Thursday, December 12

Initial Costs of Setting Up A Blacksmith Shop

As you're going along, picking up tongs at flea markets, anvils on eBay, and books on Amazon you're probably keeping a close eye on your budget.

Blacksmithing as a hobby and a business isn't cheap. Yes, the raw materials are inexpensive. The mild steel you can pick up at the local scrapyard or steel supplier costs a fraction of a dollar per foot.

The real doozies when it comes to setting up shop are the anvil and the forge. In my previous posts about Makeshift Anvils and Forges, I talk about less expensive alternatives to buying new. I encourage you to give them a read and decide for yourself if using a little ingenuity is worth your time.

What I'd like to get into here is what I see as the bare minimum you can spend for a functional DIY setup. This information is based on the best deals I can find today doing searches on eBay, Amazon, and blacksmithing supply sites like Blacksmiths Depot and Blacksmith Supply.

Here is what you will need to get started:

  • Hammer - $30-$40 depending on where you go. You could buy a carpenter's hammer for less, but you're not pounding nails.
  • Tongs - $30-$45 per pair. Starting with a single pair of German Wolf Jaw tongs will get you up and running. I'm partial to Tom Tongs if you can find them.
  • Anvil - As low as free to thousands of dollars. I started out with a piece of railroad track. You can almost always find them for sale on eBay. As I'm writing this, eBay has 44 search results for the terms 'railroad track anvil' with prices as low as $15 for a serviceable section.
  • Forge - NC Tool Co. sells a model similar to mine new for $458. Search results for 'gas forges' come up with Buy It Now prices from around $200 on up. Depending on when you read this, you'll have to do some investigating yourself. Not all forges are created equal. Make sure you know what you're getting.
  • Steel - You can find this at a local steel supplier for less than 50 cents a foot depending on the dimensions. Or take a wander through a scrapyard. If you're looking for tool-grade steel (the hard, high-carbon stuff they make knives, hammers, and implements out of), car springs can be heated up, straightened out, and cut to serve your purposes. 
  • A place to work - It doesn't have to cost much at all if you're creative and live a good distance from your neighbors. I wrote about a quick and easy set up you can do in your backyard in an afternoon with some stone, gravel, and a section of hickory. Check it out at Creating Your Space. If you live in the city, look into local arts centers that might provide shop space for a fee or see if you can rent industrial space. 


A Simple Breakdown In Dollars

$30 - Hammer on Amazon
$35 - Tongs
$20 - Piece of Track for an Anvil on eBay
$200 - Forge. Mine was only slightly more. You can find deals on eBay. See the 'gas forges' link.
$10 - For a variety of dimensions and enough steel to keep you going for a while. I've made hundreds of hooks out of a few dollars of flat bar.
$20 - Supplies to convert part of your backyard into shop space. This is where you will have to get creative.

$315 Total. That doesn't take into account your time spent getting everything together, but with the Internet it's a lot easier to find a decent deal.

If you have some suggestions for other inexpensive ways to set up shop, please leave them in the comments. I'm always interested in your feedback.

Interested in some more in-depth information on setting up shop? I wrote quite a bit on the subject in the Amazon Best-Seller The DIY Blacksmithing Book:

10 comments:

  1. Is it necessary to have a grinder, because if it is, you missed something

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello! When you're first getting started a grinder isn't necessary. Many smiths never have a need for one. Thanks for your question!

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  2. For reference however how much would it cost to get a grinder

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Watashi-

      A brand new DeWalt angle grinder costs about $60. You might have some luck finding one for less at flea markets or other sales.

      I recently bought a DeWalt to reduce the time it takes to cut out knife blanks. Before that I was using a hacksaw. The time it saves is well worth the money.

      Cheers,

      Terran

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  3. How much would the price change if I wanted a forge to make a sword?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your question. If you work the sword in sections, you won't need a different forge.

      One of the smiths in my shop uses an empty propane canister with a hole cut in the bottom (which is now the back since it lays on its side) to forge his swords.

      If you'd like a more detailed listing of the forges that are available, feel free to check out The 2017 Anvil and Forge Buying Guide on amazon.com.

      -Terran

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  4. how much would a grindstone cost as im having trouble finding it on the internet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A traditional grindstone is a large, pedal-powered sandstone wheel set in a wooden frame. The most likely (but still difficult) places to find one would be at farm auctions, estate sales, and flea markets.

      If you have the time and interest, here are some instructions for making your own by mixing cement and quartzitic sand:

      https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/make-your-own-grindstone.871129/

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  5. Hey, what is better, a 2 hole gas forge or a 3 hole gas forge?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Howdy,

      It depends on what you want to make.

      Having more burners means a couple things:

      - You can heat up a larger area (the interior of the forge, a piece of metal, etc.) quicker.
      - You go through fuel faster.

      To run my business, I've used 2-burner NC Tool Co and Forgemaster forges exclusively. Both of the models I've owned have had side ports for passing longer pieces of metal through the firebox. This keeps the firebox small and efficient, but also forces you to heat the metal in sections rather than all at once.

      I run my forge off of a 15-lb. propane tanks set at 4 PSI. Operating 2 burners at that pressure will make the tank last for about 10 hours. If you have a 3-burner at the same pressure, you would run through fuel faster.

      Let me know if you have more questions.

      Cheers,

      Terran

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