Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Books for Beginning Blacksmiths

Blacksmithing is a hard craft to learn alone. The apprentice system for blacksmithing is long gone in the U.S. How, then, may a person learn about blacksmithing? I recommend three things. Read some books about blacksmithing to learn the basics about the tools, techniques, and language used in the craft. Second, locate the blacksmithing organization nearest you. The United States has more than 50 educational organizations that preserve knowledge and teach about blacksmithing. See the links at the side of this blog. Third, try to find a blacksmith that you can visit for some advice.

If a person is interested in learning more about blacksmithing there are a number of good books that can help them get started. One excellent reference for the amateur is The Backyard Blacksmith , Traditional Techniques for the Modern Smith, by Lorelei Sims (Quarry Books, 2006, ISBN 1-59253-251-9). Her book is informative, conversational, and is full of clear diagrams and color photographs. It is an excellent book for the beginning smith.
Another excellent book for beginning smiths is A Blacksmithing Primer, A Course In Basic and Intermediate Blacksmithing by Randy McDaniel (Hobar Publications, 2004, ISBN: 0-9662589-1-6). This book is a step-by-step guide to learning technique, and has many computer-drawn sketches and illustrations. It is detailed without being overwhelming.
I would be remiss if I did not add that visitors are always welcome to visit me here at the Farmers’ Museum to see a little blacksmithing. The Field Blacksmith Shop is in operation most days, and also teaches one-on-one blacksmithing classes throughout the summer. More information on our schedule and our class offerings can be found on the workshops page of our website.


  1. Though both the books you mention are very good for beginner blacksmith instruction, one that I came across a while back was The Skills Of A Blacksmith, volume 1, Mastering The Fundamentals of Blacksmithing, by Mark Aspery. Mark's style is a good bit more refined than Lorelei's and every bit as engaging and easy to read. The only short coming I found in Lorelei's book was the number of typos and technical errors that could confuse a novice not knowing the difference. Mark's book is a bit pricer than Lorelei's but very much worth the cost.

  2. I have a soon to be 10 year old that wants to learn about blacksmithing, more specifically, he collects knives. What would you recommend for books and tools?


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