Can You Teach Yourself Blacksmithing?

As blacksmithing is gaining more and more popularity, so does the desire to learn. In the last year, I noticed a bunch of new members on blacksmithing forums, subscribers on forging youtube channels, and the noticeably increased google search volume regarding blacksmithing topics.

One of the most frequent questions on blacksmithing forums is: “Is it possible to teach blacksmithing by yourself and how to do it?”. Since I see this on a regular basis on various forums, I decided to write the whole article dedicated to this.

Before I answer this question, I would like to clarify one thing. In most cases, when people ask this question, they usually refer to whether they need a mentor or some live course to learn this craft.

So, can you teach yourself blacksmithing?

You can teach yourself blacksmithing provided you have some access to the internet and basic tools. There are so many great online books, youtube videos, and online courses you can learn tremendously. The key thing here is dedication and perseverance. Without it, you can forget about it.

Ok, so now when you know it is possible to learn forging by yourself, let’s see how to achieve it realistically.

How to teach yourself blacksmithing

Let’s say you are somebody who lives far from the location of blacksmithing courses or simply someone who is not in a good financial situation to pay for it. What do you do?

Well, I have few alternatives for you. All does it take is your strong desire for learning and an internet connection. Let’s start with the first one.

Books

While books may not be the most productive way of learning blacksmithing today, they certainly have their place in the learning curve. If we look a little better, besides direct learning from a mentor, in the past, books were the primary way of learning anything, not just blacksmithing.

A few decades ago, there was no internet, youtube, and online courses. There were only physical books and still, there were a lot of great blacksmiths. Reading books is still a good way to learn some aspects of blacksmithing. Note the word “some”. For instance, if you want to learn how to strike the hammer, it is much better to watch a video tutorial than to read a text.

On the other hand, if you want to learn which type of steel is best for knifemaking, in most cases reading a book/article may be clearer. In most cases, when reading a book, it is much easier to find the information you need than it is by watching a video.

When it comes to blacksmithing, reading books will provide you a nice fundamental knowledge about metallurgy for instance. Do you want to learn about the heat treating processes of various kinds of steel? Again, reading books gets you covered.

Recommended blacksmithing books:

Skills of a Blacksmith Volume I : Mastering the Fundamentals of Blacksmithing
The Home Blacksmith: Tools, Techniques, and 40 Practical Projects for the Home Blacksmith
Bladesmithing: Beginner + Intermediate + Advanced Guide to Bladesmithing

Blogs and forums

If you are not such a big fan of reading books, you can post a question on various forums like Reddit, Quora, and many others. Just keep in mind that you will often get biased answers from many people due to their personal experiences. However, in most cases, you will get more than one answer which is a good thing. On forums, you can find out how people do things differently while achieving the same goal.

This is the thing about blacksmithing, it is more of an art than a science. There are several ways to forge a knife for instance. You can also heat the metal in few different ways, use many different tools, etc. Generally speaking, there is no one size fits all. However, forums may sometimes be confusing for beginners. Reading all these answers and suggestions, you may find yourself in a position in which you don’t know how to start.

One person is telling me x and another person is telling me y. Find what is more convenient and realistic for you and go for it. And yeah, avoid questions like:

How fast can I learn blacksmithing and start making money?

How much money can I earn from this craft?

In most cases, you will get an answer like: “It depends.” This is the best and the most honest answer you can get on these kinds of questions. So, when you plan to ask a question, make sure it is specific enough and also provide some background information that may be important to present.

Blogs are another great way to learn blacksmithing. You can search the specific query on google and find the best answer. In most cases, you will find several articles from which you can find the answer. Some articles may barely scratch the surface of the query while others will answer the question in much greater detail. Always look for the articles which answer your query in-depth because in most cases people that wrote them actually know what they are writing about.

On average, our website has 2000 words per article. In each article, we give our best to provide you with the best possible answer and explanation. As a beginner, I know how it is to be in the position of wanting to start something but you don’t know where or how to start. This was our primary motivation to start this website. This is also how we approach writing each article, by putting ourselves in the mind of the reader.

