How to Do Blacksmithing

If you're keen to do some basic blacksmithing, here are the basic techniques for you to try in your own backyard. There are tips for working the steel, types of tools and some clear warnings on working with steel.


  1. Image titled Do Blacksmithing Step 1
    Build a small forge. A simple one can be built by adding an airblast of any kind that is strong enough to withstand any kind of fire, but coal or charcoal (not briquets) works best.
  2. Image titled Do Blacksmithing Step 2
    Get some steel rods or rebar. Make sure they are about 3 feet (0.9 m) long, so you can hold onto a cool part of the steel while forging on the ends or other parts of the bar.
  3. Image titled Do Blacksmithing Step 3
    Assemble your tools. A hammer can be easily found at yard sales, antique stores, or just a plain ball peen hammer from the local hardware store will work, as long as the face is smooth and doesn't have any grooves. If your hammer has grooves, you'll need to sand them out. One hammer is all that is needed for now, and a nice pair of vice-grips or pliers will work as tongs. If you are lucky enough to have an anvil already, good for you, but if you don't, a section of railroad rail or any big, heavy lump of steel with a flat face will work well (they are known as ASOs, Anvil Shaped Objects).
  4. Image titled Do Blacksmithing Step 4
    Build your fire. Remember to be safe; it is a fire! Do it outside in a clearing, free of brush and other things that can easily catch fire. Have a garden hose, buckets of water, or a fire extinguisher at the ready. Build a nice pit, by digging a shallow hole and lining around it with rocks, or use a 1 foot (0.3 m) section of a 55 gallon (208.2 L) drum.
  5. Image titled Do Blacksmithing Step 5
    Insert your steel into the heart of your fire and add the air blast. Wait patiently, checking the color of the steel frequently. The steel should be placed near the air blast, but not so close so that the air is blowing directly onto the piece.
  6. Image titled Do Blacksmithing Step 6
    After you have assembled your tools, and lit a nice hot fire, get hammering! When rebar and scrap metal has reached the optimal working temperature, it will be colored between dark orange and bright yellow (almost white).
  7. Image titled Do Blacksmithing Step 7
    Practice definitely makes perfect. Some beginner techniques to try include turning a square bar into round, round bar into square, tapering (which means making the end pointy - the nicer and more slender the taper the better), flattening (the more even thickness the better), and just general scrolls (curls) and bends.
  8. Image titled Do Blacksmithing Step 8
    Practice some more, be careful, think safety, and overall have fun!


  • Steel that can be used is unpainted rebar, coil springs and leaf springs, and all manner of unpainted steel scrap. We certainly have a lot of it in the world, so turn it into something and help out the environment. Blacksmiths were recyclers before recycling was invented.
  • Ask for help if you need! You would be surprised what your Mom and Dad know!
  • Take your time.
  • Think logically about solving any problems that might come up.


  • Never heat galvanized, zinc, or nickel plated steel. Heavy metals when heated turn into a poisonous gas containing extremely dangerous heavy metals that if inhaled can cause sickness or even death!
  • Never use any metal that can enclose air. It can expand, sometimes causing it to explode, which can cause serious burns, injuries, and death.
  • When cooling iron or steel pipe in a water bucket, point the opening away from yourself to avoid being burned by hot steam.
  • Cool all metal down in water when you are done forging for the day.
  • Be careful!!
  • The most dangerous heat is what's called a black heat. It is not red hot but it can still be above 400 °F (204 °C), hot enough to seriously burn you.
  • Fire is dangerous, and so is hot metal, don't leave either unattended.
  • Do not use galvanized steel. It gives off very poisonous fumes when heated up. These fumes can kill you. Under no circumstances use galvanized steel, sheet metal, nails, rods - do not use galvanized anything!
  • Hot steel looks the same as cold steel sometimes, be careful where you grab

Things You'll Need

  • Tools - anvil or ASO, pliers or tongs, a hammer or two, one big one and one smaller one.
  • Some steel to work with, not galvanized (see warning above)

Article Info

Categories: Tradesman Occupations