|Blacksmith - from Wikipedia
A blacksmith is a metalsmith who creates objects from
wrought iron or steel by forging the metal, using tools to hammer, bend,
and cut (cf. whitesmith). Blacksmiths produce objects such as gates, grilles,
railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements,
decorative and religious items, cooking utensils and weapons.
While there are many people who work with metal such as
farriers, wheelwrights, and armorers, the blacksmith had a general knowledge
of how to make and repair many things, from the most complex of weapons
and armor to simple things like nails or lengths of chain.
Origin of the term
The "black" in "blacksmith" refers to the black fire scale,
a layer of oxides that forms on the surface of the metal during heating.
The origin of "smith" is debated, it may come from the old English word
"smythe" meaning "to strike" or it may have originated from the Proto-German
"smithaz" meaning "skilled worker."
Blacksmiths work by heating pieces of wrought iron or
steel until the metal becomes soft enough for shaping with hand tools,
such as a hammer, anvil and chisel. Heating generally takes place in a
forge fueled by propane, natural gas, coal, charcoal, coke or oil.
Some modern blacksmiths may also employ an oxyacetylene
or similar blowtorch for more localized heating. Induction heating methods
are gaining popularity among modern blacksmiths.
Color is important for indicating the temperature and
workability of the metal. As iron heats to higher temperatures, it first
glows red, then orange, yellow, and finally white. The ideal heat for most
forging is the bright yellow-orange color that indicates forging heat.
Because they must be able to see the glowing color of the metal, some blacksmiths
work in dim, low-light conditions, but most work in well-lit conditions.
The key is to have consistent lighting, but not too bright. Direct sunlight
obscures the colors.
The techniques of smithing can be roughly divided into
forging (sometimes called "sculpting"), welding, heat-treating, and finishing.
Forging—the process smiths use to shape metal by hammering—differs
from machining in that forging does not remove material. Instead, the smith
hammers the iron into shape. Even punching and cutting operations (except
when trimming waste) by smiths usually re-arrange metal around the hole,
rather than drilling it out as swarf.
Forging uses seven basic operations or techniques:
Shrinking (a type of upsetting)
These operations generally require at least a hammer and
anvil, but smiths also use other tools and techniques to accommodate odd-sized
or repetitive jobs.
Drawing lengthens the metal by reducing one or both of
the other two dimensions. As the depth is reduced, or the width narrowed,
the piece is lengthened or "drawn out."
As an example of drawing, a smith making a chisel might
flatten a square bar of steel, lengthening the metal, reducing its depth
but keeping its width consistent.
Drawing does not have to be uniform. A taper can result
as in making a wedge or a woodworking chisel blade. If tapered in two dimensions,
a point results.
Drawing can be accomplished with a variety of tools and
methods. Two typical methods using only hammer and anvil would be hammering
on the anvil horn, and hammering on the anvil face using the cross peen
of a hammer.
Another method for drawing is to use a tool called a fuller,
or the peen of the hammer, to hasten the drawing out of a thick piece of
metal. (The technique is called fullering from the tool.) Fullering consists
of hammering a series of indentations with corresponding ridges, perpendicular
to the long section of the piece being drawn. The resulting effect looks
somewhat like waves along the top of the piece. Then the smith turns the
hammer over to use the flat face to hammer the tops of the ridges down
level with the bottoms of the indentations. This forces the metal to grow
in length (and width if left unchecked) much faster than just hammering
with the flat face of the hammer.
Heating iron to a "forging heat" allows bending as if
it were a soft, ductile metal, like copper or silver.
Bending can be done with the hammer over the horn or edge
of the anvil or by inserting a bending fork into the Hardy Hole (the square
hole in the top of the anvil), placing the work piece between the tines
of the fork, and bending the material to the desired angle. Bends can be
dressed and tightened, or widened, by hammering them over the appropriately
shaped part of the anvil.
Some metals are "hot short", meaning they lose their tensile
strength when heated. They become like Plasticine: although they may still
be manipulated by squeezing, an attempt to stretch them, even by bending
or twisting, is likely to have them crack and break apart. This is a problem
for some blade-making steels, which must be worked carefully to avoid developing
hidden cracks that would cause failure in the future. Though rarely hand-worked,
titanium is notably hot short. Even such common smithing processes as decoratively
twisting a bar are impossible with it.
Upsetting is the process of making metal thicker in one
dimension through shortening in the other. One form is to heat the end
of a rod and then hammer on it as one would drive a nail: the rod gets
shorter, and the hot part widens. An alternative to hammering on the hot
end is to place the hot end on the anvil and hammer on the cold end.
Punching may be done to create a decorative pattern, or
to make a hole. For example, in preparation for making a hammerhead, a
smith would punch a hole in a heavy bar or rod for the hammer handle. Punching
is not limited to depressions and holes. It also includes cutting, slitting,
and drifting—all done with a chisel.