Youtube

Watching youtube videos and tutorial is one of the most common ways to learn any craft by yourself, not just blacksmithing. It is one thing to read a text and then visualizes it. It is totally different thing to watch a video and then applying it to practice. Unlike today, when I was starting, there weren’t so many youtube channels and good quality videos. Today, you can choose to learn from dozens of channels.

So nobody has an excuse not to start learning about blacksmithing. I often laugh when somebody tells me that they desperately want to get involved in forging, but they don’t know where to learn. As I have already said in the beginning, you have all you need if you have internet access.

Youtube maybe a more convenient source to learn how to type stuff. For instance, let’s say you want to learn how to forge a knife. Instead of reading the article, watching the process on video is a much more effective way of placing it into practice. Forging a knife requires learning a lot of small detail which some of them you cannot simply write. It is much easier just to watch it.

Ok, we are moving on.

Online courses

I left the best for last. You read many books and articles and watched many youtube videos but still want to see if there is some other option for further learning. Well, I’m glad to inform you that it is. Namely, in a recent couple of years, online blacksmithing courses became very popular. After every once and a while, I come across a new course. The wonderful thing about enrolling in an online course is that you don’t have to worry about the sequence of material learning.

It is all well organized in lectures where each one is a building block for the next one. The prices usually range between $50 and $500, depending on the length of the course and the smith of course. This is the closest learning option to the real forging class.

How long does it take to learn blacksmithing yourself?

Some people tend to become overwhelmed with the amount of information required to become a good smith, even just at amateur level. So, they ask this question just to realize how much time and effort they must put in. Most time, these are the kind of people who don’t want to put in the work.

I mean, how do you define the moment when you “learned” blacksmithing? There is no way to know it. It is all subjective. Somebody can say that he learned blacksmithing just because he knows how to draw out steel, while the other one thinks he is a pro just because he forged a decent knife.

One of the most important factors here is the amount of time you are willing to put it. For instance, a father of three kids and with a full-time job (Person A) cannot put in the same amount of work as someone without kids and a part-time job (Person B). The first one may get only half an hour to practice while the other one can practice for 3 hours. As time goes by, the difference in the learning curve between the two is massive. Let’s do some basic calculations.

In one week, person A practiced 3.5 hours while person B practiced 21 hours. Let’s keep on. In one month, person A practiced 15 hours while person B practiced 90 hours. Data gets very scary when we do the math on a yearly basis. Namely, in one year, person A practiced 182.5 hours while person B practiced 1095 hours. When you put in the perspective like that, it’s a game-changer.

Another very important question you have to ask yourself is, what is your goal? Is it to become a hobbyist or professional blacksmith? Those two are very different. To become a decent amateur, you have to have a basic set of tools and learn fundamental techniques. On the other hand, being a professional requires having much more equipment and learning advanced techniques, requiring more time and effort to learn.

I saw some people getting extremely good in just a few months while others struggle to advance their skills for over a year.

So, to answer your question, it really depends on your end goal and the amount of time you are willing to put in.

Is a live course necessary to learn blacksmithing?

As you can see, you can learn this craft without signing up for a local blacksmithing class. However, having some experienced blacksmith right next to you and teaching you is very different than learning online. One of the greatest advantages of being trained by a mentor is the fact he/she will immediately correct your mistakes. You won’t be repeating your mistakes over and over again for a long period of time.

Unfortunately, these shows are not so popular although they are becoming more and more. You may need to drive a few hours to the nearest class if there is nothing local near you. Keep in mind that these classes cost between $200 and $2000, depending on the length and the mentor itself. Keep in mind that if you can sign up for it, you won’t regret it. It is still the best way to learn blacksmithing, hands down.

Recommended reading:

How to Start Blacksmithing-The Complete Guide
Is Blacksmithing Hard to Learn?

Only 4 Tools You Need to Start Blacksmithing

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