Blacksmith tools can help professionals create and repair a variety of iron or steel-based products, from gates to cooking supplies. If you’re interested in starting a blacksmith business or just want new places to find supplies, here’s a guide.
The Blacksmithing Industry in 2022
Blacksmithing may sound like an outdated practice. But there’s still some demand for custom metal items like fencing, light fixtures, and home decor. Since automation has made it easier for businesses to produce these items at scale, blacksmiths generally deal with customers who are willing to pay a higher price for handcrafted products. Another change in the industry is the decrease in people entering the field. Since it is seen as a dying industry, those who remain are able to charge high prices for their services.
What Supplies Do You Need for Your Blacksmith Business?
There are various supplies that can help blacksmiths create the products that are most in-demand with their customers. The exact list can vary, but here’s a general consensus to help you get started.
Top Places to Find Blacksmithing Supplies for Your Business
There are tons of easy places to find items for blacksmith businesses both online and in stores. Check out the sources below for quality options.
Amazon is the default source for a huge variety of products. They have a large stock of items ready to ship within two days for Prime members. Popular blacksmith tools on Amazon include tongues, hammers, vices, and accessories.
Etsy is known for handmade products, but sellers also offer supplies for a variety of craft-related products, including metalwork. The details of each order vary based on the seller since each person sets their own policies and ships their own products. But options include hammers, stamps, blocks, and guillotine tools.
Small Business Deals
3. Blacksmiths Depot
Blacksmiths Depot is a small business that specializes in blacksmith tools like hammers, anvils, sanders, bolts, and fasteners. Their site also offers various educational resources. And their stock is only blacksmith-related items, so it’s easy to search and browse for relevant options.
4. Blacksmith Supply
Blacksmith Supply bills itself as “Modern Tools for the Modern Blacksmith.” They provide a full catalog of products from forge supplies to hand brushes. They also offer a 5 percent discount to ABANA members.
5. Centaur Forge
Centaur Forge sells blacksmith and farrier supplies online. Based in Wisconsin, the company ships products throughout the U.S. and Canada. Options include shelves, forges, knifemaking tools, and coal and coke. They also provide an ABANA discount.
6. Pieh Tool Company
Pieh Tool Company is an Arizona-based company that ships products around the world. They offer a variety of blacksmith and farrier tools, like anvils, abrasives, forges, and cleaners, along with an ABANA discount.
PERUN offers blacksmith, foundry, and farrier tools. They make all tools, so you can count on quality. The shop is based in Poland, but ships to other countries as well.
8. Blacksmith Tools Supply
Blacksmith Tools Supply is a full-service provider of blacksmith and farrier tools. The company has storefronts in Daska Sialkot, but ships products around the world.
Walmart carries a huge variety of products, including those that can be useful for blacksmiths. Their stock contains options like hammers, anvils, forges, and educational resources. The company also ships products quickly and offers free shipping on select orders.
eBay also has a variety of items from people around the world. Options range from collectibles and antiques to new tongues and hammers. Each order ships from the seller, so policies and prices vary widely.
11. Facebook Marketplace
Facebook Marketplace lets people buy and sell items to others in their area. Most items will be secondhand, and there’s no guarantee of a large inventory. However, you may be able to find good deals on select items.
12. Tractor Supply Co.
Tractor Supply Co. offers a wide array of tools for everything from agricultural work to blacksmithing. You can find select hammers and striking tools in stores, where you may also find knowledgeable staff to guide you. But the company also ships directly to customers.
What Steel Do Blacksmiths Use?
Steel is a versatile material, and understanding its variations is crucial for blacksmiths. While carbon steel remains a popular choice, the exact type and grade used depend on the project’s requirements.
Types of Steel Used in Blacksmithing:
- Low Carbon Steel (Mild Steel):
- Composition: Typically contains up to 0.3% carbon.
- Properties: It is soft, malleable, and easy to forge, making it an excellent choice for beginners.
