The art of blacksmithing has a long and storied history, deeply rooted in the development and evolution of human civilization. It is a fascinating and productive craft that challenges and improves its practitioners. Not only is metalworking a fun and fruitful pastime, but it can also be a lucrative career path. Fortunately, anybody harmed with the right attitude and fundamental hand tools can become an accomplished blacksmith.
What is a Blacksmith?
A blacksmith uses tools to forge metal to make products like horseshoes, nails, swords, knives and much more. Before the industrial revolution, almost every human settlement had a smithy, or metal worker, that produced metal tools and components for the village and surrounding areas.
As time went on and large-scale manufacturing became commonplace, the need for custom smithed tools and products diminished. Mass-produced metal tools and hardware became more widely available thanks to the assembly line and massive manufacturing operations.
Currently, blacksmithing is enjoying a resurgence of interest, particularly the practice of blade and weapon smithing. Many educational programs and community centers are springing up around this interest to accommodate the refueled desire to learn metalworking.
The Hammer and Forge Fundamentals
There are many basic techniques and blacksmith tools a beginner should be aware of before attempting metalworking.
- Forging and Hammering. The very foundation of this craft. Forging is the process of heating metal in a forge to make it pliable to hammering. Once heated to the appropriate temperature, the smith then hammers the malleable metal into the desired shape. Forging and hammering is an essential process. Accomplishing it correctly, the smith needs high-quality blacksmithing tools like an ergonomic hammer, indestructible anvil and a blazing forge.
- Another essential smithing technique, drawing, is the process of thinning and lengthening the material to the desired size and consistency. This process requires the right tools, like a good pair of tongs.
- This process is the opposite of drawing. Upsetting makes the material short, thicker and narrower. A more advanced technique, upsetting, should be done on a specific area of the material that a smith wishes to upset, rather than attempting to heat the entirety of the material.
- A smith heats the material and hammers it on an anvil horn to achieve the desired curve or bend. Like upsetting, bending can be down to specific sections of material, and this process is reversible.
Blacksmithing Tools Starter Kit
A basic blacksmith tool kit looks something like this:
- Sturdy machinist hammer
- Hot mill gloves
- Leather bib apron
- Jaw tongs
- Safety glasses
Many blacksmithing stores offer convenient starter packages with all the blacksmithing tools you need to start metalworking today.
There are many routes to get started in metalsmithing. Local hobbyists and forums offer guidance to new smiths, and solo practitioners can use their home setup and tools.
The most surefire way to become the best is to learn from the best. Seek out professional blacksmiths or classes locally to gain more knowledge about best practices and safety concerns. Blacksmithing is one of the most fun and rewarding activities out there, and let’s face it, who has never wanted to make their sword? Make that dream a reality today!