Blacksmith Starter Kit

Blacksmith Starter Kit - Brown County Forge

Looking for a blacksmith starter kit with exactly what you need and nothing you don’t?

You’re in luck!

I talk about the basics of blacksmithing every week in class at Brown County Forge.

We go over skills and techniques, but spend real time talking about essential equipment. That’s what we’ll cover in this post.

The Four Items in the Blacksmith Starter Kit

The equipment you need to get started blacksmithing comes down to 4 items:

  • Forge – How you heat the metal.
  • Anvil – Where you shape the metal.
  • Hammer – What you shape the metal with.
  • Tongs – How you hold the metal.

How Much Should a Kit Cost?

Let’s break down the items in the kit by price.

Forge – $325 (plus shipping)

Blacksmith Starter Kit - Brown County Forge

Your forge will be one of the most expensive pieces to buy.

The forge I recommend is the Knifemaker Economy forge by Majestic Forge.

It costs $325 and ships for around $50 depending on how far you live from Lancaster, Ohio.

Why I like it:

  • Two burners – It gets up to heat quickly.
  • Compact – It doesn’t take up a lot of space.
  • Easy to set up – Takes about 10 minutes right out of the package.
  • Ships fast – I ordered it on a Tuesday and had it 2-3 days later.

Anvil – $280 (plus shipping)

The anvil I use in the shop is a 70 pound NC Tool Company brand anvil.

I own two of them and they’re each responsible for hundreds of projects.

Why I like them:

  • Movable – You can move one of them on your own. No need to call a friend.
  • Inexpensive – At under $300 or $4 per pound, it’s a steal.
  • Durable – Mine have seen heavy use over the years and they keep on truckin’.

Hammer – $28

Your hammer really doesn’t need to cost a whole lot.

Blacksmith's Hammer - Brown County Forge - Terran Marks

If you find a hammer that weighs between 2 and 3 pounds at a flea market or yard sale for a dollar, buy it.

Your main concern is overall weight and then handle length preference.

For my money, and the hammer I use every day, I go with a 2.5-pound Vaughan Cross Peen. (Find here on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MsOuLN)

I could lose all of my other equipment, but if I lost that hammer I’d be very sad.

Tongs – $32

I use Centaur Forge’s 3/8-inch V-Bit Bolt Tongs nearly every day.

They’re good all around tongs useful for flat stock, square bar, and round bar.

Total Cost (before shipping): $660

Where to Buy Each Item

Your forge should be purchased directly from Majestic Forge – majesticforge.com.

Your anvil should be purchased from Centaur Forge to get the best price on shipping – centaurforge.com. Also available on Amazon here.

The hammer can be picked up on Amazon. It might cost slightly less directly from Vaughan – vaughanmfg.com.

Your tongs will come straight from Centaur Forge as well – centaurforge.com.

Want to Learn How to Use It All?

I’d be happy to show you the basics of blacksmithing.

There are two options I currently offer to get you started:

  1. You can schedule a class through the Brown County Forge Classes page and then order all of your equipment separately.
  2. I can take care of all of the equipment ordering for you, deliver your items, help you set up your shop, and provide a tutorial on-site.

For Option 1, classes range from $120 – $220 per person per session. Your total cost would be between $800 – $1000.

This option would involve quite a bit of legwork and running around online.

For Option 2, where I take care of the details for you and hand-deliver the equipment along with personal instruction, the cost will vary:

  • Within 50 miles of Bloomington, Indiana your “Done-For-You” Blacksmith Starter Kit setup and instruction is $1995.
  • If you live 50-100 miles away, I would need to cover an overnight stay, meals, etc. so the cost is $2195.
  • Outside of 100 miles, please contact me at browncountyforge@gmail.com.

Have a Professional Blacksmith Help You Get Started

Blacksmithing is a lot of fun and very rewarding, but the learning curve can be steep.

Having taught over 640 people how to do it since 2016, I’ve figured out how to make the process straightforward and fun.

If you’re ready to combine that experience with getting your blacksmithing equipment hand-delivered, send me an email at browncountyforge@gmail.com.

Cheers!

Terran Marks - The Blacksmith - Brown County Forge

Terran

Metal House Number Review from a California Customer

Metal House Number Review California - Brown County Forge

A Recent Metal House Number Review

When I hear back from customers with their feedback, like the metal house number review below, it means a lot.

I really enjoy designing metalwork for customers and making sure they get exactly what they need.

