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How to start a blacksmith business

Blacksmiths are not only some of the most skilled craft workers, but are often truly passionate about their trade. Their exceptional abilities to create practical and decorative metal items make their skills highly valued. What’s more, due to a shortage of qualified blacksmiths, they are in great demand which presents a host of business opportunities….

Blacksmiths are not only some of the most skilled craft workers, but are often truly passionate about their trade. Their exceptional abilities to create practical and decorative metal items make their skills highly valued. What’s more, due to a shortage of qualified blacksmiths, they are in great demand which presents a host of business opportunities.

Self-employment is an opportunity to reap the benefits of being a skilled blacksmith. You’ll have the freedom to choose your working hours and your clients, plus self-employed blacksmiths are able to decide what work they do and the services they offer. This guide will take you through everything you’ll need to know, from acquiring equipment to creating a business plan, so you can get your blacksmith business up and running.


What qualifications do I need to be a self-employed blacksmith?

The typical route to become a qualified blacksmith is through an apprenticeship or college course. These equip you with an invaluable understanding of the field and the credentials to impress clients. The most common are:

  • Intermediate Apprenticeship in Welding
  • Advanced Apprenticeship in Blacksmithing
  • Level 2 Diploma in Blacksmithing and Metalworking
  • Level 3 Diploma in Fabrication and Welding

For experienced blacksmiths without qualifications, or tradespeople in a similar profession, there are still plenty of opportunities to develop your credentials. These national bodies offer formal recognition of your blacksmithing proficiency, providing short training courses and certifications:

  • British Artist Blacksmiths Association
  • The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths
  • British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association
  • The Blacksmiths’ Guild
  • The National Heritage Ironwork Group

To gain accredited membership from these institutions, you’ll need to undertake assessments measured against industry standards. These will help to establish a trusted reputation for your business.


What skills does a self-employed blacksmith need?

Working as a self-employed blacksmith presents a range of business and on-the-job challenges. Alongside formal qualifications, these qualities will help you develop a trusted service and successfully establish your business:

  • Technical thinking
  • Numerical skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Practical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem solving skills
  • Dexterity
  • Management skills
  • Interpersonal skills


What tools does a blacksmith use?

To complement your blacksmithing skills and expertise, you’ll need a set of tools which help you complete every job to a high standard. Here’s the essential equipment every self-employed blacksmith needs:

  • Forge
  • Hammers
  • Chisels
  • Sets
  • Hardy
  • Anvils
  • Tongs
  • Visels
  • Hand mandrel
  • Bolster plates

There is also a variety of modern equipment that can be used to complete a range of different projects. Specialist equipment will often be expensive, so purchasing second-hand or hiring can be more affordable options for when you’re starting out.

Starting your own business means you’ll need your own smithy (workplace). From renting a local workshop to setting up shop in your garage, there will be plenty of options – you’ll have to decide what’s best for you. Wherever you choose doesn’t have to be your permanent residence, so starting small and then upsizing can often be the best approach.


How much does a self-employed blacksmith earn?

Blacksmith salaries vary depending on experience:

  • Newly qualified blacksmiths earn around £18,000.
  • The average salary for an experienced blacksmith is £26,000.
  • Highly experienced blacksmiths earn upwards of £30,000.

As a self-employed blacksmith, your salary will depend on a range of business factors, including your area, reputation and the services you offer. The following sections will

take you through how to start a blacksmith business and maximise your earnings.


Registering your blacksmith business

To formally establish your business, you’ll need to register it and apply for any necessary local authority licensing. You will also have to decide whether your business operates as a sole trader or limited company. The structures have numerous differences, so you should consider these and choose what suits your needs best. Read our guide here to help you make a decision.


Staying in control of your finances

The costs of tools, licensing, and supplies means your initial overheads may be high. These can be financed by business loans – however it’s important not to overspend and be aware of the interest rates.


Planning your blacksmith business

During the process of becoming self-employed, you should devise a solid business plan which sets out what your long-term business goals are and how you will achieve them. While creating your business plan, consider your skills and expertise so you can focus on what you do best.

When drawing up a plan, consider who your services are targeted towards. Here are some sources of business for blacksmiths:

  • Local manufacturers
  • Construction contractors
  • Local shops
  • Individuals who commission items

There may also be exciting local business opportunities which are yet to be capitalised on. For example, many blacksmiths are finding that working on metal banisters can be very profitable. More information on this type of service can be found here.


How to market a blacksmith business

An effective marketing strategy will really boost your business’ growth. First, it’s best to establish a professional image by deciding on a name and creating a logo. From here, it’s important to consider digital marketing for growing your client base.

Signing up to Checkatrade is great for boosting your online profile. Your business will be visible to three million monthly site users, and they’ll be able to see your customer reviews and recommendations. This is a sure-fire way to enhance your reputation and expand your network.

Additionally, creating a company website can establish an online presence and be a source of information for potential clients. While these are important, receiving traditional word-of-mouth recommendations is still an essential tool for growing your business. This really helps to establish a reputation as a reliable blacksmith in your local area.

For more advice on marketing methods, check out our guide here.



Can I build a forge in my backyard in the UK?

You can build a forge in your own backyard in the UK. However, your ability to build and use a forge depends on having the right blacksmithing tools and materials. Also, you will require an adequate understanding of health and safety legislation.


What insurances does a blacksmith need?

As a blacksmith, you’ll work in potentially hazardous conditions, so insurance will financially protect you and your business should a mistake occur. Here are the different types to consider:

  • Business Insurance
  • General Liability Insurance
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance (if you have employees)
  • Tools insurance


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