If I wanted to learn Blacksmithing, where do I start?


Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
I do small scale blacksmithing with english lumpwood charcoal in a homemade forge with a handcranked blower.
My first forging experience was a day class with the Artist Blacksmith Melissa Cole in Wiltshire. Later backed up by some evening classes at Plymouth College of art. Plymouth college no longer offer classes, but http://www.flameworks.org/#!courses/cf8v now cover that. Also remember forums like http://www.iforgeiron.com/ and the resources of http://www.baba.org.uk/
Lots of resources out there. Your biggest expense will be an anvil (Mine was a birthday present - Thanks Anita). Just about anything else can be found or made at relatively low cost. My forge is the end off a 50 gallon drum, on metal legs and lined with clay/sand. The blower was £25 in a junk shop.
Don't get hung up on fancy forge designs - some fuel and some air and it will get hot!
Good luck and Enjoy

PS. Fuel choices... charcoal works ok with a hand cranked blower or bellows ie it stays alight without the blower running. Coke or coal forges tend to like a continuous draught - so are better suited to an electric blower. I've heard that anthracite beans (used in auto-feed stoves) are a useful smithing fuel. Cheap electric blower... the exhaust fan from a scrap gas boiler works ok on a small forge.
Rhyolith":hs0gjdoa said:
Ok, what about the Forge itself (Actual structure), I am assuming there is more to it then a hole with fire in ;)

Some reading for you.


They don't need to be anything fancy, how about a wooden box lined with fire bricks sealed with clay:

Hi Rhyolith, did you get a forge built, as it is something i'm looking at doing myself, primarilry for making cutters for a plough plane, was thinking of using a ss sink and piping the air from the drain to my blower on the shop vac, would be interesting to hear of your progress,cheers,
nice one Phil, will you be doing a wip on it,

might go for a kettle bbq instead of the sink, got more depth for lining with sand, would mean more work for the air though but should be simple enough,
I made a forge the other day from an old wheel off a Ford Transit lined with refactory cement. Haven't had a chance to fire it up yet but think (hope) it should work OK! Will hopefully find out tomorrow!


Sent from my ONEPLUS A3003 using Tapatalk
I have not got round to making my own forge, though I did go on a short blacksmkthing course. Too many projects! :)

One thing I will say: Coke forges are fun! :D
A good blacksmithing YouTube channel is Alec Steele.

His latest are all about making various things out of Damascus steel, but he has a lot of videos where he makes hammers and other blacksmithing tools.

He's based on Norwich too...he used to do classes but he focuses just on making youtube videos now.
Brian18741":3fllsucl said:
I made a forge the other day from an old wheel off a Ford Transit lined with refactory cement. Haven't had a chance to fire it up yet but think (hope) it should work OK! Will hopefully find out tomorrow!


Sent from my ONEPLUS A3003 using Tapatalk

So today I fired up my newly built forge for the first time, with mixed success. The fire pot was a success. I have a steel wheel from an old Ford Transit, lined with about 2 inches of refactory cement, with an air hole cut in the side. The fire pot is about 7 inches deep at it's highest and tapers from about 8 inches wide at the bottom to 16 inches at the top. Loads of room to build up coals so I'm happy with that.

Air comes in from a 2 inch steel pipe entering in at the side of the pot at the bottom. Air is supplied from a shop vac, which brings me on to my first problem. The shop vac is way too powerful, the sparks were outrageous! I couldn't go anywhere within 5 feet of the forge when the blower was on without being incinerated by a million little embers. I tried putting a grill on top to catch some of the sparks but it was pointless.


My second problem was the fuel. I'm using coal, and a lot of it. I went through nearly an entire 20kg bag in a couple of hours. The coal is also very messy and took me ages to get going to begin with.


I've since spent some time talking to the lovely people over on Edgematters and all advised the shop vac was the problem. I switched over to a heat gun and the forge behaved exceptionally well, even continuing to use coal. It's like a different forge altogether. I can safely stand beside it while the blower is going and not get incinerated which is always good and there was no mess to clean up afterwards. It was also significantly easier to get the fire started with the heat gun and even leaving the gun blowing on it's high setting for the whole hour I was there, I used hardly any fuel compared to before.

So to conclude, a shop vac is a terrible idea for a blower, get a cheap heat gun or hairdryer instead!
If anyone is near Bolsover castle over the bank holiday, The Ferrers Household will be there with our forge and other arizan crafts. Come and see how your ancestors made things!
thanks for the feedback Brian, i was wondering if the shop vac blower would be too powerful, so maybe have some sort of adjustable regulator on it might help, plenty to think about from a design point of view,
Actual working forges (that is, not homemade ones, with a proper back bosche and electric fan etc) tend to have a butterfly valve or sliding blast gate style arrangement so that you can adjust the heat depending on needs. :)
Have a look at Alec Steele's youtube page, he is a 19 year old Blacksmith who does courses in Norwich.
So on Sunday I went to Surrey quays farm (rowing distance from canary wharf) and did a 2 hour session. Which I thoroughly enjoyed and made a half decent knife from a piece of rebar.

The instructor Kevin was very knowledgeable and easy going. And his setup is amazing surrounded by about 500 different hammers, tongs, hardy hole tooling etc etc.

Well worth a try for £25. And the farm was great with lots of goats, sheep, pigs and pony's. With a very nice restaurant cooking meals with ingredients all from the farm.

Will upload some pictures when I find a new way to upload them.

Wondering how you're getting on Rhyolith, I'm on a similar journey and not too far away from you I think.
I spent a very useful day with Spike, a Llanbrynmair based blacksmith, making a variety of objects, picking up basic blacksmithing skills.
Went back for a half-day of welding tuition, I can highly recommend her, check her website http://www.spiketheblacksmith.co.uk