Blacksmithing: A Beginner's Guide
So you want to be a Blacksmith?
This is probably one of the more difficult professions to master, and definitely the most complex. But it can be very rewarding in terms of the rare and epic items you'll be able to make when you reach the Grand Master level. Just be aware that aside from Enchanting, this is probably the hardest craft to learn. It's also not a guaranteed money-maker, as your wares have to compete with loot drops that often have better stats than what you've created. This is not to say that you can't make money, you'll just have to be a bit more savvy when choosing what items to make.
The best choice by far is Mining because 90% of your materials will be mined. Also, as difficult as it can sometimes be to make money as a blacksmith, if you have to purchase all your ore and gems you will be very unlikely to make a profit. You also use leather and potions in some of your recipes, but probably not enough to justify taking one of those instead of Mining. It may be viable to learn a gathering profession purely for the extra cash, but mostly likely it would just balance out the money you are losing by purchasing all your ore. Truly the best option would be to collect your own ore, you can always sell the excess for additional income.
The first step on the road to Blacksmithing is to find a trainer. Any major city should have one of these, just ask a guard to mark your mini-map. There are also some trainers located in towns in various newbie zones, but this is not reliable so your best bet is to take care of this in the city.
There are a few items required for Blacksmithing that you'll need to purchase from a vendor. First is the Blacksmith Hammer, which you should have in your bags whenever you want to make an item. You don't need to equip it, just carry it with you. From time to time you'll need varying types of flux that appear to be used mostly in weapon recipes. Vendors also sell coal that is used to smelt steel bars. Coal can also be gotten from higher level elemental mobs, but at lower levels (under 30) you'll just have to buy it. Presumably by the time you need to smelt steel you should be able to farm the mobs that drop coal.
Finally, you'll need to use an anvil for most of the items you make. There are a few things like grinding, sharpening and weightstones that don't require an anvil. But most recipes do, so make sure you have access to one when you're ready to create something. Most cities and towns have an anvil, and there are even anvils out in the world at large, usually in camps with humanoids.
Your first few recipes will be very low level armor and weapons of inferior quality, not much better than the newbie loot that players get from mob drops. These items are unlikely to sell at all, so plan to sell them back to the vendor and take a loss on the materials. Your other option is to save them for the various quests that are available later on (listed below).
Whenever you gain a new recipe for grinding stones, use it as much as you can until the recipe goes gray. The grinding stones will always be needed for other recipes and it's an easy way to get skill points. Otherwise the general rule of thumb is to make orange-colored recipes as much as possible. Occasionally you can hedge your bets on a yellow recipe because they can still give decent skill increases just after they change from orange to yellow. It is rarely a good idea to craft green-colored recipes for skill points, the chance of getting a skill up is usually 25% or lower.
Once you have some green-quality items available to make, you can start listing your wares on the Auction House. If you have a choice between making a weapon or armor, at lower levels weapons are arguably a better choice. Lowbie weapons are harder to come by than armor. Odds are you'll see a glut of crafted armor on the Auction House at any given time (made by your fellow blacksmiths). But it's not unusual to look at the available weapons for players in the 5-50 range and see little or no selection. So don't bypass weapons just because they require more materials. In my experience they sold much better than armor and I was often able to make at least a modest profit on them.
Blacksmithing has the highest number of crafting quests of any profession in the game. Some of these are optional, but you gain new recipes by doing them. If you plan to do these quests it's a good idea to work them into your skill leveling plan. Since you'll basically be giving away the items you've made, you might as well be getting skill points for it. Here's a few of the various quests, to see all of them you can check out our Blacksmithing Recipe Chart and set the filter to Source = Quest.
|Quest||Level||Starts with||Items Needed|
|Supplying the Front (Alliance)||5||Tormus Deepforge (Ironforge)||6 Copper Axes|
6 Copper Chain Belts
|Gearing Redridge (Alliance)||5||Tormus Deepforge (Ironforge)||4 Runed Copper Belts|
4 Heavy Copper Mauls
|Barbaric Battlements (Horde)||32||Orokk Omosh (Orgrimmar)||2 Patterned Bronze Bracers|
2 Bronze Greatswords
2 Sharp Claws
|On Iron Pauldrons (Horde)||32||Orokk Omosh (Orgrimmar)||4 Bronze Battle Axes|
4 Bronze Warhammers
|Trampled Under Foot (Horde)||32||Orokk Omosh (Orgrimmar)||4 Green Iron Helms|
4 Green Iron Bracers
2 Green Iron Leggings
|Horns of Frenzy (Horde)||32||Orokk Omosh (Orgrimmar)||2 Solid Iron Mauls|
2 Silvered Bronze Boots
2 Silvered Bronze Gaultlets
Raising Your SkillFor each 75 skill points, you'll unlock a new level of crafting. Make sure you visit a trainer so you can raise your skill cap and continue gaining points for items you craft. At level 40 you can also choose a specialty of Armorsmithing or Weaponsmithing. Your trainer will usually direct you to the proper specialty trainer when you are ready to make your choice. Armorsmiths are required to complete the full quest line starting with Hank the Hammer in Stormwind or Ox in Orgrimmar as a prerequisite to Armorsmithing. After doing their quests, they send you to Galvan the Ancient in Stranglethorn Vale. Galvan will force you to hand over insane amounts of ore in order to learn his recipes. Once you've done that you can return to your faction city and start the Armorsmithing quest. Luckily Weaponsmiths don't have to do that quest if they prefer not to (but they'll be tortured later on, don't worry).
