Being self-sufficient is a staple idea of prepping. If you can make what you need, you’ll never truly need. Normally this applies to things like farming and hunting. But there remains one ageless practice that will provide you with more than you can imagine: blacksmithing.
For as long as there has been recorded history, there has been blacksmithing. In general, it’s the practice of melting and reforming metal into objects we need. This can range from knives to armor to cabinet drawers. And if you have the right setup, it can be powered by nothing more than standard fuels.
In short, the process is as follows. You soften a metal bar using heat. Then, using tongs and hammers, you reshape it into what you need. This often involves beating it into the right shape (which also help remove impurities) and/or twisting it with more tongs. Once in the right shape, you cool the metal in either water or oil (it matters which you choose).
What You Need
A metal to work with: This can be steel, iron, whatever. You don’t have to go out mining for ore. You can use scrap metals from junk.
A fuel source: Some use coal due to the ease of use and tradition. Some use propane due to the clean nature of it. If you’re living off the grid, even wood can work.
A forge: this heats your work. Simple enough.
An anvil: you place the metal you’re working on on this. It will act as a solid and reliable surface for working on.
Tongs and Hammers: You need many different tongs to hold the object you’re working on. Round objects need different tongs than square ones, for example. Same with hammers, there is seldom one tool for every job.
I’ve often considered making aluminum bars out of all of the spare soda cans I go through. Maybe I could even cast them into trinkets and other items to sell for a profit.
If you’re interested in learning the proper blacksmithing process, check out this article on ArtofManliness. They go in much greater depth about the techniques and tools of such a trade.