Smithing is the crafting skill for combat, providing the ability to create and improve (or temper) weapons and armor. The higher your skill level, the more you can improve weapons and armor. The Smithing skill tree has a total of 10 perks, requiring a total of 10 perk points to fill.
In-game description: The art of creating weapons and armor from raw materials, or improving non-magical weapons and armor.
|Perk||Description||ID||Skill Req.||Perk Req.||Notes|
|Steel Smithing||Can create Steel armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.||000cb40d||-||Also create Bonemold armor.DB|
|Arcane Blacksmith||You can improve magical weapons and armor.||0005218e||60 Smithing||Steel Smithing|
|Dwarven Smithing||Can create Dwarven armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.||000cb40e||30 Smithing||Steel Smithing|
|Orcish Smithing||Can create Orcish armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.||000cb410||50 Smithing||Dwarven Smithing|
|Ebony Smithing||Can create Ebony armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.||000cb412||80 Smithing||Orcish Smithing||Also create Stalhrim armor and weapons.DB|
|Daedric Smithing||Can create Daedric armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.||000cb413||90 Smithing||Ebony Smithing|
|Elven Smithing||Can create Elven armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.||000cb40f||30 Smithing||Steel Smithing||Also create Chitin armor.DB|
|Advanced Armors||Can create Scaled and Plate armor at forges, and improve them twice as much.||000cb414||50 Smithing||Elven Smithing||Also create Nordic armor and weapons.DB|
|Glass Smithing||Can create Glass armor and weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much.||000cb411||70 Smithing||Advanced Armors|
|Dragon Armor||Can create Dragon armor at forges, and improve them twice as much.*||00052190||100 Smithing||Daedric Smithing or Glass Smithing||Also create Dragonbone weapons.DG|
* The Dawnguard add-on changes this description to "Can create Dragon armor and Dragonbone weapons at forges, and improve them twice as much".
Smithing can only be performed at certain locations such as a Blacksmith's shop. In these designated areas you may find several types of tools:
- Grindstone: Sharpen weapons for extra damage. The higher your Smithing skill, the more the weapon damage is improved.
- Workbench: Allows you to improve armor. The higher your smithing skill, the more the armor rating is improved
- Forge: Create new weapons and armor from raw materials. What you can create is determined by your Smithing skill perks. With Hearthfire installed, you will also be able to create certain housebuilding materials.
- Anvil: Same effect as the Forge.
Source materials for smithing are created at other workstations. The following tasks are not directly governed by the Smithing skill, however:
- Tanning Rack: Create leather and leather strips from hides; hides are most commonly obtained by hunting animals.
- Smelter: Create ingots from raw ore or Dwemer scrap metal; raw ore is most commonly obtained by mining.
While the skill tree might appear to be a circle, it is really two separate paths, both ending at Dragon Armor, which allows creation of the best light armor (Dragonscale) and second-best heavy armor (Dragonplate). Players may wish to focus exclusively on one of the two branches — either the left-hand branch (primarily light armor), or else the right-hand branch (almost all heavy armor). The left-hand branch is shorter, requiring one fewer perk than the right-hand branch to reach Dragon armor.
Since the left-hand branch includes medium-quality heavy armor (steel plate, via the Advanced Armors perk), the left-hand branch can also be a good choice for heavy armor specialists. Also note that damage reduction from armor maxes out at 567 displayed armor rating, which can be achieved with nearly any armor in the game given sufficient improvements via tempering and armor skill. Therefore the difference in armor rating between Dragonplate and the best heavy armor, Daedric, is not necessarily significant. The lighter weight of Dragonplate armor may be of more importance, unless you have either the Conditioning perk or activate The Steed Stone, both of which negate the adverse effects of heavy weight.
The available weapons are also an important difference between the left and right branches. Both ebony and Daedric weapons are better than glass ones, which is the best type offered by the left-hand branch. However, when upgraded to Legendary quality, the damage difference between a glass weapon and a Daedric one will be less than 10% (exact number depends on weapon type). The Dawnguard add-on also adds the ability to create the even stronger Dragonbone weapons, provided the respective perk is purchased.