To give you some background, this house number plate was ordered through the Brown County Forge Etsy shop by a gentleman from Northern California (Sacramento area).

From the beginning we had good communication. I was able to correct a situation that could have been challenging for him.

The number plaques I offer are made out of 1/8-inch thick stainless steel. This helps them hold up against all weather conditions.

They won’t rust or corrode whether they’re near saltwater or in the desert.

The situation we ran into was related to mounting holes:

  • I prefer to leave the house number plates without holes to have a smooth finish, but I’m happy to drill out mounting holes.
  • He was looking for a plate with mounting holes.

Here’s the Review:

Metal House Numbers Review California - Brown County Forge

“We had been looking for metal house numbers for a bit. Brown County Forge’s stainless steel sign was perfect for us. I erred in not asking for the pre-drilled holes in the corners (make sure you specify if you want that). Terran (the owner) could not have been cooler about speedy communication, receiving the item back, drilling the holes for me and sending it back at no extra charge. Overall, I could not be happier with the purchase.”

What Happened

I had already shipped the number plate and sent him a note with mounting instructions.

After reading instructions that didn’t include screws or mounting holes, he contacted me to clarify things.

I then realized the miscommunication and offered two options:

  1. I laid out how he could drill the holes himself.
  2. He could send the house number plate back to me as soon as he got it, I would drill it out, and send it back at no additional delivery charge (I refunded his return shipping).

Ideally, these situations wouldn’t happen, but it’s all part of doing business.

You won’t always get it exactly right on the first try.

I’m grateful that the California gentleman was gracious and allowed me to create the perfect number plaque for him.

Decorative Brass Wall Hooks for California

Decorative Brass Wall Hooks - Brown County Forge 2

One of the orders this week was for a set of decorative brass wall hooks for a customer in California.

Most of the time I work in steel to make coat hooks and oar hooks, so taking a break with brass is a lot of fun.

The processes for working with each type of metal are very similar:

  • Softening sharp corners and edges.
  • Making decorative hook ends.
  • Bending the belly of the hook to a set size.

There’s one exception to working with brass vs. steel, though.

Steel you work hot to make it soft enough to bend.

Brass you work cold because it is already very flexible.

How Big Are the Decorative Brass Wall Hooks?

Each decorative brass wall hook is 3-1/2 inches tall, 1/2-inch wide, with a 1/2-inch wide hook bend.

They’re fairly small and make good hooks for hanging handbags, keys, and small items.

They come with matching brass screws so they’re ready mount right out of the package.

What sort of finish do the decorative brass hooks have?

Decorative Brass Wall Hooks - Brown County Forge

I give each hook a hammered finish using the back of a small, 8-ounce ball peen hammer.

I also soften the edges of the hook with the ball peen.

Each hook ends up being slightly unique, but they make a nice, bright matching set.

What Kind of Care Do The Hooks Need?

Like most brass hardware and fixtures, you may need to polish them from time to time.

Brass will tarnish if left alone and not used.

Your best way to combat that tarnishing is to hang your things on them and to use them.

The light friction and rubbing that happens when you do that will help keep them shiny and bright.

If you find you need to polish them, here are the steps to use:

  1. Unscrew them from the wall.
  2. Lightly rub them with a brass polish like Brasso or similar natural polish.
  3. Wipe clean to reveal the renewed bright finish.
  4. Remount them on the wall!

More Information On Our Brass Hooks

You can read more about the brass hooks I make in the Brown County Forge Etsy shop here:

browncountyforge.etsy.com

You’ll find all the brass hooks under the Shop Section “Brass.”

Have questions about other hooks?

Feel free to send me an email:

browncountyforge@gmail.com

How to Hang Oars on a Wall

how to hang oars on a wall

How to Hang Oars On a Wall in 4 Steps

After hammering out hundreds of pairs of boat oar hooks, I have some tips and tricks for how to hang oars on a wall.

My name is Terran Marks and I’m the blacksmith at Brown County Forge. If you have an oar to hang, here’s how I would do it.

Step 1: Measure Your Oars to Find Your Hook Width

Oar Circumference - Brown County Forge
Measuring Circumference

Not all boat paddles are the same size so you’ll need hooks that will fit your particular oar.

The easiest way to measure your oars is to measure across the oar for a diameter measurement.

Using a ruler or tape measure, rest your measuring device on top of the oar.

Where the edges of the oar handle hit is your rough diameter.

That’s the measurement we’ll use to make the hook.

