How I Got Into Blacksmithing & Why I Still Love It

I have a friend who I’ve known since high school. We always end up doing the same hobbies because he gets into something, introduces it to me, and away we go. During Covid that friend took a beginner blacksmiths course. He wanted to show me what he learned so he had me and another friend over. We spent probably 4 hours making some extremely ugly hooks.

In fact, here’s those lovely hooks I made.

the first hooks I forged

At the time I was pretty proud of myself. I took a bar of steel and made something with it. I knew at the time these weren’t masterpieces but it didn’t matter. I made something!

I went over to my friend’s place a few more times to learn and then took a bit of a break. My wife and I bought a new house so my time was spent packing, moving, unpacking…you know how it goes.

New House, New Life

Shortly after our move my friend asked if he could bring his blacksmithing stuff over. See, we bought a house with 4 acres in the middle of the country and he lives in the city. Blacksmithing is a bit noisy. He figured he’d bring his stuff over and we could work here. So that’s what we did.

Our new house has a wood stove and the previous owner didn’t leave a fire poker. I thought why not make a fire poker? I quickly forged out a fire poker that was ultimately too short and too flimsy. I tried again, got the length I needed, and used thicker metal. The fire poker worked perfectly.

This was the tipping point for me. Prior I was blacksmithing with my friend as a shared hobby. We’d hang out for the day, catch up on whatever was going on, and hit some hot metal. The bug had not taken root yet.

Once I forged that fully functional fire poker I was all in. I realized that there was an infinite amount of things I could forge that would be practical and useful in everyday life.

I must have forged 5-6 more fire pokers after that. I was practicing, learning, and slowly getting better. Countless hooks were made, bottle openers – all the usual beginner blacksmithing projects. I kept making things we needed for the house and that kept fueling my desire to learn and get better.

I had found my calling.

my barn
Under the overhangs of this barn is where I do my blacksmithing.

A few months later I took a beginner blacksmithing class with that same friend. It was a 4 day ass-kicking. I got burns, blisters, and my hands were sore but I loved it.

That class added yet more fuel to my desire to blacksmith.

On that note, I have a great article on why you should take a blacksmithing class that’s worth a read.

So that’s how I got into blacksmithing and a bit about my drive to keep learning.

Why I Love Blacksmithing

As a kid I drew a lot. I drew my own comics. I had my own super heroes I created and had my mom photocopied those comics at her job so I could hand them out.

In high school I took 2 years of construction vocational and was a carpenter for a few years after. I loved (and still do) making things by hand. Woodworking was my first introduction to making things by hand. It was accessible for me because my dad already had tools for it.

I went from construction into programming. Interesting jump I know, but we got our first computer when I was 12. For the younger folks reading this, barely anyone had a home computer back then because they were extremely expensive. There was also no internet.

So from a young age I was always interested in computers. When construction/carpentry didn’t pan out the way I thought it would I got into programming. It’s the job I do full time to this day.

It’s different, but programming is still creating something from nothing. I take a blank document, write code, and suddenly I have something functional and useful.

I also spent 16 years painting miniatures for various tabletop wargames I played. It’s something I got pretty good at but we bought a house and I started a blacksmithing business which has left me no free time for gaming.

Here’s the last thing I painted before I got on the path to blacksmithing.

All this leads to blacksmithing and with that context I feel it makes a lot of sense in what interests me about it. Forging something from steel is both artistic and primal. I’m building something functional and using the logical side of my brain while also using the artistic side for the aesthetics of what I’m creating. It merges the two things I’ve always done in my life, creating things by hand and art, into one singular trade.

I also find it calming to be in the center of all that chaos. I’m heating metal up to 2,000°F and beating it with a hammer on another huge piece of steel (anvil). I’m shaping and forming that steel in a small window of maybe 10 seconds. My undivided attention is required for those 10 seconds. I have to do what I need to in a short window and it’s physically demanding.

That’s the other thing – the attention required. Unlike some other hobbies or crafts I can’t take my eye off what I’m doing. It’s extremely dangerous work and there can be no distractions. There’s other crafts where it just becomes muscle memory and you can watch TV while you’re doing it. Blacksmithing is far from that and I enjoy that needed focus.

Hand-forged Quality

As I mentioned above, it’s those practical everyday items that are my passion. I know being a bladesmith and forging various knives, swords, axes, etc. is the cool thing to be doing. However, for me it holds little to no interest.

Learning to forge a sword would be fun, don’t get me wrong, but these things are of limited use. Even something as simple as a coat hook – how useful is that? You’ll use it every day.

I sell my work. I have my online store here and I also vendor in person at various events. There’s a huge amount of joy I get in creating these practical items that people can buy at a reasonable price.

So few people are aware that blacksmithing is still practiced, much less the quality of the work produced from this ancient art. The fact I can show them the quality of something hand-forged and have them appreciate its value is an amazing feeling.

Me at Watkins Blacksmith shop
Me at Watkins Blacksmith shop in Casco where I volunteer doing demonstrations.

Many people are gladly willing to pay more for something hand-forged because they know it’s going to outlast them. Not only are these hand-forged items more visually appealing than the mass-produced trash you buy at a big box store that’s made in China but the cost value is simple superior. Spend $5 for a hook at Home Depot that’s prone to snap on you or buy mine for a little more and have something that will last forever.

I get to put hand-forged goods into the hands of people who appreciate the work and there’s an enjoyment there that’s hard to fully express.

I also have an article on hand-forged quality as well.


At the end of the day my enjoyment of blacksmithing comes from being able to do something that’s physically demanding and rewarding. I create pieces that will stand the test of time and I get to sell those items to other people who enjoy them just as much as I do.

There really is no other craft that’s quite like blacksmithing.

If you’re curious about how to get started blacksmithing then I’ve covered that topic.

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