You have been apprenticing for a while or just blacksmithing as a hobby; but you have now decided that you want to build your own shop, but of course you are at a loss where to start from. As usual, we are here to help you.
Building your own shop can seem daunting and you might consider giving up on the whole idea; but with a good budget and with a good plan, everything should go pretty smoothly. When thinking about building your blacksmith shop, you first need to consider if you will be renting a place or building one yourself.
I favor building one from scratch because that way, you work with a plan from scratch and you can easily add the features you need.
Renting, on the other hand, will most likely not have all the things you need, because whoever owns the place was probably not thinking about blacksmithing when it was built.
Some things are critical to a great blacksmith’s shop and so, if you have to rent, you will need to do some renovations. So this is simply very easy to follow guide. This step by step guide, if followed carefully, should guide you and help you achieve that blacksmith’s shop you’ve always dreamt of.
1. Sizing: The size of the shop you want is very important. There is a lot to consider when thinking about size. You want a place that is big, with high ceilings. However, a good guide is to go with the biggest place you can afford. You will eventually find that blacksmiths do keep a lot of stuff and scraps, so space will come in very handy. Also, think about storage space, workspace, and temporary equipment holding/repair areas.
2. Sketch out a plan: You do not have to be an expert at drawing to achieve this. The sketch will be mostly lining anyway but will serve as a kind of mind map. Lay out your workspace. Your workspace is critical. Think of a triangle: your anvil, forge, and vise (if you use one) should form this triangle and you will stand in the middle.
Again, all the tools being used on a hot iron, need to be within the quick range of the heat source. If you have to walk too far to get to the anvil, the hot iron’s going to cool down. This will help you easily navigate through the main equipment that you use. Also, think about the scale of things you want to build. However, this should not be much of a problem if you have a big roll-up door, which you can easily move things through.
In your plan, include a chimney or flue if possible. You need a way for the smoke and gases to pass out through. You will do well to add two doors and two big windows: one single door, and on the opposite side, a big roll-up door (like what you find at a garage); then two large windows opposite each other, for good cross ventilation. I cannot overemphasize the importance of good ventilation.
Decide where all your storage spaces will be – for tools and for finished items. You also want a high roof, because depending on how tall you are, your swings might be very high. So, you need ample space.
3. Safety: When building your blacksmith shop, safety is of utmost importance. Ventilation is very important, because of the toxic gases and smoke that are produced during forging. These gases can be fatal, so ventilation is very important. If possible, add a big fan also. The fan will help replace the smoke being taken out by the chimney. Also, keep your workspace (particularly your forge) away from any wood framing or wooden walls.
4. Tools: Now, when purchasing tools, you need to do this slowly. If you are on a big budget, or if you have a big limit on your credit card, it is easy to splurge on tools. This is not exactly wise because you will end up buying tools you don’t need and would probably never use. The best idea is to stick to the basics, and then buy more tools when you see that you actually need them. Buy slowly and don’t rush for the cheap ones.
This will eventually be a loss to you because the cheap ones are usually of poor quality. Do your research, ask other blacksmiths in your neighborhood about where to buy reputable tools from. Attend swap meets and garage sales, and you can buy the cheaper tools from here. Although, you should be careful about buying your anvil from barn swaps or yard sales. If it’s too worn out, it will be a big loss to you.
With all these points in the bag, you are well on your way to building your ultimate blacksmithing shop. Other things you can consider including: fluorescent lights, a separate, clean office area for your computer, books etc. Good luck with your new shop!