The five basic forging processes are often combined to
produce and refine the shapes necessary for finished products. For example,
to fashion a cross-peen hammer head, a smith would start with a bar roughly
the diameter of the hammer face: the handle hole would be punched and drifted
(widened by inserting or passing a larger tool through it), the head would
be cut (punched, but with a wedge), the peen would be drawn to a wedge,
and the face would be dressed by upsetting.
As with making a chisel, since it is lengthened by drawing
it would also tend to spread in width. A smith would therefore frequently
turn the chisel-to-be on its side and hammer it back down—upsetting it—to
check the spread and keep the metal at the correct width.
Or, if a smith needed to put a 90-degree bend in a bar
and wanted a sharp corner on the outside of the bend, they would begin
by hammering an unsupported end to make the curved bend. Then, to "fatten
up" the outside radius of the bend, one or both arms of the bend would
need to be pushed back to fill the outer radius of the curve. So they would
hammer the ends of the stock down into the bend, 'upsetting' it at the
point of the bend. They would then dress the bend by drawing the sides
of the bend to keep the correct thickness. The hammering would continue—upsetting
and then drawing—until the curve had been properly shaped. In the primary
operation was the bend, but the drawing and upsetting are done to refine
Welding is the joining of the same or similar kind of
A modern blacksmith has a range of options and tools to
accomplish this. The basic types of welding commonly employed in a modern
workshop include traditional forge welding as well as modern methods, including
oxyacetylene and arc welding.
In forge welding, the pieces to join are heated to what
is generally referred to as welding heat. For mild steel most smiths judge
this temperature by color: the metal glows an intense yellow or white.
At this temperature the steel is near molten.
Any foreign material in the weld, such as the oxides or
"scale" that typically form in the fire, can weaken it and cause it to
fail. Thus the mating surfaces to be joined must be kept clean. To this
end a smith makes sure the fire is a reducing fire: a fire where, at the
heart, there is a great deal of heat and very little oxygen. The smith
also carefully shapes mating faces so that as they come together foreign
material squeezes out as the metal is joined. To clean the faces, protect
them from oxidation, and provide a medium to carry foreign material out
of the weld, the smith sometimes uses flux—typically powdered borax, silica
sand, or both.
The smith first cleans parts to be joined with a wire
brush, then puts them in the fire to heat. With a mix of drawing and upsetting
the smith shapes the faces so that when finally brought together, the center
of the weld connects first and the connection spreads outward under the
hammer blows, pushing out the flux (if used) and foreign material.
The dressed metal goes back in the fire, is brought near
to welding heat, removed from the fire, and brushed. Flux is sometimes
applied, which prevents oxygen from reaching and burning the metal during
forging, and it is returned to the fire. The smith now watches carefully
to avoid overheating the metal. There is some challenge to this because,
to see the color of the metal, the smith must remove it from the fire—exposing
it to air, which can rapidly oxidize it. So the smith might probe into
the fire with a bit of steel wire, prodding lightly at the mating faces.
When the end of the wire sticks on to the metal, it is at the right temperature
(a small weld forms where the wire touches the mating face, so it sticks).
The smith commonly places the metal in the fire so he can see it without
letting surrounding air contact the surface. (Note that smiths don't always
use flux, especially in the UK.) Now the smith moves with rapid purpose,
quickly taking the metal from the fire to the anvil and bringing the mating
faces together. A few light hammer taps bring the mating faces into complete
contact and squeeze out the flux—and finally, the smith returns the work
to the fire. The weld begins with the taps, but often the joint is weak
and incomplete, so the smith reheats the joint to welding temperature and
works the weld with light blows to "set" the weld and finally to dress
it to the shape.
Depending on the intended use of the piece, a blacksmith
may finish it in a number of ways:
A simple jig (a tool) that the smith
might only use a few times in the shop may get the minimum of finishing—a
rap on the anvil to break off scale and a brushing with a wire brush.
Files bring a piece to final shape,
removing burrs and sharp edges, and smoothing the surface.
Heat treatment and case-hardening
achieve the desired hardness.
The wire brush—as a hand tool or power
tool—can further smooth, brighten, and polish surfaces.
Grinding stones, abrasive paper, and
emery wheels can further shape, smooth, and polish the surface.
A range of treatments and finishes can inhibit oxidation
and enhance or change the appearance of the piece. An experienced smith
selects the finish based on the metal and on the intended use of the item.
Finishes include (among others): paint, varnish, bluing, browning, oil,
A blacksmith's striker is an assistant (frequently an
apprentice), whose job it is to swing a large sledgehammer in heavy forging
operations, as directed by the blacksmith. In practice, the blacksmith
holds the hot iron at the anvil (with tongs) in one hand, and indicates
where to strike the iron by tapping it with a small hammer in the other
hand. The striker then delivers a heavy blow to the indicated spot with
a sledgehammer. During the 20th century and into the 21st century, this
role has been increasingly obviated and automated through the use of trip
hammers or reciprocating power hammers.
The blacksmith's materials
When iron ore is smelted into usable metal, a certain
amount of carbon is usually alloyed with the iron. (Charcoal is almost
pure carbon.) The amount of carbon significantly affects the properties
of the metal. If the carbon content is over 2%, the metal is called cast
iron, because it has a relatively low melting point and is easily cast.
