Cover Image
close this bookBasic Techiques of Blacksmithing: A Manual for Trainers (Peace Corps, 1982, 102 p.)
close this folderDay 1
View the documentSession: 1. Sharing perceptions of the training program: An ice breaker
View the documentSession: 2. Assessing group resources
View the documentSession: 3. Defining expectations of the training program
View the documentSession: 4. Forge introduction

Session: 4. Forge introduction

Total Time: 4 hours


* To identify and define the basic components of a forge
* To practice using basic blacksmithing tools
* To light, maintain and shut down a forge fire
* To make a forge poker/rake and eye
* To discuss forging practices of local blacksmiths


* Attachment 4-A, "Color/Heat Chart"
* Attachment 4-B, "Traditional and Rural Forges"
* Andrews, pages 17-21 and 42-46
* Weygers, pages 20-23 and 94-96

Materials: Approximately 30-36 feet of ½ inch mild steel round bar, newsprint, and felt-tip pens

Trainer Notes

Preparation for this session will involve writing on newsprint an outline of the procedures involved in making a forge poker/rake (see Step 6).


Step 1. (5 minutes)
Distribute Attachment 4-A, "Color/Heat Chart" and Attachment 4-B, "Traditional and Rural Forges" and briefly explain the session objectives and procedures.

Trainer Notes

Explain that the Attachments will be discussed in more detail later in the session.

Step 2. (10 minutes)
Post and briefly define the list of tools and forge components that will be used in making a forge poker/rake.

Trainer Notes

* Post the following list on newsprint in two columns as indicated below:

Forge Components

Firebox and Cleanout
Chimney and Hood
Quench Bucket

Forge Tools

Anvil and Stand
Firetools: Poker/Rake, Shovel Sprinkler

* Stimulate discussion by asking participants to look around the demonstration forge area and point out each of the items listed.

* Ask participants to explain the importance of the positioning of each of the various forge components.

Step 3. (10 minutes)
Ask participants to discuss and define the function of each item on the posted list.

Trainer Notes

* Have participants explain the relationship between each item on the list and the following basic functions:

- fire maintenance
- smoke removal
- clinker removal
- ash removal
- positioning of work during heating

Step 4. (10 minutes)
Demonstrate the proper techniques for lighting a forge.

Trainer Notes

* During the demonstration, it is important to explain the following:

- essential safety precautions
- type of fuel used
- alternative fuels (i.e., coal or propane)
- proper use of bellows or blower
- proper building and banking of fire
- allowing forge bowl to heat

Step 5. (15 minutes)
Have the participants form work teams of two and light the forges at each of their work stations.

Trainer Notes

Circulate among the stations and provide assistance whenever necessary.

Step 6. (10 minutes)
Reconvene the group and briefly outline the procedures involved in making a forge poker/rake.

Trainer Notes

* Post on newsprint the following outline:

- position cutting plate on anvil
- cold cut 3' length of ½” round bar
- place material in fire
- bring material to proper heat for mild steel
- hammer
- bend an eye
- flatten end

Step 7. (25 minutes)
Demonstrate the procedures and techniques involved in making a forge poker/rake.

Trainer Notes

* Remind participants of the importance of carefully observing each step in the process and taking note of any procedures which may appear confusing or too fast.

* To the extent possible, as the work progresses, provide brief explanations of each essential technique and point out transitions from one step to the next by referring participants to the posted outline.

Step 8. (20 minutes)
Using the posted outline as a guide, ask participants to review and explain the techniques which they observed.

Trainer Notes

* Remind participants of the demonstration format discussed earlier in the day (see Session 3, "Defining Expectations: An Introduction to Training") and stress that it is important to begin to sharpen their observation skills.

* In reviewing the heating of mild steel to the proper temperature, refer participants to Attachment 4-A, "Color/Heat Chart" and explain that this chart will be used later as a guide in hardening steel.

* Before proceeding to the next step, it is important to be certain that all the participants understand each of the techniques demonstrated as well as the necessary safety precautions involved in handling the hot metal.

* Encourage participants to ask questions and seek clarifications.

* If necessary, repeat some or all of the techniques until participants are satisfied that they are ready to begin work at their stations.

Step 9. (65 minutes)
Have participants return to their work stations and make a forge poker/rake.

Trainer Notes

* Circulate among the stations and provide assistance whenever necessary.

* If there are any members of the group that have had experience with forging and hammering, ask that they help others who may be experiencing difficulty.

* During this first forge activity, it is essential to carefully monitor each of the work teams and stress the importance of a strict adherence to safety procedures involved in handling hot steel.

* It can be expected that a few of the work teams will finish their pokers in 15-20 minutes. If this occurs, encourage teams to make another poker/rake such that each participant has the opportunity to practice and become comfortable with the techniques involved.

Step 10. (15 minutes)
As each team finishes their poker/rake, have them shut down their fires.

Trainer Notes

* Each team will be completing their work at slightly different times. Briefly explain and demonstrate the proper procedures for shutting down a fire to the first team that finishes.

Ask that they provide assistance to the next team that finishes. Continue in this manner such that each team has the opportunity to help another shut down a fire.

Step 11. (20 minutes)
Reconvene the group and ask participants to identify and discuss any difficulties which they experienced during the forging activity.

Trainer Notes

* Stimulate discussion by asking how each difficulty was resolved.

* Explain that the basic techniques used in bending and forming the eye of the poker/rake will be used in Session 9 on Day 3 to make eye hooks and links and ask participants to identify examples of potential uses for eye hooks and links.

Step 12. (15 minutes)
Ask participants to discuss how the techniques used in this activity compare with techniques that they have seen used by local blacksmiths in their work sites.

Trainer Notes

* Refer participants to Attachment 4-B, "Traditional and
Rural Forges" and stimulate discussion by asking:

- How are the tools and forges used by local blacksmiths different from those used here in the training? Why?
- Are the techniques used by local blacksmiths more efficient? Less efficient? How?
- What are some cultural and economic factors which determine the techniques used by local blacksmiths?

Step 13. (20 minutes)
Conclude by asking participants to summarize the basic blacksmithing techniques used during the session.

Trainer Notes

* Some important points to include in the summary are:

- fire building
- fire maintenance
- air flow control
- safety precautions
- heating steel
- color/temperature ratio
- drawing out
- spreading/peening
- making eyes/links
- bending metal
- proper use of tools
- local blacksmithing techniques
- fire shut-down
- uses of eyes and links

* Explain that the basic techniques and tools introduced during this session will provide a framework upon which to build throughout the training program.

Attachment 4-A


Heat Colors





light yellow










yellow orange





light orange





medium orange





medium cherry





dark cherry





black heat


Color Patina


light blue


dark blue




dark purple




brownish purple (peacock)


dark brown




dark straw


light straw




light yellow

Attachment 4-B


Traditional shop

Rural shop

Hand-powered production shop