Chalk Pit Forge is set within the beautiful south downs countryside at Amberley Museum, in Amberley, West Sussex. Here, Alex Smith runs courses for anyone 11 years old and over [please let me know if you're under 18 for insurance reasons. A parent needs to attend if you're under 16].
Alex has been a blacksmith since 1998 and has learnt all the techniques involved in this fascinating craft. Whether you're thinking about becoming a blacksmith or it is a craft you have always wanted to try, Chalk Pit Forge is the ideal place to learn as it offers a one-to-one hands-on experience hard to find anywhere else.
There are suggestions of possible things to make below, but as it's one-to-one, your own ideas are an option as long as we can do it in the allotted time and I have the materials you need for the job.
One day is the minimum time available but you can book up to twenty days if you fancy doing a longer stint in the forge!
Anything you make is all yours to take home with you and is included in the course price. Lunch at the cafe is also included, but, if you bring your own packed lunch, then the course price is £10 less.
A picture of Alex Smith, your tutor, bashing a bit of hot metal at the anvil. The forge and the anvil pictured are the same ones you'll use on the day of your lesson.
The Museum has 36 acres to look around, so if you have the time, there is plenty to see. Chalk Pit Forge has easy access on the southern railway line and is a 2-minute walk from Amberley station.
If you're driving you can use the A24 or the A29 from London and Surrey and the A27 from the east [Brighton, Hastings] and the west [Southampton, Portsmouth, Chichester]. The postcode is BN18 9LT if you need further directions.
Lessons are run in April, August and October and are generally run from Wednesday to Saturday. If you would like a lesson in another month please get in touch to see if I have the availability. Please organise your lesson with Alex Smith, e-mail: email@example.com.
Vouchers for special occasions are available if you're booking a course for someone else. Please e-mail the length of the course you would like to purchase, your name and address and the name you would like on the voucher. I can then send the voucher to your address so you can present it as a gift. Booking can be made by the recipient with Chalk Pit Forge within a year of purchasing his or her's voucher. Vouchers need to be used within 1 year.
Tony Pullen, twisting the horns for his Rams head. Tony had a two-day course as a birthday gift. He said his ancestors were blacksmiths, so he always fancied having a go.
The Rams head turning poker and log tongs are some of the things he made, cracking job too!
If you would like to purchase a voucher please send a cheque [for the full amount], made payable to Alex Smith, to Alex Smith, Chalk Pit Forge, Amberley Museum, Amberley, Nr Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 9LT, or you can transfer the money into my account [please ask for details].
If you would like to book a course for yourself, please send a cheque or a bank transfer of £100 deposit per day booked to book the days that you want. Thank you.
All courses are one-to-one tuition. You'll have the workshop and my guidance all to yourself, so you'll be able to get stuck in! Sharing a day with a friend is also possible for an extra £40. This means taking turns, as there's only one forge and anvil.
One day = £275.
Two-day courses or more = £270 per day.
Lunch at the cafe is included in the price.
Minus £10 if you want to bring your own packed lunch.
Refunds and rescheduling
Course fees are only refundable if, in the unlikely event, I need to cancel. Course fees are the only costs refundable and I can't refund any other costs like hotel bookings or fuel costs.
Courses can be moved to another date if required but please notify me a month or more before.
What will I learn?
The course is one-to-one and can revolve around what you would like to learn and what level of skill you are at.
Learn to manage your fire and shape the metal using the hammer and anvil while trying some of the following techniques: splitting, forging, bending, twisting, punching, fire welding, heat treating, dishing and joining the mild steel while making something from the Day course list below, or you can come up with your own idea as long as I think we can do it in the time.
Make a Rams head poker - Learn to forge, twist, fire weld, bend and split mild steel! This takes from 5 to 8hrs.
Make any of the following things, or, if you have an idea of your own, let me know. This could include a Rams head poker, toasting fork, brush, shovel, tongs, chestnut roaster, fire stand, curtain rails, curtain tie backs, pots n pan wrack, hooks, candlestick holder, handles, brackets, shoehorn, letter holder, paper-knife, nails, key rings, bottle opener, welly holder, boot scraper, door knocker, plant pot holders, hanging basket bracket, sculpture, camping/cooking tripod stand, plant climber, bird feeder, birdbath, kitchen knife and t-light holders. Course length = 9 am to 5 pm = £275
Please note: When making a few of the above the materials are included in the course price, but if you would like to use a lot of materials then you may be charged extra. Also, if you need specific material then I will need to know beforehand.
