Unquestionably a book designed to instill confidence and encourage self-sufficiency. The author says:
While it is true that a man may work for a lifetime at a blacksmith's forge and still have more to learn about the trade, it is also true that the essentials of the trade consist of only>a few comparatively simple operations, which may be acquired by anyone who has mechanical ability and will give a little time and attention to the work. After this is done, skill will come with practice.
The simple operations include forming, scarf-welding and tempering, the steps used to produce items such as door hooks, chain, rings, clevises, bolts, your own blacksmithing tools, etc. It is both practical and a confidence builder. The short chapters on rope splicing and saw sharpening are intended to round out the necessary farm skills.
This is a reprint of a book published in 1901. It describes what was done and what was recommended to be done in accordance with the knowledge and practices of the day. It should be read in this light.
Two examples? On page 31 it's suggested that you sprinkle cyanide of potassium on hot iron to case-harden it. On page 59, you arc encouraged to use red prussiate ofpotash (potassium ferricyanide) for the same purpose. Fortunately, current laws on the control of poisonous substances make both very difficult to obtain, but you should always question similar advice in all old books or reprints of old books.
We used to treat lead casually until we found that it accumulated in our systems. Treat all chemicals with respect and always use them only in ways sanctioned by the sellers and the law.
This book is not a complete course in blacksmithing; it focuses on what you need to know to do very basic work. As in any activity, early success is necessary to build the confidence to try the more complex work that broadens and deepens skill levels.