Pricing my BEGINNERS Blacksmithing Workshop

Pricing my BEGINNERS Blacksmithing Workshop

May 14, 2018 news Uncategorized 9

 

Listen, we fail a lot. Its just part of life.

I have been hunting with a recurve bow for a few years now and outside of a few squirrels it has been a total failure. Maybe that’s not true because I do love the bow and target shooting is great fun but I haven’t yielded much meat successfully. This pushed me to buy a rifle and learn more about hunting. Through this adversity with the recurve I have learned so much more. While I am no hunting success story I will say this “I have not yet begun to fight!”

Many people get into things each year, they spend a bunch of money and in six months they are listing those items on craigslist. I don’t think there is anything wrong with failure. Its part of the human experience. Its part of living a dynamic lifestyle where you are unafraid of trying new things.

My outlook on self reliance is always changing and I am going through a serious change right now. I am sure PrepperCon will add new pieces to my toolkit as well! Once I get this new change in style and tactics all ironed out I will write something longer about it. For now I want to focus on one aspect that is drilling a hole in me lately.

METAL.

I cannot shake the need to know more about metal and have the ability to manipulate it. BLACKSMITHING. Its inevitable now and its something that is going to happen before the year is out. So, of course, I am reading and watching and consuming media on the subject constantly. At this point I feel like I have a few decisions to make, I hope you are in the same boat.

  1. Starting Cheap and Small
  2. Saving and Waiting
  3. More Research

I want to get my hands dirty and that is why I have decided to create this article about Pricing my BEGINNERS Blacksmith Workshop.

Now I want to put an emphasis on BEGINNERS because some of the things I am going to price in this article are not going to be of high quality. They are going to be beginners tools. That’s important for you to understand. I want to get a read on my abilities without investing 5,000 in a workshop!

Fail fast. Its great advice.

Anvil

For many of us the blacksmithing journey stops right here. When you find out that a legitimate anvil is going to run you between $450-$2000 the breaks get pumped, real fast. From here those lofty ideas of blacksmithing start to fade and then your attention is pulled away by baseball or some google ad sense. Funny enough, this happens more than you think but specifically when you are floored the introductory price of something.

This Grizzly 55lb Anvil on Amazon is not a high quality model but it costs $60. Remember, I am a beginner. I am setting up a beginners shop. I want to make a knife and see how much I hate or love doing it. I read the reviews and I know this thing is going to get dinged up, fast. Its only cast iron.

That said, the price of admission for blacksmithing goes away if I am just dropping $60 on an anvil to find out how this fits into my lifestyle. Don’t get wrapped up in having the best right off the bat!

Forge

For those unfamiliar with the forge, this is where you are going to heat the metal to glowing so that it can be formed.

When it comes to a forge you can go a few routes. You can certainly make your own forge. Or you can purchase one. To be honest, I am not sure which route I will be going. I have a few thoughts and they are leaning towards an old cast iron wok that I bought years ago and rarely use. I also may buy a cheap firebrick based forge.

Ideally I will be after something like the forge by Whitlox Homestead, one day, but that is an investment!

Thongs

The more I talk to blacksmiths and the more I research, its seems these can be had at scrap yards and flea markets at a decent price. That is an important option for me. The best deal I could find on Amazon was 39.95 for these tongs.

The tricky thing about tongs is that they coming fitted for holding all different shapes. Some are made to hold round bars of metal, some for flat pieces. There are event tongs for holding T shaped metal. Because of my motivations I am looking for something that will hold flat item. I may also invest in some cheap locking pliers as well.

Apron

Now when it comes to my apron I will not be taking risks. I want a solid leather apron that will protect me because I am going to make mistakes. I am not afraid to get burned and that means I will likely get burned. I was a chef for years and suffered some tremendous burns. The Apron will protect all my important parts.

I have been eyeing this little number.

Gloves

Another article that you can get for pretty cheap. Of course, you will want to be pretty sure that they will protect you when the tongs start to get hot. Just because they are fireproof does not mean you can pick the glowing metal up with your gloved hand. Even with your gloves on, be careful.

Bench Grinder

These are priced pretty decent at the local hardware. That means I am not really concerned about finding one or searching for a good deal. The grinder will get me to my goal of shaping a knife blade properly. This tool will also help with grinding a knife handle.

Hammer

A good hammer is a good hammer and that transcends the idea of blacksmithing so I will likely look for something by Craftsman. They have this great model that is a 40 ounce pounder, perfect for steel. If it turns out I hate to smith I can at least have a quality hammer for any number of tasks.

What am I missing? I want to start pounding metal and as far as I can tell this is about the fastest way to start. Now, remember what I said, this is a beginners shop that will give me a quick gauge for how I feel about blacksmithing. Sure, watching other people do it is very alluring but I want to be sure its the right move for me. I am sure that in about 30 slams of the hammer I will know if this is what I am into.