2 Day courses:
Spend more time working on your project. Get to work on more elaborate details. You can make a few things from the day courses list or you also have the choice of making a handrail, obelisk, tools, sign bracket, fire set, log basket, hinges, curtain rail with brackets, a side table or a window grill. Course cost = £540. Each day length = 9 am to 5 pm.
Even longer courses:
Have you got a bespoke project of your own? Or need to knuckle down and learn some skills? Or just fancy making a sculpture, brazier, spit roaster, fire basket, gate, railing, window box, fire pit, archway, bench or any other piece of interior or exterior furniture? Then let me know what you want to achieve and book a time in the forge. Course cost = £270 per day.
Times and Dates
Dates are fixed for April, August and October but can be booked in other months if I have the availability. The course can be booked with me once the person has received a voucher [if it is a gift], or, if it's not a gift, you can contact me and arrange a date.
When booking please get in touch well in advance if you would like a particular date as months can be booked 6 - 9 months in advance.
Generally, courses are run from Wednesday to Saturday in the months listed above, but if it's a 5-day course, it is Monday to Friday or Tuesday to Saturday. The day starts at 9 am and ends at 5 pm.
Design and make anything you like! One to twenty-day courses - bespoke courses tailored around you.
Have a look below to see what some students have made in the past!
Past courses include a 1-day course making flowers and leaves, a 2-day course making a swallow sculpture for a garden, a 3-day course making one side of a bench and tools to reproduce the bench for future manufacture, a 4-day course making tools, which included a hammer, a pair of tongs, 3 punches, 2 drifts, a cold chisel, a dot punch, a hot chisel and riveting snaps and a 5-day course designed for a bespoke bicycle maker who wanted guidance on the fundamental techniques involved in working hot metal and to learn how to make a selection of small products to sell at stalls in London.
Also, a 10-day course for Ginny who wanted to learn to make a selection of small items to focus her market on while building her own blacksmith business in York. And a 20-Day course for Chris who wanted to start his own fabrication business but also wanted to touch up on his blacksmith skills to give his work a little originality... Pictures of his work and Ginny's are somewhere below in the past courses section.
All courses are on a one-to-one tuition basis so you will have good guidance and knowledge all the way through your course.
Mary Critchley's snake, is made out of 1000mm of 20mm round bar. Mary did a week's course to brush up on her skills before going to the blacksmithing college at Holme Lacy, near Hereford.
Some things made on past courses
Sally Avery - 2 day blacksmith course - Bird Bath
Jane Bransgrove - 1 day in the forge - Bird bath
Martin Morgan - 2 days blacksmith experience - Wheat sculpture
Bob Hughes - 1 blacksmith experience day - Lilies bird feeder
Tony Keppler - blacksmith experience day - Rams head poker
Darren Goacher - blacksmith experience day - obelisk
John and Sue Robinson - 3 days in the forge - Handrail and Lilies
Mark Broadmeadow - blacksmith experience day - Dragon door knocker
Alan Frith - blacksmith experience day - Archery Bracers
Joe Gurr - blacksmith experience day - bracelets, a snake and a heart for a necklace
Stewart Weston-Lewis - 3 day blacksmith course - Lilies, wall plant pot holder and garden tools
Andy Wilson made the scrolls for this pot holder at the forge, then welded it at home and put some shelves on
Ellie Hann - blacksmith experience day - Spring tongs
Martin Hayward - 3 day blacksmith course - hooks and fish bottle openers
Suzanne Gurr - Blacksmith experience day - Trivet
Matthew Lawson - 2 days in the forge - Candlestick holder
James Dodd - Blacksmith experience day - Boot scraper
Adam Cory - 2 day blacksmith experience - Rose candlestick holder
James Phillips - 5 day blacksmith course - Rams head rake and brush, ladle, tongs, hanging basket bracket, punches and chisels.
