The definition of a Blacksmith according to the Collins English Dictionary is: an artisan who works iron with a furnace, anvil, hammer, etc.
Blacksmiths work with iron, the ‘black’ metal, and sometimes steel, its derivative. The term ‘smith’ originates from the word ‘smite’, which means ‘to hit’. Thus, a blacksmith is a person who smites black metal. Blacksmiths work by heating pieces of wrought iron or steel until the metal becomes soft enough to be shaped with hand tools, such as a hammer, anvil and chisel. Heating is accomplished by the use of a forge. The techniques of smithing may be roughly divided into forging (sometimes called “sculpting”), welding, heat treating, and finishing. Wikipedia
Products produced by Blacksmiths may include: wrought iron gates, grills, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, cooking utensils, horseshoes and weapons.
The tools used by a Blacksmith may include: Forges, Anvils, Tongs, hammers, brushes, brass rules, stamps, fullers, files, pritchels, aprons, power hammers and safety equipment including a Leather Apron and Safety Glasses.
Blacksmithing Qualifications include:
NCFE Level 3 Certificate in Creative Craft using Metalwork (QCF)
NCFE Level 2 Award in Creative Craft using Metalwork (QCF)
NCFE Level 1 Award in Creative Craft using Metalwork (QCF)
Edexcel Level 3 BTEC National Award in Blacksmithing and Metalworking
Edexcel Level 3 BTEC National Certificate in Blacksmithing and Metalworking
Edexcel Level 3 BTEC National Diploma in Blacksmithing and Metalworking
History of Blacksmithing:
Blacksmiths can be traced as far back as 1000 BC, where Egyptian and Asian Blacksmiths learnt to work with Iron. This skill did not reach Britian however, until around 450BC. Blacksmithing remained static until the 13th Century, at which time furnaces were starting to become water powered, allowing for production on a larger scale. Blacksmiths were becoming more popular with calls to make armour, weapons and tools and in 1325, the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, with the Worshipful Company of Farriers forming 31 years later.
The 15th Century saw the first blast furnace, paving the way for mass production. The Industrial Revolution in the late 18th Century converted the previously highly manual trade to one of complete automation. This heralded the end of the traditional Blacksmith, with today’s Blacksmith being very specialised.