When beginning to learn how to forge, it’s important to know what type of equipment you’ll need for the projects you plan on doing. If you are picking up bladesmithing in particular, it’s important to be familiar with the cost of the materials you require, as every forge project has individual needs.
It costs anywhere from $300 – $2,900 to start forging knives. The exact cost depends on the types of materials you require. If you are forging as a trade, you will most likely have to spend a few thousand dollars. However, if you’re a hobbyist, the cost is significantly cheaper.
Of course, in order to understand your needs and your budget for bladesmithing materials, it’s important to analyze these figures in greater detail. The following information in this article will examine a few topics related to this question, such as what you need to begin bladesmithing, what bladesmithing tools are used for, and how much individual tools/ materials cost.
What Do You Need to Forge Knives?
Before you can think about spending money on materials for bladesmithing, you first need a space to use as a forge.
This needs to be a workshop that is made of flame retardant materials, such as a garage or workshop.
If you already have a space to work in, this will severely lower your budget in regards to tools and materials.
Assuming you already have a forge, there are still a few tools and materials that you will need to acquire in order to begin bladesmithing. This list is as follows:
- Induced air
- Metal to shape
- Safety gear
- Quenching liquid
- Sharpening equipment
Once you know what tools you will need to begin bladesmithing, it’s important to familiarize yourself with their uses during the forging process.
The Correct Tools and Their Uses
Forging knives is a complicated process that requires the usage of a few main tools, all mentioned earlier in the article. Before you begin shopping for these items, however, it’s important to familiarize yourself with what they are and how they are used.
As mentioned earlier in the article, a forge is an appropriate workspace for working with heat.
A workspace such as a garage or a farmer’s workshop are both viable options, as the materials used to build these spaces are generally safe when working with fire and hot metal.
Spaces predominantly made with wood (ex. a shed) or that don’t have good ventilation are never a good choice, as such spaces are easily susceptible to flames.
An anvil is the main space where you will be forging your knives. It is the base that absorbs the blow from a hammer when shaping the metal and is one of the most important tools in forging.
Depending on your budget for building up your forge will depend on the anvil you purchase. The most common anvils are The London Patterns, which enable you to shape, cut, bend, and punch holes into your metal piece.
A London pattern anvil on a wood base
The hammer will be your main tool in bladesmithing; this is what will enable you to shape the metal blade for your knife.
The most common hammers for forging are cross-peen hammers due to their ease of use, though others such as power hammers are often used with similar results.
Induced air is given off by way of a fan or a bellows. In order for your metal piece to get hot enough to shape, you will need to generate heat.
A regular fire will not get hot enough to melt metal, so it needs to be coaxed through oxygen. You can use a fire poker to do this, but it slows down the process and can be time-consuming.
Therefore, acquiring a fan or bellows is your best option.
Metal to Shape
The metal that you will use to forge your blade is a very important choice.
Knives are generally made with some form of steel. The most common metals used are carbon, stainless, alloy, and tool steel.
You’ll choose which steel you will use based on the hardness of the metal, in order to prevent your blade from becoming brittle or being difficult to sharpen.
It’s usually a good idea to refer to the Rockwell Scale in order to determine which metal is most appropriate for use based on its hardness.
I wrote an article about blacksmithing metal if you want to learn where to get the metal for your blacksmithing projects (click the link).
The right safety gear is essential in forging in order to protect yourself from burns, cuts, and steel shards.
You should be properly equipped with a blacksmithing apron, gloves, eyewear, and earwear. It’s important to note the severity of blacksmithing without protective gear – you could severely injure yourself, as metal can be very fickle when in its malleable form.
Quenching liquid is an essential part of the precipitation-hardening process, used to correct the hardness and durability of your metal piece.
This is normally nothing more than a bucket full of water, so it shouldn’t cost you anything. However, many blacksmiths use oil as a quenching liquid, which is a more expensive yet viable option.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the general equipment that a blacksmith requires, it’s important to shop around a bit and pick the right type of tools and equipment for your needs.
How Much Does Forging Equipment Cost?
Depending on how often you plan to work on bladesmithing will depend on how much your equipment will cost.
There are many high-quality materials that reside on the more expensive side, so if you are only planning on bladesmithing as a personal hobby, you may want to choose materials that are durable, but not overly expensive.
If, however, you are planning on profiting from your forged knives, you’d be at an advantage to shop around and choose materials that will have a long life span.
Average Prices for Forging Tools/ Equipment
The following list contains the average prices for equipping your forge with the correct bladesmithing tools:
Most heavy-duty anvils will weigh-in at about 150 – 500 lbs (68 – 226 kg).
However, you can find good quality anvils that weigh around 55 – 75 lbs (24 – 34 kg) such as this anvil from Pro Tools (Amazon affiliate link).
This particular model is available at a good price and is generally regarded as a good quality workspace.
Anything heavier than that will range at about $450- $2,700 USD.
Go to this article if you want to learn more about how much different types of anvil weigh.
You can generally find a set of varied hammers for a reasonable price, which, if you’re a hobbyist, you’re further ahead to do than purchase them individually.
For example, this set from The Goplus Store (Amazon affiliate link) contains five separate pieces and at a great price. It’s generally regarded as a good quality product and is a good choice for a hobbyist.
Whether you choose to use a bellows or a fan, you can acquire either at a relatively low price. This bellows from Tosnail is well regarded by those who have used it.
This forge blower fan from Sunlar is highly regarded by customers and Amazon. A fan is a more expensive purchase, but both mediums are effective in inducing air.
You will need these items only if you are using blacksmithing coal. However, if you use other types of forges you don’t need a bellow or a fan.
Also Read: An interesting article if you want to learn more about different types of forges and their cost.
Metal to Shape
It can be a bit pricey to purchase individual steel flats, so you are further ahead to purchase flats in a multi-piece package.
You can find this three-piece steel flat set from Penko at a good price on Amazon.
Collectively, what you’ll spend on safety gear can be a bit pricey. However, these following products are priced quite reasonably, and are all highly regarded:
- Tool Freak Safety Glasses
- RAPICCA Forge Welding Gloves
- eletecpro Blacksmith Apron
- ClearArmor Protective Ear Muffs
If you decide to use oil to quench instead of water, this mineral oil from UltraPro is very highly regarded and at a good price on Amazon.
Forging knives don’t have to break the bank. If you already have a space for forging, the equipment you require can be found at a reasonable price.
Once you familiarize yourself with the tools required, you can decide on the quality and durability needed for the amount of forging you will be doing.
For a hobbyist, and based on the above price points, you can begin forging knives for as little as $306.30 USD.
If, however, you are forging knives as a profession, you may decide to work with materials that cost a little more.
Nevertheless, forging knives doesn’t have to be expensive, and can be enjoyed thoroughly with the use of modest materials.
I hope this article was useful and good luck with your forging projects!
Cheers, tool owners!