Using the Grindstone/Workbench allows the refinement of weapon/armor depending on the character's Smithing level. The levels of item qualities are Fine, Superior, Exquisite, Flawless, Epic, and Legendary. The Smithing level required to unlock these qualities depends upon whether the character has the Smithing perk of the item's material. Unlike Enchanting, the same improved weapon/armor can be modified again if your Smithing skill increases or by using potions or enchanted apparel that provide a Fortify Smithing effect: this of course costs another ingot of whatever metal or item is involved in improving it.
|Quality Level||Quality||Smithing Level Required||Rating Bonus|
|Without Perk||With Perk||Chest Armor||Other †|
- Quality levels continue past Legendary, although the displayed quality will not reflect that. Each new level increases chest armor ratings by 3.6 and weapon/other armor ratings by 1.8, resulting in an increase of about +0.1 per effective skill point for armor, and +0.05 for other items.
- "Fortify Smithing" equipment and potions directly improve the effectiveness of refining equipment, thus allowing any item to be made Epic or Legendary. Without these, it is impossible to improve a plain Iron or Leather item (or similar item which has no associated perks at all) beyond "Flawless" (100 in the skill), even though better-quality items might be made "Epic" or "Legendary" with the necessary perks.
- For instance, say you have a Smithing level of 45 (with Dwarven Smithing perk), and pieces of elven and Dwarven equipment you want to improve. With appropriate supplies, you would improve the Dwarven to Exquisite, but the elven only to Superior. A plain Iron item would also be limited to Superior because of the lack of an associated perk, even though a Steel item could be made Exquisite (due to Steel Smithing being a pre-requiste perk for Dwarven Smithing).
- The maximum achievable effective (as if you had no perk) skill depends on multiple factors, but the maximum in the base, patched game is based on maxing out alchemy and enchanting, then making a fortify enchantment potion or potions, enchanting while affected to make a fortify alchemy "suit" of 4 items that all have fortify alchemy, then brewing the potions, and so on, until improvement stops; then, using your alchemy suit and your enchanting potion(s), you make a fortify smithing suit and a fortify smithing potion or potions. This gets you a maximum "effective" skill of 974, or quality 29 (the same as maximum effective skill 958). There are two modifications many players download for their games that raise this:
- The Dragonborn add-on includes some new Fortify effects for Enchanting and Alchemy; see the enchanting article for instructions. This will raise the maximum to 1267, the same as 1266: quality 38.
- Version 2.0.0 of the Unofficial Skyrim Patch fixes the Notched Pickaxe so that it adds 5 to your smithing skill, as it claims it does. This is not a standard Fortify Smithing effect (which applies to tempering directly, not skill level), but rather a straight +5, like Fortify effects normally affect armor skills. This raises the maximum to 1030, the same as 1026: quality 31.
- If you have both, the maximum is 1340, the same as 1336: quality 40.
- These additional levels are shown below.
|Quality Level||Quality||Smithing Level Required||Rating Bonus|
|Without Perk||With Perk||Chest Armor||Other †|
The rating bonus provided from a given quality Q equals 3.6Q − 1.6, rounded up. Non-chest items (weapons, shields, boots, and other secondary armor) receive half the bonus (before rounding).
- Other equations, such as the benefit a piece of armor or weaponry receives from skill, uses the unrounded number.
- quality level = (effective skill + 38) × 3/103, rounded down
- effective skill = (base skill − 13.29)(1 + perk)(1 + Σenchantments)(1 + potion) + 13.29,
- perk is 1 if you have the relevant armor smithing perk, otherwise this is 0
- Σenchantments equals the sum of your Fortify Smithing enchantments divided by 100
- potion equals the effect of your Fortify Smithing potion divided by 100 (e.g. 20% increase → 0.2 in the formula).
