When I shared the idea of adding blacksmithing as a hobby with a few friends, they seemed bewildered by it, suggesting it's not as an appealing hobby as others might be. While there are definitely more mainstream hobbies, I noticed a steadily growing interest in blacksmithing over the past two decades. But I wasn't quite sure why this ancient art was seeing such a resurgence.
When the average person thinks of blacksmithing they'll often create a mental picture of a bare chested, rugged looking guy raising a hammer above is head. These practices of the old have - as one would expect - become adopted by machines, printers, and robots, working limitlessly in factories. The Great Depression and World War II eliminted the majority of the trade in America. But what's fascinating is that the art of blacksmithing has not only been preserved, but has been refined to a point where a modern day blacksmith is a thrilling, safer, and highly creative profession. The demand for unique and beautiful metal art, medieval recreations, and even show-inspired weapons grows by the day. What's even more fascinating is the immense interest in the blacksmithing process, with many content creators finding great success on YouTube.
But what is blacksmithing? How does one become a blacksmith?
Simply put, blacksmithing is the work required to create things from metal. The work required can range from simple to advanced techniques. Though the fundementals of blacksmithing have always remained the same: you will need an anvil, forge, and tools.
Recommended reading: The Macgyvered Anvil & Forge
Anvils: an object hard enough to withstand a mass of 50-100lbs to hit upon. Large rocks in your backyard and pieces of railroad track steel are free/cheap ways to get the experience. Genuine anvils are designed for more technical metal bending and often have holes used to work in combination with addition tools - or even tools you make yourself!
(Custom made stone and brick forge)
Forges: a heat source that can be increased via airflow control. Forges can be created from everyday parts in your toolshed and backyard, and even from cake pans (see the macgyvered anvil & forge guide above). These are used to get metal to a desired heating point where it becomes workable.
Tools: new blacksmiths will start with a solid cross-pein hammer, but the range of tools is vast, such as cold & hot chisels, striking hammers, band saws, bech grinders, and more.
Blacksmithing takes years and years of practice to produce professional-grade results, but anyone can try the craft with limited resources and a small budget. The amount of information is vast and there are very helpful online communities such as IForgeIron, The Blackmsithing Subreddit, The ABANA, and AnvilFire.
Also check out our list of the Top 10 Blacksmithing Books for Begginners.