for the shop or house.  I have never been into just doing a shape and tossing it on the scrap pile.  I had rather design an item that uses that shape and make a bunch of them!

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I started making tools to work the fire and then in logical sequence other items needed to make a complete shop. If you are not careful you will end up starting a project you are not equipped to complete.
You mentioned tongs, you need a punch and drift so make them. At the end of the day you will have a punch, drift and tongs. Your next set of tongs will go faster because you already have the tools you need. Do this with each project and watch your tool inventory grow.

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As mentioned, SIMPLE to start. Hooks of all kinds, including small, simple leaves.

Key fobs of all manner, style and size.

Don't start anything you can't finish at first. Seeing all the things made by members of this site make it LOOK easy, but most ain't. Don't over-rteach and frustrate yourself. This stuff is fun!


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Hi Redbeard,


I'm a beginner myself so no wisdom here. But you never know, maybe it's worth something hearing about fresh experience.

I first read some books about blacksmithing. My favorite is Basic Blacksmithing by David Harries and Bernhard Heer. Got some project ideas from it.



Books can give some silver lining how to avoid bigger failures. Also safety readings are good too at first, ie. here in IFI.


I don't know anything about propane forges - I saw you building one - but with a coal forge it was a first challenge to light up and maintain fire. And how to put the material in it, how does it get hot and when, what colors are there and how can I see them in my workshop.


Then, as much as I am the same page with Mr. Powers about the useful projects I did some practicing with no results. Ie. I took a 10" rebar and hit it to square then tapered it. Took a 3/8" thick 2 by 4 leaf spring piece and tried to shape it one way and an other. It ended like a bow tie, but it was worth a shot.

What I'm trying to say, it is necessary to gain experience and also enhance physical strength. - So no such thing as ineffective hammer blow in the beginning. Experiment with the materials you got. (Junkyard is a cheap option.)


And all those projects mentioned before are certainly very good - only keep in mind that it's no harm if you can't somehow finish the job or it cracks or it takes so much time that it annoys your guts out. But dealing with hot iron is fun (oops, as Windancer said it  :))


Best of luck, let the iron glow bright!



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I'm a beginner too. Well, I've done a couple of years, but compared to the masters who contribute to this site I am a novice.
I found that advice given to me was worth remembering. That was to start simple (yes, J-hooks, s-hooks, twists and so on) and try to make each piece as good as it can be. And practise practise practise. I used to have a hell of a time trying to punch holes in round 12mm bar. I would avoid doing it at demos, or do it before any visitors arrived. But after hundreds of goes and a cup full of slugs I am now confident I can get it right. So keep at it.
Also, keep your first tries. The first hook, first leaf etc. It does you good to look back and see how you have improved. I have leaf hooks which I thought were OK at the time, but in retrospect I'm ashamed of them.
Good luck with your efforts.

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Also practice using "play doh". It will move the same as the steel only a lot easier.
Taper an end of a 12 mm round and taper 50mm along the bar of doh and flatten it out on the anvil.
The steel your forging will do the same just with a lot more elbow grease.
This way will save you time and your scrap bin will be a lot lighter!!
Most of all enjoy your time, search this site and good luck.

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