With a base smithing skill of 100, the relevant armor smithing perk, four 29% fortify smithing enchantments, and a 130% fortify smithing potion, the effective skill equals 874.84 (item quality = Legendary 26), which yields a bonus of +93 to chest armor and +47 to other items - 234 total without a shield. Without the perk, the same yields an effective skill of 444.07 (item quality = Legendary 14), or 49 and 25, respectively - 124 total. Due to the fact that a full set of perks in the relevant armor skill plus 100 skill points gives an approximate multiplier of 4.375 to armor rating, and because a full suit of armor provides an additional 100 armor points, with only slightly better enchantments and potion, you'd be able to bring armor with zero armor points up to the cap of 667 - and none such exist. This is why it eventually doesn't matter what you're wearing - any armor suit in the game can reach the cap.
The following races provide initial skill bonuses in Smithing:
- Ghorza gra-Bagol in Markarth (Common)
- Balimund in Riften (Expert)
- Eorlund Gray-Mane in Whiterun (Master)
- GunmarDG in Fort Dawnguard (Master)
- The Armorer's Challenge
- Cherim's Heart
- Heavy Armor Forging
- Last Scabbard of Akrash
- Light Armor Forging
- +1 Smithing reward from Oengul War-Anvil for completing the quest Find Queen Freydis's Sword inside <Dungeon>.
- +1 Smithing reward from Rustleif for completing the quest Rare Gifts.
- +1 Smithing reward from Ghorza gra-Bagol for completing the quest Skilled Apprenticeship.
- +1 Smithing reward (as well as +1 to all other combat skills) from Giraud Gemane (Bards College) for completing the quest Rjorn's Drum.
- +5 Smithing reward (as well as +5 to all other combat skills), if you choose "The Path of Might" when reading the Oghma Infinium.
Gaining Skill XP
A few basic tips:
- Crafting items at forges gives the largest overall skill increases.
- Improving items at workbenches or grindstones gives skill increases based on the value added to the item at a rate similar to crafting.
- Smelting items at a smelter does not give skill increases.
- Tanning hides does not give skill increases.
Animal hides provide plenty of free leather, and are lighter than the leather created from them. Process them into leather just before creating or upgrading items. Leather bracers provide the most XP per leather.
For the fastest leveling, make sure you have the Warrior Stone active (20% faster), and have slept in the past 8 hours (+5–15% faster, depending). You should also consider completing the quest Unfathomable Depths (see §Bugs).
XP gain for smithing an item follows the following formula:
- ΔXP = 3 × item value0.65 + 25.
Because of the flat 25 XP for each item created, it usually is of greater benefit to craft many cheap items than few valuable items. For example, making 5 iron daggers requires 5 iron ingots and gives (38.4 × 5 =) 192 XP. Making one iron armor uses the same amount of materials but yields only 94.2 XP.
Making gold or silver jewelry can quickly level up smithing without perk investment. Players can cast Transmute Mineral Ore to convert iron ore to silver ore and silver ore to gold ore. An iron dagger (10 gold) yields 38.4 XP per ore chunk, whereas 2 gold rings (150 gold total) yield 51.5 XP per ore chunk—34% more efficient Smithing XP gain, along with Alteration XP from the transmuting.[verification needed — these values were changed] Halted Stream Camp has a free Transmute Mineral Ore spell tome and lots of iron ore.
Combining gold or silver ingots with gems increases the value of the item and thus the skill gain. For example, using an additional flawless diamond to craft a gold diamond necklace (see Jewelry) boosts XP yield to 163 XP per ore, albeit flawless diamonds can only be obtained after level 40. See the following table for a comprehensive list of XP gains using gems:
|Silver Garnet Ring||53.1||Garnet|
|Silver Amethyst Ring||56.4||Amethyst|
|Silver Ruby Ring||68.2||Ruby|
|Silver Jeweled Necklace||83.8||2× Flawless Garnet|
|Gold Jeweled Necklace||96.0||2× Flawless Amethyst|
|Gold Sapphire Ring||97.7||Sapphire|
|Gold Ruby Necklace||103.1||Flawless Ruby|
|Silver Sapphire Necklace||106.3||Flawless Sapphire|
|Gold Emerald Ring||118.5||Emerald|
|Silver Emerald Necklace||130.9||Flawless Emerald|
|Gold Diamond Ring||137.3||Diamond|
|Gold Diamond Necklace||163.0||Flawless Diamond|
XP gain for improving an item approximately follows the following formula:
- ΔXP = 3.8 × Δitem value0.5 × ΔQ0.5
where Δitem value is the amount that the item's gold value increased from the improvement, and Q is the quality number of the item (Q = 0, 1, 2, ... is No Improvement, Fine, Superior, ...). Note: the reason that the delta value is used instead of the item value is because calculating the delta of enchanted items using the multipliers doesn't work, and the multipliers are not always accurate on non-enchanted items either.
