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Book recommendations

Posted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:11 pm
by ZachC
Hello all, I was wondering if anyone had any good recommendations regarding blacksmithing of any discipline. It would be nice to have a quick reference place for new members or anyone looking for more information on a specific topic.

A few that were recommended to me were
  • Volume I: Mastering the Fundamentals of Blacksmithing - Mark Aspery
  • Volume II: Mastering the Fundamentals of Leafwork - Mark Aspery
  • Volume III: Mastering the Fundamentals of Joinery - Mark Aspery
  • The Art of Blacksmithing - Alex W. Bealer

Re: Book recommendations

Posted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:09 pm
by Martin Pansch
Oooo... Good topic. Most of my books are still in a box in my basement from a recent move. Some titles I recall off hand:

The New Edge of the Anvil – Jack Andrews - About as old as Bealer's book.

The Complete Modern Blacksmith – Alexander Weygers – Great drawings. Focused on making tools for sculpture (I think I remember that right).

The Backyard Blacksmith – Lorelei Sims – Best photos in any blacksmith book. More artsy than my background which led to an interesting relook at some things.

The Blacksmith’s Craft – Charles McRaven - McRaven is a fun folksy story teller and practitioner of timber framing and stone work too.

Practical Blacksmithing – M.T. Richardson - Collection of short articles.

Practical Blacksmithing and Metalworking – Percy Blandford

A Blacksmithing Primer: A Course in Basic and Intermediate Blacksmithing – Randy McDaniel

Steel Metallurgy for the Non-metallurgist - John Verhoeven - You say you want to know what is really going on in heat treating?

The Complete Bladesmith – Jim Hrisoulas - He has several others on bladesmithing too. Good info but for me he was a little too heavy in the "this is the ONLY right way to do this."

The Complete Metalsmith - Tim McCreight - More of a fun brief survey of a bunch of different metalwork skills though not exhaustive on any.

I think I have another handful or two of basic books. Then there are specialty books depending on whether you are into Mokume, Repousse, casting, historical reproduction, armor manufacture, anvil appreciation, power hammer collecting, smelting your own steel, etc. I can post a more comprehensive list later if anyone wants.

20 years ago we could have just argued which of the half dozen that were in print in English were the best. Thankfully the field has really exploded since then, mostly in the realm of basic to intermediate smithing. For a while I would still buy and read -any- blacksmithing book I found but I am a bit more selective now. After you have read a few beginning books and have been hammering for a few years there is diminished returns per book. While there are a number of different ways of accomplishing most things how many different descriptions of drawing out a taper do you need to read?

I equate blacksmithing books to martial arts manuals. Have you seen one of those old Hong Kong Kung Fu movies where the hero finds some old lost manual on a forgotten fighting technique and after reading it none can stand against his pugilistic might? Yeah, it doesn't really work like that in blacksmithing either. Many of the books you have to have some experience to fully understand them, I'm guessing it is the same for any skill with a physical component. For beginner level books read it, go to the forge and try it, and go back and read and maybe comprehend more. If you want to bring the book into the shop with you to consult as you go I suggest making a photocopy shop version so you don't destroy your good book (ask me how I know). Helps even more to have an experienced person around in the shop with you to help you as you go since not even the best books can cover all the creative ways you can mess up.

On a related note: did you know the Guild has a mobile library that makes it to most of the meetings. I know some of these books are in there.

Re: Book recommendations

Posted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:19 am
by ZachC
Great information! Thanks Martin. And I will ask, what did you do that led you to the conclusion to not bring your good book into the forge? :)

Re: Book recommendations

Posted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:07 am
by Martin Pansch
While I have a few books with smudges and an occasional "fire flea" bite I don't have a great towering inferno story. What really drove the point home was knocking one into my slack tub. Turns out water will do a job on books just as fast, if not faster, than fire. Sure, when it dried I could read most of the words, but the pages were wrinkly and "sprung" which made it very difficult to use.