As of Skyrim's 1.5 patch, you get differing values for smithing items in part due to their value. More expensive, more experience.

UPDATE 1.5 (all platforms unless noted)


  • New cinematic kill cameras for projectile weapons and spells

  • New kill moves and animations for melee weapons

  • Shadows on grass available (PC)

  • Smithing skill increases now factor in the created item’s value

  • Improved visual transition when going underwater

  • Improved distance LOD

  • transition for snowy landscapes

Emphasis mine. So what's the skinny? Are Iron Daggers and Leather bracers still the best way to skill up, or will I actually be better served with my hundreds of Dwarven Ingots?

  • According to the Smithing page on the wiki, the leather bracer/iron dagger leveling method no longer works as well
    – Domocus
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 1:36
  • I guess skill gain is proportional to item cost, so the most cost-effective items to craft will probably yield the most experience as well.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 1:51
  • 1
    @Alex more cost-effective items will produce more value for your resources, ergo more experience.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 12:15
  • 1
    Seems like the quickest and most efficient way to boost Smithing now is to get the Transmute Mineral Ore spell, turn all the iron ore you pick up or buy into gold, and go crazy smithing jewelry.
    – user23653
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 1:23
  • 1
    @oscilatingcretin As long as you've got the iron ore though, even simple gold rings (50 * 2) offer more value than an iron dagger (which requires leather to boot!) Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 22:53

7 Answers 7


According to UESP, formulas for XP gain post 1.5 update are as follows:

25 + (3 * item value ^ 0.65) base XP for constructing an item. 25 + (8 * item value ^ 0.6) base XP for improving an item Source: http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Leveling

[old info] I did a little bit of experiment while leveling up smithing after 1.5 beta came out. Based on the data I have gathered, it appears that the experience gained is roughly proportional to the square root of the value of the item created. Furthermore, it also appears that experience gain by improving an item at a grindstone or workbench works in the same manner. The gain in experience is proportional to the square root of value added.

So it seems that improving expensive items to super legendary state will contribute a lot to leveling up smithing in later stages.


To get from smithing level 52 to 53, I needed to make:

  • 17 iron daggers (value = 10)
  • 13.5 leather bracers (value = 25)
  • 7 leather armors (value = 125)
  • 11 gold rings (value = 75),
  • 7 gold necklaces (value = 125)
  • 3.5 elven bows (value = 470).

To get from level 81 to 82, I made

  • 4.2 Glass Warhammers (value = 985)
  • 6.3 Glass Waraxes (value = 490)
  • 9.5 Elven Swords (value = 235)
  • 12 Steel Shields (value = 150)
  • 25 Leather Bracers (value = 25)
  • 32 Iron Daggers (value = 10)

To get from 81 to 82, I improved:

  • Glass warhammer (value before = 985, after = 2298, value added = 1313, number = 3)
  • Glass warhammer (value before = 985, after = 1805, value added = 820, number = 4.5)
  • Glass waraxe (value before = 490, after = 1143, value added = 653, number = 4.5)
  • Elven sword (value before = 235, after = 548, value added = 313, number = 6.5)
  • Elven sword (value before = 235, after = 430, value added = 195, number = 10.2)
  • Interesting. That suggests that if value is generally in line with cost of materials, crafting cheap items is still the most efficient way to level up.
    – bwarner
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 15:35
  • 2
    @bwamer I think there's a little bit more to it than that. Iron Daggers grant a good bit less experience than before, which means more frequent runs to storage. You also have to consider time, where making one Gold Diamond Necklace grants 11x the experience of an Iron Dagger. Plus you may want to use all the supplies available from a merchant. Previously everything but leather and iron added no more XP; now everything does. It's starting to look like the best way is to use whatever raw materials you have to craft the highest-value items possible.
    – brymck
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 16:25
  • How did you make half of a leather bracer and half of an elven bow?
    – Amy B
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 17:28
  • @DavidB I believe this is where his science gets to be more 'ish' where 13 bracers wouldnt do it and 14 was too much so he put the mark at 13.5. But yeah I had to read what he did a few times to figure out that making all of those items got him from 52 to 53 individually, not combined :)
    – James
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 19:25
  • @James You are exactly right. Sorry I didn't make it clear. I eyeballed it when the experience bar went noticeably beyond next level. I gathered more data now and the pattern seems to hold.
    – Anderson
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 22:47

starting point: 85 skill with 1735 skill xp needed to level.


50 xp = leather bracer (1685 remaining)
99 xp = leather bracer x2 (1636 remaining)
247 xp = leather bracer x5 (1488 remaining)

95 xp = leather armor (1640 remaining)
283 xp = leather armor x3 (1452 remaining)

340 xp = leather helmet x5 (1395 remaining)


leather armor: 4 leather, 3 strips (4.75 leather)
125 value, 94.33 xp, 19.85 xp per leather

leather helmet: 2 leather 1 strip (2.25 leather)
60 value, 68 xp, 30.222 xp per leather

leather bracer: 1 leather, 2 strips (1.5 leather)
25 value, 49.4 xp, 32.933 xp per leather

Conclusion: If you are skilling up with leather only, you should continue making leather bracers. Leather Helmet and Leather Armor are not as efficient sources of xp per leather.


