Introduction: Start Blacksmithing

Picture of Start Blacksmithing

In this Instructable I will show you how to start up a foundry of your own. Now I am in no means saying this is the only way to do it, I am just showing you how I did it. So, let's get started!!!

Step 1: Forge

Picture of Forge

Now, before you even start thinking about getting an anvil or hammers, I suggest you start looking for a nice forge. This will probably be the most expensive thing you will have to buy if you are getting a gas forge, so this will really decide wither or not you really want to get into blacksmithing. Now you have two choices: coal or gas. There are benefits to both.

With a gas forge it's a lot cleaner and easier to use. They are also more portable. But they have less control over temperature and can get very pricey for gas and the initial cost of the forge.

With a coal forge it's a lot cheaper (next to nothing) to buy/make and you can control the temperature better. But coal is also very messy and depending on where you live you might not have a source of coal nearby.

The choice is up to you. I went with a gas forge because it fit my needs better, but do some research to see which one is best for you.

Step 2: Anvil/Hammers

Picture of Anvil/Hammers

Now comes anvils and hammers. As you can see there isn't a whole lot to it. I got the hammers at Harbor Freight, but there are some nice ones at Lowe's or Home Depot. What I suggest you start out with is a good ball-pine hammer and a mini sledge hammer. Make sure they are not to heavy for you, because you will be swinging them for hours at a time.
As for the anvil, I got a small piece of railroad track to start out with. Anything big, flat and metal should work fine. It doesn't have to be shaped like an anvil to work. Also, make sure you have something to attach the anvil to, like a big log. I suggest you look on Craigslist for anything. I know Harbor Freight had a small 15 pound anvil at one point. If you want to get serious about blacksmithing, you will want to put some money behind a real anvil. They will work much better and allow you to have more control, but they are very expensive.

Step 3: Metal

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Your are going to need some metal for smithing. You can get some rebar or any scrap bar metal you have lying around as long as its not galvanized. Galvanized metal is very dangerous and if you are not careful it can kill you. If you do want to use galvanized metal (not recommended at all) make sure you are in an open space with very good ventilation. But, again, i would suggest to just stay away from it.   I used some old radiator bolts and rebar. Again, check on craigslist for anything someone wants to get ride of before going out and buying some.

Step 4: Optional Items

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You can also get some chisels and punches to cut and punch your metal. Another thing that I still need to get are some good tongs. They are very useful for holding the metal when it gets to be small. You don't need them though it you keep the piece long until the last heat and cut it, but if you want to really get into smithing these will be a must have.

Step 5: Staring the Forge

Picture of Staring the Forge

By this point you have the bare essentials needed to start smithing. Your going to want to get you forge all set up and do an initial start up. Make sure you use precaution, as these things get insanely hot. Keep the forge well away from anything flammable, and be mindful about your surroundings. Always asume what you are picking up is hot!!!

Step 6: Start Hammering

Picture of Start Hammering

Start pounding on that metal!!!! I don't suggest you wear gloves as they get in the way and can catch fire. But it's all a matter of preference. Also, hammering is not as easy as it looks. It takes months to even learn how to do it right, and years to master it.

Step 7: Example

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I made a little holder for my hammer. There are numerous things you can make. Go onto YouTube for some great blacksmithing tutorials.

Step 8: Hope I Helped!

I hope this Instructable helped you in starting up in blacksmithing. Please feal free to leave comments on what you liked and didn't like, and post any pictures if you get started. Thanks for reading and hope you have fun blacksmithing!

Step 9: Pictures

The pictures of the coal forge, the second anvil, the blacksmith tongs, and the guy hammering are not mine. I found them on Google images to better help you with this tutorial.


JodyCochran (author)2017-07-02

I like your back yard setup. How do you protect it from the weather?

nat the maker (author)2017-06-11

how could I get my parents to let me start before taking any classes I'm 11

200514 (author)2016-11-01

thank u this will help me in the future

himynameisadam1 (author)2015-08-20

hi guys my name is Adam and I am 14.I've made a furnace by myself all out of scrap it heats up steel within 50 seconds I am not talking wire thin I am talking 5cm thick solid steel.

absolutekold (author)2015-06-19

Metal doesn't start to "glow" in daylight until it's well over 900 degrees F. Always check heat with the back of your hand as it's more sensitive. Plus anything that holds the metal (tongs, and notably bench or post vice) will get stupid hot before you know it. Have a nice scar to remind me of that.

absolutekold (author)2015-06-19

What you really want to do is hit up a roadwork or construction site and try to get the rebar that has x patterns up and down the side. This stuff can take a bit of hardness when quenched in brine ( very salty water ) from a medium red heat and the x pattern gives an ok grip in a gloved hand if you're making chisels and punches. The ladder pattern stuff like you have there is ok to play on the cheap with but not really trustworthy for anything else. Best is to look up metal distributers like ALRO and there is usually one pretty close. Every so often go raid their "Cutoff pile". It's pretty cheap and sometimes you can get some good steel for things like tool & blade making for pennies on the pound. The real problem with rebar is that it is a mishmash of steel. buying something where you know what it is (like A-36, 5160 (aka leaf springs), or even s-7) you can read up and get a feel for how it handles when it's hot and what different heat treating processes (quenching in oil, quenching in water, normalizing, annealing) do to the steel. Because no rebar is the same you never really get that. Another good source is walking along railroad tracks and looking for spikes. You're really hoping for ones that have HC marked on the head as they are high carbon and can be used for more intense things but when without steel any steel will do.

