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If you are a beginner blacksmith, getting started on good-looking and functional projects may seem intimidating due to the array of different tools and techniques used within the trade.
Luckily, even the newest of smiths can create projects that are inexpensive, easy to make, and can help you fund larger projects due to their sellability.
With so much free information online, it is easier than ever before to find appropriate projects for your skill level.
YouTube has some great beginner video tutorials that inspired this article, and it is a good place to look for project ideas and techniques.
Below are 12 projects perfect for beginner blacksmiths that are quick, simple, aesthetically pleasing and could even make some extra beer money on the side!
What Tools Do I Need for These Beginner Projects?
Beginner blacksmiths can make really cool items with basic tools. As long as you have a forge, a hammer, tongs, and a metal surface area to work on, you’re all set! That’s right, you do not even need a traditional anvil when you are first starting out. Any heavy block of metal will do the trick, but if you’d like to pick up a proper anvil, check our recommended models here.
A few of the projects described in this article call for additional tools like punches and a press. Punches allow you to make holes in your projects, and a press helps flatten and shape metal. These are also good tools to have on hand as you progress in blacksmithing.
Basic safety gear is also always a great idea. Make sure to wear proper eyewear and an apron to protect your clothing. Gloves are also helpful, but many blacksmiths prefer to work without them.
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List of Quick, Easy & Simple Blacksmith Projects for Beginning Smiths
1) Simple J Hook
Possibly the easiest project for beginner blacksmiths, a J hook is a handy item to have around the home and a fast project that will help you hone your skills. J hooks can be used for hanging an endless array of items.
To get started creating your own hooks, you will need a ⅜ steel bar, a forge, a metal surface or anvil to work on, a hammer, a chisel, and tongs.
Begin by heating the end of the rod in the forge and then use your hammer to create a point. Strike the end of the rod and rotate it after each strike to make the point and extend the taper of the point to 1 ½ inches.
Once you have your tapered end, reheat the rod and smooth the edges into a “rough round” by rotating and striking the taper more frequently. This will create a more rounded shape and get rid of any defined edges.
After blending your taper to the desired effect, reheat the metal and shape into a U shape and bend the tapered point in on itself to create a curled end.
The next step is to find the desired length that you want the hook to be and hot cut it using a chisel. After the hook is cut, straighten it out as needed and hammer the straight end flat to make a mounting spot. For a step-by-step visual guide, check out this video.
2) Coat Hook
A coat hook is a great piece to make and sell online or at local craft fairs, or gift to friends and family. Coat hooks are functional statement pieces that many people like to buy handmade. The rustic style of forged coat hooks looks great in most homes and are unique items to add to your walls.
To make your own coat hook, you will need a 10 inch piece of ½ inch round stock, a forge and metal work surface, a hammer, tongs, and a ¼ inch punch.
The first step in making your coat hook is to heat the ends of the rod and strike the ends of it to upset them. This will create a decorative spearpoint end. Then, create two flat mounting points by striking into the rod in two places and creating a flat edge.
When the bar is cold, use your punch to lay your punch marks, then reheat the bar and punch through at the marks you created.
The last steps in this project are creating a curved end for the hook and straightening out any misalignments in the piece. The original video tutorial for this project can be found here.
A punch is a necessary tool for all blacksmiths. Punches help you create holes in projects that require them. A punch can be made out of any sized rod depending on your needs. In the video that corresponds with this written tutorial, the blacksmith uses an old coil spring. So really, any metal rod or item will work!
The only other tools you will need are a small forge, anvil or metal surface to shape your punch, tongs, and a hammer. Start by cutting the rod down and heating it.
Then, using a hammer, taper the end into a point. The point should still be flat on the end and not too dramatic. Round out the edges of the taper by striking the rod repeatedly and rotating it as you go.
You can finish the punch by grinding it down and polishing it, or leave it unfinished for a rougher look.
4) Fire Poker
A fire poker is a great beginner project that you can use in your daily life, sell, or give as a gift. Fire pokers are essential for tending fireplaces, so they are a great idea for a functional blacksmith project.
To make your fire poker you will need a forge, anvil (or other heavy metal surface), tongs and a vice. Begin with a long metal bar and make a long, thin taper at one end. Curl this end around itself to make a loop.
Reheat and shape as needed to get a smooth coil. Twist the very end of this taper around the rod while the rod is in a vice. Then create a shorter tapered point on the other end of the bar. Check out the original video for a more detailed visual tutorial.
5) Bottle Opener
If you want to make a small project that can easily be sold or gifted, a bottle opener is a great option. To complete this project, you will need a forge, an anvil or other working area, a hammer, and punches. You can use any metal bar or even a length of rebar, which is used in the original tutorial.
This project is easy because it only requires you to heat and flatten one end of a bar, punch and shape a large hole, and create a lip to catch and pull open bottle tops.
