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newbie blacksmith needs help

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hi im a 16 year old wannabe blacksmith i recently watched videos on youtube about blacksmithing like knives and cool stuff like that i need help can someone give me some ideas about prices for safety gear or smithin' equipment thanks. ps my price range can vary due to the fact i earn 30 pounds a week roughly 60 usd thanks :) and im in england so aquireing the materials may be a little more difficlt.

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Hi, welcome to the world family of blacksmithing, be a little careful of what you see on you tube as there are some dangerous practices going on by so called blacksmiths out there.

I would suggest you need safety glasses, and a leather apron to protect you and your clothing from the heat and hot metal, a leather welders apron is adequate and can be purchased reasonably from a welding suppliers as can the safety glasses, wear stout leather shoes/boots (with steel toecaps preferably) and non flammable clothing.

Look on Blacksmiths Guild Home for some ideas on what we suggest people wear on courses,( or in there own workshops) bare legs, trainers and fleeces are not a good idea.

You should be able to find local blacksmiths around Slough that may be able to help you, if you look at the IForgeIron website gallery it will give you some ideas as to what useful tools look like, and then you can look for tools like them at bootsales etc.

If you contact Vaughns by email and request a catalogue and price list, they will send you a cd with all their items on, then you will start to recognise useful blacksmithing tools, you can make all your own tools when you are started, so don't think you have to buy tools their email is sales@anvils.co.uk

Don't be afraid to ask questions, the people on this site have a wealth of experience, and are very willing to help.

Good luck with the future, and enjoy yourself.

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Hi Wrenzac,

At your age there are all kinds of training grants etc. available. You will probably be able to find funding for full or part-time courses and may be able to get a modern apprenticeship; try pestering local small firms for a job.
Although you can make most of your tools you will need a decent anvil, and somewhere to work. It would be advisable to find someone to let you 'have a go' so that you can get an idea of what suits you and come to understand how a forge works. You will then be able to build your own.
If you're really serious try: Hereford College of Art and Design - Artist Blacksmithing BA(Hons)

Regards, Sam

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cool thanks for all the tips guys but because im in full time education i dont have the time for courses. Ive looked for local blacksmiths but ive currently had no joy. so, what im going to do is keep my eyes open on the forums for resonably local blacksmiths who may be willing to show a newbie blacksmith the ropes and start purchasing equipment .


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Welcome, Zac. I used to spend a fair amount of time around your neck of the woods as it happens, and still do from time to time.

Probably the first thing you should do is sit down with a notepad, pen, drink and a snack, and read some of the variety of free guides available on the internet regarding getting started in blacksmithing. Probably the best are on this website. Also get to your local library and find whatever books you can on blacksmithing. Make sure to take notes on anything interesting you see, ideas you have etc. (This is a very useful life skill and will help you in many ways.)

To put it simply, you need 5 things to start smithing: something to hit (iron or steel), something to heat it (fire), something to hit it with (hammer), something to hit it on (anvil) and somewhere appropriate to hit it.

Material/stock to use abounds, but you have to know where to look, and what to look for. If you have a scrap yard near you, great. They may not though let you have a rummage around the place, especially at your age. (Parents etc. may be useful here.) What you're looking for are mild steel and higher carbon steels. Cast iron is not useful for us much. You may have to or want to buy your steel new. Again, if you have a steel yard nearby great, but you'll need a lift. Probably the most useful sizes of mild steel are square and round bars from 6mm (1/4 inch) to 12mm (1/2 inch). Flat bar is useful too. To begin with, 6mm (1/4 inch) thick is good, in widths from 12mm (1/2 inch) to 25mm (1 inch). Higher carbon steels are useful for making certain tools like chisels and punches that you will need very soon. It's also useful for making edge tools.

Forges are an interesting question. I would probably say that you should go for a charcoal forge to start with. It's a readily available, clean-burning fuel, and you can usually get it at knockdown prices this time of year (one advantage to our 'interesting' climate). Charcoal is THE ancient smithing fuel, and is capable of fulfilling all your needs. Plus it doesn't need much air and there's no fiddling around with potentially dangerous, expensive and noisy gas equipment. There are many simple and cheap designs of charcoal forge available on the internet. Start by looking at Tim Lively's washtub forge. For air blast, you can start with an old hair dryer.

Anvils are a real problem in Britain. There are plenty about that usually go for a song, especially on eBay, but the vast majority are in awkward places for pickup only. Don't necessarily think 'London pattern'; that is a relatively modern design with many useful but non-essential features. You're basically looking for the biggest chunk of mild or carbon steel you can lay your hands on legally. Again, scrapyards are a good starting place. New anvils are available, such as through Vaughan's, but a decent one will take you a long time to save up for on

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If you can get down to London this weekend (Saturday, 11am till 4.30pm) I'm doing a mobile forge Demo Day on a local City Farm. It's at Stepping Stones City Farm, Stepney Way, London (they have a website, as I can't remember the postcode, it's just down the road from my place you see).
Don't expect any great revelations or all the bells and whistles but there'll be a fire, a couple of anvils and a mad Yorkshireman battering seven bells out of something. I'd be happy to show you a few pointers (not that I know bugger all mind you).

Edited by Ian
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Zac, if you want to learn bladesmithing, then in the U.K. the best thing to do is join British Blades they have quite a few hammer-ins & other stuff going now, and new people are always made welcome as long as they aren't idiots. I go by the same name there as here.

(Glenn, I hope it's okay to post that link?)
Not a problem, glad you did

Also Zac, I remember a blacksmith's shop visible from the M4 at Slough (well, the sign is anyway). I confess I never made the opportunity to visit them, but they're the only smith I know of in your immediate area. Or have you been & found they're fabricators, not blacksmiths?
There is an artist smith the other side of Henley. Whether they'd be willing to let you do anything, I don't know.
There is also a list on BABA's website of smiths willing to teach or apprentice. Make sure you look it up as there's quite possibly someone that you could get to.

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If you don't want to have to buy charcoal or coal, and have the option to make(burn) your own charcoal. I suggest you look up some re-sources on the internet. I just made a batch myself...with the direct method. Worked real good. You just have to watch the coaling process to get a maximum product back. Good luck, practice CORRECT safety, and can't wait to hear how your start in blacksmithing goes.

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There are some free downloadable books from the Countryside Agency. The Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas (CoSIRA) which became the Rural Development Agency and now the Countryside Agency put out and gave apprentice training. Type in 'The Blacksmiths Craft' into your search engine and it should get you there.

The training still exist and is run out of the UK National School of Blacksmithing (Hereford Center for Technology - HCT)

You can get 1, 2 or 4 year degree courses out of Hereford.

There is a very (7 acres piled high) good second hand and army surplus center out of Hampshire. Piles of anvils, tongs, vices and fly presses. I can't remember the name of it now but you can contact Richard Bent via his web site and ask him for the address he may give it to you. You may have to promise beer and your first born to get the name but it's worth it.

I hope this helps.

BABA is a great resource, and I recommend joining

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