Other ways to make money
Blacksmiths have a great variety of items they can craft which are useful to other players, in addition to armor and weapons. This includes sharpening stones and weightstones, which add a temporary damage bonus when applied to a weapon. There are also Shield Spikes that add a damage bonus to shields, Mithril Spurs that give a speed increase to mounts, and weapon chains that makes it harder to to disarm a weapon. Any player can use these items, and some of them are consumable which should provide a steady market.
Blacksmiths are also the only source of the rods needed by Enchanters for their craft. For yourself, you can make skeleton keys that can open various locks in the game, similar to a Rogue's lockpicking ability. Leatherworkers and Tailors use our Iron Buckles for their belt recipes, and Engineers require the Inlaid Mithril Cylinders. So don't forget to add a few of these items to your crafting repertoire, some of them are nice cash generators.
That's right, there are more specialties in store for those that go the way of the Weaponsmith. When you reach 250 Blacksmithing and level 50, you can go to Everlook in Winterspring. There are three NPCs in the building with the banker and the auctioneer. Each of them starts a quest for one of the three Master level weapon specialties. If you want to be a Master Axesmith, speak with Kilram and get the Snakestone of the Shadow Huntress quest. To become a Master Swordsmith, talk to Seril Scourgebane and get the Corruption quest. To learn how to be a Master Hammersmith, talk to Lilith the Lithe and accept her quest Sweet Serenity. Each of these quests will take you through a level 60 instance and require you to kill a specific mob in order to complete it. You'll need a full group of level 55+ players to help you with this task. Luckily when you finish the quest, not only do you get a recipe as a reward but you'll now be able to learn any recipe in your new specialty, in addition to all the Weaponsmith recipes you had access to previously.
Imperial Plate Quests
You can skip these quests if you like, but you may be limited in your recipe options if you do. For those of you who want to increase faction with the Thorium Brotherhood, these quests are a necessity. It's very difficult to get faction with TB and this quest line is one of the few ways to do it. You must be level 50 and have 265 Blacksmithing skill for these quests to be available to you. Luckily any Blacksmith can learn these plans, not just Armorsmiths. The only other crafting option for leveling your smithing skill at this stage is the Radiant and Thorium armor, both of which are very hard to sell and predominantly unprofitable. The Imperial Plate items might be more marketable since they have good stats and a set bonus. Ultimately it's up to you whether this quest line is worth doing or not, those who are power-leveling their craft will likely bypass it.
The downside of these quests is that once again this guy wants obscene amounts of ore in exchange for the plans. Derotain Mudsipper in Gadgetzan will make you hand over 250 bars of thorium to get all of his plans, ouch! But if you decide not to do this quest line, it will take 230 dark iron ore to get the same amount of Thorium Brotherhood faction, so in the long run this is the less painful route.
Help! I want to Re-spec!!
This is an expensive mistake and a serious decision. If for some reason you decide that you don't like the specialty you've chosen and you want to re-specialize, there is a way out. If you decide to re-spec, you need to visit your previous specialty trainer and ask them to "unlearn" your specialty. They will charge you 100 gold to do so and all of your specialty recipes will be removed from your tradeskills window. After that, simply speak to your new trainer of the specialty you wish to learn and they will teach you their specialization. In the case of the various weaponsmithing specialties, the quest givers in Everlook cannot teach you any actual recipes. You'll need to find a Weaponsmithing trainer, such as the one in Ironforge or Shattrath City (both located near the city's forge) after you select your new specialization in Everlook.
Blacksmithing in Outland
For those of you with the Burning Crusade expansion, you'll be able to unlock the Master level of goodies up to 375 skill. The first thing you'll want to do is visit Honor Hold or Thrallmar in Hellfire Peninsula and find your Blacksmithing trainer. For Alliance this is Humphry, who can be found inside the forge at Honor Hold. For Horde players, Rohok can be found at the forge just south of the mage tower in Thrallmar. There are six new recipes you'll receive at 300 skill, but don't be in a hurry to use them just yet. You may notice that some of your old, pre-expansion recipes are still orange. These will give you skill points too, so if you still have old materials laying around you may as well use them for easy points. Another option is to make the Enchanted Thorium Blades, which is a new recipe but does not require any expansion materials.
