Jump to content
I Forge Iron

basic skills

Recommended Posts

jcvdag Welcome to I Forge Iron.
I believe you have taken the right steps so far in your pursuit to find instructions on how to get started with the blacksmithing craft.
1. You found the I Forge Iron Web site.
2. You provided the location of where you live.
3. You ask for help.
For a quick start, I would suggest you follow up on what the “KeyKeeper” suggested, and that was; “Go to home page, and follow the links there on getting started. Tons of info for you there”.
By providing the location of where you live, I would bet someone here will suggest where you will find a blacksmith or a blacksmith organization that may be located near you.
As found on Main Menu, Getting Started, Looking for a blacksmith group near you---click here, = GS0002 Blacksmithing Groups.
My search for a blacksmith organization that may be near you produced the following:
The Connecticut Blacksmiths Guild is a non-profit affiliate of ABANA. Contact Bill Sheer, sticbs@aol.com or 860-536-0679
I feel the sooner you find a place where you could have some hands on experience; it will answer a whole lot of questions for you real quick. But, then it will create a whole set new set of new questions. It is just the normal learning pattern.
I would like to suggest that you keep in mind the following advice and warning that is published by Glenn Conner who is the administrator here at IForgeIron.com, when he emphasized the following: Note: permission was given to quote.
> "Blacksmithing is dangerous !! Everything you do is either hot, heavy, sharp or dangerous".
> "Personal Safety is a personal problem, you need to protect what you want to keep".
> "What you get out of it, depends on what you put into it. There is no substitute for hammer time. There is no substitute for reading to learn, and there is no substitute for the knowledge gained by working with folks more experienced than you are".

Here is some advice Finnr shared with us. “You got to earn your burns”.

Here is some advice that Finn shared with us. Note: For my personal notes, I modified what Finn said for my own understanding.
“There are no shortcuts in life”, if someone tells you otherwise they are most likely ignorant, lying, or trying to sell you something.
The closest thing to a shortcut in life is if you receive some exceptional guidance, but even then it usually takes a huge amount of time, effort and determination to achieve most things that are worth while and that will stand the test of time.
If you want to develop skill you will most likely pay for it in time, moneys, and energy. And most often other sacrifices are involved.
Be safe!
Old Rusty Ted

Link to comment
Share on other sites

though many 'purists' may not agree,..... the ability to weld (mig / gas / stick etc) will help you no end with making functional projects, and a quick fix to helping you make the tools etc you will need for blacksmithing.

If you can find a college / evening school / etc course in basic welding, safety etc it will stand you in very good stead - they may also teach you the how to use burning gear (oxy acet / oxy propane) which is immensly useful for cutting / heating odd shaped pieces for bending and so on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welding skills are very usefull even to a "purist" or "traditionalist." Some things are worth doing, and therefore worth doing right. Somethings just need doing, you still want to do them right, but they are not the main thing. Most of us will never make a hammer rack like a gothic desk out of Samuel Yellin's shop, but at some point you will need a hammer rack. Welding skill will help you in fabricating a nice hammer rack, or other tool, or some nice bit of sculpture, or even a nice bit of fabricated railing with a few nice forged elements to spiff it up. It is amazing how diverse a skill set you will find you need, to see the things in your minds eye come to fruition. There are a wide variety of methods that you can use to do any reasonably comlicated project (stretching you might be able to come up with a dozen ways to make an S hook, but lets not get too silly;-) Having choices is good, having discernment and good judgement on how you choose is better. (and the bottom line, might not always be the bottom line... Money isn't everything;-) Don't take dangerous shortcuts, doing something dangerous and stupid to save time or money often cost more in the long run. Do not push yourself beyond your physical abilities, push right up to them and stretch yourself, don't break yourself. (It hurts a lot more as you get older, and often you feel the pains of your foolish youth long into your old age...) Protect anything you want to keep, this most certainly includes, your hearing, your vision, your lungs, your hands, your feet, and your back, knees and elbows are optional;-) Don't sell yourself cheap, but don't think more highly of yourself than you ought... I try and tell my young son that you can learn very little when you are so busy trying to tell everyone how much you know, fight foolish pride, stay as meek (in this case meaning having a teachable spirit..) and humble as you possibly can... (I missed a ton of opportunities to learn from a bunch of people because I didn't want to appear inexperienced, which was exactly what I was, there was no shame in that. You live you learn or die trying;-) You may meet someone who seems to be a complete bafoon and a blowhard, but if you learn one important lesson from watching or listening to them, it may have been worth suffering gracefully through their "instruction," and after they get over their insecurity you might have made a good freind who can help you out. Don't burn bridges causually or without a really good reason, firstly it isn't nice, and second you never know which way you will have to go later, and it might make it a much tougher road if you have to walk out of your way several miles, or take the time to rebuild a bridge you burned. It is good to be passionate about your craft, it is bad to monopolize the conversation to the point that no one else gets to talk, and more importantly you don't get to listen. You almost always learn more with your mouth closed, and your mind open, than the other way around. Use good judgement and discernment, but be polite and listen. I have been accused of being a personality grenade and just going off on some topic I am passionate about, or when meeting a new person. But despite my natural exuberance, I do try to shut my mouth and listen to practically everyone, you can't always judge a book by its cover, so you never know when God is going to use someone unexpected to teach you something important:-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

