Controlled Hand Forging

Forging Fundamentals

Controlled Hand Forging Lessons
By the ABANA Educational Programs Committee

The ABANA Educational Program Committee is pleased to announce the Forging Fundamentals program. The committee consists of Bill Callaway, Arizona; Jay Close, South Carolina; Bob Fredell, Minnesota; Dereck Glaser, Maine; Tom Latané, Wisconsin; Peter Ross, Virginia; Doug Wilson, Maine; and Dan Nauman, Wisconsin, Program Chairman and ABANA Board Member.

All the individuals listed have been involved in teaching and demonstrating hand-forging techniques to a broad range of people, and most all committee members have been full-time blacksmiths for a number of years. The range of style and technique is also broad among the committee. Some of the members have been working towards this program for almost four years. Much thought, many conversations, and countless hours of planning have occupied their time towards this mission.

What is the Forging Fundamentals program?

This voluntary program is a progressive set of lessons which emphasize ten forging fundamentals: Fire maintenance, drawing out, bending (including straightening), upsetting, punching (both through punching and ornamental punching), slitting, drifting, welding, twisting and joinery.

The focus of the program is five fold: To teach hand forging methods, present a curriculum which can be studied and in the home shop, explain a method for an individual to recognize his or her accomplishments, provide tolerances for comparison, and emphasize consistency in workmanship.

We want it known that this is but one path to learn how to forge, not the only path. We also want to emphasize that these lessons will teach only a process, and not a style. Our goal is to prepare the student to approach any facet of forging discipline and style armed with solid forging fundamentals.

What makes this program different?

This program breaks down forging basics to its most fundamental level. The lessons will be presented step by step through words, drawings, and photographs of the various processes used in the 10 forging fundamentals listed. There will be several lessons detailed for different applications for a given fundamental, and many more lessons in some fundamentals which require more explanation. At the end of a series of lessons, a project or projects will be proposed to challenge the student. The projects may be practical, due to the fact that the finished project may have a use as a tool, or the project may be simply an exercise to train the student.

What is a good twist? What is a solid weld? What is a sharp angle bend? When is a bar straight? A self-evaluation section for each lesson which teaches the student to “see” is included. A process can be explained, but the results are often questionable for the novice. We provide some answers, and also some problems to watch out for in the forging process. How should a taper look? “How should the edges of the bar look?” “How many heatings in the fire will I need?”

We are specific in what we believe are “targets” for these lessons. The targets will help the student to determine when they are executing the lesson correctly, as well as expediently. The introduction to the program spells out safety precautions, hazards, and protective gear.

The “forging dynamics” are covered which illustrate how metal moves under
the hammer, as well as terms and definitions. Explanations of the fundamentals are spelled out. For example, “drawing out” (reducing the cross section) includes (A) cross sections, (B) tapers, i.e. flat, square, and round, (C) points, (D) fullering.

A section explaining tools, their descriptions and uses is included. Another section discussing supplementary operations such as heat treating and knowledge of various carbon steels. Tool making is also included. A section discussing ergonomics is also presented.

How will the lessons be delivered?

Initially, the lessons will be provided through the Hammer’s Blow, with availability to the ABANA affiliates. Eventually, when the series of lessons is complete, they will be compiled into a manual available by purchase through ABANA. By that time we hope to have completed a video series of the lessons as well. The manual will then be a companion book to the video series, also available through ABANA for purchase. The videos will be edited
to conserve time. For example, we will edit the heating of metal and concentrate on forging. Each Hammer’s Blow will also be a resource in your own library for back reference, with back issues available for purchase through ABANA.

The lesson will also be posted here on the ABANA website under “Resources” and will be updated as each lesson becomes available.

Who can take the program?

Since this program begins at home, anyone who wishes to learn the forging fundamentals of hand forging, or anyone who wishes to improve their skills may participate. This is an entirely voluntary program, with a suggested order in which to accomplish the lessons. Of course, if one wishes to concentrate on specific lessons, that is perfectly fine. However, persons who follow the program through its entirety will gain valuable insight and skills for whatever forging discipline they desire. Pilot programs will allow the committee to fine tune the program, as we will listen to the students critiques and make the necessary adjustments.

Do I have a voice?

Indeed you do! And we want to hear from you with ideas as well as criticisms. You can reach us by writing to Dan Nauman, 4190 Badger Rd.,
Kewaskum, WI 53040, or by e-mail . Dan will share your thoughts with the rest of the committee, and together we will examine your input.


The Forging Fundamentals program is a voluntary home study program for aspiring individuals who wish to learn hand forging techniques. Through lessons in the Hammer’s Blow and on the ABANA website, self evaluation, videos, and other programs, students will have before them one established path to learn the basics of hand-forging.

This program could be a model for other programs in more specific forging disciplines. New committees could be formed which could delve into other forging aspects such as architectural forging, sculpture, power hammers, and more. There are additional aspects of the program planned for the near future, and will be announced as funding and resources are secured and plans finalized.

The individuals on the ABANA Educational Programs committee have the experience and knowledge to write the lessons in a concise an understandable method, and also have the experience and resources to implement this endeavor properly.

We need your support, and we want to hear from you. We look forward to this program’s implementation and to your benefits from the program.

Thank You!
Dan Nauman
Controlled Hand Forging Chairman

PS. Dan invites everyone to visit and contribute to his Blog. www.bighornforge.wordpress.com

Controlled Hand Forging

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