One fantastic aspect of the art of blacksmithing is the ability to create the tools for your trade during the learning process. That’s not true with many crafts.
An enthusiastic novice can feel confident in the knowledge that there is sufficient education either in the classroom setting or through videos online to teach the basics and get you started.
What can I make as a beginner blacksmith? Expert blacksmiths suggest that a newbie begins by working on creating tools with which they’ll be working, like tongs. Others say keep it simple with hooks like S hooks. Some say make it fun with pieces like marshmallow roasting sticks. These straightforward projects allow for learning the techniques and the process without intricacies.
It’s not necessary to invest a ton of money into the trade unless you become established and want more.
A beginner will want to use the bare minimum as a means to see if this is genuinely something you will enjoy and can see yourself continuing.
Let’s talk about some of the simplest projects to get started with and test the waters.
The Simplest Project for the Beginner Blacksmith
First, a word about safety: the most important topic that seasoned blacksmiths will bring up to a new craftsperson is safety.
It’s imperative, not only for the novice but for anyone engaging in the practice, to wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and not skimp.
Here are the basic safety items you should have:
- A fire-retardant long sleeve shirt.
- A leather apron.
- Safety glasses.
- Clothing with no fraying.
- High-top leather work boots with leather laces.
You’ll have little to no warning when something, frequently your clothing, catches on fire, so being prepared is critical.
Great Beginner Blacksmith Projects
Creating something useful or beautiful from basically nothing is something only those artistically inclined can understand.
It isn’t necessarily a developed talent or even something that can be taught or learned; most are born with that “fire.” Pun intended.
Blacksmithing is no different. Those new to the craft may need to take a class or watch a video to help develop their natural instinct just as a writer would need to learn to finely tune their skill.
A blacksmith’s inner fire cannot be created; it simply is.
The idea that you’re a novice to the art doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good time with creativity.
In fact, it means you’re only just getting started!
One of the essential tools in the trade is tongs, which is one of the simple projects you can begin with as a novice and then continue to use in your practice.
- To make these, you would forge the blanks from a ¼ inch square bar. You don’t want to use a bar that will burn too quickly in the beginning.
- Make a rivet using a header, and use a punch to punch the tong blanks.
- Finally, you set a rivet in order to assemble the tongs.
Tongs are what a blacksmith uses to hold onto the steel when performing the craft. Seasoned blacksmiths advise that tongs can be rough, with no need for perfection and is an ideal project for the beginner.
From those who have been practicing their art for a long time, the suggestion is that beginners start small with perhaps S hooks.
In doing so, the artist can learn to taper the bar, hammer within a bend, and keep the bends squarely in the direction you need them to go.
- New tradespeople should try ¼ inch low-carbon steel as the higher carbon will burn faster.
- Gently hammer and taper the ends creating points that will resemble a triangular shape with a square bottom. You accomplish this by hitting each side with the same force.
- The ends can stay pointy with the final step being to take the horn part of the anvil to make the “S.”
Other more straightforward projects in this same vein include a toilet paper holder or a headphone stand.
These small, simple jobs will allow you to learn to move the metal where you want it to go, the technique to get the correct shapes, and what you should not be doing.
Marshmallow Roasting Stick
Some pieces that have simplistic detail are practical items for use in entertaining the family and impressing the kids, and they’re fun to make.
Few people can resist a sticky marshmallow fresh from the fire. Now you can roast them up in style.
- Use a ¼ inch square bar that is approximately 24 inches long.
- You want to hammer one end to create a square taper that you can manipulate into a flat taper.
- For the center section of the bar, you will develop twists, quenching the twists as you add more.
- Leave at least 8 inches straight.
- On the other end, you want to form a squared taper of about 3 inches.
- For the remaining 6 inches of this end of the bar, hammer the corners in an effort to create an octagon, and then strike to make it round.
- Over the anvil’s edge, form a safety tip with it curling to the flats of the taper.
- The tip needs to be quenched for protection.
- Use the anvil horn to create the handle curling the opposite way, all the way around, offset to centerline.
Basic Techniques for Beginner Projects
The basic techniques that a newbie wants to achieve before they can move beyond the more simplistic pieces include drifting, slitting, upsetting, tapering, twisting, welding, bending, and quenching.
After practicing and mastering the basics, it’s just a matter of developing and growing from there.
If you want a step-by-step tutorial to any of the techniques used, check out this video.
Forges of the Blacksmith
Blacksmiths have two basic “forges”: solid fuel or gas.
The solid fuel will burn coal or charcoal. You need a pot. It can be a tub, grill, or even a hole in the ground as long as there is a way to force air to the fire.
Building a solid fuel forge is inexpensive and straightforward, offering a newbie a great way to start.
A gas forge will burn natural or propane gases. These are typically closed chambers with insulation linings or “kaowool” that retain the heat to achieve the forging temperature.
The air reaches the fire either through the use of an electric blower or in conjunction with the pressurized gas.
Considerations for Those Who Want to Join the Trade
The old-school blacksmith trade is not as prevalent in this modern-day and age, but it is still respected and loved by those who practice and by many of us who appreciate the artistry.
A majority of the tradespeople who have participated in the craft for ages have done so since they were small.
They would hammer on steel that they found in scrap yards, trying a variety of different ideas to see what they could come up with and trying to remember in the end how they got to that point.
A great suggestion for those wanting to get started is to find the “experts.”
You may need to join a forum, find an apprenticeship, or perhaps locate a group dedicated to the craft and talk to them about what blacksmithing actually is and how to best get started.
Fortunately, for those drawn to the art, the pattern seems to be that a lot of the age-old classic treasures are making resilient comebacks with a new generation of fans.
Everyone loves the work of a blacksmith, and with more people wanting to get into the trade, we may begin to see more of this beloved art on the market.
|Do you have the tools you need to start your blacksmithing journey? Check out the tools you’ll need!|
Last update on 2021-10-22 at 20:08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API