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Blacksmith Book Shelf

These are blacksmithing titles I have found of interest over the years. Books are vitally important in the blacksmith craft as they give us techniques to refer to and images of forgework to dream about.
Look through the following list and see if any catch your interest.
Also if you can recommend any not on this list please email me and I will see if I can add them.


(Click on Images of The Books for
Current Pricing and More Information)

The Contemporary Blacksmith
One of the must have books for inspiration for blacksmiths. This book 254 pages long is packed with photos of current work by blacksmiths. Sections on architectural , sculptural, knifemaking, functional blacksmithing. A fine hard cover book full of inspiration. It is one of my main resources!
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Art Forms in the Plant World
A book of black and white close-up photos of many plants. It gives blacksmiths a detailed view of different plant forms which can easily be created in iron. This book has nothing to do with metal work except to provide inspiration for any artisan for organic form.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Catching the Fire
Work of Philip Simmons in Charleston South Carolina. Primarily gates fences and railings. Primarily biographical.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Art Nouveau Decorative Ironwork
Black and white photos of the art nouveau style at the turn of the last century. Most examples are larger scale architectural. Beautiful lines and ideas. Economical book with lots of ideas in ths art form.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Art Deco Ornamental Ironwork
The art deco period follows on the heals of art nouveau. Characteristic of series of straight lines with interesting intersections.
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Art Nouveau Ironwork of Austria and Hungary
240 pages with 500 photos. Austria and Hungary were areas that developed the art nouveau style to its height. This book details common uses of ironwork in this style for exteroir ornamentaion.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
The Back Yard Blacksmith
I had the pleasure of meeting Lorelei a few years back when she did a demonstration for our local blacksmithing chapter. Knowledgeable and entertaining. Her book is an excellent starting place for new blacksmiths. She covers the basics well and is insightful and provides a good foundation for those that are looking to start.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Beautiful Iron
I had a chance to meet Francis Whitaker in the late 1980's when I first started blacksmithing. He was a stickler for detail and quite knowledgable. This book is a photographic collection of his works. Many of the older smiths around have fond memories of his classes and his skills.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Decorative Wrought Iron Projects for Beginners
80 pages. Stuck for a gift idea for your cousins? This book gives you a whole series of plans and ideas of easy to make projects. Candle holders, door knockers, flower pot holders etc.....
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Forged Architectural Metalwork
176 pages. 180 photos. Heavy steel forged by hand and power hammer to create gates, railings, etc. Sections on finishes and installation which may be worth the price of the book.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
The Complete Metalsmith
312 pages 1600 illustrations. Primarily directed to jewelry makers many of the techniques will translate to working with steel. Sections on casting, polishing, forming, soldering, chasing, repouse. Precious metals are fun to work with but save every scrap as you can reclaim it.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Ironwork Today
256 pages. Another of the must have inspirational blacksmith books. Filled with pictures (482 photos in all) that coax you out to the shop to create something beautiful. Beautiful work of modern smiths. Wonderful to read on cold winters night!
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Ironwork Today 2
More inspirational forged artwork from many artisans around the world. I am honoured to have some examples of my work in this book. For me the difficulty is in photographing the piece so that the quality of the photo is high enough to print in a book.  253 pages of  inspirational work.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Ironwork: Dynamic Details
160 pages, 251 photos. Many of the other inspirational books show the overall piece. This book has all close up photography of the texture and assemble details that you want to see in the full piece photos. Pay close attention to the photography details of backdrop and lighting.
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Natural Art Forms
128 pages, 120 black and white photos. Close up photos of seed pod, stems and leaves. Not directly related to blacksmithing but is a good reference for shapes of floral-forms.
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Methods For Modern Sculptors
Primarily concerned with casting metal (bronze) to create large sculpture pieces.
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Step by Step Knifemaking.
This is an older book but has detailed information about grinding knives and adding handles, guards and making sheathes. Large section on acid etching blades for decorative appeal. He also has a good reference section on different steels to use for knife making and how to heat treat them. Good reference without being too technical. There is not much about forgeing knife blades, but good grinding tips.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
The New Edge of The Anvil
One of the books I recommend to my students as a great reference book to start with. Clear and well laid out and affordable. It makes blacksmithing within the reach of everyone. I refer to it often. The older edition (1991) is one of the books that aided the wide spread revival of smithing as a hobby.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork
This book was originaly published in 1977 the second edition was updated in 1998. This is an informative book and is a step into our recent past when smithing was just getting going again. Many wonderful photos of good solid work. Much of the work is not complex but does show what our current work (see the must have books) is based upon. Many smiths I know used this book when they were starting out as inspiration and reassurance that we were on the right path.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Wrought Iron by Fritz Kuhn
Detailed black and white photos of various elements used in blacksmithing. Short English descriptions. Not a how too book the pictures are clear enough to see construction details. Traditional joinery and techniques. Birds, plants, and animals are all clearly detailed.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
The Smithy's Craft and Tools
128 pages. Many pictures of close up detailed iron work and tools. The book is based around hand working of steel in a traditional German shop. Photos are given of finished product then water color sketches show the tools used to make each form and the sequence. It is a book of "This is the shape I made, and this is the tools I used, and this is what you do with them". Techniques could be adapted to power hammer use, but this is not really covered in the book. Very informative book. English, German and French text.
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The Complete Bladesmith
This book is written by a master of forged blades. This is THE how to book of forged blades. Jim has done extensive pattern welding on his blades and has heat treatment down to an art.
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The Complete Modern Blacksmith
This book is a good start point in the smithing craft. It has basic projects based around tool production for the smith. Primarily devoted to coal fired forge work.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Basic Knife Making
By Siebeneicher-Helwig and Rosinski.
Schiffer Publishing asked me to review this book. This is a bit tricky as I do have mixed feelings about it. First it is beautifully illustrated. The photography is stunning. There is good information on forging and heat treating a basic knife. A couple of problems. Many of the pictures are of excellent Damascus knives. These are by no means beginner projects. Several of the techniques they discuss are the hard way of doing things. It will work but there are easier ways. If you choose to build a forge look around on the internet as there are easier and better ways of doing it.

Is it worth the Amazon price?
I would say that it is, but do buy other knife making books as well for a more complete picture of the process.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
The Lockback Folding Knife
From Design to Completion
By Fronteddu and Steigerwald
This book is very well illustrated. It deals only with the machining aspect of folding knives. If you want to do any forge work you will need to get the information else where. Very clear information on how to make lockback folding knives. I do recommend this book if you wish to make folders.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Striking Women: Mild as Steel
This is a collection of work by top level female blacksmiths from all over the world. We often think of this trade as being male dominated. This book clearly shows that women are producing work on par with any of their counter parts.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Art and Design in Modern Custom Fixed Blade Knives
This is 2007 edition that gives many inspiring photographs of both classic and fantasy styled knives. This book does give a few hints on construction techniques but it is primarily just a photo collection of what some of the makers were doing in 2007.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Damascus Steel Theory and Practice
This has become my primary resource book when I have questions on Damascus steel especially pattern development. This book takes you throught the basics to very complicated pattern construction. It is clearly presented with lots of pictures and illustrations of the process. Excellent if you want to learn how to make Damascus steel.
(Just Click on the Image for Details)
Artist Blacksmith Sculpture by British blacksmith David Freedman.
This is not a "How To" book but more a photo essay of the sculptural work and inspiration of David Freedman. He creates a number of realistic to whimsical plant and animal representations. Image quality is quite good and shows enough detail to provide inspiration for your own work.

It is always comforting to look in a book and say to yourself "Hey I Could Have Made That!" Then use the idea as a jump off point to create your own forged piece.

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