Forging forward

Junior Charlie Robinson ignites a new passion for blacksmithing


Michael Robinson

Junior Charlie Robinson hits a glowing hot piece of metal with a hammer to form it into the correct shape for his hunting knife project. Robinson never took lessons from a professional, opting to work off his intuition. “It hasn’t always worked out, and sometimes I’ve had to look at how to fix whatever I had done, but most of the things I have made have just been me freestyling,” Robinson said.

As hammering sounds ring through the air, junior Charlie Robinson repeatedly hits a glowing metal fragment on his anvil. While it cools, Robinson picks up the metal with tongs and brings it back over to his forge. Setting the metal down, he sits back and watches as it heats back up.

Blacksmithing is a complex process, but it can be simplified into five steps. (Achyuta Ambal)

Robinson’s journey into blacksmithing began in November 2021 when he searched for a way to express his creativity. He stumbled upon “Forge in Fire,” a popular Netflix series that revolves around competing blacksmiths, which sparked his interest in forging. 

“I loved the idea of working with my hands, and I always had a fascination with knives. I figured, why not put it all together and make stuff? I fell in love with it,” Robinson said. 

Robinson received a dual-burner gas forge as a Christmas present in 2021. The temperature of the forge can reach up to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit, which lends him flexibility with time during his forging process.

“Other than the anvil and the forge, I had everything [needed to begin forging] around the house. It was like a fun scavenger hunt to see if I could find what I needed, and I’m grateful I have everything I need rather than having to buy everything from the start,” Robinson said.  

Since learning blacksmithing, Robinson has made multiple rings and a letter opener out of 6-inch nails from Home Depot. The nails are made of high-carbon steel, the preferred metal for blacksmithing projects.

“I made [the rings and letter opener] because they were good beginner projects I knew I could complete. They helped me realize my skill level so I can know what I should work on,” Robinson said. “I [also] want whatever I make to be useful, [so] I need to make it out of quality materials. Usefulness is one of the most important aspects of forging for me because I want there to be actual motivation and reason behind everything I make.”

Junior Charlie Robinson melts down a nail, creates a symmetrical tube, and curls the piece of steel around the horn of his anvil to create a ring. (Charlie Robinson)

Although blacksmithing is coined as a good beginner hobby, it has an element of danger that Robinson has learned about the hard way.

“It’s very important to take safety precautions; I have been burned by my forge and by a couple of my metals because I’ve ignored those precautions before. It hasn’t been so bad that I’ve not been able to [continue], though,” Robinson said.

Robinson believes that every piece he makes requires focus and hard work. As a result, he is constantly experimenting with new items and techniques. In addition, Robinson’s previous successes with projects cause him to remain focused on improving and evolving his craft. 

“Blacksmithing is as much about the process as it is about the end result. I take my time and make sure that every step is done right. I’m always learning, and that’s what keeps me motivated,” Robinson said. “There’s so much to explore in blacksmithing, and I [can’t wait] to see where it takes me.”