NRBA Blacksmith Curriculum

NRBA Instructor Certification Spring 2014

Level I Details

Level II Details

Level III Details

Starting with making your own tools

Mastering all the details

The ABANA Blacksmith Curriculum and its Implementation by the Northern Rockies Blacksmiths Association NRBA

The Northern Rockies Blacksmiths Association (NRBA) implemented an Education Program on the basis of the Blacksmith Curriculum of the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America (ABANA). See ABANAs report on our program in The Anvils Ring. A our first blacksmith instructor training was held with Mark Aspery in May 2014. NRBA currently has 8 certified Blacksmith Instructors. If you are interested in becomming a volunteer NRBA blacksmith curriculum instructor please email or call one of the NRBA board members.

NRBA's Spring Conferences on the third weekend of May are designated to teach the Blacksmith Curriculum to NRBA members. In addition our Instructors sometimes offer classes at their own shops or teach the curriculum to their employees.

ABANA Blacksmith Curriculum

ABANA has developed a Blacksmith Curriculum that is supposed to be the basis for a formal blacksmith education countrywide. Mark Aspery and John McLellan with the help of many others have been driving this effort. The ABANA Blacksmith Curriculum lists the different skill sets a blacksmith needs to develop and describes a training program to acquire those skills. After successfully finishing the curriculum activities a student is eligible for placement under the ABANA / NOMMA (North American Ornamental Metal Association). The Curriculum consists of 9 Levels:



Level Name

Examples of Contents



Getting Started

Safety, fire management, forging a punch, drift



How Metal Moves, Forging Square Corners

Forge weld ring, make square C-clamp, tenon and hole joinery



Scrollwork and Collars

Forge different kind of scrolls and collars, free hand and with jig



Leaf Work and Tooling

Making crimping stake, leafing hammer, forging water leaves



Anvil Tooling and Bench Work

Making chisels, anvil tooling, forging welded collar



Small Scale Joinery, Pass Throughs

Punch and drift in square, round, round at different angles



Large Scale Joinery

Heel tenon, square blockings, making hinges




Making repoussee tools, forging Acanthus leaves


2 weeks

Grille Project

Forging the Journeyman Grille to exact specifications

If you are interested in more details about the ABANA curriculum click here to get the 16 page detailed description. The 9 ABANA levels translate into the 3 CBA and NRBA levels as follows: Level 1 is Level I, Levels 2 Dž give Level II, and Levels 4 Nj translate into Level III.

Northern Rockies Blacksmith Association (NRBA) Blacksmith Education Program Overview

Printable PDF Version

NRBA Blacksmith Curriculum

The basis for the education program of the Northern Rockies Blacksmiths Association (NRBA) is the National Curriculum of the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America (ABANA). NRBAs curriculum education program also contains ideas and information taken from the California Blacksmith Association's curriculum program implementation and individuals involved in ABANAs and CBAs education efforts, especially Mark Aspery and John McLellan. David Osmundsen and Frank Annighofer have adopted the program for NRBA. NRBAs curriculum certifications are meant to assure the same quality levels as defined by ABANA nationwide. This means an NRBA level 1 certificate is equivalent to a Californian CBA level 1 certificate. NRBAs education program resembles the ABANA and CBA programs, but it is NRBAs own program and may be adjusted as needed and as the national program is implemented on a broader basis. There will be 3 levels of certification once the program is fully implemented: Level 1 - Apprentice , Level 2 - Advanced, and Level 3 - Journeyman Blacksmith. Currently (September 2015) only Level 1 of the curriculum implementation has been defined in detail by NRBA. Level II should be ready by May 2017.

Management of the Program

This program will be managed by an Education Committee appointed by the board of directors. It will be made up of three NRBA members. At least one of them has to be a board member and one has to be a senior instructor. A senior instructor is a member holding the currently highest instructor certification with NRBA. This committee will take responsibility for the education program and be accountable to the board of directors.

Skill Levels

The NRBA Education Program is divided up into three skill levels. Level 1, Apprentice; Level 2, Advanced and Level 3, Journeyman. Any NRBA member can work at achieving these certifications. The training should be accomplished in numerical order to get the most from the program as each level builds on the previous one.


One of the first things needed to run a teaching program is certified instructors to teach the program. This was accomplished May 2014 by inviting Mark Aspery to come and conduct a five day training and evaluation class in Roscoe, Montana. NRBA currently has six Level 1 and two Level 2 instructors. Level 1 instructors can teach Level 1 curriculum only. Level 2 instructors can teach Level 1 and 2 curriculum. Level 3 instructors can teach all three levels. A Level 2 instructor can certify a Level 1 instructor to become a Level 2 instructor and a Level 3 instructor can certify a Level 1 or 2 instructor to the next level. Since we have no Level 3 instructors at this time Mark Aspery has agreed to help with our first Level 3 certification when somebody meets the requirements. NRBA instructors need to be members in good standing and need to follow our safety policy.

Voluntary Teaching

In return for a subsidized instructors certification we will require each instructor to teach or be actively involved in a NRBA teaching program, a minimum of 40 hours a year. This can be accomplished by conducting NRBA classes in the instructors personal shop, coaching a student in their shop, teaching or demonstrating at a NRBA conference or being involved with the NRBA Education Committee. The number of hours may be reduced as more instructors are certified. This is to be done on a voluntary basis, however if an instructor conducts NRBA classes in their personal shop they can charge a reasonable fee for supplies and materials. The amount of time each instructor commits to the NRBA Education Program a year will be on the honor system, however there are some checks and balances built into the program for the Education Committee to monitor an instructors involvement. NRBA instructors will be allowed to teach the curriculum on a commercial basis if they meet their voluntary teaching goal as described. NRBA will require each student to be a member in good standing in order to receive an official certificate. The board might require a certification fee to be paid to offset costs of the program.

Student Reasonability

Each student, upon inquiring to the Education Committee, will receive a packet of information including a NRBA membership form (in the event they are not already a member), a description of the program, an instructors contact list, a check list of skills and any technical drawings appropriate to the level they are inquiring about. After that it is the individual's reasonability to follow through with the program. All NRBA instructors will be provided with the same packet to facilitate any personal contacts.

Location of Teaching

It is assumed that many people wanting the Level 1 instruction may not have their own shop set up. Instructors may conduct instruction at their personal shop. For students having a shop, instructors may teach at the student’s facility. NRBA assumes no reasonability for any liability at an instructors or students shop. Safety is the first skill on the check list and should be part of every session. In addition to an instructors or students shop for teaching, NRBA will commit time at conferences to the teaching program. NRBA instructors will conduct teaching programs, either hands on training or demonstrations of the curriculum.


A student's work will be judged on the basis of NRBAs Guidelines for Assessing Student's Work. Accomplishment of a certain level has to be approved by two instructors or a board member and an instructor. At least one of these has to have seen the student work through part of the curriculum exercises. The final work piece is part of the evaluation. The education committee will recommend a student for certification and certificates will be issued by NRBA, signed by the chairman of the education committee and the president of NRBA. Certificates will be issued two times a year at the conferences.

Links to More Curriculum Information

NRBA Safety Policy

Anvils Ring Article about NRBA Education Program

Guidelines for Assessing Student Work

List of NRBA Certified Blacksmiths and Instructors

The ABANA Curriculum as of July 2011

Curriculum articles in ABANA's Hammer's Blow Magazine

Curriculum education of California Blacksmith Association