How to Become a Blacksmith

How to Become a Blacksmith - Brown County Forge

Have you ever wondered about how to become a blacksmith?

In this post, we’ll talk about what it was like “back then” and compare it to what it’s like now.

How to Become a Blacksmith “Back Then”

If we were living 150 years ago, you could become a blacksmith’s apprentice before turning 10 years-old.

The blacksmith would likely be just down the street in your small town so you would know him or your parents would.

Your job as an apprentice would involve these daily tasks:

  • Keeping the shop organized and clean.
  • Starting the forge fire and operating the bellows.
  • Fetching water.
  • Shoveling coal.
  • Learning the trade through simple, repetitive projects like making nails.

Your decision to become a blacksmith wouldn’t necessarily have been yours to make and you wouldn’t necessarily love it.

But you would be in it for the long haul as most trades relied on the apprenticeship to journeyman to master path.

How to Become a Blacksmith Now

The process for becoming a blacksmith is quite a bit different in the 21st Century.

The demand for blacksmiths is drastically lower due to our advancements in machine technology.

What was once made by a blacksmith can more quickly and more precisely be made by a machine.

The one exception: Shoeing horses still requires a human blacksmith. There are no robot farriers. For this reason, becoming a farrier is one of your best bets for a steady income as a blacksmith.

Farrier Work

To become a farrier or horseshoer, it’s recommended that you do formal training.

There are multiple farrier schools across the country that specialize in getting people up to speed with horseshoeing.

Here’s a good resource for Farrier Schools:

U.S. Farrier Schools

Let’s look at one school to get an idea of time commitment and cost.

The Arkansas Horseshoeing School offers:

  • 8-Week Course: $6,900
  • 12-Week Course: $7,900
  • 16-Week Course: $8,900
  • 24-Week Course: $15,900

Comparing costs for a college degree from the University of Arkansas, you’re looking at $35,280 (in-state) $92,672 (out of state).

The benefits of going to horseshoeing school are spending a lot less money and walking away with the training you need to start earning money after a few weeks versus a few years.

Maybe you’re not interested in doing farrier work, though.

If you’re looking at traditional blacksmithing, knife making, etc. we’ll talk about those next.

Traditional Blacksmith Work

Becoming a successful, professional blacksmith in the traditional sense is much harder than farrier work.

Since these skills aren’t in demand, you need to spend a lot of time networking, marketing, and finding a specialty within blacksmithing to focus on.

To get a broad base of blacksmithing skills, there are classes and blacksmith schools in almost every U.S. state.

The Blacksmith School Map is a good resource for finding what classes are available near you.

Personal Story:

I learned how to forge at a school in western North Carolina called The John C. Campbell Folk School.

I was fortunate to be accepted into one of their 9-week Work/Study programs that allowed me to:

  • Enroll in three weeks of blacksmithing classes at no charge.
  • Live on their campus for free.

In exchange, I worked with other work/study students to keep the grounds and garden in good shape and welcome regular students each week.

My only expenses while I was there involved class materials costs. Thankfully, steel is relatively cheap and they have a large scrap bin that can be used for experimenting.

I was taught by extremely talented professional blacksmiths in each of my three classes and came away with a great foundation to get started on my own.

How to Become a Blacksmith in 3 Steps

  1. Find a school or classes near you that teach the skills you want to learn.
  2. If you can’t afford the tuition, they often offer financial assistance.
  3. Absorb as much information as you can while you’re there. Ask questions. Most blacksmiths are happy to share their knowledge.

After taking the time to learn from people with experience, you’ll be in a better position to get started.

At that point, you might begin your research into where to buy forges, anvils, hammers, and tongs.

If you’re already there, you might find these articles helpful:

Where to Buy Anvils

Where to Buy Forges

Buying Hammers

I’m Here to Help!

If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email.

browncountyforge@gmail.com

How Much Do Blacksmith Classes Cost?

How Much Do Blacksmith Classes Cost - Brown County Forge - Terran Marks the Blacksmith

Ready to dive into blacksmithing, but aren’t sure about how much blacksmith classes cost?

If you’re searching the Internet for classes near you, you might have a hard time finding class pricing.

Since Brown County Forge is in Indiana, I’ll use Indiana class offerings as the example.

Four Options for Blacksmith Classes in Indiana

There are four main options for blacksmith classes in Indiana, each with a different pricing structure and availability:

  • Conner Prairie
  • Indianapolis Arts Center
  • Indiana Blacksmithing Association
  • Brown County Forge

Conner Prairie offers a few single-day blacksmithing classes per year that last from 9 AM – 5 PM for $225-$235.

The Indianapolis Arts Center offers 8-week classes during the summer for $389 per person. Each class session is 3 hours long in the evening from 6:30 – 9:30 PM.

The Indiana Blacksmithing Association (IBA) is a not for profit organization started in 1981 “with the purposes of gathering and disseminating information about blacksmithing, exposing the public to blacksmithing, and encouraging the training of blacksmiths.”

The IBA holds meet-ups once a month at different locations around the state. During these meet-ups there will be a live demonstration and opportunities to swing hammers at no charge. Membership is $35 per year paid in June.

There are 14 IBA satellite groups around the state of Indiana.

Brown County Forge offers classes every weekend that range in price from $120 for a 3-hour Beginners Class to $220 for a 4-hour Railroad Spike Knife Making Class.

Because I focus solely on blacksmithing classes and there’s no coordination of locations, supplies, and demonstrators, I can offer classes this often.

The benefit to you is that you have the opportunity each week to learn more about blacksmithing. Even if a given weekend’s classes are full, you can always request an evening appointment.

The Price Range By the Numbers

  • Conner Prairie – $235/person for 8 hour day a few times per year
  • Indianapolis Arts Center – $389 over 8 weeks for 3 hours per session. A few offerings per year.
  • Indiana Blacksmithing Association – $35 for annual membership. Meet-ups once a month near you with 14 groups around the state.
  • Brown County Forge – $120-$220 for 3-4 hours every weekend and by appointment.

Why Does a Blacksmith Class Cost More Than $100

I can only speak from my personal experience running a business, but I would imagine that the following holds true for other organizations.

The price of a class includes these factors:

  • Materials – From the steel we hammer to the fuel we use to the consumables like wire brushes and grinding belts. Everything has a cost.
  • Overhead – I rent my shop space from a larger business to be able to host classes.
  • Liability Insurance – In order to keep everyone safe and covered, I carry $1,000,000 in liability insurance.
  • Expertise – There is value in learning from people who have extensively studied their field and put it into practice.

Here to Help!

I hope this post helps answer some questions about blacksmith class pricing. If you have other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me:

browncountyforge@gmail.com