Chris Tiffers - blacksmith experience day - Table stand Antlers
Chris Woodrow - Blacksmith experience day - Birdbath
Carol Maher - Blacksmith experience day - Hanging basket bracket
Harry Rowe - Blacksmith experience day - Candlestick holder
Matthew Windsor - Blacksmith experience day - Dragon door knocker
Dave Smith - Blacksmith experience day - Doorknocker
Geoff and Matt - 2 days in the forge - Obelisk
Paul Mady - Blacksmith experience day - Plant pot holder
Richard Long - 2 days blacksmith experience - Rams head shovel, poker and brush
Nick Meyne - Blacksmith experience day - Rose
Kathie Crane- cleft sculpture cos she loves music - one day in the forge
The Ash Family - Fire set - one day blacksmith experience
Martin O Malley - Hanging basket bracket - two days blacksmith course
Oliver Cook - candlestick holder - one day experience
Christian Blundell - Skull Poker... cos it was Halloween ooo - one day experience
Selwyn Percival - Camping Fire Tripod - one day blacksmith Lesson
Brian Hurst - dragon hooks - 1 day in the forge
Phil Burlingham - Oil drum BBQ stand - 2 day blacksmith experience
Andy Birch - Spring tongs, paper-knife and bottle opener. 1 Day in the forge.
Giles - Lily sculpture - 1 day in the forge
Paul Lowry - Log holder - 1 day blacksmith experience
Derek Goddard - bird feeder - 1 day in the forge
Jimmy James - Lily bird bath and bird feeder - 2 day blacksmith course
David Gaff - obelisk - 2 day blacksmith course
Mary West - Lily bird bath and feeder - 2 day blacksmith experience
Robert Watt - Table - 1 day blacksmith experience
Robert Wilson - Welly holder/boot pull - 1 day blacksmith experience
Sam Timms - Boot scraper/boot puller - 1 day blacksmith experience
Ben Lovegrove - hooks. 1 day in the forge
Jeremy Swift - pots and pan wrack - 1 day blacksmith course
Malcolm Graham - boot scraper with legs - one day blacksmith course
Richard Scott - Rams head bottle opener - 1 day blacksmith course
Dave Calvert - Welly holder and puller - 1 day blacksmith course
John Linn - Spit Roaster and something to hook his pots off for campfire cooking - 2 Day Blacksmith course
Ken Gosling - Bird Feeder - 1 Day Blacksmith Course
Peter Mason - Side Table - 1 Day Blacksmith Course
Pete Dempsey - bird feeder - 1 day blacksmith course
Richard Knowles - Plant Climbers - 1 Day Blacksmith Course
Mike Daniels - Spring Tongs, Shovel and Chestnut Roaster - 2 Day Blacksmith Course
Tom Mendum - Plant Holder - 1 Day Blacksmith Course
Austen Lucas - Anchor - 1 Day Blacksmith Course
Paul Sturgeon - Leaf poker, brush, bottle opener and hooks - 1 Day Blacksmith Course
Sarah Stevens -hinges- 1 day blacksmith course
Andy Moreman - Hooks - 1 Day Blacksmith Course
Matt Willets - Sculpture - 2 Day Blacksmith Course
Eddie - Candlestick holder and Rams head poker - 2 Day Blacksmith course
Mark Darbyshire - Tongs - 1 Day Blacksmith Forge
Ben Harnan - curtain rail finials - 1 day blacksmith course
Pat Jordan - Flower Sculpture - 1 Day Blacksmith Course
Mike Hutchings - Candlestick holder - 1 Day Blacksmith Course
Allen Lee - Bill Hooks - 2 Day Blacksmith Course
Kevin Germany - fishing rod coat hooks - 2 days in the forge
Tom Brooks - candlestick holder - 1 day course
Tom Brooks - looking chuffed with his candlestick holder
Richard Pierce - traditionally joined bracket and tools - 5 day course
Barry Miller - dragons doorknocker - 1 day in the forge
Mel Blake - flower - 1 day in the forge
Mike Robinson - 50 years anniversary logo - 1 day in the forge
Laurie Shattock - loops to hold light fittings and a bottle opener - 1 day course
Matt Batchelor - tools - 1 day blacksmith course
Lesley Prior - number 11 - 1 day blacksmith course
Chris Hill did an epic 20 day course and here's what he made.
Chris Hill - Tools- bending wrench, tongs, riveting snaps, Hardie cut off and dishing, cold chisel and centre punch, hot chisel and square punch, scroll wrench, acorn power hammer stamp and a fly press leaf veining tool.
Chris Hill - Natural themed decorative techniques- flowers, tendrils & climbers, forged leaves, cold sheet leaves & a motif involving working to a workshop drawing, exact repetition while making scrolls and assembly.
Chris Hill - Rams head turning poker and a variety of decorative twists.
Chris Hill - Proud as can be!
