A professional blacksmith is someone who owns a forge, anvil and steel; and is able to make nice enough things that people want to buy. It sounds simple and basic, but getting to that point of being able to make sellable things is a bit of a process. It might take you a year or two to get to this point. Becoming a professional at anything is never reached by sudden flight. A lot of hard work, patience and determination often goes into the preparation. If you think you are physically and mentally ready to undergo the process it will take you to become a professional blacksmith, then read this 10 step guide.
1. Read books and online resources: Before you light up that forge and grab that hammer, open a book. Becoming a professional, requires acquiring ample knowledge of the trade. Read books about blacksmithing, read articles and watch videos.
2. Take classes: Attend a vocational school in your community. It might be cheaper and easier to take an online course; but physical classes will provide you hands on information and practice that you will not be able to get online. In these classes, you will also learn safety measures, blacksmithing tools, drawing, brazing, cutting, etc.
3. Take more advanced metal-work classes: Classes like these will set you apart from regular blacksmiths. You will learn metalworking skills that will enable you become a well rounded blacksmith. These classes will teach you both traditional and contemporary blacksmithing practices
4. Start your own tool collection: During and after taking these classes, you will need your own tools. At this point, you just need the minimum equipment: a forge, tongs, clamps, hammers, safety equipment and gear and an anvil.
5. Become an apprentice: After you have attended these classes, the next best thing is to become an apprentice. Look for apprenticeships or internships near you. This will help you learn from actual blacksmiths who are ‘out on the field’.
6. Start your own blacksmith shop: After you have apprenticed for at least a year, you may consider starting your own shop. It will be better to start small, and then build it up from there. You have the tools, and you have the skills. Now, all you have to do is market your business and your work. The key to making this business successful is to build a base of happy and satisfied customers (who will definitely recommend you to their friends) and make a good name for yourself.
7. Create a specialty for yourself: Determine what you are best at, and focus on harnessing that skill. Focus on making more of those products, and make them well. Choose a specialty that is not already common in your community, so you do not have to worry about too much competition.
8. Start taking interns and apprentices: Give room for aspiring blacksmiths to intern at your shop. This will make more people see you as a professional, and also help boost your own confidence. Other than that, teaching helps you aspire to get better; so, you can be sure that while you are teaching a young apprentice, you will also be learning.
9. Practice: Never stop practicing. With blacksmithing, there are no limits. You can only get better and better.
10. Make money: Have you started making any money yet? Yes? Congratulations! You are now a professional blacksmith.