6) Decorative Heart
If you want to make a gift for a loved one or create items to sell, a decorative heart is the perfect beginner project for you. The heart can be used as a display piece or a paper weight.
To make the heart, you will need a length of ½ inch square bar, a forge, anvil, tongs, and a hammer. Shape the rod using the anvil to create the curved shape of a heart.
Taper the ends of the bar with your hammer to create the top of the heart, and curl them in on themselves until they meet in the middle to form the heart shape.
The shape of the heart can vary depending on your personal preferences, but for a better idea of what it might look like as you work, check out the original video.
7) Leaf Key Chain
For beginner blacksmiths looking for a challenge, try making a leaf-shaped key chain. For this project, you will need a forge, anvil/workspace, hammer, and metal bar.
To start, make a taper at the end of the bar that ends in a point. Then, you’ll be making a series of opposing, two sided tapers to create a stem for the leaf. Hammer the taper at the end of the bar down to form a flat leaf shape and curl the stem to create a closed loop.
The process for making this key chain is more involved than the other projects listed, so make sure to watch the video tutorial for further instructions and tips.
8) Drivehook for Beginners
According to the blacksmith in the video, this is the ultimate beginner project because it incorporates many of the foundational skills of blacksmithing. Plus, drivehooks are very useful. They have pointed ends that can be driven into trees, posts, and other surfaces.
Begin by tapering the end of a 1/4 inch steel bar. Bend the taper over the edge of the anvil to 90 degrees.
Heat and draw out the other end of the bar into a taper as shown.Hit the corners of the taper to round it out. Roll the point back onto itself to make a finial.
Using the horn of the anvil, curve the bar into a hook. Place the hook in a vice and twist the body of the hook several times.
9) Decorative Nails
Making these decorative nails will help you gain confidence working with small amounts of metal.
Begin with a 3/8 round or square bar. Forge a short, sharp point at the end of the bar. Then create a shoulder as shown in the video and hammer while rotating to refine the shoulder’s shape.
Cut off the pointed piece you have just created and place in a nail header. Strike downwards onto the nail and chamfer the edges of the nail head to even out the shape.
Take the nail out the of nail header and refine if necessary. You can stop here if you want a simple nail or you can proceed to the next steps.
Use punches to decorate the nail head. Begin by making divots at the corners of the nail head. Then make divots in between the ones you just made. Finally, using a round punch, make a divot in the center of the nail head.
You can make any design you want and feel free to make your nails as large or small as you desire.
10) Campfire Cooking Set
This two-piece campfire cooking set is inspired by the 18th century and includes a bracket, fork, and hook.
This project uses two 3/8 inch round bars. Begin by forging the bracket that holds the fork in place. Heat the end of one bar and create a scarf. Thin out the bar above the scarf as shown. Measure this area of the bar occasionally to ensure the correct length.
Bend the thinned portion of the bar onto itself to make a loop. Hammer the join of the loop and the body until relatively seamless and close up the loop.
Shape the bracket on the sides of your anvil as shown in the tutorial. Open the loop back up using the horn of your anvil.
Heat and taper the other end of the bar into a sharp point. This point will be driven into the ground, so make it long and sharp enough.
Next, create the fork using your other round bar. Use a sharp and narrow chisel to create the tines of the fork. Hammer the tines to smooth out any rough edges.
Bend the tines into a “U” shape as shown. Then heat the other end of the bar and taper. Bend into a small hook for hanging a pot.
11) Metal Dice
This project requires a 16mm square bar, or a square bar of your desired dimensions. Make a line in the bar at 16mm and cut out the die using any cutting equipment you have.
Hammer the edges of the die as shown in the video. Then mark out where you want the numbers to be placed on each side of the die. Punch the numbers using several punches. Start with small divots and then define them with a larger punch.
Grind each face of the die to finish and repeat these steps if you want to create a pair of dice.
12) Owl Pendant with Bird’s Eye Punch
This video shows you how to make a bird’s eye punch and then use that tool to make a simple owl pendant.
Begin with a round bar and heat the end. Create a square taper and then hammer into a more octagonal shape. Reheat and place in a vice with the taper facing up. Using a center punch, create a divot in the end of the taper.
Grind the bird’s eye punch to even out the edge of the taper and center the divot.
To make the owl pendant, begin with a 1/4 inch flat bar and heat. Create a blunt taper and hammer the edges to round out the shape. This will be the owl’s body.
Next, grab a ball peen hammer and hammer texture into the body of the owl. This will represent its feathers.
Use your brand new bird’s eye punch to create the owl’s eyes. Take your time to make sure they are even. Then use a small chisel to make the owl’s beak and legs. You can design these elements however you want.
Punch or drill a hole at the top of the pendant so it can be worn or hung. Cut the owl from the rest of the bar using a large chisel.