Skip to content

Blacksmithing Throughout History

Blacksmithing Throughout History

Throughout history, the craft of blacksmithing has undergone numerous stages of evolution and modification. This practice has fluctuated in acceptance over time, coming dangerously close to extinction on multiple occasions. See how the trade has fared through these ups and downs by reading this brief account of blacksmithing's history throughout time. We'll talk about the process's initial beginnings and how it developed into the artisan craft that we all know and adore today.


Around 1500 BCE, the Hittites of Anatolia discovered smelting and were the first people to learn blacksmithing. The Iron Age—so-called because humans found iron ore—provided a vital starting point for blacksmithing. During this time, the most prevalent metals for smelting and manufacturing weapons were iron, bronze, and, subsequently, steel. The primitive fires of the past would eventually give way to modern forges powered by coal, charcoal, and gas.


In ancient blacksmithing, one of the most significant innovations was the use of charcoal as a forging fuel. The quality of old Smith's tools and other creations was still generally uneven since they had only a tenuous understanding of the principles and characteristics of iron ore. But during this same period, they also found steel, which they employed in their inventions. Steel's invention resulted in more powerful tools and weaponry. They were able to refine their smithing techniques and create more robust objects by using charcoal.


In the medieval era, blacksmiths were a daily requirement. Every town or village had at least one blacksmith because of the great need for more durable armor, weapons, tools, and other items. Additionally, specialized smiths created particular objects like chains, locks, silverware, nails, and more. Charcoal was the preferred fuel in this era. The standard modern fuel, coal, was not widely accessible until the nineteenth century when deforestation in both Britain and the United States of America was caused by human activity.


New machinery brought about by the Industrial Era ignited a surge in automation. Blacksmiths traditionally made swords, armor, tools, and parts, all of which humans have replicated in machines. Naturally, conventional smiths were unable to keep up with the output rate of automated machinery, which could create goods considerably more quickly. Village smithies could no longer compete with modern technology, so one by one, they began to close their doors.


Many town blacksmiths were forced to adapt when automation began to replace them in order to produce what machines couldn't. At this point, the farrier work that machines weren't occupied with was taken on by the Smiths. Old West smiths took on new vocations such as wheel and wagon repair, horseshoeing, and more. Throughout the Industrial Revolution, smiths had to compete with new technologies and offer a wide range of services and talents to stay in business.


Blacksmiths switched to creating custom iron and wrought pieces after the Industrial Revolution, which led to extensive automation. But from 1929 to 1939, during the Great Depression, consumers lacked the funds and resources to purchase bespoke goods. Numerous blacksmiths were forced to embark on whole new lives and professions.

A further hindrance to blacksmithing was the fact that all metals and other forging supplies were gathered for World War II production. During this period, smithing was not practicable outside of the automation employed to make car and airplane parts. During this time, society considered handmade, customized equipment and products to be outdated.


Long after the Great Depression's material and economic shortages, in the 1970s, blacksmithing began to gain notoriety. Many smiths started to pursue their artistic endeavors, even though the Industrial Revolution eliminated the necessity for smiths and metalworkers and rendered them obsolete. This brings us to the smiths of today, who create works of art, valuable objects, model weaponry, and more for exhibition or retail. Your neighborhood community center or technical institution may offer blacksmithing classes. Popular television programs like Forged in Fire and simple access to tools have led to a resurgence of interest in blacksmithing.


Blacksmithing methods from the past are still used in manufacturing, metalworking, and other mechanized processes even in this day of advanced technology. Steel is still primarily made by smelting, and smelting is an essential step in modern building. Heat is also used in welding processes to shape and reshape metallic components. A lot of artisan blacksmiths also use traditional blacksmithing methods to craft original works of art and replicas of historical artifacts. The development of smithing over the millennia has contributed to the current state of our society.


Even if most towns no longer have a blacksmith shop in the center, there are still plenty of supplies available. You can become a blacksmith and follow in the footsteps of many contemporary smiths. Establishing your metal forging workshop is now simpler than ever with the proper instruction and experience.


We hope you have gained new insight from this exploration of the historical development of blacksmithing. Even though forging technology and procedures have advanced, many of the traditional methods are still employed by contemporary manufacturing and metalworking companies. The majority of modern day blacksmiths use blacksmithing as a means of selling their handiwork and serving as a creative outlet.
Previous article How Technology Has Impacted Metalworking
Next article Tips On Deburring Stainless Steel

Compare products

{"one"=>"Select 2 or 3 items to compare", "other"=>"{{ count }} of 3 items selected"}

Select first item to compare

Select second item to compare

Select third item to compare