There is a part of me that likes the idea and there is a part of me that knows its necessary. Why not give it a try, right? Expect more from me on this topic as I slowly start to learn how to smith I will make sure that I offer you some of my tips, tricks and fails so you can come along on this journey. Talk to you soon!

Oh yea! This whole setup will cost less than most anvils, particularly if I make my own forge.

 

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9 Responses

  1. circle c forge says:

    Brother buy a good 100lb anvil, build forge out of brake drum, vise grips make great tongs, don’t know about the thongs , sorry. a good 3lb crosspean hammer and you are good to go. I started out with a cheap anvil and it will dishearten you. be patient shop around and donot worry if you have to weld and make a few repairs on your anvil. clamp aluminum on sides of anvil well with 100 18 rod , grind or mill and you have a good anvil. a vise is also essential. with a little trial and era you can make most tools . punches and such, very important use bituminous coal no anthracite.

    • iamlibertys says:

      Great info Larry. Thanks. Loving the response on this. I am an impatient, attention deficient man so I will likely get the cheap anvil. Thanks to you, I will have that sentiment echoing in my head. And if the time comes when I get so frustrated that I throw that avnil through the wall of my shed, I will say to myself, Larry was right! Hhaha.

  2. Mic Roland says:

    I appreciated your approach to trying something with adequate, but not “high quality” parts. Seems sort of typical of blog advice to hear “get the best quality (whatever).” It’s so easy to say, but when you’re not already proficient at a skill, it’s not automatically obvious what makes something high-quality. Price isn’t a very reliable guide.

    • iamlibertys says:

      Ya know Mic, this is an echoing sentiment of mine lately. My audience has grown because of great people like you and I want to be effective for them. Most of the people that listen to and read I AM Liberty are hard working middle class people. They bedrock. They have dreams, too. They want gear and they wanna learn this stuff and who the hell has $800 to drop on an anvil when you have two kids, a wife and everything else to consider? Not to mention you might find out you hate hammering metal.

      We need to take a measured approach at introducing ourselves to new things and if that means going cheaper at the beginning I have no problem being that guy. Thanks for the support Mic.

  3. eric the red says:

    The anvil does not have to be an “anvil” perse. A large chunk of steel does the job just fine. A good sized sledge hammer head works nicely. Beware of the many ASO’s on the market (ASO = anvil shaped object) DO NOT get cast iron. What you want is a large mass underneath your work. If you have to have an anvil look for yard sales, craiglist, estate sales, auctions, etc. A good rule of thumb is $1.50 – $2 a pound.
    The forge is the easy part. It can be as simple as a box of dirt or as complex as an induction system. Propane is easy to build. My first forge was an old charcoal grill with a hair dryer attached. Fuel can be coal, wood, charcoal, propane, natural gas, etc. i switched to propane becuase i am more of a hobbyist and you can not “turn off coal”.
    Once you have the “anvil”, forge, and hammer a good long set of pliers or channel locks can be used for tongs. Vice grips were originally designed for blacksmithing. The hammer can be a good ball pein, cross pein, driller, etc. my first hammer was an engineers hammer.
    Do not try and make a knife your first time out. You will find it is easy to make your steel into a knife shape but much more difficult to make a knife. Your first project, a set of tongs (not as hard as you think). Learn to make bottle openers, hooks, stakes, etc. learn the skills of drawing, tapering, twisting, and welding.
    Do not go to big. What do you plan to make? A single burner propane forge with about 300 cubic inches will get most things done. You can only work about 6 inches at a time.
    2 items missing from the article that are an absolute must. A bucket of water, you will be surprised how hot them tongs can get, and a fire extinguisher.
    Check out the web. ifrorgeiron is a blog that has a lot of great info. The people are great and willing to help. Anvilfire has loads of plans for projects from simple to quite complex and supplies for the forge.
    Check for local blacksmith groups. I have SOFA here and for $5, 2 nights a week i can go and use their forges and anvils but most importantly interact with smiths who have way more experience than I. Also other smiths will be willing to sell or give you equipment they no longer use, or let you know where to find it. They also have classes, they range about $200 per class.
    Last but not least, get to know the guys at the local scrap yard. That is your best source for metal. Hint: you may also be able to find your anvil there.

    • iamlibertys says:

      Wow! I am blown away! You did not have to drop all this knowledge on me, man. This is priceless stuff. Thanks so much for the advice. I really appreciate it. I may edit the article and add this response into the article itself.

  4. […] Pricing my BEGINNERS Blacksmithing Workshop […]

  5. Better than spending a lot of time and money on tools you don’t know how to use, find a local craft school and take a blacksmithing class, you will quickly get a read on wether this is for you, AND it is much easier to build a useful forge, find a workable anvil etc if you have actually used one. You didn’t try to make a rifle before you started hunting, did you?

    • iamlibertys says:

      Good points! Very good points. I am a spastic and sporadic person so I will likely buy things and make many mistakes. I have done that my whole life. I actually enjoy it but this information will help someone in the I AM Liberty universe who is much smarter and thoughtful than me. I know my listeners are.

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