absolutekold (author)2015-06-19

Like the below comment I will state that there are hammers and hammer shaped objects. A good tool steel forging hammer can easily go for in excess of $100 and if you get hooked it's a solid investment. When I was starting out and felt >$20 was a bit steep the best thing I did was go garage sailing and get some older hammers. Turns out that a new non-custom hammer requires a bit of work to be forging ready and the heat treating is quite tricky when you don't know the steel. Lucky for us time and (ab)use does very similar things to hammers. Finding a selection of 30+ year old hammers in different weights and shapes in garage sales and at pawn shops is really the way to go. You might have to sand the face a bit to smooth it as dents in the hammer leave (equal and opposite) dents in the forging. That being said some deform a hammer face to do this on purpose. Either way grab a sander and a few files/rasps and/or a cheap plane and spend a minute shaping the (wood) handle to better fit your hand. I've done that to all my hammers and it is worth the strain and fatigue of overgripping a handle that doesn't fit well in your hands. You should be able to grip the hammer loosely and be comfortable. Also if you wear gloves than wear a glove when you do fitup. As a personal preference I leave mine a little boxy and uneven ( a flat under finger tip side when face is down) so I can program into muscle memory that a certain feel directly relates to how the hammer is orientated and is the same for every hammer. This speeds up when you are grabbing blindly for the hammer and can tell how it's orientated in your hand before you make a swing without looking.

qwiebe_100 (author)2014-06-14

hi. I am new to forging and I was wondering how to actually make my own forge.

ShopHazard (author)qwiebe_1002015-06-16

Several different 'Ibles on that very subject, amigo. Just search "forge."

Dakota Joel98 (author)2014-07-19

Hey people I am new to forging, and I am marking stuff off my checklist and need some help getting the rest. 1 I need charcoal for my forge but where would I get that, and is there a specific brand to get. 2 I need an Anvil, and I am on a small budget so a good anvil but at the same time not too pricey, I have one now but its days are numbered...and its really small. 3 I also need some tongs, I would forge my own except my anvil is just about completely out of commission and I need fuel for the forge. I kind of need Tongs to make Tongs lol

Any help, or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

ShopHazard (author)Dakota Joel982015-06-16

I got a bunch of coal for about a bit less than a dollar a pound on ebay. about 75 lb for about 60 bucks.

I believe it's the Book of Mormon that lists tongs as a miracle because you need tongs to make tongs. But yeah, vice grips or pliers.

ShopHazard (author)ShopHazard2015-06-16

shipping included in that figure, by the way.

depending on what you are doing vice grips are a godsend

I got my coal from an energy company that primarily sells propane. You could see if you can find a Ferrier (someone who fits horse shoes) in the area on the off chance they know of a place.

Harbor freight has some anvils for under $100 but the quality isn't great.

Maybe some big pliers would work until you can make your tongs?

TreyH1 (author)2015-04-07

rebar is a usless for making tools of any kind as you cannot heat treat it

linetofish4 (author)2014-04-22

Really good info on the COSIRA, thanks for that. Here is the link;

billbillt (author)2014-04-15


hammerfist (author)2014-01-31

I "do" suggest wearing gloves, mine forge is an open coal forge. The fire can burn the hairs of yer hand and arm pretty quick. I use a leather glove on my hammer hand and a welder's glove on my tong hand. Make sure they fit!the leather glove is to protect against blisters from swingin the hammer all day. The welder's glove is so I can rout around my forge a little more and from the occasional "firebugs" (how I explained sparks to my kids) that jumps off when I strike.
Good instructional though.

Boomer1 (author)2014-01-16

I've known a few guys that hobby forge knives and farm implements. Most use old time portable farriers forges. Charcoal is one of the things that they all need. I was told by a friend that he puts chord wood in a 55 gallon drum, puts a lid on it and lights a fire under it. Make sure there is a vent hole or the gasses will turn it into a 55 gallon bomb. a 1/2"-1" hole is plenty. I watched him actually light the wood gas coming out of the pipe.

Many good books on this subject, good youtube videos as well. I like Foxfire 5.

kennywiley (author)Boomer12014-01-17

If you go to the trouble of making your own charcoal, capture the gas from the exhaust. Its "Wood Gas" . Some people have used that exact gas to bypass carburetors and power a gas engine. It is extremely flammable and a "free" fuel source.

