If you are considering picking up blacksmithing as a career or hobby, you probably already know about the sheer number of unique terms that it encompasses. The art of blacksmithing almost possesses its own language entirely. It is important to have a grasp on some of this terminology so that you don’t fall behind or misunderstand important concepts. For this reason, we have prepared a glossary of blacksmithing terms to provide an introduction or refresher course on common terms you might hear around a blacksmith shop daily. Use it as a cheat sheet for studying all things blacksmithing!
The first things you need to be familiar with when it comes to blacksmithing are the tools and their various applications. Here is a list of some of the most common terms you will run into in a blacksmithing business. If you are looking for metal forging equipment for your own blacksmithing business or hobby, check out the selection available at Cast Master Elite.
Alloy is a metal that contains one or more additional elements in its makeup. Materials may be combined like so to achieve different physical characteristics, such as increased strength, flexibility, and melting point.
A blacksmithing anvil is a large block of iron or steel with a flattened top surface. A blacksmith places the metal they are working with on top of the block to be hammered and formed. The anvil is made up of several different working areas, including the horn, the face, the hardie, the pritchel, the neck, and the feet. All these areas can be used to work the metal into different shapes, such as a curve with the neck.
A chisel is used to chip, nick, or split away at delicate portions of a piece or metal or other material.
The crucible is the pot or container (typically made of ceramic or metal to withstand high temperatures) used by blacksmiths to melt down metals and other materials.
The forge is fueled by strong flames to heat metal and other materials. A blacksmith places metal into the forge to make it more malleable and shapeable later on the anvil. Forges can come in several varieties, including coal, gas, wood-burning, and charcoal.
A hammer is one of the most prominent tools used by a blacksmith to repeatedly hit materials in order to give them shape. There are several different types of blacksmithing hammers, including a cross peen, straight peen, rounding, flatters, set hammers, and more.
A punch is a metal tool that is used with a hammer to punch holes in metal or to drive rivets. A punch also comes in an automated machine variety, though this is more often seen in metalworking than blacksmithing.
Slag is the name for the unwanted material left over after the smelting process (see below).
Tongs are what the blacksmith uses to hold and transport extremely hot materials from the furnace to the anvil and elsewhere around the working space.
Vices and Clamps
Vices and clamps are what a blacksmith uses to hold a piece of metal or other material while hammering, chiseling, or generally working on it.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the tools blacksmiths work with, let’s next examine the actual smithing processes. These are the ways that a blacksmith uses their tools to shape metal and other materials. During your daily business or training as a blacksmith, these are also the tasks you will encounter daily.
Bending is the process of forming a curve or a bend in a piece of metal. This is done by heating the piece of metal and hammering it over the horn of the anvil.
Casting is the process of pouring metal that has been heated to a liquid into a mold to form a shape or bar.
Drawing out a piece of material means making it longer. The blacksmith could also make it thinner or wider, depending on the desired results.
Finishing is the process of working a metal or other material into its final shape. Finishing includes polishing and putting all the final touches on the product.
Forging is the entire process that a blacksmith deals with to work heated metal into the desired shape.
Just like it sounds, hammering is the process of a blacksmith striking a piece of material with any various kind of hammer repeatedly to form a desired shape.
Quenching requires a blacksmith to rapidly cool a piece of heated material by means of exposing it to water, air, or oil. Quenching is typically done to harden metals like steel.
Shaping is the process of hammering, bending, and otherwise working with a piece of metal or other material to change its form.
Smelting involves extracting metal from ore. This requires the material to be heated in order to melt and separate the metal from the ore.
Soldering is the process of connecting two pieces of metal or other material at a joint. These pieces are connected by a melted filler metal with a lower melting point than the connecting pieces.
Tempering is the process of hardening a metal by reheating and quickly cooling it. This process helps increase the toughness of a metal.
The opposite of drawing and drawing out, upsetting is a technique used to make the working metal shorter, thicker, or narrower.
Welding is the process of joining two pieces of metal by heating them near melting point and hammering them together. These metals, unlike soldering are heated and connected themselves rather than using a filler metal to connect them.
The vast number of new terms in the blacksmithing community may seem overwhelming at first, but when you break down each one to a few simple sentences, they become a lot easier to learn. Hopefully, this glossary of blacksmithing terms has helped you wrap your head around some of the key tools and processes that you will find around a blacksmith’s shop. Now, you can practice and build on this information for your own blacksmithing career or hobby.