JCVDAG, welcome. We know the State in which you live. We know you have you have other interests in the fact that you posted on the 15th and have not replied to any of the responses as of yet. I will definitely agree with what has been posted in replies to your question. Smithing ( to me ) would be described as forging hot metal ( blacksmithing -common steel ). There are many other types of steel. Forging means to change. I will assume for the sake of arguement that you will recieve other replies that may or may not agree with me. You have an internet connection available to you and the previous posts have suggested links and areas within this site to seek information. I would suggest you use these. Ted also gave you a human connection and I would suggest you use that. We can absolutely drown and dumbfound you with information available to you. The subject of welding and shop skills has been brought up and I absolutely agree that you will need some of these skills. Knowledge of metals and process can really be pretty simple in many ways ( depending on who is presenting you with the information ). If you have ever used a pair of pliers to turn a nut or bolt you have a start. Holding one piece in a pair of tongs. If you have ever driven a nail you have another start. If you have woodworking skills you have a start. If you have ever folded paper airplanes you have a start. I make my living in a place that manufactures equipment for the material handling industry ( primarily I weld but I do other things as well ). I also have a home shop that provides me with a living but unfortunately not enough. Welding and shop skills are yes necessary to a degree. Math and the ability to read a tape measure are also necessary.

I operate a shop at Mountain Man rendezvous ( large part pre-1840's ) and also other events. No electricity or other power tools. I make mistakes. Folks that have attended events that I am at will agree. :) This trailer shop has been built over the long haul. The home shop has modern stuff. I am 54 years old and truely started hammering hot metal about 21 years ago using a wood stove. First forge ( which is my trailer forge for now ) came a year or so after that.

Equipment can be had. If you wish to learn basic skills, I will suggest you read a book entitled "The New Edge of The Anvil" . There will be other suggestions. It has been a few years since I read this book ( a borrowed copy ) but if I recall correctly it was a pretty informative book. You have access here to folks that have smithed and done shop work there entire life as well as newer people. Finn made some good suggestions on taking advice. Depending on your capacity to process the mountain of information that will be presented to you, I will definitely suggest you find a human contact with a shop. I have no idea what exposure you have had to smithing or any other shop work. The fuel source you will use to heat steel will absolutely make a difference in your future questions in that Coal, Charcoal and LP gas are the primary heat sources. They all heat metal but they have their own ways. Not trying to complicate things here. Ted makes a very good suggestion about safety ( reading Glenns disclamer). Smithing and shop work are dangerous. Protect yourself. EMS and the Fire Dept have no need to gain more skills by attending to our injuries or accidents. It IS nice to know they are there. What is it that you wish to learn to forge ?

Steve ( Ten Hammers ) O'Grady

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I dont see many beginners talking about tusing clay...I was the same until yesterday...Clay acts like hot metal the way it moves...I use the blacksmith primer by randy McDaniels he stresses using clay....Before I got my forge up and runnin I wanted to use the hammer....so my mentor suggested I get some clay ....ok...I started my dry runs with clay...boring....but it did help...yesterday I went to visit a Blacksmith who is 84 been at it from the gig go...makes some cool animals and scenery type stuff any more...anyway after going thru his 3 unbelievabley cluttered smithys we walk in his home and he gave us lunch...well as I am walking thru the kitchen on the table near the sink there it was...a hunk of clay with a partial figure carved in waiting for finishing touches....he makes a figure in clay so he can figure out what kind of chisel or punch to use for the hot metal.....clay rocks(no pun intended) here he is to many years doing this and he still sets up with clay....he also does alot of drawings before he starts a project...I know for a fact planning is the key to any successful endeavor....banging places can be found before you even invest the time or money...there are all kinds of ways to get behind a hammer...but once your there planning the thing with clay or paper really is the ticket....I couldnt wait to bang, I found a little steam preservation place that also had a smithy there to work on the original equipment....They helped me make a coat rack no probs....but when I decided this is cool and I want one, I often walk into the shop "duh what can I make" use the clay first cause fuel costs money clay is reusable and reduces the fuel usage....it realy does move like hot metal....I have an old toy hammer and a piece of tile and I sit at night designing stuff while watching the tube....what a riot...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Fat Pete,
I think you said it very well about the value of the use of "clay forming" as a blacksmithing tool.
This information is time tested and I have used clay for many years just as you have described.
I only wish new blacksmiths had a copy of this post to read as one of the first things to do when learning the craft of blacksmithing.
Be safe!
Old Rusty Ted

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...