The most accurate way to measure your oars is to wrap a string one time around the oar handle to find the circumference.

Then, with a little math we can find the diameter and then the hook width.

Step 2: Research Hooks Online to Find Some that Will Fit

How to Hang Oars on a Wall - Brown County Forge 5

Now that you’re armed with your measurements, you can venture into the world of hooks and hangers online.

I’m consistently amazed at the variety of ways people have come up with to keep things off the ground.

Make sure they come with screws and that they’re the correct size and length.

You don’t want to have to run around to five hardware stores trying to find the right fasteners.

I’ve been custom making oar hooks one at a time for a few years now (All Screws Included).

All mounting hardware is included and they ship directly to your door.

See Brown County Forge’s Oar Hooks

Step 3: Your Hooks Have Arrived. Now Let’s Hang Them!

Oar Hooks - Brown County Forge

For the most secure mount, you will want to screw your hooks into studs.

Depending on the construction of your home, your wall studs will be either 16 inches on-center or 20 inches on-center. That just means that every 16 inches (or 20), you will hit the center of a wooden stud.

Using a stud finder is a safe bet to be sure you’re mounting into solid wood.

That last thing you want is to mount your hooks in plain drywall and risk your heavy oar coming crashing down.

I recommend drilling pilot holes first to make it easier to place your screws when it’s time.

Before you drill ANY holes, make sure your two hole heights from the floor match! Unless you want your oar to tilt, it’s best to use a tape measure to measure from the floor up to your desired oar mount height.

Mark lightly with a pencil. Then drill your pilot holes.

Step 4: Slide that Beautiful Oar Into Your Hooks

Brass Oar Hooks - Brown County Forge

And that’s how to hang oars on a wall in 4 simple steps!

Now you can enjoy your securely mounted oars for years to come.

Maybe your oar is from your college days of rowing crew.

Maybe it’s an antique store find.

Or maybe it’s an authentic gondola oar from Venice to remind you of your honeymoon!

No matter the size, weight, or length, there’s a custom pair of oar hooks waiting to be made for you.

Brown County Forge’s Oar Hooks

Throughout this post, you’ve seen examples of the oar hooks I make. From the bright brass just above to the standard blacksmith steel at the very top, each pair can be custom-fitted to any size oar.

Our most popular are the steel ones coated in beeswax. They come in 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3 inches, and larger if you need it.

Most oars will fit in 2.5 inches and below.

All steel sizes up to 3 inches are $49 per pair with free shipping in the U.S.

If you’re more interested in brass, they are $32 per pair.

The material is thinner, but plenty strong and they really add a nice accent to your home.

I’m Happy to Answer Any Questions

I’m always happy to answer questions about hardware and hooks.

Please email me directly at:

browncountyforge@gmail.com

Modern Metal House Numbers in Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel Modern Metal House Numbers 2 - Brown County Forge

Modern Metal House Numbers

About a year ago, I started experimenting with offering standalone house numbers and house number plates.

Through some trial and error, I found a layout that I liked.

The photo above is of a 4.5 inch tall by 11 inch long house number plate that can be used for apartment numbers in a complex or for your home’s curb appeal.

Cut from Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel Modern Metal House Numbers - Brown County Forge

To resist moisture and stand up to all weather, the number plates are cut from stainless steel sheets.

Each number plate is 1/8-inch thick so they stay lightweight making them easy to secure when it’s time to mount.

How to Mount

While the plates can be drilled out with mounting holes, I usually recommend leaving them clean and using a construction adhesive.

Gorilla Glue is extremely durable and can bind to metal, wood, brick, and vinyl.

Mounting the house numbers this way also saves you from drilling holes into your siding.

Here’s how to mount the plate:

  1. Wet the mounting surface (your siding).
  2. Apply Gorilla Glue to the back of the plate.
  3. Press the plate firmly against the moist siding.
  4. Secure with painters tape so it doesn’t slide down the wall while it cures.*

*Minimum curing time is 2 hours. Full curing is achieved after 24 hours.

Stainless Steel Address Plate - Brown County Forge

Where to Buy Modern Metal House Numbers

I sell custom plates in Brown County Forge’s Amazon Shop.

I’m also taking custom orders and bulk orders if you work for a construction company specializing in housing developments and apartment complexes.

I can be reached at browncountyforge@gmail.com with any questions you might have.

Turnaround time is fairly quick on large and small orders. Typically 1-2 weeks.

Stainless Steel Address Plate 3 - Brown County Forge