For example, improving an iron armor from Fine (value = 145) to Exquisite (value = 187) is a value difference of (187 - 145) = 42 and a quality change of 3 - 1 = 2, so the predicted ΔXP = 3.8 × (42)0.5 × (2)0.5 ≅ 34.8 XP.
With the Dwarven perk and smithing at or above level 40 improving Dwarven bows will garner significant XP using readily available (or smelted) Dwarven ingots and easily craftable Dwarven bows. Once the Ebony perk is unlocked creating and improving Ebony bows will garner five times the XP of improving Dwarven bows.
With Hearthfire installed, crafting 10 nails yields the same XP as an iron dagger, but doesn't require leather strips.
With Dawnguard installed, iron arrows are a good way to level up Smithing at low levels. A stack of 24 iron arrows gives almost as much XP per ore as gold rings, without the necessity of learning Transmute. Dwarven arrows are even better, if you have the Dwarven Smithing perk. Collect all Dwemer scrap metal that you find in your travels. A couple of Dwemer ruins can yield 100 ingots; carefully collecting every bit of available metal in every Dwemer ruin will yield over 1200 ingots, producing over 28,000 arrows which can easily raise your Smithing level by 40 or more. You can wait to sell the arrows since they weigh nothing. Other types of arrow are generally less efficient, since other metals require two ores per stack of arrows.
With Dawnguard, complete the Lost to the Ages quest and create the Aetherial Crown. Use the Crown to gain both The Warrior Stone and The Lover Stone effects, granting a 35% boost to Smithing XP. Acquiring the Ancient Knowledge ability gives you an additional 15% boost, and finally, sleeping in a bed you own can give you a 10% (15% with a spouse) bonus. This adds up to a potential 65% boost to XP when Smithing. Note that you must store the Lover Stone effect in the Aetherial Crown, and remove it before sleeping to gain both bonuses. Also, the sleeping bonus is prevented if you are infected with lycanthropy.
Two achievements are related to smithing:
- Artificer (10 points/Bronze) — Make a smithed item, an enchanted item, and a potion
- Stalhrim CrafterDB (20 points/Silver) — Craft an item out of Stalhrim
- Unlike other Elder Scrolls games, weapons and armor do not degrade with use, and therefore repairs are not necessary.
- One good place for players trying to quickly increase the Smithing skill is inside and outside of Warmaiden's in Whiterun because there is access to all Smithing equipment, and Adrianne Avenicci and Ulfberth War-Bear are available to quickly buy and sell items. Be aware, however, that Adrianne will occasionally go inside the shop, at which point she shares her available money with Ulfberth.
- Improving or enchanting a stolen item will not remove its 'stolen' status; however, improving or creating items with stolen components does not mark the resulting items as stolen.
- Without the Dawnguard add-on or the use of mods, it is impossible to craft arrows.
- Smithing jewelry can be the most effective way to boost your skill level after completing the quest No Stone Unturned.
- The bonus from Ancient Knowledge is applied after any tempering. In the base game, this means that Dwarven armor will improve less than all other armors, all else being equal. With the unofficial patch, Dwarven armor bonuses improve more than all other armors, meaning that it will eclipse even Daedric armor for overall protection with only moderate levels of Smithing.
- After improving a weapon, the damage difference with your equipped weapon may not update.
- To resolve this, either equip another weapon or unequip your current weapon.
- Ancient Knowledge gives a 25% bonus while wearing any type of armor (not just Dwarven) and increases effective smithing skill by 15% when tempering weapons and armor instead of giving a smithing leveling bonus of 15%.
- If you make your Smithing skill legendary, then raise your skill and reselect the Arcane Blacksmith perk, you may be unable to improve enchanted weapons and armor, especially ones that have been given two enchantments.