Taking a Blacksmithing Class Is an Invaluable Investment

At this time of writing this I have been blacksmithing for 3 years. Of that only the past year has been serious. By that I mean I’ve been trying to turn blacksmithing into a business where prior to that it was a hobby I did for a few hours every few months. While I can claim 3 years of experience, it’s really only been 1 year in my mind because that’s when I really dug in.

I’m just setting the stage a bit here. I don’t have 30 years experience. I haven’t done an apprenticeship or any sort of formal training. I am, like most anyone reading this, someone who found an interest in blacksmithing and pursued it through reading, videos, and a lot of trial and error.

Also, at the time of writing this I have taken 2 classes for blacksmithing and that’s what we’re chatting about today.

Why Take a Blacksmithing Class?

Simple question – why take a blacksmithing class? You can find countless videos on YouTube, find various blacksmithing forums, and read books so why spend the time and money on a class?

While all those mediums will give you information and help you out they will not instruct you. I’ve watched hundreds of hours of videos, read quite a few books, and been through forums for tips and tricks, but they are all one-dimensional. I’m watching or reading the information with no feedback. Nobody is watching over my shoulder to see the mistakes I make and offer suggestions.

While those other forms of education are wonderful they are no substitute for a class. I absolutely recommend watching videos and reading but above all I recommend taking a class.

It’s an Investment in Your Future

It’s not easy to find the time to take a blacksmithing class, especially if you’re looking at a 4-5 day one. They are also rather expensive and it can be hard to come up with the money. However, a class is an investment in your future as a blacksmith. Whether you’re a hobbyist who is looking for guidance or a professional seeking to improve your skills, a class is an invaluable investment.

The time you spend in a blacksmithing class is time you save down the road. Taking 5 days off to take a class may seem like time away from your forge but what you are gaining are skills and experience that’s going to better help you maximize that time forging. You’re not losing time but improving the time spent.

Likewise with the money you spend to take the class. The skills you gain in taking that class will repay you a hundred-fold on the items you find yourself now able to forge. You will be able to expand your knowledge and skills which translates into new products you can sell or improving things you’ve already done.

You’re investing in yourself and your craft and that’s something many of us forget to do.

What You Learn May Not Be What You Think

As I prefaced, I’ve only taken two blacksmithing classes. One was at New England School of Metalwork in Auburn, Maine. The other was with Mark Aspery at The Ball and Chain Forge in Portland, Maine. Both times I’ve taken classes I walked away with so much more than I thought I would.

For me the big takeaway with the classes wasn’t what I learned to make. That’s not why I took them. I took those classes to learn under exceptionally skilled blacksmiths. In taking these classes it’s about all those little things you learn like hammer control, different or better techniques to achieve a result, order of operations when forging something complicated, etc.

When you take a class you are learning from the instructor’s experience. Having a smith with 30+ years of experience show you how to do something means you are gaining insights into a process they have spent decades honing. That expertise has shown me better and easier ways to do things I’ve done before. It’s helped me correct common mistakes and to correct them the right way. It has shown me how to be more deliberate with my hammer blows. The list is endless.

My point is while you may take a class based on the subject matter, also take that class because of who is teaching it. When the class is over and it’s a few years later you may not remember exactly how to make that gate latch or fire poker but you will remember all those little lessons from your teacher that helped you become a better blacksmith.

Tony (Thor) with Mark Aspery

In Closing

If you’ve been on the fence about taking a blacksmith class, then I strongly urge you to do so. Set aside a few bucks here and there to save for it. Look as far ahead as you can at a class list and put in for some time off if you need to. Whatever you have to do in order to take a class is worth it.

Invest in yourself, invest in your craft, and you’ll never regret it.

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