This is the revised 2023 edition of A Blacksmithing Primer by Master Blacksmith Randy McDaniel. Corrected and slightly updated, this edition is now a hardcover with lay-flat binding which ensures that the pages stay open effortlessly while you immerse yourself in your blacksmithing projects.With its 174 pages and over 400 drawings, this book is an enduring and indispensable asset for blacksmiths of all skill levels.
A Blacksmithing Primer starts out with a complete overview of the tools necessary to begin blacksmithing and also explains how to set up the perfect blacksmith shop. The first section covers: hammers, anvils, coal and gas forges, hardies, fullers, swages and more.
The second part of the book teaches you many basic and intermediate techniques and skills necessary to practice blacksmithing in a safe and effective way. In this section you will learn how to correctly hammer metal, the various types of hammer blows, how to prepare your first fire, and how to heat metal.
The third section of A Blacksmithing Primer is where the fun begins. Packed with dozens of projects and lessons, Randy teaches you using a clear and simple step-by-step approach how to forge many different tools and objects that will keep you busy in the forge learning the skills you will need to advance to higher levels of smithing.
Projects include making both practical objects such as blacksmith tongs, nails, wall hooks, flesh forks, chisels, chain, various types of scrolls, links and also more creative and artistic projects such as two versions of a dragon head, human and wizard heads. While forging your way through the projects, Randy also teaches you many interesting and essential forging techniques like heat treating, twisting, and forge welding that will serve you for years to come.
The final pages of the book provide the reader with useful information and resources such as a list of recommended blacksmithing schools, organizations and websites that can prove to be valuable aids to both aspiring and seasoned smiths.
Randy also provides you with three very useful set of plans that will guide you in constructing a forge table, a firebox and a fabricated anvil.
Whether you are a complete novice that has never had any blacksmithing experience or a seasoned smith looking to expand your skills, A Blacksmithing Primer will prove to be an indispensable and reliable resource for you.
READER REVIEWS OF A BLACKSMITHING PRIMER, 2023 EDITION
“Seeing as I’m the definition of a beginner smith and found ‘A Blacksmithing Primer’ to be incredibly helpful, I’m giving this five stars. Randy McDaniel does an excellent job of covering a ton of standard situations, tools, and techniques in a very approachable manner. I have a few other books on smithing that require a pretty solid grasp of the craft to really understand. McDaniel helps guide you into and through these subjects. The writing style is akin to having someone stand there and explain the subject to you instead of reading an owner’s manual to a forge. The diagrams are simple and straightforward and mostly helpful. A few were almost over simplified, but not unhelpful. It’s a testament to the book that I found them unnecessary considering how well it was explained in text. The inclusion of simple plans in the back is great. Even if the reader doesn’t try and make the items, it’s a nice way to see how plans should look in case they get some in the future. It’s just one more educational, but also useful, portion to the book.
A few of my friends that are intermediate level said the book was geared more toward the basic side of the trade, but even they found it a great resource and want to try some of the plans in the back. If you or anyone you know has an interest in starting or improving smithing, this is a great book to grab”. – Derek Stuhan | Nov 12, 2023 |
“I got A Blacksmithing Primer mainly because I’d like to try blacksmithing, but it’s not something I’ve ever done. However, I feel like after flipping through this book, I’d be pretty well prepared to give it a try and be relatively successful. The table of contents of the book is laid out clearly and thoroughly. Topics start with tool descriptions, safety, techniques, different types of material, tips about the fire itself, and how to set up a shop. From there A Blacksmithing Primer moves into numerous projects, from very basic to intermediate projects. The author states that order of the project is such that the initial projects involve basic skills that you need to master before moving on to later projects, so even though a project seems simple, perfecting it will help when moving on to later projects. The text of the book seems clearly written and fairly large-type, which makes reading easy. There’s also numerous line drawings to illustrate the projects, material position, and how to strike the material, that are very clear. Overall, these seems like a good guide for beginners, and a handy set of instructions for anyone looking for a variety of projects”. – herzogbr | Nov 3, 2023 |
“I was impressed by how thorough and accessible this book was. It was also very popular with my friends that homeschool. I am really pleased to have this, it is definitely meant to be used and the care and attention to detail for the complete novice (aka-me) was wonderful”. – FamiliesUnitedLL | Nov 27, 2023 |
“This book tells the reader how to set up a blacksmithing shop, tells about forging and heat treating tools, forge welding, forging scrolls, leaves, head and more, and plans to fabricate your own coal forge and anvil. There are a lot of line drawings and helpful descriptive information through the whole book. There is information on the whole process of blacksmithing from what type of flooring works the best to information on tools and then forging the hot metal. This book is from the Artisan Ideas collection and is a great reference book for not only beginner blacksmiths but for those who have been in the business a while”. – TeaandBooksToo | Nov 13, 2023 |
