Blacksmithing – How to Videos

Fundamental skills – the Old School – technical perfection first

The old School

In my view,  blacksmithing is about hammering. At first this means hand hammering alone or as a striker with sledge hammers. After you become very good you can use a striker effectively – not before. Finally you move to the power hammer. The old school was regimented and hard. Blacksmiths from it were technically impeccable. Perhaps Mark Aspery is the best example of this today- professionally trained in Great Briton.

The loose grip hammer style

Every time a young blacksmith comes to my shop to visit or purchase an anvil I show them how I swing a hammer with almost no effort, and without hurting myself.
With this style I have produced mountains of work for 43 years with no injuries. If you look closely at what I am doing you may see a lot going on that I don’t explain. That’s because we’re focusing here on just the swing. In this video I use a light hammer with a very long handle. However the technique works just a well with a 3 or 4 pound hammer. In a pinch I will swing a sledge hammer with one hand – same technique!  Perhaps I’ll have to demonstrate this in a video. In my shop we have and use 7 power hammers for fast and heavy forging. Sometimes 3 hammers are running at once. When you are very good with the power hammer, you just hand hammer the finishing touches. 

Tight grip and rocking torsos

There are traditional hand hammering styles popular today that differ greatly from what I advocate. For example super heavy hammers, tightly gripped with rocking torsos. There are even some very old videos of blacksmiths working this way.  However standing straight and whipping a loosely gripped smaller hammer at high velocity accomplishes the same results. Often I start the day with a small hammer, then switch to a slower heavy hammer. Later I sometimes switch back.

Listen to your body

If hammering wears you out, or something hurts, please consider that there might be a better way. Years ago,I remember going to my shop half exhausted one morning. Then I got into flow, and prepared and forged 90 welds. 12 hours later I went home relaxed and refreshed.

As I see it nothing is more important than swinging a hammer effectively with out hurting yourself. As you watch this video witness the intensity of Carter’s effort. Then listen carefully to what he says.