Inside: The process of becoming a beginner blacksmith has many hurdles, sometimes the only way to learn is to pick up the hammer and try. Yes, there is value in watching others as it gives you a standard or a goal to pursue in your own skill level as a blacksmith. So as you look at this article, I want you to think about the process of learning to forge: watch, learn, try. Let me know how your first day went as a beginner blacksmith.
The Reality of Becoming a Beginner Blacksmith
I remember just a few short years ago, my first day forging metal. I decided to go visit a local blacksmith group, the Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association. Now I had done quite a bit of blacksmith reading up to this point and thought that I could probably figure this forging thing out on my own. Boy, I soon found out that there is a lot of details that you just can’t read about in a book.
To Learn to Forge: Watch, Learn, Try
That day I watched a blacksmith demonstrate making a “simple” leaf pendant. Thanks to a man named, Chuck, who let me try it at his forge; I was hooked. Now because the leaf that had been demonstrated used a hand fuller to forge the veins in the leaf, Chuck first taught me how to forge a hand fuller.
This was a very good introductory project, as I tried forging a flat taper.
Thinking back to that day, I remember him telling me what to watch for on the metal. All I could see is was bright yellow/orange section, so I continued to hit that part. Slowly over time, I have learned how to watch for what the hammer is doing to the metal so that you can adjust your next forging blow. Once I completed the taper, I then forged a hexagon on the hammer striking end of this fuller. I ground the edges a little, now it was time for my first forged leaf project. This takes so many basic steps to work on in one project. The pyramid point or taper, then a two sided taper on the far side to isolate for the leaf mass. Then a two sided taper on the near side to isolate for the stem of the leaf. Draw out the stem to length, flatten the leaf and then fuller the grooves with your new hand fuller.
Here is my very first leaf from my first day that I am telling you about, along side my most recent leaf. Still need practice as I cracked the tip.
If you are like any other beginner, you are probably looking for confirmation that you did a good job. So Good Job!! But if you are like me, you could probably stand to practice it a bunch more times. In time you begin to see what you are doing as you hit the metal, and can then make changes to correct the metal. You should show yourself some respect as you have just accomplished what few people can actually do. You forged a tool and a leaf on your first day.
Now your first day may be different.
Now your first day may be different with different items made, but most of the techniques will be the same. A forged taper here and a forged taper there. Keep Learning to forge, and you will someday be amazed at the progress you have made.
Check for an ABANA affiliate group in your area that may give you opportunity to experience a first day of forging.