“My husband is a beginning blacksmith, so we reviewed this book together. It starts with the very basics, and the explanations include the whys as well as the what and hows, which is one of the hallmarks of a great instructional book. With any new endeavor, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by the variety of tools and equipment available, but we appreciated the clarity on what was essential for getting started, and what can wait. The author explains the more obscure tools, what they are good for, and why you may or may not want them. The project walk-throughs also include instructions on how to make tools for future use. The graphics are very helpful, with enough detail to show what is needed, but not so much to distract. The back cover even includes a color chart showing tempering and forging colors. The text was clear and conversational. Overall, the book seems to be a comprehensive collection of the sort of gems that would drop out of the mouth of an expert craftsman while you were watching them work. We were very glad to add this one to our library and highly recommend it”! – buddingnaturalist | Nov 24, 2023 |
“Great book to have on your home skills library shelf.. Lots of valuable information for reference before starting a project”. – debrarbell | Nov 15, 2023 |
“First a confession, I don’t know anything about blacksmithing, and as I live in a tiny apartment without a garage or even a proper yard, it’s unlikely I’m going to be taking it up. When I think of a blacksmith I think of frontier towns in the old West, or even Medieval villages–I didn’t realize people still did this kind of thing. It is, according to the author, an art that was dying out before it was revived.
So, I am totally unfamiliar with the subject matter, and acquired A Blacksmithing Primer out of curiosity. I don’t know the subject, but I do know good instructional writing when I see it, and it is the hallmark of this book. The first part of the book is an introduction, in clear, simple steps, of the basic tools and techniques, including how to build a forge, aquire and make forging tools, create a work area, and get started. Safety is strongly emphasized throughout. The book is illustrated with simple line drawings, and I had some trouble imagining what the things actually looked like–the author makes it clear that the book is not a replacement for hands on instruction from an actual blacksmith, but an information foundation for doing so.
Once the author has covered the basics, the rest of A Blacksmithing Primer is a series of projects of increasing complexity that the reader can try at their own pace. The front inside cover features a sample layout for a work area, and the back inside cover has a color key for tempering and forging. I think this would be a superb text book for a beginning student of the craft, and also a book that someone with some experience might consult in their daily work. It’s also a lot of fun to just sit and read, and peppered throughout with good natured humor”. – uncle bob53703 | Nov 2, 2023 |
“I was so excited to receive a copy of Randy McDaniel’s revised book, A Blacksmithing Primer. It arrived today and I read it cover to cover.
I’ve always been fascinated by metal work of all kinds and how we used to do things before factories and machines took over. I once was at an Amish farm display in Lancaster County and there was a blacksmith there. I honestly don’t know what else was there because I stayed there watching him work until it was time to go home. He was doing horseshoes of course, some nails and a few other small projects but it was like magic to me.
Like glass blowing, blacksmithing is art and science and sweat. There is chemistry embedded in the process and the artisan knows far more than it appears. It isn’t just all swinging a hammer.
Randy’s book starts at the beginning with the necessary safety warnings and then moves on to the basic including how to set up a shop. I was fascinated to read the section on flooring choices. I never thought much about that before, but remembered most floors I’ve seen were either earth or wood. I always wondered about the safety of wood ones, but as he mentions they must be fairly safe since so many shops lasted for a very long time with wood floors.
On he goes to the tools and materials, the proper striking technique and he begins with simple projects. It moves very fast in this section and I definitely think you need to find a mentor or at least some video to help you through. His explanations are clear enough, it’s just the kind of thing that is better seen and copied with help.
One thing he included that I loved was how to make chain. Yeah it seems simple enough, but it is a process that has to be done correctly. When I worked at a Renaissance Faire I watched a Smith make a length of chain. He worked on it all weekend and then sold it for a rather large sum. It was fun to pass by his forge every couple of hours and see how far he had come with it.
Don’t miss the joke of the blacksmith and the school teacher at the end. It’s a classic!
This is a great, well written, well explained book for anyone interested in blacksmithing. Thank you so much Randy McDaniel”! – ShawnMarie | Oct 30, 2023 |
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(**If you live in the US you can order this book from your nearest bookstore so you won’t have any postage cost. Doing this you will save several dollars AND you will also be helping a local business. They’ll appreciate it. And if you want to save even more money, ask your local public library to order this book. This will benefit both you and others in your community who are interested in blacksmithing.**)