'Crafting skills' may not be an official moniker for Enchanting, Alchemy, and Smithing in Skyrim, but it does highlight not only the purpose these three serve, but also the way in which they can all combine together.
Maxing out your Enchanting, Alchemy and Smithing skills is the fastest way to god-like status in Skyrim. A full set of Enchanted, fully improved, Daedric Armor, boosted by potions fortifying your Enchanting and Smithing along the way, is enough to get you through most of Skyrim's hardest dungeons and encounters - and that's not even taking into account these skills' most important use.
By hitting top level in Enchanting in particular, you can craft a set of armor with a strong enough enchantment to make all spellcasting completely free from magicka costs - meaning the game's highest-level spells are available to use infinitely as soon as you can learn them. Full upgraded and improved armor from Smithing, combined with enchantments fortifying your defense, will let you take on considerably stonger enemies than ought to be possible - meaning a dramatically increased speed for levelling Heavy Armor, Light Armor, and Blocking skills. Finally, Alchemy at top-level opens up some of the game's most outlandish possibilities, not least the chance to use an enchanting and potion-making loop to earn huge sums of money.
Basically, they're pretty great skills to master, and we think you should do so first, in particular, when you want to power-level anything else, and here we'll be teaching you exactly how to do so.
How to reach level 100 Enchanting - the best, fastest way to max level skills
The first skill we'll talk you through levelling here is, we believe, the most important, thanks to the aforementioned armor-enchanting possibilities we touched upon above. There are two ways to do it, one being the slightly more time-efficient option for just maxing your Enchanting skill alone, the other a more efficient choice for maxing multiple skills at a time (including Smithing) and earning your more money, but also much more time-consuming as a result.
The first method, then, involves simply enchanting and disenchanting everything you can spare, buy, and find:
- Fill some Soul Gems - Unfortunately, all of the once-possible exploits for duplicating Soul Gems have since been patched out, so your only hope now is to do it manually. Mages in keeps like Dragonsreach are a good place to buy them, filled and empty. We suggest killing some Draugr in one of Skyrim's many crypts to quickly fill them up.
- Get some stuff - Anything enchantable will do, so Smithing items, buying them, or finding them in the world around you is an acceptable method. Although, if you do want to keep an eye on the wallet at the same time, then we suggest choosing weapons rather an apparel, and enchanting with a spell from the 'Banish' school, which provides the highest-value items when crafted. Note that all enchantments grant the same amount of experience, so Banish-type ones are only going to help with recouping some money spent on buying goods.
- Sell your enchanted weapons - You'll likely have to much to sell at just one shop, so the best way to go about it is to sell as much as you can from a general goods store, buy up all their Soul Gems, sell up whatever else you can with that additional money they now have, and then move to another store in the next city by fast-travel and repeat. By doing so, each store will have refreshed their stock (it takes 48 hours) by the time you return, meaning you can repeat as many times as you like, enchanting after each circuit of the major cities.
The above method shouldn't take long to get you to level 100 Enchanting - you're looking at a couple of real-world hours at the most. However, it's not necessarily the most efficient, in terms of time or money, if you plan on levelling other skills such as Smithing, Speech, or funnily enough... Alteration.
To max your Enchanting whilst making some early progress on those other skills too, try the following:
- If you'd like to level your Alteration too, mine some Iron Ore - Iron mines are all over Skyrim, and Iron Ore can also be purchased very cheaply from most weapon and general goods stores in the game.
- Use the Transmute Mineral Ore spell to turn Iron Ore to Gold - whilst Iron Daggers were the original method for quickly maxing out your Smithing, that was changed in a patch mid-way through Skyrim's lifetime on the old console generation. Now, the XP awarded from Smithing is more heavily weighted by value, and as such jewelry - specifically Gold Rings - is the most efficient option. If you have a large amount of Magicka, advanced skill with Alteration, or rapid Magicka regen, the fastest method here is to use the Transmute Mineral Ore spell (a Spell Tome can be found for this in the mine at Halted Stream Camp, just north-west of Whiterun), to turn Iron Ore into Silver Ore and Silver Ore into Gold Ore. Otherwise, there's a literal Gold mine at Kolskeggr Mine, due south of the Lover Stone, which skips out that step.
- Smith large quantities of Gold Rings - Get smelting! Remember that, if you'd still rather craft weapons, or don't want to bother with Alteration, the most valuable weapon enchantment is the 'Banish' effect under the school of Conjuration. Iron Daggers are the go-to crafting item this way.
- Enchant the Gold Rings - head to an Arcane Enchanter and get stuck into those rings. Unlike Smithing, Enchanting grants a flat amount of XP for each item crafted, and variable amounts for items disenchanted. That means your best bet is to do as you did in the process above, and buy up every pre-filled Petty or Lesser Soul Gem you can find (fast-travelling to each city's merchants again is the best method here, to refresh their stock on each circuit), and then enchanting each Gold Ring one at a time. If you're looking to maximise profit here too, look to use an enchantment of Fortify Sneak, as that offers the highest value on hand-based items.