Phil Simmons - made tools he needed to make a shackle and then made the shackle: tools included a rake, poker, tongs hot and cold chisel and punches. - 5 day bespoke blacksmith course
David Paynter - garden arch - 5 day course
Malcolm Clark - fire stand, tongs and poker - 2 day blacksmith course
Nigel Wickham - dragon hanging basket bracket - 2 day blacksmith course
Sean o Brien - sign - 2 day blacksmith course
Steve Mann - fire stand and set - 4 day blacksmith course
Roy Oakenden - rams head shovel - 1 day blacksmith course
Matt Willets - candlestick holder - 1 day blacksmith course
Fabiana and hubby - door knocker - 1 day course
Kyle Winkelmaier - 1000 gram Cross Pein Hammer and a rose - 3 day blacksmith course
Keith Knight - flower candlestick holder - 1 day blacksmith lesson
Elaine Hughes & co - kinetic sculpture - 1 day blacksmith lesson
Mark Frost - Snail letter/file holder- one day blacksmith lesson
Paul Stacey - Obelisk [the painted one was made on a previous one day lesson] - one day blacksmith lesson
Mark Attwell - Rams head turning poker and 2 door pulls - 2 day blacksmith course
David Spreadbury-Troy - Candlestick holder and a Skrew - 1 day blacksmith lesson
Steve James - an extremely delicate, unnormal, cheese cleaver with high carbon cutting edge - 1 day course
Patrick Humphries - candlestick holder - 1 day blacksmith lesson
Scotty Dodd - square punch, cold chisel and birds head rake - 1 day blacksmith course
Henry Gill - bookend and a fan tool holder - 1 day blacksmith course
Ginny Mackie - some beautiful hinges, tools, rams head shovel, poker, hanging basket bracket and some samples of techniques - 10 day course
Ginnys' going to start her own forge near york... she seemed finely tuned into what she was doing... hope it goes well for you Ginny.
Heather Wall - Weather vein - 3 day blacksmith and fabrication course
Keith Franklin - Lampstand and rams head poker - 2 day blacksmith course
Marc Pinnell - Welly holder - 1 day blacksmith course
Tom Weinburg - Rams head tongs - 1 day
Sarah and Alex - Hooks - 1 day course
Martin Wood - Tongs and punches - 1 day
Malcolm Fry - Rams head Shovel, hooks and t-light holder - 1 day
Hugh Jones - candlestick holder - 1 day
Pauls' Burmease head stands - 2 days
Dons handrail - 2 day course
Charlie Wale - Rams head knocker, 2 day course
Charles Blundell - 5 day course - Charles and his stuff
Andrew hopkinson, 2 day course: curtain rail and hanging basket bracket
Chris Hope - Obelisk and candle holder, 2 day course
Hamish Freeman - Fire dogs and Lily, 4 day course
Steve Mann - Fire set, 2 day course
Jos Jones - Bulls head hooks, 1 day course
Paul Morgan - A shoe horn, rams head paper knife and poker, 2 day course
Robert Smith - A rose and some handles, 2 day course
Danny Mullender - Hanging Basket, 1 day course
Mike Tanner - Bird feeder, 1 day course
Rob Baker - Candlestick holder, 2 day course
James Stephens - Curtain rails, 2 day course
Bob Blunden - Hinges and candlestick holder
Charlie Batty - window grill
Martin Howard - Boot scraper, music wall plant pot holders
Simon Porter - Rams head poker and holder and letter holder
Jake Evans - Music stand - 2 days
David Lindfield - Doorknocker
Daniel Page - Shelf brackets
Ben Gibbons - boot scraper
Rams head candlestick holder by Jan Svobodova
Paper knives by John Lewis
A candlestick holder by Andrew Marshallsay
Door holders by David Wood
A door knocker by Colin Palser
A sculpture by Jon Clayton
A Lily and a rose holding a glass ball by Carol Jones
A fire stand and cupboard handle by David Humphrey
window grill by Andrew Lindsey
A candlestick holder by Graham Smith
A Dragon door knocker [with one bent horn to show a small amount of imperfection] by John Baker. Bent horn by me.
Boot scraper, tongs, poker, chestnut roaster & simple wall sconces by Jerry Smith on a four day course
Boot puller by Jon Hatch
Candlestick was made by Josie Ord and the log hook was made by Richard Ord.
Wall Hooks made by Andy
Pots and pan wrack, hooks and bicycle hooks made by Jon
Pair of hinges made by Drew