Blacksmithing is an ancient craft and profession involving the forging of iron to make such items as horseshoes, tools, and many other iron products. Blacksmithing is still popular today, both as a hobby and profession. There are many blacksmithing-related books out there. We will focus on twenty here, the top ten receiving more attention. Happy Reading!
What Is Blacksmithing?
A blacksmith was an essential person to have back in the day. It started back in ancient times; there was a whole historical age (the Iron Age, duh) named after it.
During colonial times or in the Old West, the blacksmith made and fixed all sorts of iron items such as horseshoes, tools, ax heads, hammers, nails, and plows. If you don’t have a good plow, good luck with those crops.
Over the years, new technology improved the blacksmithing process, a simple forge (furnace) not going to do it anymore.
But, certain basic skills remained important, and the craft remains an honored one. The Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America, founded in the 1970s, has over 4000 members. Forged in Fire became a popular show on the History Channel.
Reasons To Check Out Some Blacksmithing Books
People today would have various reasons to be interested in blacksmithing books.
Some are interested in blacksmithing as a hobby or catching the bug by watching Forged in Fire or maybe they fell in love watching old television shows and movies.
Blacksmithing is one of those things labeled “artisan,” which is a fancy term for a skilled trade that usually involves doing things by hand.
Artisan endeavors often can be lucrative. Blacksmithing can earn you about 40K a year if you are a professional and do it full time.
So, if you are just interested in blacksmithing, or want to learn the craft, there are many reasons to check out books on blacksmithing.
These days, there are online resources, including YouTube videos. A book, however, provides more in depth detail, including from experts. Plus, you are usually not able to underline and highlight an online website or video.
Let’s Get Reading!
So you want to go out and check out some books? You are at the right place. I did some research and found twenty good blacksmithing books. I tossed in a couple of fiction books. Fiction books are not only fun; they can provide some helpful details and insights too.
You can find these books in various places online, including booksellers such as Amazon, auction sites like Ebay, as well as in many of your local libraries. Let’s get reading! And forging!
TOP TEN BLACKSMITHING BOOKS
1. The Backyard Blacksmith: Traditional Techniques for the Modern Smith by Lorelei Sims
The book provides a basic “how-to” for the beginner blacksmith. A few readers complain it is not ideal for beginners, but most label it as beginner-friendly, including instructions about making your own forge. Good for amateurs as well as those wishing to be professional.
This handy volume (174 pages hardcover) would make a good starter, with high-quality color photographs to help you along. The book includes step-by-step instructions for a range of projects including hooks, door and gate pulls, wall-mounted hooks, knockers, and racks.
2. New Edge of the Anvil: A Resource Book for the Blacksmith by Jack Andrews
This is another very good and well reviewed “how to” book by an expert blacksmith geared to beginners. Some argue it is too basic, but others point out that it provides an excellent resource that you will use for years to come.
Jack Andrews, whose grandfather was a blacksmith, applies modern day methods including computer design in his work here. The charts, pictures, tables, and explanations provide an easy to understand tutorial on how to be a good blacksmith.
The book, 256 pages, also includes material from six contemporary metal workers demonstrating their various styles and insights. This section is described by some as an “art book” of sorts. It provides something extra than a simple “how to” approach.
3. The Complete Modern Blacksmith by Alexander G. Weygers
Alexander Weygers is a famous 20th Century polymath, who among other things was an expert polymath. He is the author of books on philosophy, blacksmithing, and the creation of tools.
This three hundred page volume is a handy place to find THREE of his classic works in one place: The Modern Blacksmith, The Recycling, Use, and Repair of Tools, and The Making of Tools. Easy to understand with many helpful illustrations and a detailed glossary.
The book does have all of the up to date 21st Century techniques, but lots of this material is still quite relevant.
The first book alone is known as the “bible” of blacksmiths. The second is a very helpful resource for those who cannot just buy everything new; prime for the frugal and practical blacksmith. The third explains how to use tools, without needing any special equipment to do so.
