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Hello from Fairbanks, Alaska


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Hi guys and gals,


My name is John I live in Fairbanks Alaska and am 24yrs old. I really want to learn blacksmithing (for making custom tools eventually). I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos, I have bought and read the books The Complete Modern Blacksmith and Practical Blacksmithing. (I love them) However I have 0 actual experience. I’ve started making a solid fuel forge (welded my fire box to the table now I just need a hand crank blower) and gas forge (making a Rob Reil burner for it.) I also work for a Pipe and Steel company taking apart non ferrous metals and they are fine with me using some of the steel that comes through for personal projects. I’ve heard a lot that taking a class or getting a mentor is important but it’s hard to find in Fairbanks AK especially during the whole Covid. Any advice for an aspiring blacksmith would be deeply appreciated.


Your brother in labor,

John G

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Dear John, 

Welcome aboard.  If you haven't already, read the "Read This First" in the blue banner at the top of the page.  You will find black smithing a craft that will enrich your life for many years.  I have been at it for over 40 years and I am still learning and enjoying it.

Many of us are self taught.  I found a forge and anvil at an auction, got some books out of the library, bought some very nasty coal, and started getting iron hot and hitting it.  I didn't meet another smith until I had been at it for about 15 years.  You have it easier today with videos and www resources available, e.g. IFI.  The electronic resources were unknown in 1978.

One more print reference I recommend is Country Blacksmithing by Charlie McRaven.

Good luck and welcome to the madness.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Pack a lunch and a cold drink and find a section of IForgeIron that is of interest to you.  Read it.  Then if you find another section of interest, read it too.  The more you read the less expensive blacksmith will become.

You are building your own personal data and knowledge base.  Buy a brick of hobby modeling clay.  Use it to build your blacksmithing projects so you will know how to do things when you go to the forge and use metal.

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I love the site so far! I’ll keep reading new things. I’m super impressed by all of your guys good advice.


“Buy a brick of modeling clay” I’m assuming I do this to practice the fundamentals and learning how to create things without having to spend money on metal? I never would have thought of that! Thank you very much Glenn. I’ll definitely get some :) 

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Mr. J907... ,

Welcome to the group.

Clay behaves, moves ,and responds in a similar manner way as hot steel. (when at pliable temperatures).

A good skill to develop is hammer technique. Check it out in the threads on this site, and then it into practice.

You can practice with a hammer and wooden surface, at the right height

There are a good number of smiths in Anchorage, Ak. 

There are also smiths in FBX. too.

(there was even a chap located in Point Barrow a while back).

Look up Frosty, of Wasilla Ak. on this site. He should be able to answer some of your questions.



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Perfect! I didn’t know that about the clay, that’s awesome.

 I started reading on the hammering techniques on the threads. The books I read touched on it too. It’ll be nice to practice on the clay now :) 


I appreciate the info about frosty. I’ve seen him come up on a lot of the threads here. It’s very nice to have people relatively close and know the Alaskan market. Thank you very much Slag


Best regards,

John G

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Welcome aboard John, glad to have you. There are a few smiths in the interior but I only know a few. Brian Morgan lives in North Pole and might be be able to help a new guy. I don't know what his work schedule is like. Darryl Nelson is down around Delta Junction, well close. He gives lessons and is a known character locally. 

Good luck getting decent smithing coal, the stuff coming out of Healy is power plant coal almost sub-bituminous. Most of us use propane forges. There used to be a good source of smithing coal in FBX but they stopped carrying it. 

I'm on the edge of Wasilla, about 2 miles off the Parks Hwy. You probably get down my way as often as I get up your way. If you do get down here let me know in advance and I'll hook you up with some of the club members. Maybe better you could coordinate for a club meeting. 

The club i mostly newcomers to the craft but we have enough old hands to be able to mentor guys wanting to try demos pretty well. 

PM me we can swap personal info if you'd like.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thank you so much frosty!

Id love to get that contact info. Ah I know where your at. I have some friends and family that lives right near you. I just moved here from anchorage a month ago. 

I’ve read that about the coal :/ Is shipppng out of state an option or is the price point just too high?

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