If you don't have a stash of leftover thorium, I'd suggest starting with the consumable items and milk those as long as you can. As usual, crafted armor is not a good seller and you'd do well to avoid making it unless you want it for yourself. You should be able to reach at least 315 and possibly 320 just by using pre-BC recipes if you choose to go that route. Once you exhaust your pre-expansion materials, you'll be collecting Fel Iron and crafting items with it. Be aware that smelting ore into bars now requires two ore for each bar. So you'll need to collect twice as much ore for each item you plan to make.
As mentioned earlier, weapons are a better bet for sellable items than crafted armor. Most crafters prefer to make armor because of the lower materials requirement, and as a result lots of crafted armor gets posted for sale at a loss. This becomes even more of a problem with Death Knights on the scene who are already be geared with strong level 60 items. However, crafted gear in the 62+ range starts to pull ahead of DK Standard Issue garb, so it's worth trying your hand there. If you can swing it, make some of the melee weapons and you'll be more likely to recoup your investment. Melee weapons are generally in shorter supply than armor and tend to sell at better prices. And the starter DK weapons start to be less competitive past level 62, so you might be able to sell to folks looking to upgrade.
Generally speaking it's not too difficult to reach 340 skill with the various Fel Iron recipes from the trainer and a good supply of fel iron ore. Once you reach 340 skill, you'll probably be forced to start using Adamantite recipes to skill up. I would strongly recommend that you purchase the Lesser Rune of Shielding. It goes yellow immediately, but it is by far the cheapest recipe you'll have at this point. After that you can make any of the green adamantite weapons to skill up, even though the recipes are yellow they still give very good points. This would also be a good time to make any of the level 65 specialty items or or blue Adamantite gear that you're interested in having. The mats are fairly high, but the Adamantite Battlegear is a pretty good upgrade for leveling Death Knights. It might be worth making a few to see how they sell, this set could be pretty appealing to DK's who aren't running Outland dungeons.
Once you've reached 350 skill, you can pause to do the Dance of Joy. This is because the Wrath expansion has saved you from the ugliest portion of Blacksmithing. Before that, you were forced to collect 100+ bars of rare ore and 75+ primals to get the final 25 points in Blacksmithing. Now all you have to do is visit a trainer in Northrend and start learning Cobalt recipes.
Blacksmithing in Northrend
Luckily it is much easier to level this craft in Northrend than Outland, the recipes are pretty straightforward. You even catch a break on the ore collection duties, because cobalt bars go back to being one ore per bar. Don't worry, it doesn't last! But at least for a short while you get to enjoy a lighter load on materials. Here again, it's probably safer to stick with viable Death Knight items. While you'll be able to make some Paladin gear and caster weapons, there probably aren't many of those leveling up at any given time. For the most part you'll want to make items that have the lowest material cost, but feel free to make nicer items if you think they'll sell better. Once you reach 390 skill you'll start unlocking recipes for blue items. Try making a few of these, they are nice upgrades for leveling players. Once again I would stick with the melee gear, paladin items may be slightly cheaper but they have a much smaller pool of buyers.
If you're a PVP type, there are now crafted PVP items that Blacksmiths can make for plate-wearers. Those recipes can be learned at 420 skill. You can also start making Titanium items, such as the shield spike and the weapon chain. From here on out you'll be getting tons of new recipes for really nice items. It shouldn't be hard to find a niche you want to focus on and make good items to sell. Personally I got a number of points just crafting blue gear for guildmates who were leveling their Death Knights, so don't rule that out as an option.
Once you reach 440 skill you'll unlock all of your best recipes. This is when the epic gear is available, presumably what you've been working so hard to achieve. Beyond this you may not need to keep pushing your skill to the cap. Most of the remaining recipes are loot drops in Ulduar, plus one faction recipe for tanks. If this is not on your radar, feel free to stop once you've crafted the items you need. For more information on what the top sellers are for Blacksmithing, you can check out our Most Popular chart.
What Makes Us Special?
At 400 skill you'll be able to learn two new buff recipes for yourself: Socket Bracer and Socket Gloves. Adding a socket to your gear gives you an extra gem slot for more bonus stats. That's a pretty good perk in my book. Sockets are self-only, you can't make sockets for other players. There are also a handful of crafted items for Armorsmiths and Blacksmiths, which can be used at level 78 and require 415 skill to make. Weaponsmiths can make 3 different weapons and Armorsmiths can make a special chestplate and legplates. The major perk for Blacksmiths is probably the ability to make epic weapons and armor. While you can buy these items from the auction, being able to make them will very likely save you money. It will also aid you in gearing up for raids :)
Enjoy your new shinies and Good luck!