- Uses: Ideal for decorative items, architectural details, and other pieces where hardness is not crucial.
- Note: It can be hardened slightly through heat treatments, but not as much as higher carbon steels.
- Medium Carbon Steel:
- Composition: Contains about 0.3% to 0.6% carbon.
- Properties: Offers a balance between ductility and strength. It’s harder and stronger than low carbon steel but still forgeable.
- Uses: Suitable for making tools, machinery parts, and other items where a balance between hardness and malleability is required.
- High Carbon Steel:
- Composition: Typically contains between 0.6% and 1.5% carbon.
- Properties: It’s harder and less malleable than medium and low carbon steels, but it can be heat-treated to achieve a very hard surface.
- Uses: Commonly used for cutting tools like knives, chisels, and axes because of its ability to maintain a sharp edge.
- Alloy Steels:
- Composition: Steel mixed with other elements such as chromium, nickel, or molybdenum.
- Properties: Alloying elements are added to achieve specific properties, such as increased strength, hardness, or corrosion resistance.
- Uses: Depending on the specific alloy and its properties, it can be used for everything from tools to automotive parts.
- Stainless Steel:
- Composition: Steel alloyed with a minimum of 10% chromium.
- Properties: Highly resistant to rust and corrosion, but can be more challenging to forge than carbon steel.
- Uses: Ideal for items exposed to moisture or those that require a shiny, polished finish.
- Tool Steels:
- Composition: Alloyed steels designed for tool production.
- Properties: They possess properties like hardness, heat resistance, and durability.
- Uses: Used for producing tools that need to withstand significant wear or impact, such as hammers or dies.
The choice of steel will significantly influence the forging process, the required heat treatment, and the final product’s performance. It’s vital for blacksmiths to understand the properties of these steels and choose the right one for their specific project.
- READ MORE: Where to Sell Wholesale Craft Supplies
Blacksmith Tools for Small Business
If you’re looking to start a blacksmith business, here are some specific tools that may be relevant to your journey.
An anvil is a heavy block of iron or steel with a flat top surface and a pointed end, used primarily for shaping metal. Blacksmiths hammer metal, often heated until it’s red-hot, on the anvil to forge it into desired shapes.
A forge is the primary tool for heating metals. It burns coal or propane to produce the necessary heat. Once the metal is red-hot, it becomes malleable, allowing the blacksmith to shape it with hammers or other tools.
The blacksmith’s hammer is a basic tool used for shaping and forging metal. There are different types of hammers, such as ball-peen, cross-peen, and sledge, each serving different purposes in the forge.
Tongs are used to hold and manipulate hot metal. They come in various shapes and sizes, depending on the specific task and the piece of metal being worked on.
Chisels are used to cut and carve designs into the metal. They can be struck with a hammer to engrave patterns or to split metal.
Fullers are tools used to make indentations or grooves in metal. They can be handheld or set into the anvil, and the metal is struck over them to create a depression.
A swage block is a large, heavy block with various shaped grooves and holes. It’s used to support work for punching, bending, and forming metal.
Hardy tools are a variety of shaping tools that fit into the square hole (hardy hole) of the anvil. They include cutters, swages, and fullers.
A flatter is a tool with a large, flat face used to smooth out surfaces on metal after forging.
A pritchel is a pointed tool used to punch holes through hot metal. It’s driven into the metal using a hammer.
Drifts are tools used to enlarge and shape holes in metal. After a hole is punched using a pritchel, a drift can be used to make the hole larger or give it a specific shape.
A quenching tank is a container filled with water, oil, or another liquid. After heating and shaping the metal, blacksmiths often quench (rapidly cool) the metal in the tank to harden it.
A slack tub is a container filled with water used for cooling tools and for emergency dousing in case of a fire or hot metal contact.
A bench grinder is used to sharpen other tools, grind down metal edges, and polish surfaces. It consists of a motor that drives abrasive wheels.
