No Forge? No Problem. Learn How to Build Your Own Forge Anywhere

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No Forge? No Problem. Learn How to Build Your Own Forge Anywhere

You may not think of blacksmithing as a survival skill, but it can be extremely useful when SHTF. 

With the right know-how, you can even craft your own forge for off-grid survival.

Read on to discover how to forge essential tools and elevate your survival skills to the next level.

A worn sledge hammer and pair of gloves sitting on an anvil near a forge.

Essential Blacksmithing Tools and Setup

Portable Anvil

Crucial for any blacksmith, your portable anvil should have a hardened steel face where most of the work happens. Look for a model that balances weight with a large enough work surface to handle a variety of projects. 

Be sure it has a horn for bending and shaping, as well as a flat surface for pounding. Secure it on a stable stump or heavy base to absorb the shock of hammer blows without shifting.

Hammer and Tongs

For hammers, include a cross-peen hammer to start with, as its design helps in spreading the metal. Don't forget about a straight peen for more intricate directional shaping, too.

Tongs should be selected based on the type of work you anticipate. Choose flat tongs for sheets and square tongs for rods and bars. 

Ensure the tongs have a good grip and are comfortable in your hand to reduce fatigue during longer spans of use.

To further support your metalworking efforts in the field, consider grabbing this Survival Folding Shovel. This tool is not only essential for digging and preparing your forge area, but it also comes in handy for manipulating coals or clearing space around your work area. Durable and compact, it's a must-have for any field blacksmithing setup.

A man using a shovel to wedge open an old building.

Setting Up a Field Forge

Location Selection

Your forge area must be flat to ensure stability and should be located away from overhead branches or flammable materials. A good perimeter of bare earth or stone around the forge will prevent any stray sparks from starting a fire.

Materials and Construction

For the forge body, use firebricks for the best heat resistance, or clay if bricks aren't available. The air source can be as simple as a pipe with multiple holes, connected to a bellows. It could even be a manually operated hairdryer to provide necessary airflow.

While constructing your forge, this Survival Folding Shovel proves invaluable for excavating and shaping the forge bed efficiently and safely.

Hot coals with fire flaring out and a pair of tongs holding heated metal near it.

Heat Treatment and Metal Manipulation

Fire Starting

For starting and maintaining fires in your forge, consider using this Magnesium Fire Starter. This fire starter is robust and reliable, perfect for igniting char cloth or small tinder under any conditions.


Heat your metal slowly to an appropriate temperature—typically red-hot for steel—then allow it to cool in the forge or bury it in ash or sand. This slow cooling relieves internal stresses and prepares the metal for shaping or further treatment.

Quenching and Tempering

For quenching, heat the metal to non-magnetic and then immerse it in water or oil. The choice of quenching medium affects the hardness and brittleness of the steel.

After quenching, temper the steel by reheating to a lower temperature (200°C to 300°C) to reduce brittleness. Use a color chart as a guide: straw-yellow for knives, blue for springs.

Three hand-forged knives lying on a table.

Forging Your Own Tools

Knife Making

Select an appropriate steel, such as high-carbon steel, for its ability to hold an edge. Heat the metal until it is malleable and use your hammer to draw out the shape of the blade, paying attention to evenly forming the spine and edge.

Regularly reheat the metal to keep it workable. Finish by grinding and sharpening the edge to a fine point.

Hooks and Fasteners

Choose a softer, malleable metal for ease of shaping. Heat small sections and use the horn of the anvil to bend and twist the metal into hooks or clasp shapes. Cooling and reheating the metal may be necessary to achieve the precise curvature or angles needed for specific uses.

For sharpening your freshly forged tools, the 5-in-1 Bushcrafter Hatchet includes a built-in sharpener, making it an excellent addition to your blacksmithing toolkit. This tool also serves as a versatile cutting and shaping instrument.

Someone hammering a piece of metal on a makeshift anvil.

Repairs and Maintenance


A dual-grit sharpening stone is essential. Start with the coarser grit to reshape or repair any chips in the blade, then switch to the finer grit to hone the edge to a razor-sharp finish.


Regularly inspect your tools for wear, especially at points of frequent stress. Use metal wire to wrap and reinforce handles or joints prone to breaking. Applying a layer of epoxy to the wrapped area can further secure and protect the reinforcement.

Sustaining Your Tools in the Field

Regular Cleaning

After each use, clean your tools to remove any residues or moisture that can cause rust. Apply a light machine oil to all metal surfaces, particularly moving parts and edges, to create a barrier against moisture.

Proper Storage

Fabricate a custom tool roll or use individual sheaths for each tool. This not only organizes your tools but also prevents them from coming into contact and damaging each other during transport. Ensure that the storage location is ventilated to prevent condensation and corrosion.

The Final Forge

By employing these techniques and integrating quality tools from Camping Survival, you'll enhance your ability to maintain and craft essential items. This will aid your survival and self-reliance in any wilderness scenario.

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