Are there any prerequisites for your blacksmithing classes?
Our two-part foundational series on blacksmithing includes two courses: Blacksmithing I and Blacksmithing II. These courses cover the fundamentals of blacksmithing and will give you hands-on practice as you complete several projects and learn a number of foundational skills.
No prior blacksmithing experience is required to take Blacksmithing I. Blacksmithing II, which builds on the skills learned in Blacksmithing I, would be the next course to take.
Once you have completed the two foundational courses, then you can take any of our other courses.
In addition to Blacksmithing I, we offer a 6-day Forging Techniques course which has no prerequisites and is an excellent way to get an intensive start with learning blacksmithing.
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What is the metal you work with? Is it iron or steel?
We work primarily with what is commonly called “mild steel.” Steel is actually an alloy — a mixture of different metallic elements. Steel’s main ingredient is iron, to which other elements, such as carbon, molybdenum, nickel, chromium, vanadium and others can be added. The characteristics of the steel change in relation to the ratio of other elements that are added in. Some steels are mixed to be extra hard, some to be shock resistant or wear resistant, others to be stainless and so on. Mild steel is the type that’s used for most structural, architectural and ornamental applications. It’s what is called a low alloy steel and is composed almost entirely of iron, with 0.2-0.3% of carbon content.
Where do you get mild steel?
Mild steel is commonly available at local steelyards in a variety of shapes and sizes.
What fuel are you burning in the forge?
There are three basic grades of coal available: lignite, anthracite and bituminous. We fuel our forge with bituminous coal, which is a soft, low-sulfur coal that is readily available and that will ‘coke’ into larger chunks, making for a more manageable fire. We currently supply our forge with coal from a mine in Oklahoma.
Anthracite coal, while able to burn hotter, is also more difficult to obtain, and “cokes” into much smaller pieces that often blow up and out of the fire. The majority of coal available is lignite, which is less refined, and largely unsuited for blacksmithing purposes. Most lignite coal is burned in power plants that produce electricity.
How hot does the steel get?
The coal fire will burn at around 3000° F. Steel will remain black and unchanged up to 1000° F and will actually melt at 2850° F, so the majority of our forging will be between 1500° F and 2500° F.