Blacksmithing Blog | Metalworking Blog | Forging Blog

  1. Flux: Which one is right for your project?????

    Too many choices on fluxes????

    This should help

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  2. Dressing is not just for Salad

    How many forging books do you know of that delve info dressing your hammer?

    How many classes are taught without discussing hammer preparation?

    The simple answers are; too many.

    The is not an article on how to do it.  This is a quick introduction into why to do it.

    Take a look at the picture attached to this article.....those edges/corners look sharp to me.  Hammer meets anvil at the right angle and a chisel mark appears in your anvil.  Anvils are generally considered harder to replace.

    When i get a chance to talk to folks over the phone, via email or in person, and they are purchasing a hammer, I make sure to show them the differnce between a new forging hammer and a dressed one.   There are a few that are predresses but this is not the norm for commercially made forging hammers.   Why?  Most of these hammers come from over sees and there it would be an insult for a manufacturer to decide what is the correct radius a master blacksmith should want on thier forging hammer.  If one radius fits all, then one style of hammer should fit all as well.... and weight...and handle size.

    Handle size. girth, finish (lacquer, oil or just wax) are also part of getting your hammer dressed.  Some of the same hammers above have oversized handles; both length and girth.   Why?   Marketing a hammer with a smaller handle, weaker looking, would be bad.   What size should it be?    Length is a personal preference, but girth is something else.   Every time you swing your hammer, what muscles tighten?  Fingers?   Yup.   Part of gripping is encircling the hammer handle, so if it has too much girth your fingers will try to pull at the joints every time your swing.   What about shape?   Oval or rectangular..ish?  If you were to look at your bones in your fingers from one joint to the

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  3. Purpose of Flat Tongs

    It seems like the first tongs that people try to buy when starting out is flat tongs.   I suppose they are assuming flat tongs are for flat stock, and while they're correct, its not that simple.

    A better name for flat tongs is Blank Bit tongs. Blank because they have not been formed into a shape that really holds anything...yet.  Although they can grab onto flat stock, they require a temedous amount of force to keep the stock from slipping.   The kind of force needed will make your hand cramp, unless you enjoy chasing the stock around your anvil and floor below.  Using tongs like this is dangerous.  I hear storries of partially forged knives flying around.   I once heard that, while using flat tongs, a blade flew up and sliced the chin of a novice bladesmith.  Although I never saw the damage, i can definietely imagine it happening.

    Lets add another wrench into the mix.   There are Flat Open Tongs and Flat Closed Tongs.  Self-explanatory, right?   

    Not so much as it begs the following questions:

    • Flat Closed - at what point are they closed?   The very tip or the whole length of the bit? Are they parallel?  
    • Flat Open - How open are they?  At what thickness are they parallel? How far are the reins apart when holding that dimension?

    All of the questions above seem to lead me back to the need for flat tongs to be forged into something, or at least sized to fit.

    There are only a few instances where flat tongs would be the best option:

    1. you plan to adjust or shape the bits to the stock your using.
    2. nothing else will work - for instance, very wide flat sheet
    3. you havent studied enough to be buying tools yet.


    Some of this is obviously opinion and i would like to hear your thoughts?

    email me at

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  4. Why?

    When someone comes into the shop/store and is fairly new to blacksmithing, one of the first questions we ask them is "WHY"?

    No, it is not "why are you interested in blacksmithing?".... and its surely not as rude as "why are you here?"

    They usually have asked a question or made a comment that suggest they have not asked why things are done the way they are.

    Perhaps they tell me they have a sore back or elbow. Why? Most often they think that its just the way their body was designed. You know...bad genes and all.

    That actually maybe true, but its usually exasperated by poor equipment setup.

    Well..... Here are a few common ones for all of us to think about:

    • Anvil Height - Where did the idea to use nuckle height as the measurement to the top of the anvil come from?
    • Physics - What physics principles are used every time i swing my hammer and anvil?
    • Anvil Weight - How much weight do i need to get the most energy into my work?
    • Hammer Weight - What size hammer i should be using? 
    • How many forging hammers do i need?
    • Hammer Dressing - Why are many commercially made forging hammers not dressed?
    • Handle Dressing - Why do many commercially made forging hammers have such fat handles?
    • Tong Names - Do tong names directly corrolate to the shape of material to be used in them?
    • Tong Material - does it matter what tongs are made out of?
    • Leg Vice - Why is a bench vise not great for forging on?
    • forge fuel - What fuel is best?
    • Why are fundamentals, the answers to the questions above, not taught in most classes?

    Get the answers to these and more in future blogs and a good book.


    The Skills of a Blacksmith - 

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  5. Will this Spring Swage work on an anvil???

    A question we often get about spring swages is "Will this work on an anvil?"

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  6. To flux or not to flux ...That is the question!

    Use flux or not? The real question is do you understand what flux is for?

    Flux is used to reduce the temperature at which the surface elements (scale, impurities, etc.) become fluid on the surface of the metal. It protects the surface from erosion due to air or gas blasting against the metal. Therefore if you do not use flux you must raise the temperature enough to make the elements on the surface fluid.

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  7. Strike While the Iron is Hot

    Many of us have heard the phase "Strike while the iron is hot," but what about "Strike Where the Iron is hot?"

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  8. Anvil Hardness

    The question we often get is how hard is the anvil. This is not a simple question.

    Hardness depends on several thngs, including:

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  9. Mass or Velocity? Large or Smaller Forging Hammer?

    The argument for forging with a small hammer vs. a larger hammer is much like the argument of which truck is better, Ford or Chevy. If you've been forging for a while you probably have an opinion on this. Hopefully, if you have been forging for a while you also have tested your opinions as well. Have you forged with a larger hammer enough to know it is not right for you?

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  10. Why wet your Coal?

    In the USA bituminous coal is divided into high-volatile, medium volatile, and low volatile groups. Metallurgical grade Blacksmithing Coal would fall into the low-volatile group. The higher the volatile rating the more the coal fire will propagate or spread. Lower volatile coal SHOULD coke without moisture being added. Herein lies the rub.. Adding water does several things that work against us.

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