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Western Canadian Blacksmiths'Guild

Click for more details on coal types and characteristics
Some Recommended Books
Some Recommended Websites

For over a decade, our shop and most of the members have been using metalurgical grade coal fines. This consists of small granules and dust. It is mixed with water into a slurry and packed around the fire. The fire drives out the gasses and fuses the particles into a porous nearly pure carbon coke. The coke is raked into the fire to produce clean heat suitable for forging and forge welding. Our supply has been used up and we have been searching for a replacement.

For blacksmithing, we need metalurgical coal which burns hotter and cleaner than thermal or "heating" coal. East of Hinton, the coal is all the bituminous thermal type. The metalurgical bituminous coal comes from areas west of Hinton in the Cadomin and Grande Cache areas.

We have contacted Greg River Coal, Cardinal River Coal and Grande Cache Coal, but they are unable or unwilling to sell coal in small quantities (less than 100 tons) probably because of their process and layout.

We have tried bituminous thermal coal from one of the best seams in the Wabamun / Sundance area and could not get enough heat for practical forging.

We have used sub-bituminous thermal coal from Ryley (Dodds Coal Mine) with marginal success.
According to their website , the coal sold at the mine has the following specs:
                                   BTUs per pound : 8000 to 8500, Ash Content : Approximately 8%,
                                   Sulphur : less than 0.05%, Moisture : 20 to 25%.

This coal should be broken down to smaller pieces under one inch in size. It produces more ash than the metalurgical grade, but if you don't crank the blower too hard it will work for about half an hour until the clinker blocks the airfow too much. We have successfully forge welded with it. The coal does not coke or stick together like some of the better grades of coal. Since the heat output per pound is lower, you must continuously feed the fire. The large amount of coal used results in a large clinker in about half an hour, and becomes a pain to clean out so often. They sell the coal in any quantity you need at a good price. You should try some before you buy a truck load to make sure it meets your expectations.

The best coal we can currently get is from Home Hardware. It is currently $62.99 for a 70 Lb Bag, and is only available from the Sherwood Park store off Wye Road between Canadian Tire and Walmart at :

                                197 Ordze Avenue
                                 Sherwood Park, AB T8B 1M6
                                 (780) 417-0696

(The other Home Hardware stores won't know what you are talking about.)

Although this coal is expensive, it is very easy to use and very little is wasted. Guild members can buy this coal at our monthly meeting for $55.00 per bag (for members who want to try this coal at home).
We do not offer any extensive courses, but we can provide a basic hands-on introduction. We will be offering a one-day introduction to blacksmithing at our Leduc shop on an as-need basis. Please contact us for details. When we have several students lined up, we can schedule a class.

If you want formal instruction, check out:

NAIT Continuing Education Services:
 (search for "blacksmithing" under "continuing education".)

Front Step Forge …(780) 468-1812
The Complete Modern Blacksmith by Alexander Weygers
(try Lee Valley Tools Ltd)

A Blacksmithing Primer by Randy McDaniel

The New Edge of the Anvil by Jack Andrews
We are affiliated with The Artist Blacksmith’s Association of North America:

For excellent blacksmithing and metalworking information, check out
Anvilfire at:
I Forge Iron at:
If you are starting out, and need some small pieces of steel, you can buy flat bar and round mild steel at Home Depot or Canadian Tire. The shiny cold rolled (1018) steel tends to be expensive and is not necessary. Use the cheaper hot rolled steel which appears black due the mill scale that is on it.

It is much more economical to buy steel in 20-foot lengths from a steel supplier (They will cut it in half for you so you can get it home). You can buy round, square or flat bar (hot rollled structural steel, A36). This material is suitable or decorative items and tools such as tongs and some punches and fullers.

Try Edmonton Supply (currently in the process of moving to Sherwood Park) or General Steel (11917-156 St NW, Edmonton).

For better punches, hammers, chisels and cutting tools, you will need to have higher carbon steel that can be hardened and tempered. Truck axles, leaf springs, coil springs and other suitable high carbon scrap is frequently used.

Hand tools are available from Home Hardware, Princess Auto or Acklands Grainger. If you are a member of ABANA, you may qualify for a discount- check with ABANA.

Members are encouraged to make their own tools and improvise. If you need larger items such as anvils, leg vises or forges, talk to our members- they may know of auctions or private sales.
If you know of any other sources of good coal, please contact us!
Knife Making Supplies
Canadian Knifemaker Supply Ltd
If you are looking for 2 x 72 inch belt grinder abrasives, or all sorts of other interesting knife making supplies, check out their website. They are located in Sundre, Alberta. Ships via Canada Post.