Demonstration, clear drawings of the
operation and patient coaching are combined
to explain complex processes to a participant. 


Participants fee covers the full five day session, all instruction, access to all tools and materials, and the complete design library. Your fee also includes room and board. We have two nice guest bedrooms available, one for each participant. If you choose to bring your spouse (for an additional fee), double beds are also available. Three square meals a day will be served, please let us know if you have any special dietary needs. Wi-Fi computer service is available here.

It is required for you to bring the following items: Heavy cotton work pants and shirts, good solid work boots, and cotton or wool work gloves. It is suggested that you bring a hat or cap, and a warm work sweater or jacket and long underwear in cold weather. The shop has an exhaust fan, which runs whenever forges are lit, this fan brings in outside air at the ambient temperature, cold when it’s cold, hot when it’s hot outside. Avoid any polyester clothing as it burns and melts to your skin. Plan on bringing a good quality notebook and pens and pencils for note taking and doing your design work during class.

Prairie Elk Forge will provide hearing protection, non- prescription safety glasses, or full face shields which must be worn at all times in the shop. If you need prescription glasses, full face shields can be worn over them, but it is not convenient, if you have prescription safety glasses, bring them with you!

Minor cuts, abrasions, and burns are part of Blacksmithing, basic first aid supplies are here for your use, plan on bringing any prescription or over the counter medicines you may need.  Prairie Elk Forge, the Ainslie Family, or anyone associated with this Seminar, does not assume any liability or responsibility for accidents or injuries, or personal loss while participants are attending the Seminar.


George Ainslie has been a professional blacksmith for 27 years, and has been privileged to work on a multitude of prestigious projects (a partial listing is included at the end of the enclosed CD). He has demonstrated in Canada and Japan as well as run seminars in various parts of the continental U.S. He has also taught a number of protégés in his workshop. His experiences as an historical interpreter in the National Park Service, Montana Hunter Education Instructor, and teaching ‘smithing, guarantee your experience will be a positive one.

Basic Blacksmithing Skills Seminar

 Here you are looking at a participants personal tools,
along with a few items he made during the Seminar.
Participants are encouraged to bring their own favorite
tools to the Seminars, if they have them, otherwise
all necessary tooling is provided by Prairie Elk Forge.

This seminar will serve as your introduction to traditional blacksmithing methods and techniques. Each participant will have access to a forge, anvil and post vice, as well as all necessary tools and materials. Participants can expect to leave the seminar with several finished items.

Seminar cost $1,500.00 for 5 shop days, 2 additional nights for arrivals and departures.
Seminar costs include transportation to and from Billings, Montana to the PEF facility, lodging and meals family style in the Ainslie home, access to all tools and materials needed, and a complete design library for many styles of ironwork.
Seminar plan includes 5 days in the shop. Additional days can be scheduled on an individual basis. Participant numbers limited to 2 per Seminar to allow for maximum individual instruction. For students so inclined, a weekend retreat to our cabin in the nearby Mountains is available for a $25.00 charge. Spouses are welcome for $35.00 per day, charge for room and board.

Basic Blacksmithing Curriculum

The art of Blacksmithing consists of 10 basic skills, which when mastered can be combined to make most items. The basic seminar will concentrate on these skills, and the participant will move forward to producing items using these skills.

1). DRAWING IRON DOWN: Reducing the cross-section of iron by hot forging.

a. ½ inch square drawn to a point
b. ½ inch round iron drawn to a point
c. Use of the anvil horn, hammer peen, and fuller to spread iron wider and thinner.


2). BENDING: Change the shape of iron by bending hot, or cold as appropriate.

a. Free hand bending iron into a curlique.
b. Freehand bending into a scroll.
c. Forging a bend in square iron that measure 90 degrees inside and outside of the bend.
d. Use of bending forms .
e. Bending sheet metal in a shop made brake, the design of which comes from ancient times.


A participant hot cutting iron on the Hardy tool.


3). PUNCHING HOLES: in hot and cold iron.

a. Hot punching holes; round, square, slot shaped.
b. Drifting holes larger using a drift.
c. Punch a ½ inch round hole in ½ inch round bar.
d. Cold punching slot shaped holes using shop made tools.

4). UPSETTING IRON: To increase the cross-section of iron by hot forging.

a. Upset a ½ inch round bar end to ¾ inch diameter.
b. Freehand forge a rivet head.
c. Upset a ½ inch bar in it’s center( applies to punching section).


a. Hot cutting with Hardy.
b. Hot cutting with a hot set.
c. Cold cutting with hardy and hot set.
d. Shop made rivet shear.

6). FORGE WELDING: Ancient method of joining iron and steel.

a. Back weld.
b. 2 piece weld.
c.”T” Weld.
d. Welding “tricks”; securing iron to be welded.


a. Simple twist of hot square iron.
b. Advanced twists: composite, pre-forged, manipulated round and square iron.

8). HOT COLLARING: Joining two or more bars by applying a hot collar that wraps around them and shrinks into place.

a. Simple hot collars, how to measure, pre-forge and apply.
b. Decorative collaring

9). DIE FORGING: Ancient technique of forging multiple identical items using forging dies made by the blacksmith.

a. Developing a design to be die forged.
b. Making a master piece.
c. Building the forging die.
d. Forging the die cavity.
e. Using the die to forge multiple pieces.

10). HEAT TREATING TOOL STEELS: How to normalize, anneal, harden and temper tool steel.

a. Details of proper hardening and tempering in one step.
b. Details of hardening and tempering in multiple steps for complex tools, i.e. knives, specialty steels for tool making etc.

An example of items made by Seminar participant.
Scroll, meat fork, trunk handles, trunk
hings, scroll wall bracket, and forged rivet.



Advance Blacksmithing Seminar
Participants in Advanced Seminars can expect to perfect skills and techniques learned in the Basic Skills Program, or on their own, if they are already skilled in basic blacksmithing techniques. Participants will utilize these skills, and learn advanced techniques to produce items from Specialty Areas listed below. This program level will allow for Participants to customize their experience beyond the scope of Specialty Areas listed below. If you have other areas of interest beyond the scope of those listed, you can consult with George before committing to the Seminar, to customize your experience.

Seminar will be scheduled in 5 day blocks with weekend retreat option at the Ainslie Cabin if desired at a cost of $1,250.00 per 5 day Seminar, including 2 additional days, for arrivals and departures. Advanced Seminars are also limited to 2 Participants for maximum efficiency.

1. CUTLERY: Knives, axes, tomahawks, wood chisels

2. ARCHITECTURAL HARDWARE: Door latches, hinges, trunk handles, nails, and decorative bolts and nuts

3. HORSEMAN’S HARDWARE: Bits and spurs, buckles, saddle rings etc.

4. HAND WROUGHT LIGHTING: Electrified lanterns, wall sconces, or chandeliers.

5. CANDLE LIGHTING DEVICES: A variety of working candle holders of various decorative and functional style.


7. BULLET MOULDS: Seminar will take participant through the historic method of forging all the tools to produce a 18th/19th Century round ball mould for muzzleloading firearms.

8. FRONTIERSMAN ACCOUTREMENTS: Folding lead ladles, fixed lead ladles, folding and fixed handled skillet, gun worms, pliers, flint strikers, campfire irons etc.