384 xp = iron dagger x10 (1351 remaining)
555 xp = iron dagger x10 + upgrade x10 (1180 remaining)

340 xp = iron warhammer x5 (1395 remaining) (see leather helmet)

Conclusion: Iron dagger still beats iron warhammer. Don't upgrade.

178 xp = elven helmet x2 (1557 remaining)
337 xp = elven helmet x2 + upgrade x2 (1398 remaining)

Conclusion: Elven materials are too expensive to skill up on.

426 xp = silver sapphire necklace x2 (1309 remaining)

Conclusion: don't sell gems, craft up the ones you find.

Final analysis: You are less screwed than before if you make items other than iron daggers or leather bracers, but those are still the easiest and most effective smithing items to make for leveling. In specific detail, my leveling plan is:

1. Gather leather as I wander
2. Buy out the vendor's iron supply
3. Craft iron daggers til out of iron
4. Craft leather bracers with the remaining leather.

If you don't want to make leather bracers and iron daggers... consider making bows - they have fairly high value to material ratios.

  • how do you measure xp?
    – Anderson
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 17:02
  • 2
    I use the xp adding command to add a specific amount of xp. Then I reload. If the xp leveled me, and xp - 1 didn't level me, then that's the amount of xp needed to level. Each measurement may involve loading the save 10-15 times. I measure xp needed to level before and after the crafting, take the difference and that's the xp gained by crafting.
    – Amy B
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 19:23
  • The PC console has the command GetXPForNextLevel which would help.
    – DGGenuine
    Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 19:23
  • @DGGenuine GetXPForNextLevel is leftover from Fallout 3, but doesn't return anything.
    – Amy B
    Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 20:46

The best and most cost effective way to level experience in my opinion is crafting of gold rings. Although it does require the purchase or finding of the alteration spell "Transmute."

  1. Buy all iron ore from merchants
  2. Transmute iron ore to gold ore
  3. Craft 2 gold rings per 2 gold ore
  4. Repeat

Very cost effective way to level smithing while leveling alteration. Although because merchants generally don't keep tons of iron ore I'd recommend stocking up whenever you see it.

  • 2
    The obvious iteration of your technique is to take all those gems you would otherwise just be selling and turn them into jewelry. They greatly increase the value of your end product for Smithing XP, Sales value (and thus Speech XP).
    – tjd
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 19:26

I have found the best way to upgrade smithing. Go to mzulft where the mission was for the college and the staff of Magnus. In there you can collect a lot of the dwemer artifacts and melt them down at a smelter and create a lot of dearven metal ingots and then as normal get lots of iron ingots and make dwarven bows, which cost 1 iron ingot and 2 dwarven ingots. (you can get around 2000 lbs. of dwarven artifacts in that place) note* not all of the artefacts can be melted down.


Enchanting and Alchemy will go up a certain amount of skill based upon the value of the item crafted. Smithing did not follow this progression which is why everyone would level just by making iron daggers and leather bracers. This will change that. While you will still be able to do nothing but those items, their low value will make it much more of a challenge and give incentives for making other types of arms and armor in order to progress your skill.

  • 2
    A very sensible thing to fix imo...
    – Holger
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 9:46
  • 4
    That doesn't really answer how value will affect experience gain.
    – kotekzot
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 12:11
  • This doesn't answer the question, and would be better as a comment. Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 14:35
  • @RavenDreamer You want me to hack the game apart and see if the value to skill formula is different than the ones already used for Enchantment and Alchemy?
    – James
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 16:08
  • @James No, I'd expect you to do some !!Science!! and try to establish how big a change this actually means for play. Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 19:22

This question is not the good question, but answer is it is an exponent of the value of the item created.
To make example, if value is 10 times as much it is worth about 5 times as much experience, if value is 5 times as much it is about 2.5 times as much experience. If value is 2 times as much is it about 1.5 times experience. With the note that the is a small set amount of experience is added that does not change for each craft. This still is not really a useful answer.

What people want to know is 3 things, 1. what should I acquire? 2. what items should I make? 3. should I improve them once I have made them?

Answer 1: All items you have the perks to work should be acquired. If you are heavy side of the tree you can use pretty much anything but Chitin plates, moonstone and malachite. Light side of the tree, everything but Dwarven, Orcish, and Stahlrim.

Answer 2: This will Change some by your skill level and what smith bonuses you have, see number 3. Silver - With any gems Gold - with any gems Leather - Leather Bracer Iron- Daggers Steel- Steel Helmet (with advanced armor perk Steel Plate Armor) Dwarven- Dwarven bow (When you can add 50% value by improving Dwarven Armor)
Moonstone- Elven bow (with quicksilver ingots) then Elven Armor. Chitin- Chitin Heavy Armor Orcish- Orcish helm (When you can add 50% value by improving Orcish Armor) Malachite- Glass Bow Ebony- Ebony bow or Nordic Carved Armor Daedric- Daedric Warhammer Stahlrim- Stahlrim Warhammer

3: You should improve anything is the value increased exceeds the percentage of the materials the improvement item represents. In a list by the improvement item.

Iron- if it will increase the item value by 10 or more Leather- if it will increase the item value by 15 Steel- if it will increase the item value by 50 Dwarven- if it increases item value by 75 Orcainium- If it will increase item value by 100 Quicksilver- if it increases item value by 200 I think all others- yes


After much deliberation and testing, I think the fastest and most cost effective way to level smithing is by making glass/dwarven/elven arrows. 1 ingot 1 firewood decent experience gain.

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