The Blacksmith’s Cookbook: Recipes In Iron
By: Francis Whitaker
Price : $$ – Amazon
Philip’s Ranking: 3
Beginner Blacksmith: 2
Advanced Blacksmith: 4
Video Review: N/A
This book is kind of a mixed bag. It leans kind of heavily into the cookbook idea and the chapters and topics all have cookbook themed titles. The book starts off with the standard blacksmith tools although it veers from what’s a hammer to design diagrams to build your own sheer. It’s a good example of a lot of the book where sections seem written for a beginning blacksmith but those topics are covered so briefly at that the beginner will struggle to understand them.
The level of detail works better for more advanced smiths and many of the topics will be of more use for a professional smith. There is a chapter on Architectural Ironwork that provides good details on how to build and install handrails, not an activity I’ve ever done, that looks reasonable.
As an example of the cookbook idea being carried to what I’d consider extremes here are some of the projects he covers:
- By Candlelight With a Little Gran Marnier
- By Candlelight II
- Animal Stew Recipes for Four Animal Heads
- Le Hangere Supreme The Perfect Pot Rack and Hook
- The Thirteen Layer Cake Spiral Stair Rail
- The Fallen Soufflé Sag Factors in Gates
The list of projects gives some idea of where this book veers back and forth from beginner to professional architectural smith. Page 46 here’s how to make an owl. Page 48 here’s how to install a stair rail. What smith needs both of those instructions in the same book?
The end of the book are photocopies of hand written notes from the 1981 NW BA Conference which are good but would be easier to read if they had been typed up.
One of the most useful tables in the book is a table to identify how bit a slit needs to be to drift to a round or square hole. If that’s something you do a lot the table is probably worth the cost of the book.
Overall I don’t think this book should be the first in your library but it has some useful tips and as you advance and start working on larger projects like stair railings and gates it’s worth picking up.