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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Back Yard Blacksmith ... really, you can do it!!!

Blacksmithing does take some time to learn, but it is fun, and you can make money at it.  Youtube is a great source for ideas for stuff to make and how to make it.  Here are a couple of videos to get you started.

If you haven't figured it out by now,  I'm not big on looking cool, or having all the "right" tools for a job.  I'm more interested in finding the cheapest way to get started.  That said, here is a list of items that you may need to acquire or make:

1.  Forge -- steel box with a hole for the blower, and another, grated hole, for the air to exhaust through the coal to keep it hot.

2.  Squirrel cage blower or reversible shop vac -- it's good to have a foot switch so it is easy to turn it on and off

3.  Fuel -- Coal, charcoal (optional), wood (optional) -- the later items will give enough heat to bend and shape, but coal lasts longer and gives enough heat for welding.

4.  Workbench -- sturdy wooden table, and bolt down all sorts of heavy pieces of steel to use to shape and form your works of art.

5.  Small and large hammer

6.  2 pair of pliers

7.  poker stick

8. At a scrap yard, you can buy scraps of pipe that have a flange welded to one end.  These are easy to bolt to your table and are great for forming curved shapes.   Use different sized pipes for different curve radii

9.  Anvil -- any thick heavy piece of steel will work.   I used a 1" thick x 12" dia pipeline head cap that I got as scrap.

10. Watering can to reduce coal waste due to unwanted burning.

11.  Bucket of water to quench the steel.

Once you've got a fair sized cache of finished items, you can get a booth at any small town art festival for $25 to $50.  In my experience, items that were priced in the $5 to $10 range sold the best.  It also pays to have a wide variety of products for sale.  I made easier money mixing in some dollar store items with my finished iron works.  I would hang a little (made in china) birdhouse on a $75 iron work.  People would admire the iron, but buy the $5 birdhouse.   That's ok, I was making $4 off each one and didn't have to spend  a day working at it.

More expensive items sell best in a real store ... around Christmas no less.  I sold the candle stand in the above video to a shop owner in a mall.  He paid me for items after they sold in his store.

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