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I went to bigbear and saw a blacksmithing shop at the museum there. i payed the guy and he made a knife for me right there! it was awesome! the way he made it was just amazing. i would like to learn how to blacksmith, but i have a few problems:

im just 13

have no one/nothing to learn from

no forge

no tools

no idea how to start!

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To start read the READ THIS FIRST at the top of the forum page.

Not knowing where in the world you live, it is difficult to recommend a blacksmithing group or organization near you.

IForgeIron has sections on most forges such as solid fuel, gas, electric, and oil forges.  One of the easiest forges to make is the JABOD (just a box of dirt).    Cheap as dirt and I do suppose that you have dirt where you live (grin).  The JABOD forge works and can be configured and reconfigured to what ever you want for the project at hand.

To start you need something to hit with (2 pound hammer) something to hit on, something to hit, and a fire to get the metal your hitting hot.  Look up A collection of improvised anvils and TPAAAT - Applied Anvil Acquisition Technique.  Mild steel is a good metal to learn with.  You can find metal as scrap behind many stores or in alleys. 

Leave the metal long and you do not need tongs.  BP001 Easy to make tongs will show you how to make tongs.  

IForgeIron has 54,502 questions with 685,909 answers and members from over 150 countries of the world that are willing to help you get started. 

We have had members as young as 6 years old on the site.  Your age is not a factor as long as you show respect, research your questions, and then ask us in detail what you want to know.  Take that information to the forge and try it out.  Then return, tell us how it went, and ask specific questions so we can give you specific answers.  Then take that information to the forge and try it out, etc etc.

It is the fire in YOUR belly that makes you want to learn more.  You can take blacksmithing as far as YOU want.  First time your in town, purchase a brick of modeling clay (under $5). Anything you can make with the clay you can make with metal. 

IForgeIron is a G rated family forum.  If you parents have any questions about you being on the site, invite them to read the site with you. 

Welcome to the site.

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Here's a thread with the links that helped me get started. Good luck, be safe, and remember it's supposed to be fun. 

Pnut

 

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Hi George. 
 

you can do it easy. Use a camp fire for a forge. Use a hair dryer for a bellows. Use a big rock for an anvil. Etc. 
 

if I could start over I would go cheap as well. You can improvise or build most everything you need   Good luck and have fun

 

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George,

Everyone of us started somewhere, most with what you have now: A desire to learn and maybe a few tools.

There is so much information on this site, you can spend days or weeks researching something and have a really good understanding at the end. Use the resources available on here, the members on here want to see newbies succeed and will help you and guide you if you have tried to find an answer and it still doesn't make sense.

When I was 13, I would ride my bike around and scrounge the odd places people dumped their junk. I would drag all sorts of bits and pieces home. People throw all sorts of very useful stuff away because they don't want to fix it, or don't know how to. Yard sales and such are possible sources for cheap tools.

Fill in the location info in your profile and you may find help closer than you think.

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If you have a scrapyard near you that lets you walk the yard (with your parent or grandparent etc) they leave anvils laying around all over the place there. They might not be the London pattern anvil that comes to your mind, but that doesn't make it any less of an anvil! The one I picked up was a ~2.5" cylinder of solid steel that cost about $14. 

While you can forge on a rock, if you can find yourself a solid chunk of steel for wackin' on I think it'll be more fun. Still, I agree with Rojo's sentiment. You don't need expensive stuff to get started, I bet you have most everything you need laying around your/your families house(s).

Things to remember:  1. Wear your safety glasses  2. Assume everything is hot  3. Ask for help if you need it -- it might actually be kind of fun developing a new hobby with your parent/family member  4. Pick a hammer that you can swing comfortably for a long time (ie. a 1# hammer swung where you are aiming will move more material than a 3# hammer glancing off the side because your arm is tired) 5. If you're using scrap metals as your starting material, avoid galvanized or plated steel -- when those are put in the forge the fumes can be very toxic. 6. It takes practice and will be frustrating at times. Stick with it and remember, it's supposed to be fun!

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I've taught people younger than 13 before; bring a parent along and stop by my smithy some weekend!

If you are in the USA go to your local public library and see if you can ILL "The Backyard Blacksmith" by Lorelei Sims and/or "The Complete Modern Blacksmith" by Alexander Weygers.  Read them!  Also look up the ABANA Affiliate for your region and arrange to attend some meetings.  You can learn more in one Saturday working with someone that knows what they are doing than in 6 months watching YouTube and flailing around on your own!

Note that driving 16 penny nails is a way to build up your hammering skills and stamina when you are not "playing with fire". Wear your safety goggles! (Eye Patches look a lot cooler than living with one eye is!)

Note Big Bear was a chain of supermarkets when I lived in Ohio.

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Mr. Stevens,

Please do not use a claw hammer. They are made for driving nails in wood. So  the head is softer than other hammers. That head can start to deform and given a lot of use even spall off splinters. soft heads do not move hot iron very well. So the SLAG suggests that a ball pein hammer will work great.

You can find such hammer heads at yard sales. Putting a handle on one is a simple job.

Welcome to the craft. It's fun.

SLAG.

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Dear George,

A few thoughts, comments, and advice to add to what has already been posted (all of which I agree with):

1.  At 13 you are still dependent on adults for a lot of things.  So, if you can recruit a parent, grandparent, relative, neighbor, etc. into helping you learn or learn along with you it will make things easier.

2. At 13 you may be responsible enough to work with hot metal safely by yourself or you may not.  Early adolescents vary widely both emotionally and physically.  Some are close to adults in growth and mature thought processes and some are still little kids in many ways.  You can probably judge yourself in comparison to your peers.  I'm sure you know some who have more in common with adults than other teens and ones you wouldn't trust to fold a piece of paper safely.

