It’s essential that for such a trade, you are taking the proper steps to get started. Without training on techniques, tools, and equipment, you should not be engaging in blacksmithing work. The first step to this type of metalwork is knowing what skills you need to become a blacksmith in order to work safely and acquire the right training and equipment.
Being a blacksmith means having certain skills. You may not have all of them at the very beginning, but you need to evaluate whether or not you can develop them. Though this work should be fun, it is also dangerous if not taken seriously.
To perform specific tasks, you’ll need to retain technical abilities. The expertise or knowledge required to do certain tasks is important. These skills can be learned through hands-on experience that is structured to teach while engaging.
Practical skills are often related to tasks that are mechanical, technology-based, related to mathematics, or in some way scientific. These are skills that are performed by hand or by using tools and equipment. This type of skill set promotes experiential learning. It also encourages self-learning to take place. By developing practical skills, you will increase your confidence and ability to work independently with tools and equipment.
Coordination of the hands and eyes allows you to participate in activities that require the simultaneous use of these body parts. The eyes intake information (visual-spatial perception) in order to guide our hands. Eventually, your hands will use muscle memory in response to the processing of visual input.
There are many skills used when problem solving, and therefore, it’s important to be able to evaluate something and analyze it to make decisions and come to a conclusion as to what needs to be done. When blacksmithing, problems will arise inevitably. As a beginner, you may not know how to solve them, but when assisted in finding a solution, you should take careful note and be sure to understand the reasoning behind the solution offered to you.
In any trade, math is most likely very important. For actions that require careful measuring, making cuts that are precise, and doing various calculations, you’ll want to know your math. Brush up on your fractions—dividing, adding, subtracting, and multiplying them—as well as on whole numbers. Always measure twice, cut once, and be sure to be accurate.
TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
For blacksmithing, there is certain specific and necessary equipment to obtain for this type of work. Regardless of your reasoning behind it, you’ll need the right tools—whether experimenting with a new hobby, creating art, or wanting to move into this field.
A forge is a type of furnace used to heat metal before it’s shaped. It is the number one most necessary piece of equipment for a blacksmith or smithy. Cast Master Elite has two blacksmith propane forges for sale, depending on whether you’re looking for a single or double burner.
An anvil is a heavy block of iron with a smoothed steel working surface. Metals are heated until soft and placed on the anvil where they are hammered into the desired shape.
A vise is a mounted metal tool. There are two types, but the one a blacksmith uses is called a postvise. It has movable jaws to hold objects while they’re being worked on. Blacksmiths should make sure the jaws on their vise are smooth to avoid marring their workpieces. The postvise stands up to hammering better than a Machinist vise would. They may also be known as a winch and are necessary to firmly hold as you work on a project. In choosing a vise, the larger ones will take hammering better.
A blacksmith will need a set of hammers dedicated to the trade. Beginners can start with either a cross pein or basic ball pein hammer. Either of these can usually be found at a local hardware store. Blacksmith supply stores offer additional blacksmithing hammers. Then, as you develop your smith skills, you can make your own hammers.
You will need a variety of tongs. Different tongs are used for different thicknesses of metal. Getting a good grip on metal is important to put out quality work and decrease struggle. As you begin, start with one or two pairs of tongs. As with hammers, once you’ve started to develop your skillset, you can make your own tongs as well.
Explore protective wear while working with extreme temperatures. Heat-resistant gloves are a must, as are clothing choices that won’t hang in the way, melt to your skin, or get caught while you work.
In addition to the best and most basic starting tools and equipment, the tools you’ll need but can make yourself are drifts, slitters, punches, twisting tools, and chisels.
Now that you understand the skills and equipment required to become a blacksmith, you’ll want to take steps toward embarking on your smithing journey.
TAKE A CLASS
It is highly recommended that any beginning smithy takes multiple classes, ranging from the basics to best techniques. Once you’ve gotten through beginner and intermediate classes, you may want to take classes on how to make specific tools to help you expand your collection.
GET A MENTOR
Mentors are very valuable when breaking into a new trade. These people have been where you are and may be able to help you avoid major mistakes, offer insight, display technique, and assist in problem-solving to perfect your work. It’s a great way to get questions answered in a one-on-one setting as well.
Developing your skills is undoubtedly going to take a lot of trial and error. Try not to get discouraged when something doesn’t work out, and instead seek answers as to what went wrong. Learning new things takes time, control, effort, and error. Once you start to fully understand the processes to produce quality work, you will be out of the beginner stage.
There is much that goes into what skills you need to become a blacksmith. Understanding and perseverance will help you succeed. Be sure that when taking up the time of more experienced blacksmiths that you are receptive, open to feedback, teachable, and appreciative. No one wants to use their time to teach someone who is not fully committed—anything worth having takes effort, and smithing is no different.