Saturday, 27 February 2010

mastercrafts blacksmithing, fancy a go?

Smith is the most common surname in England because every village used to have a smith, all other crafts come to the smith for tools. I have been forging for 20 years and think it is something that everyone should have a go at, particularly if your name is Smith.

There is a lot of mystique about blacksmithing and whilst like most crafts it takes many years to master the full range of skills it is easier to get to grips with the basics than most folk expect. Steel whilst cold may be hard and unforgiving but get the temperature right and it turns into plasticine and can easily be played with. A simple forge is very easy to create in minutes, I have forged steel using a charcoal barbecue with a simple foot pump to blow the air connected to an old tent pole to take the air into the fire. Google "simple forge" for lots of info on making better versions. For those that like to learn themselves and do things on the cheap a good book is Weygers "The Complete Modern Blacksmith"

For those wanting some help then it is always a great experience to go on a craft course with someone who knows what they are doing. I hope that others will add links to blacksmiths running courses but here are a couple that I know of

Dave Budd
Owen Bush

For anyone who would like to look more seriously at training in hot metal bashing Hereford College is a good course

The lead association is the British Artists Blacksmiths Association, cheap to join then you get to go allong to "hammer in" events where you can see some of the best smiths in the country at work and have a go yourself.

They also have a great page of links to training courses

So having been inspired by watching other folk why not book on a course and get forging yourself. Feel free to add links to other courses or organisations that may be helpful to folk in the comments box below.

Let's finish with links to Don Barker
and the mastercrafts book available for just £14


  1. Good post.
    I have an old turn handle blower. Can you advise on what would be the easiest way for me to make a forge to start with?
    Regards, Le Loup.

  2. As above I would advise google "simple forge" there are just so many variations and it depends what you have, how you like to work, standing, sitting, whether you want portable or permanent etc.

    All you need is the blower something to hold your fuel (charcoal is good to start) which can be as simple as a depression in the earth, and a way of getting the air from the blower into the base of the fire, a heavy iron pipe is ideal, thinner pipes work but gradually burn away.

  3. If anyone is interested we run weekend beginners courses in West Wales for people who want to try their hand at blacksmithing - the website is

  4. I run courses on the Herts/Essex border.

    Rich Maynard