3.  I would say that blacksmithing is no more dangerous than a lot of things people your age do such as riding a bike or playing middle school football and other sports.  That said, you have to be careful and be aware of the dangers.  If you get hurt or cause damage your parents are likely to pull their approval of your hobby.

4. As other folk have said you can get started very basically and cheaply and then work up from there.  You may even be able to earn the money to buy better tools by selling useful things to friends, neighbors, or family or at local craft shows/fairs.

5.  Good luck and let us know how we can help.  You have just tapped into a bunch of helpful uncles, aunts, and grandparents who are only a computer click away.

Good luck and welcome to the craft.

George (the other one)

 

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I'm 15 now, but I was 14 at the time I built my forge and mounted my anvil. Now, I didn't start forging until about a year later, but that's a discussion for a different time. I built a JABOD and have an 8lb sledgehammer head as my anvil. I spent right around $50 on this stuff, but honestly most of that cost was just for convenience (i.e. I could scavenge most of it but chose to buy it instead). It isn't near as hard as you would expect to get started. One thing I would suggest is that you take every chance you get to go look for useful things (i.e. you're in the car and you see a flea market, garage sale, pile of random crap, etc. "Hey mom/dad, can we go check that out really quick?") Also, don't be afraid to ask questions here. There are tons of extremely talented people willing to share a wealth of knowledge on this site. On the flip side, try and ask specific questions and make sure you look for the answers (a bit more than just looking at the first google result). The guys (and gals) here get a lot of the same question, and it can get frustrating. However, if you ask a specific question about something that isn't asked every three seconds, my experience is that they will be happy to help out. Also, I would definitely second what other people have said here about working with your parents and other adult figures. Another big thing people sometimes think about when they are not in their own house is where they're allowed to put things (I built my forge and stuff without considering this, but ended up luckily being able to work placement out with my parents. One last word, you may be young, but no one here will hold that against you. It can seem intimidating being the youngest here, but in my experience it in no way affects how people here treat you, and can in fact be a big asset.

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ISTR we have had a respected smith here that started at 11 and is a teenager now I believe.  Not burning down the neighborhood and not hurting yourself goes a long way to getting parental agreement, (as a parent of 4 and grandparent of 8...).

Blacksmithing is part of a Boy Scout Merit badge so not unknown for the below 18 crowd here in the USA.

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Nathan, I have to compliment you on your progress in the past year, you're doing good.

George S. one piece of advice about using the forum is to not take anything said personally. We all have good and bad days so sometimes you may get a tart or nonsensical response. Another thing to remember is when a question is answered, it goes out to all members not just the person asking the question so sometimes the answer becomes a little verbose. OK that's it for my multi-syllable words for today.:)

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Welcome aboard George the Younger, glad to have you. Please put your general location in the header, we don't want your address, just close, say city or town and state. You'll be surprised how many members live within visiting distance and as said already you'll learn more in a few hours with an experienced person than weeks maybe months trying to figure it out yourself. 

Be very careful of what you see in internet videos, most are wrong and too many outright dangerous. There are how to videos on Iforge and all have been vetted by the membership. That's picked to pieces to make sure they're the real deal. ;)

Is that Big Bear California? It's been close to 40 years since I visited, my folks used to live just NW of Reno in the Sierras. There are or were a number of blacksmith shops in living history sites, often mine and rail road towns. Last time I was in Carson City, Ca. there was a blacksmith demonstrating at the Ponderosa Ranch. If nothing else the Ponderosa is worth visiting just to ogle the antiques and artefacts, the blacksmithing tools and equipment takes up considerable space. I'm sure demonstrations are scheduled and a phone call would put you in sync.

We've had a lot of young men hang out with us here, a few are running their own businesses and giving lessons.

I don't have much to add to what's already been suggested safety wise but there is one LITTLE thing. If you do live in Cal. you're aware of how fast a fire can get away from you and heck everybody. Yes? Be VERY careful, even a tiny pinch off or flake of scale can hide under something, start a smolder and flare into something major. Yes? Unless you're on concrete or bare ground for maybe 30' around you might want to wet it down first and after. Just to be sure.

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley and remember seeing flames ringing the valley, more than once.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Glenn Conner's son published a tutorial when he was eleven years old. He started smithing at six years of age. (look up "easy tongs" here).

There are (or have been several other youngsters on this site producing quality work.

Give it a try, it's a lot of fun.

SLAG.

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Ditto to everything above!  Welcome to an awesome hobby. My little add in is go to mechanic shops and ask if you can look in their scrap bin. Coil springs make great tooling (punches, chisels etc.). But do not use springs that are broken!  If they broke in one place you can just about guarantee they have stress fractures In other spots. These can cause razor sharp shrapnel when stuck!  (You did see the part about safety glasses right?!?)

Also keep a couple of your first projects on display, as you progress you'll see them and be reminded and encouraged by how far you've come!

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After all the excellent advice that has been given in the last 24 hours I hope that George does not disappear.  I also hope that he takes the advice and gets into the craft.  I was in my 30s when I started and wish I had had the opportunity to start younger.

George the Elder

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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I was 21 (22 now), when I started, and I too wish I started when I was younger!

Cannon gave a very good idea, i have my first leaf as a keychain, and whenever I see it I think about how I thought I was never going to get better in the beginning. Now with not even a year of blacksmithing I can already make most of the things that I want to make.

always remember you don't need expensive tools! everything except my first tongs and my hammer and Anvil I have made myself, I'm up to 10 pairs of tongs and 2 wooden shoes ( Klompen ) full of handheld punches chisels and drifts. The most important thing is starting, not waiting for the right tools. getting the tools you need will come later, when you actually know when, why, and how to use them.

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