Files are used for refining the shape of metal and smoothing out rough edges after forging.
A vise is a clamping tool that holds metal securely in place while it’s being worked on. It allows for precise operations without the metal moving.
A blowpipe is a tool used to increase the oxygen supply to the forge, thus increasing the heat. Traditional forges might use a manual bellows, while modern ones may use electric blowers.
A leg vise is a special type of vise designed to absorb the shock of hammering, common in blacksmithing shops. It’s often mounted on a sturdy post.
After forging, metal often has scale (a layer of oxide) on its surface. A wire brush is used to scrub away this scale, cleaning the metal.
A slitting chisel is specifically designed to cut and split metal. Unlike regular chisels, they are typically broader and can be used to make long cuts in metal.
A guillotine tool like this one holds small pieces of metal into place so you can easily bend and shape them with precise tools. This one can be used by both right and left-handed blacksmiths.
This blacksmith turning hardy is an intricate tool that has small pegs you can use to wrap pieces of hot metal around to form curves. This seller offers four different sizes, so you can select the options that best suit the needs of your projects.
|Anvil||A heavy block of iron or steel with a flat top surface and a pointed end, used primarily for shaping metal.|
|Forge||The primary tool for heating metals, burning coal or propane to produce necessary heat.|
|Hammer||Basic tool for shaping and forging metal, with various types like ball-peen, cross-peen, and sledge.|
|Tongs||Used to hold and manipulate hot metal; come in various shapes and sizes.|
|Chisels||Used to cut and carve designs into the metal, struck with a hammer for engraving or splitting.|
|Fullers||Tools for making indentations or grooves in metal, either handheld or set into the anvil.|
|Swage Block||A block with various shaped grooves and holes, supporting work for punching, bending, and forming metal.|
|Hardy Tools||Shaping tools that fit into the anvil's hardy hole, including cutters, swages, and fullers.|
|Flatter||A tool with a large, flat face for smoothing out metal surfaces after forging.|
|Pritchel||Pointed tool for punching holes through hot metal, driven in using a hammer.|
|Drift||Used to enlarge and shape holes in metal after an initial punch.|
|Quenching Tank||Container with liquid (water, oil) for rapidly cooling metal to harden it.|
|Slack Tub||Water-filled container for cooling tools and emergency dousing in case of fire or hot metal contact.|
|Bench Grinder||Tool to sharpen other tools, grind metal edges, and polish surfaces, driven by abrasive wheels.|
|Files||For refining metal shape and smoothing out edges post-forging.|
|Vise||Clamping tool holding metal in place for precise work.|
|Blowpipe||Increases oxygen supply to the forge for enhanced heat. Traditional versions use manual bellows; modern ones might use electric blowers.|
|Leg Vice||Vise designed to absorb hammering shock, typically mounted on a post.|
|Wire Brush||Used to scrub away scale (oxide layer) post-forging, cleaning the metal.|
|Slitting Chisel||Broad chisel designed for cutting and splitting metal.|
|Guillotine Tool||Holds small metal pieces for precise bending and shaping. Can be used by both right and left-handed blacksmiths.|
|Turning Hardy||Intricate tool with pegs for wrapping hot metal to form curves. Offered in multiple sizes to suit project needs.|
Mild steel, also known as low carbon steel, is one of the most commonly used materials in blacksmithing. It is malleable, easy to weld, and can be hardened slightly. Because of its low carbon content, it is less brittle than higher carbon steels.
High Carbon Steel
High carbon steel contains a higher percentage of carbon than mild steel. This makes it harder and stronger but also more brittle. It’s commonly used for making tools like knives and chisels because it can be heat-treated to hold a sharp edge.
Wrought iron is a nearly pure form of iron with very low carbon content. It’s known for its grainy structure, which results from slag inclusions. Historically popular, it’s less common today but is still prized for its corrosion resistance and malleability.