Alex Pole is a British blacksmith, who established Alex Pole Ironwork in 2006, and then Forge Kitchenware in 2015. This book was published in 2021 and is 224 pages long.
This is another good how-to-book, providing a guide from beginner to being a pro, just as the title says. The book guides the reader through the terminology, history, techniques and customs of being a blacksmith. The history section is a special plus.
The author provides a light touch, using a down to earth, and often amusing tone. The book provides a good addition to your blacksmithing library, providing up-to-date information.
5. The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer
This is another classical work which is much beloved by many of today’s blacksmiths. As one blacksmith says, “it is still in my smithy.”
Alex Bealer was a 20th Century craftsman specializing in woodwork and blacksmithing. A revised version of this 440 page book was published in 2009; it was first published in the 1970s.
The book not only provides you a look at how blacksmiths forged items in the 18th Century, but it also explains how to set up your own shop today. A major draw of this book is its illustrations with over 500 included. Some say the writing style is a bit dry.
6. A Blacksmithing Primer: A Course in Basic and Intermediate Blacksmithing by Randy McDaniel
Randy McDaniel began his experience in blacksmithing with an 81-year-old blacksmith in 1972. He later taught basic and advanced workshops for more than twenty years.
This 174-page book includes 400 illustrations; they are line drawings, so be on guard if you want full-color photos. The book also includes a color tempering chart that shows you approximate temperatures based on the color of the metal.
A step-by-step guide to setting up shop, it is not so simple that those more experienced will find it too basic. It also has over twenty projects for you to try.
7. The Home Blacksmith: Tools, Techniques, and 40 Practical Projects for the Blacksmith Hobbyist by Ryan Ridgway
Ryan Ridgway started blacksmithing to make repairs around his farm in Canada. He sold his ironwork online and at local craft fairs to help pay for his veterinary degree. Ridgway studied blacksmithing, later teaching and writing about his craft in various magazines.
This 440-page volume is geared to the blacksmith hobbyist, the craft being quite popular for many amateurs these days. It provides a step-by-step guide on how to build a home shop in a low-cost way. The book also discusses how you can sell the items you make.
This is a well-received volume with many positive ratings. It is a reasonably priced prime resource that answers many of the questions you will have, including the science involved.
8. The Skills of A Blacksmith by Mark Aspery
Mark Aspery is known for his teaching and demonstrating skills of traditional blacksmithing techniques. He has written a three part (one more planned) series of textbooks (each over 300 pages) to educate the budding blacksmith.
The three volumes are entitled Mastering the Fundamentals of Blacksmithing, Mastering the Fundamentals of Leaf-work, and Mastering the Fundamentals of Traditional Joinery. The one problem is you also have to pay textbook prices. So, you might just want to buy the first.
The first book represents 120 hours of student learning in a project-based home workshop environment and has over 1200 photos. So, though pricey, there is a lot to offer.
9. Civil War Blacksmithing: Constructing Cannon Wheels, Traveling Forge, Knives, and Other Projects and Information by David Einhorn
David Einhorn has a specialty in historical and modern metalworking. This makes him especially appropriate for a book with a special focus on a traveling forge, which is a type of mobile blacksmith shop. A basic part of this 188-page book discusses how to create one.
I wanted to include this book in particular because an important part of blacksmithing these days is historical reenactment. This book is an ideal volume for those with an interest in the Civil War, including those who want a real-life, authentic blacksmithing experience there.
The book also has a basic introduction to blacksmithing and knifemaking. But, the target audience is those particularly concerned about Civil War blacksmithing, with a special focus on a traveling forge and cannon wheels. Includes illustrations, photographs, and helpful appendixes.
10. The Blacksmith’s Daughter by Suzanne Adair
Let’s toss in a bit of fiction. Suzanne Adair is well known for her historical fiction, transporting people back to the times of the American Revolution.
Betsy Sheridan, a blacksmith’s daughter, lives in Georgia during the Revolutionary War. Her husband is caught up in spying, apparently for the British. When he disappears, a pregnant Betsy goes looking for him, and becomes caught in a civil war between British and colonists.