Buddy here at work made his own charcoal the same way....

tokuta (author)2013-12-31

im going to make a katana do you know how to get that bend in it

joey99 (author)tokuta2013-12-31

I would not know, I am not nearly that skilled yet

waldosan (author)joey992013-12-31

the bend is due to the tempering process that japanese blacksmiths would use at the final heat. they would first make it straight with the edge on one side then they would pack the other side with clay . the difference in heat would cause the blade to bend, the clay made sure that the back of the blade was not tempered while the blade itself was heated to tempering temperatures, the combination of the two caused the sword to be more flexible.

this was important as japanese steel has much more impurities and thus is naturally more brittle than european or american steels which are entirely different stories altogether. there's lots of literature on this subject and you would not lose anything to read some of it here and there.

przemek (author)waldosan2014-01-10

You have to be careful about details. The back of the blade is partly covered with clay, with the edge exposed. The whole thing is heated above the hardening temperature. Both the blade and clay get really hot and then dunked into a cooling medium (water, but other steels could be oil-hardened). The edge chills instantly and hardens to a high degree; the back, covered by clay cools much slower and ends up only partly hardened---the slow cooling tempers it, reducing hardness but also giving it more plasticity and toughness, i.e. less brittleness.

The hardened part is actually a different phase of iron, and a little less dense, so it pushes back against the rest of the blade and gives it the bend. The phase boundary is actually visible when polished and slightly etched; the shape of the interface is called a 'hamon' and can be shaped into waves and patterns by pinching and shaping the edge of the clay:

tokuta (author)waldosan2014-01-02

i heard that they coat the back of the blade in refractive clay before the final firing is that true?

Metalyc (author)2014-01-03

I use small chunks of dry wood in my forge (due to no coal or charcoal source... yet), and although I am sure it doesn't get as hot as charcoal or coal, it seems to get the job done. Just don't expect to forge weld anything I suppose.

Basement_Craftsman (author)2014-01-03

The Japanese steels were actually far superior, and contained minimal amounts of impurities. Watch Secrets of the Samarai Sword. It's a pbs Nova special all about there superior sword technology

Cueball21 (author)2014-01-02

Nice Instructable.

Thank you!

snoopindaweb (author)2014-01-01

A servesable 17 pound anvil can be had from Northern Tool in the $ 30.00 range with shipping. I had to sand Mine off to clean the strikeing surfaces to keep projects clean. Only a bit of cleaning with a Palm Sander.

waldosan (author)2013-12-31

i'd like to point out here how dangerous dealing with galvanized metal is to both blacksmiths and welders. zinc and chrome which are the most common galvanizing metals are easily burned off long before the steel starts glowing, the smoke that is generated is either chrome or zinc oxide obviously. breathing this in will kill you in a week, painfully, unless you are getting paid well i wouldn't even bother with it.

Digital Wizard (author)waldosan2014-01-01

That's why you cook it off, and/or only use forges with galvanized parts outdoors...but he's right, lots of ventilation and no enclosed spaces if you have to use galvanized parts. My forge has galvanized pipe in it, it's not a problem once you have burned it off, but initially it can kill you.

joey99 (author)2013-12-31

Thanks for all the advice, I will be sure to add on soon

JimsShip (author)2013-12-31

I hope this sparks some interest in Blacksmithing, but there is SO much more information you need to put out there.
If you are serious, I would highly recommend going to and start reading all the pinned threads. There is information there on everything you could ever need and is a valuable resource for both new and old smiths.
You could build a coal forge for under 50 bucks, using a brake rotor drum for your forge (The complete how-to is on the site) and the members there are always willing to help out with a question or two.

bigfoot03242 (author)2013-12-31

If the anvil don't ring don't buy it.

madenairy (author)2013-12-31

if u fancy doing an internet search i'd recommend looking for COSIRA it was a correspondence course launched in the 50's (i beleive) and its a complete blacksmithing course - i found it on the university of cardiff's websight free to download, amongst the starter projects is how to make a set of forge tongs

Microbe (author)2013-12-31

Nice free anvil is a piece of I beam from a construction site.

mothman92 (author)2013-12-31

I would suggest that you make the chisels and punches rather than buying ad you will need to regularely harden and temper them anyways. Tongs can be substituted by a decent set of pliers in the short term until you get skilled enough to pound a proper set out of rebar :)

joey99 (author)mothman922013-12-31

Ya, i might try to make some. I bought the chisels because they were on sale for real cheap.

filtercages (author)2013-12-31

I would point out that it's not a foundry - it's a smithy, as you're not doing any casting (foundry work).

joey99 (author)filtercages2013-12-31

Haha, true, but i thought it would get the point across. I have never heard of it being called a smithy before.

steamjunkprops (author)2013-12-31

There are anvils and ASOs (Anvil Shaped Objects). the cheaper anvils like the one harbor freight sell are made of cast iron, It is soft and will break easily. You want Cast Steel if you really want an Anvil. I love my railroad chuck they are great for shaping.

karlmadigan (author)2013-12-31

Thank you your instructable was informative. I have always wanted to try blacksmithing and this gives me a way forward

joey99 (author)2013-12-30

If you could vote for me in the Manly Crafts contest I would really appreciate it.

joey99 (author)2013-12-28

Thanks rimar2000. I haven't tried any of that yet, I will make sure I do though!

rimar2000 (author)2013-12-28

Stems of old car shock absorbers has good steel to make tools. Also ball/roll bearings, piston pins, old suspension springs/blades, etc.

Good instructable.

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