Cast iron contains more carbon than either mild or high carbon steel. It is brittle and cannot be forged without breaking, but it’s often used for casting. It’s commonly found in items like fireplace backs and heavy-duty pots and pans.
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron, chromium, and other elements. It’s resistant to rust and corrosion, making it ideal for items that need to withstand weather or moisture. It can be harder to forge than mild steel due to its heat requirements.
Bronze is an alloy made primarily of copper and tin. It’s known for its beautiful, warm color and has been used for millennia for everything from weapons to sculptures. While not a traditional blacksmithing material, some blacksmiths do work with bronze.
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. It’s similar in color to bronze but can vary from red to yellow depending on the zinc content. It’s often used for decorative items due to its bright, shiny finish.
Copper is a reddish-brown metal that’s highly malleable and an excellent conductor of electricity. While not primarily a blacksmith’s material, it can be forged and combined with other metals to produce alloys.
Not containing actual silver, nickel silver is an alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc. It has a silver-like appearance and is often used for decorative pieces or in jewelry.
Aluminum is a lightweight, silver-colored metal that is resistant to corrosion. It’s softer than steel and requires different techniques when forging. It’s used in various applications due to its weight-to-strength ratio.
Often referred to as “pattern-welded” steel, Damascus steel is created by forging together layers of different types of steel, resulting in beautiful patterns when etched. It’s often used in knife making.
Titanium is a strong, lightweight metal with excellent corrosion resistance. While not traditionally forged, some modern blacksmiths experiment with it for specialty applications.
Tool steels are a group of carbon and alloy steels that have certain characteristics like hardness, resistance to abrasion, and the ability to hold a cutting edge. They are used to make tools that need to withstand significant wear.
Produced in a bloomery furnace, this material is a direct reduction of iron ore. Bloomery iron is a mass of iron and slag, which can be refined further through forging, resulting in wrought iron.
Pig iron is the raw iron extracted from iron ore by reduction in a blast furnace. It’s brittle and cannot be forged on its own but is refined further to produce other types of iron or steel.
|Mild Steel||Low carbon content steel, malleable, easy to weld, can be slightly hardened. Less brittle due to low carbon content.|
|High Carbon Steel||Contains higher carbon percentage. Harder, stronger, but more brittle. Commonly used for tools as it can be heat-treated for sharp edges.|
|Wrought Iron||Almost pure iron with very low carbon. Grainy due to slag inclusions. Less common today but corrosion-resistant and malleable.|
|Cast Iron||High carbon content making it brittle; can't be forged but used for casting. Found in fireplace backs and heavy pots.|
|Stainless Steel||Iron alloy with chromium and other elements. Rust and corrosion-resistant. Harder to forge than mild steel.|
|Bronze||Copper and tin alloy. Known for its warm color. Used historically for weapons and sculptures.|
|Brass||Copper and zinc alloy. Color varies based on zinc content. Often used for decorative items.|
|Copper||Reddish-brown, malleable metal. Great electrical conductor. Can be forged and alloyed with other metals.|
|Nickel Silver||Copper, nickel, and zinc alloy. Silver-like appearance. Used for decorative items and jewelry.|
|Aluminum||Lightweight, corrosion-resistant, silver-colored metal. Softer than steel and requires different forging techniques.|
|Damascus Steel||Pattern-welded" steel made by layering different steels. Displays patterns when etched. Commonly used in knife making.|
|Titanium||Strong, lightweight metal with excellent corrosion resistance. Not traditionally forged but used in modern specialty applications.|
|Tool Steel||Group of carbon and alloy steels known for hardness and ability to hold a cutting edge. Used for making durable tools.|
|Bloomery Iron||Produced in bloomery furnace. Direct reduction of iron ore leading to iron and slag. Can be further refined to wrought iron.|
|Pig Iron||Raw iron from iron ore reduction in a blast furnace. Brittle and not directly forgeable; serves as a precursor for other iron and steel types.|
Image: Envato Elements
More in: Small Business Essentials