Secrets of the Forge: Beginning and Intermediate Projects for Blacksmiths


Secrets of the Forge is a large and useful project book for beginning and intermediate level blacksmiths. Twenty-four Italian master blacksmiths share their techniques with you on a great variety of jobs, ranging from the basic and simple to the more complex and artistic.

This large 250-page hardcover book measures 9-½-inches x 11-¼-inches and contains 48 different blacksmithing projects. The individual steps of each job are clearly illustrated with high quality close-up color photos.

Secrets of the Forge begins with basic smithing jobs such as twisting bars and making spearhead shapes and scrolls. As you progress through the book the projects become more difficult and complex and involve forging truly artistic iron sculptures such as a duck in flight, a snail, flowers, a dragon, a nude, and more.

The book concludes with two highly specialized projects: making a Damascus steel blade, and the construction of a fully functional hand-forged lock.

There is a wealth of knowledge in this excellent book. Experienced professional smiths will get as much from it as novices. Antonello Rizzo is also the author of The Blacksmith’s Project Book: Intermediate & Advanced Projects from European Masters which picks up where Secrets of the Forge leaves off.


“There is a wealth of knowledge in this excellent book. Exceptionally well organized and presented, Secrets of the Forge is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and technical college library collections on the art and science of blacksmithing”. – Paul T. Vogel, the Midwest Book Review

“A comprehensive study of projects to inspire and interest the seasoned beginner. It is a great way to be introduced to a wide range of work. After reading this book your work may take a skyward trajectory.” – Chris Holt, The Hammer’s Blow (Journal of the Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America)

“Overall, there is a progression from simpler to more advance projects. There is a nice mix of large projects and small ones.  One aspect of this book that I find truly fascinating was that in some of the pictures you get to see the interior of Italian blacksmith shops.  Also, with the step-by-step pictures you get a good view of the tooling that they are using. Given the variety of projects presented, from fairly simple to more advanced, with good step-by-step instructions; and given the reasonable price, this is a book that I recommend to others”.  Albin Drzewianowski, The Mid Atlantic Smiths Association Newsletter.

“Secrets of the Forge by Antonello Rizzo has numerous interesting projects with full color photos. The photos show good detail and don’t use up space on the simpler processes. Some of the things I learned from this book include the need to use cotton gloves to handle a heat patina item before it is sealed to keep skin oils from discoloring the patina. I also found several items I want to make for myself such as the Liberty Scroll, Calla Lily, Snail, Knothole, and, well, perhaps all of them. Secrets of the Forge inspired me to try some new ideas and refined some old ones providing some additional options. Happy Forging.” – Steve Miller, The Anvil’s Horn, A Publication of the Arizona Artist Blacksmith Association.

“Secrets of the Forge is for the beginner with some experience (knows how to manage a coal fire or uses a gas forge and has learned some basic techniques). It is plum full of projects that will challenge beginning and intermediate smiths. The first project in the book is how to put a spearhead shape on a square bar. The next few projects involve different kind of bar twists. Some of the last projects in the book go through making Damascus, or pattern welded billets for blade making including axes. It uses increasingly difficult projects from simple to complicated to improve skills and techniques” Forge Facts, A Publication of the Rocky Mountain Smiths

“No book can be a substitute for an apprenticeship with a master, of course, but this book introduces you to twenty-four Italian masters whose projects will guide even the least skilled beginner to advance in the craft. The book assumes a working knowledge of the forge and basic blacksmithing tools, but not much more. The series of projects selected begins at the beginning, with the most fundamental blacksmithing techniques and procedures, and builds logically upon these skills. Simple twists, to simple scrolls, then decorative scrolls of many styles, the first section of the book alone can be the jumping off point for multitudes of projects. The rest of the book introduces a wide array of approaches, procedures, and design ideas; from flora and fauna motifs to architectural elements and home décor, and finally to a more advanced sculpture project, Damascus steel making and a blacksmith’s lock. Included with each project is a description of materials used, step-by-step instructions, photographs which clearly illustrate the process, and a photo of the completed piece. Each artist demonstrates their own way of arriving at the intended goal, some meticulous and detailed, some are a bit rougher but no less useful. Though the book is geared toward the novice to intermediate smith, it contains many useful practices and ideas for those more experienced. Blacksmith instructors in need of a project idea can open the pages of this book to find a treasure trove of inspiration for their beginning to intermediate blacksmith class. This book belongs in your blacksmith shop on the workbench to provide stepwise instruction, on your book shelf as an excellent reference book, next to your design table for inspiration, and on the coffee table to educate your uninitiated guests about what goes on in your blacksmith shop.” Amy Mook, Hot Iron News (the award winning print publication of the Northwest Blacksmith Association).