This is a fun and exciting tale for fans of historical fiction, well researched with a young heroine you will continue to root for. A nice break from your forging studies!
TEN MORE WORTHWHILE BLACKSMITHING BOOKS
There are many more blacksmithing books out there. Here are ten more you should check out.
11. American Blacksmiths: In Their Own Words by Vince Nakovics
The author co-founded the Artist Blacksmith Group of Tidewater and is a retired Navy Chief Gunner’s Mate. Most of these books are instruction manuals. This book (162 pages) is intended to “glimpse into the lives of those who work with the forge and anvil.” It is a collection of interviews with blacksmiths between 2007 and 2010, providing a fascinating range of insights from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. An excellent collection to your blacksmithing library.
12. The DIY Blacksmithing Book by Terran Marks
Terran Marks, the owner of Brown County Forge, has written multiple books on blacksmithing and metalworking. This book is a short (68 pages) step-by-step guide to establishing yourself as a blacksmith. It includes information on how to build your own forge, walking you through the process of setting up your home blacksmith shop. Some call it a “shopping list” of a book.
13. Forging Made Easy: How To Get Started In Forging, Blacksmithing And Bladesmithing As A Complete Beginner (Including Creative Projects To Get Started) by Dillan Powell
This is a new book (2022) independently published book of average length (219 pages) by someone with expertise in bladesmithing. Bladesmithing is the art of making knives, swords, daggers and other blades using a forge, and other tools. Other than providing the basics of blacksmithing, those particularly interested in bladesmithing should enjoy this book.
14. The Book of Forging: Basic Techniques & Examples by Karl Gissing
The author is a master smith based in Europe. This recently published book is a short (160 pages) book focused on the craft of forging specifically. Subjects such as forging tools and techniques, the chemistry of the forging process, and more are covered. Over 450 photos.
15. Forged a Guide to Becoming a Blacksmith by Liam Hoffman
Liam Hoffman is known by many from his online videos that can be found on YouTube and Instagram. Fans of his videos and others should enjoy this book.
This shortish (162 pages) from a few years ago provides the fundamentals of blacksmithing. His aim is to help guide the reader to become “a successful blacksmith or weekend hobbyist.” It is meant for the beginner and those with intermediate skills.
16. The Everyday Blacksmith: Learn to forge 55 simple projects you’ll use every day, with multiple variations for styles and finishes by Nicholas Wicks
The author has blacksmithing in his blood, his family has been metalworking for five generations, starting with a great-great-grandfather, who worked on the Statue of Liberty. It has a detailed Amazon page spelling out what you can expect, including “accessibility of techniques, the functionality of projects, and diversity of design.” But, the title says it all!
17. Metal: Forming, Forging, and Soldering Techniques by José Antonio Ares
José Antonio Ares holds degrees in fine arts, printmaking, and sculpture. So, it is not surprising that this book is praised for its beautiful illustrations. The book has a special emphasis on metal, including tools, safety equipment, and metalworking methods. 160 pages.
18. The Pattern-Welded Blade: Artistry In Iron by Jim Hrisoulas
Jim Hrisoulas is a master bladesmith specializing in medieval broadswords and daggers and Damascus pattern welding. This 120-page book has a special focus and might be more costly than some others. But, if you are interested in pattern welding, this book is for you. It provides instructions on the process from start to finish, including making complex designs.
19. Blacksmithing for Beginners: An Easy Guide To Getting Started by Will Kalif
This is another very short (53 pages) independently published book, which provides basic instructions, with fifty pictures and illustrations, on how to be a blacksmith. Ideal for beginners, it has received some positive feedback. Author is a blacksmith.
20. The Winter of the World by Michael Scott Rohan (Fiction)
Michael Scott Rohan was a well-known Scottish writer of fantasy and science fiction. His “Winter of the World” series is a six-part fantasy where blacksmiths play a large role. Fans of fantasy and stories of magical lands should enjoy these books.
There are many blacksmithing books out there for all those interested, including the casual fan and hobbyist as well as those who wish to monetize the craft.