- Rinse and repeat - whilst merchants will typically only have a small amount of gold on them at a time, you can add to their buying power by purchasing goods from them yourself. This means that you can always buy new crafting materials, and always sell your products, whist making money at the same time. When the merchants get low, buy more Soul Gems and Iron or Gold, and when you get too low to buy more materials, sell your enchanted Gold Rings for profit. Again, you can also use the fast-travel circuit to each city's stores to keep them constently stocked-up if you have plenty to buy and sell.
Repeating this process until you hit level 100 Enchanting should also raise your Smithing significantly - although not to the max - and likewise make a good start on your Alteration and Speech skills, too. You'll also probably have a pretty huge amount of money in the bank, too - although one final note is that your enchantments with the same bonus, such as Banish or Fortify Sneak, do gradually grant lower value items as you repeat them, so mix it up with some other enchantments after a while, too.
How to reach level 100 Smithing
Unfortunately, as of a patch way back in the Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3 era, the Iron Daggers method is no more. Now, experience yields from Smithing are based on the value of the item, as opposed to a flat per-item rate. That means that a certain Gold Ring method is now your go-to means of getting Smithing to level 100:
- Get ahold of some Gold - There are two ways to do this, as we mentioned in the Enchanting guide above. The first, and simplest if you're without any max level skills, is to simply mine some from Kolskeggr Mine, due south of the Lover Stone. The second, and fastest, if you've already maxed your Enchanting (which you should!), involves enchanting yourself a full set of apparel with the reduce Alteration cost enchantment. At level 100 Enchanting, with the right Perks unlocked, you can put a 25% cost reduction on four items, meaning the spell cost is zero. Then, with the Alteration spell Transmute Mineral Ore, you can turn any easily-bought-or-mined Iron Ore into Gold Ore at an alarming rate.
- Craft Gold Rings - Yep, it's that simple. Gold Rings are the most efficient value-to-resources-required rated item discovered so far, as although they're worth less than Gold Necklaces, you get two Gold Rings for every one Gold Ingot, as opposed to one Necklace. If you have any rare gems (Diamonds in particular) then you should combine them into Necklaces of course, as value is most important. Otherwise, spam the Gold Rings until your thumbs are sore, and eventually you'll get to level 100.
Want more help with Skyrim? Find out how to join every guild and faction, how to earn Gold fast, learning about XP and levelling to 100, max Crafting skills, max Warrior skills, max Thief skills and max Mage skills, how to get married, where to buy a house, how to start Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn DLC expansions. If you're on PC, we have a list of console commands and cheats, and you can learn about the remastered version and how to install mods with our Skyrim guide. Finally, with Switch owners, we have Skyrim amiibo support explained to help unlock special Zelda-themed items.
How to reach level 100 Alchemy
After Enchanting and Smithing, one of the other most useful skills to get to level 100 is Alchemy, seeing as it'll allow you to increase your weapons, armor, and enchantment strength beyond the maximum you'll hit from being level 100 in those skills.
Because of the complex nature of crafting potions, there's no definitively best way to get your skill to level 100. There are, however, several things worth bearing in mind:
- Alchemy XP gains depend on the value of the potions you craft - rather than the potion's strength or the ingredients' rarity, value is the sole determinant in how much XP you get from each potion made.
- Remember that enchanted apparel will level you faster - Because more Alchemy experience is awarded for creating more valuable potions, and the Fortify Alchemy enchantment will give your potions a higher value, it pays once again to have maxed out your Enchanting skill before you start to power level your Alchemy.
- The highest value potion in vanilla Skyrim is a Fortify Health potion - Recipes include: Giant's Toe, Bear Claws, and Hanging Moss; Giant's Toe, Creep Cluster and Wheat; or Giant's Toe, Blue Butterfly Wing and Mountain Flower. Giant's Toe adds a signifiant multiplier to Fortify Health potions of all kinds, whilst the other two ingredients provide a combination of the two other most valuable effects that can be added to that potion.
- It can still be faster to simply buy every ingredient you see - because of the rarity of Giant's Toes, it can often be faster to simply craft as many potions as possible from ingredients found at merchants or randomly in the wild. Discovering as many effects as possible (by eating ingredients or randomly crafting) will allow you to combine high-value effects into potions relatively quickly from the crafting menu.
- The best place to craft potions is Arcadia's Cauldron in Whiterun - Arcadia is also an Expert-level Alchemy trainer, meaning she can train you up to level 75 in the skill. Combining five levels of skill training for each player level will mean that she always has large amounts of money to buy your potions, whilst you can easily wait 48 hours in her shop for a restocking of her ingredients.
That's all you need to get totally prepared, at last, for levelling up your Mage Skills, Thief Skills and Warrior Skills, but also be sure to take a good read over our main hub for Skyrim power-levelling too, for some essential advice about speeding up the entire process!