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Shepherds Hill Homestead » Blacksmithing, Heritage Skills, Paul's Workshop » Blacksmithing





   Blacksmithing is an ancient and fascinating art. It is not easily learned, but good results can be obtained early in your tries. I am amazed at the spiritual lessons that the LORD gives me as I hammer out the steel. Anytime the Bible mentions fire, it has a spiritual reference to judgement. Many scriptures refer to fire as being purifying. Before the steel is put in the forge, it can be rusted, dirty and of little value.


   Once in the fire, the cleansing process takes place. The once hard steel, becomes pliable under the hammer and can be shaped into a usuable object. It is “tested” or “proved”. Other metals that are brought to a melting point are purified (see Numbers 31:23). Our lives go through testing, or through the fire. We must be perfected, as nothing that is unclean can fellowship with God.


  (1 Peter 4:12-19)


The three main items that are needed to start are a forge, an anvil and a hammer. The forge can be as simple as an old barbeque grill and a blowdryer. Below is  a picture of my first forge. It’s a brakedrum from a truck. The blower was found at a yard sale. I bought some fittings at the local hardware store. It’s mounted on three legs, so it’s stable on uneven ground.   





   The anvil that you use will be the most expensive item that you have. New ones are very expensive, unless you get a cast iron item from places such as Harbor Freight. These “cheap” anvils are just that. Don’t waste your money on them, as you would do better to use an old railroad iron. Search antique stores, which is where mine came from. Also, look in flea markets and in want ads. A reasonable price is around a dollar a pound, unless it’s extremely good condition or if it’s one of the “name brand” anvils that are collectible. Some rounding is ok on the edges, but try and get one that has clean edges (no chips) and no broken horn.


   My anvil weighs 112 lbs. As far as weight goes, the bigger the better. Obviously, one can only afford so much. Just try and get one 75 lbs or larger and you won’t be sorry.  





Hammers aren’t very expensive, as far as tools go. The picture below is of a Swedish type crosspein hammer. Erin uses a 2.2 pound and I use a 3.3 pound. You can find crosspein hammers at Sears. The back of the hammer will be used pretty often, so make sure you have a crosspein and not just a ball pein.


  You’ll end up collecting a few before it’s over, but  if you’re like me, you’ll have a favorite.





   You’ll eventually need some tongs. Like hammers, these aren’t terribly expensive, considering that they are lifetime investments. I prefer a type called “bolt tongs”. Another favorite I have is “wolf’s jaw”. Don’t buy too large a size when you start out. My biggest mistake was in thinking (as in anvil logic) that bigger was better. You need a pair that matches the size of the steel that you work. So unless you’re planning on forging yourself an anvil, keep the tongs small. You can get by somewhat without tongs, if you work the steel when it’s long. It doesn’t get too hot to handle if it’s 16″ or longer.Centaur Forge and Kayne and Sons are stores where you can purchase Tongs. Last, you need some coal and steel to work. Coal can be found in various parts of the country easily. In other parts, you might have to mail order it. I buy mine in Birmingham at a place that sells coal for heating and also has blacksmith coal (lower in sulphur content). I’ve actually seen it for sell on E-bay as well, so check around. 


   As far as steel goes, most towns of any size have a steel supplier. Ask for the hot-rolled steel, as it is cheaper than cold-rolled and does fine for blacksmithing.You can get 1/4″ square up to 1″ square or round for whatever project you have. My favorite steel is 1/4″ square. I make lots of household items with it. It’s easy to handle and the twists show up well with it. Of course, if you have a source for scrap steel, that’s even better! Just don’t buy it at a hardware store like Lowes. It’ll cost as much as a good anvil!


     Below are some links to great information. I will include pictures of some of my work on this site later. One final word, you can do this! Erin started learning when I did. She was 12 years old then, and has recently sold some items in an art show that we demonstrated in. She has become quite good and loves to hammer when the anvil is open to her. I’ll be writing more later. Please write me if you have any questions.

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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Filed under: Blacksmithing, Heritage Skills, Paul's Workshop

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