It is quite brittle, however, and cannot be forged so therefore not used
for blacksmithing. If the carbon content is between 0.25% and 2%, the resulting
metal is tool grade steel, which can be heat treated as discussed above.
When the carbon content is below 0.25%, the metal is either "wrought iron
(wrought iron is not smelted and cannot come from this process) " or "mild
steel." The terms are never interchangeable. In preindustrial times, the
material of choice for blacksmiths was wrought iron. This iron had a very
low carbon content, and also included up to 5% of glassy iron silicate
slag in the form of numerous very fine stringers. This slag content made
the iron very tough, gave it considerable resistance to rusting, and allowed
it to be more easily "forge welded," a process in which the blacksmith
permanently joins two pieces of iron, or a piece of iron and a piece of
steel, by heating them nearly to a white heat and hammering them together.
Forge welding is more difficult with modern mild steel, because it welds
in a narrower temperature band. The fibrous nature of wrought iron required
knowledge and skill to properly form any tool which would be subject to
stress. Modern steel is produced using either the blast furnace or arc
furnaces. Wrought iron was produced by a labor-intensive process called
puddling, so this material is now a difficult-to-find specialty product.
Modern blacksmiths generally substitute mild steel for making objects traditionally
of wrought iron. Sometimes they use electrolytic-process pure iron.
Many blacksmiths also incorporate materials such as bronze,
copper, or brass in artistic products. Aluminum and titanium may also be
forged by the blacksmith's process. Each material responds differently
under the hammer and must be separately studied by the blacksmith.
Iron is a naturally occurring metallic
element. It is almost never found in its native form (pure iron) in nature.
It is usually found as an oxide
or sulfide, with many other impurity
elements mixed in.
Wrought iron is the purest form of
iron generally encountered or produced in quantity. It may contain as little
as 0.04% Carbon (by weight).
From its traditional method of manufacture,
wrought iron has a fibrous internal texture. Quality wrought-iron blacksmithing
direction of these fibers into account
during forging, since the strength of the material is stronger in line
with the grain, than across the grain.
Most of the remaining impurities from
the initial smelting become concentrated in silicate slag trapped between
the iron fibers. This slag
produces a lucky side effect during
forge-welding. When the silicate melts, it makes wrought-iron self-fluxing.
The slag becomes a liquid glass
that covers the exposed surfaces of
the wrought-iron, preventing oxidation which would otherwise interfere
with the successful welding
Steel is a mixture of Iron and between
0.3% to 1.7% Carbon by weight. The presence of carbon allows steel to assume
one of several different
crystalline configurations. Macroscopically,
this is seen as the ability to "turn the hardness of a piece of steel on
and off" through various
processes of heat-treatment. If the
concentration of carbon is held constant, this is a reversible process.
Steel with a higher carbon percentage
may be brought to a higher state of
Cast iron is iron that contains between
2.0% to 6% Carbon by weight. There is so much carbon present, that the
hardness cannot be switched
off. Hence, cast iron is a brittle
metal, which can break like glass. Cast iron cannot be forged without special
heat treatment to convert it to
Steel with less than 0.6% Carbon content cannot be hardened
enough by simple heat-treatment to make useful hardened-steel tools. Hence,
in what follows, wrought-iron, low-carbon-steel, and other soft unhardenable
iron varieties are referred to indiscriminately as just iron.
History, prehistory, religion, and mythology
In Hindu mythology, Tvastar also known as Vishvakarma
is the blacksmith of the devas. The earliest references of Tvastar can
be found in the Rigveda.
Hephaestus (Latin: Vulcan) was the blacksmith of the gods
in Greek and Roman mythology. A supremely skilled artisan whose forge was
a volcano, he constructed most of the weapons of the gods, as well as beautiful
assistants for his smithy and a metal fishing-net of astonishing intricacy.
He was the god of metalworking, fire, and craftsmen.
In Celtic mythology, the role of Smith is held by eponymous
(their names do mean 'smith') characters : Goibhniu (Irish myths of the
Tuatha Dé Danann cycle) or Gofannon (Welsh myths/ the Mabinogion
The Anglo-Saxon Wayland Smith, known in Old Norse as Völundr,
is a heroic blacksmith in Germanic mythology. The Poetic Edda states that
he forged beautiful gold rings with wonderful gems. He was captured by
king Níðuðr, who cruelly hamstringed him and imprisoned
him on an island. Völundr eventually had his revenge by killing Níðuðr's
sons and forging objects to the king from their skulls, teeth and eyes.
He then seduced the king's daughter and escaped laughing on wings he himself
Seppo Ilmarinen, the Eternal Hammerer, blacksmith and
inventor in the Kalevala, is an archetypal artificer from Finnish mythology.
Tubal-Cain is mentioned in the book of Genesis of the
Torah as the original smith.
Ogun, the god of iron, is one of the pantheon of "orisa"
traditionally worshipped by the Yoruba of Nigeria.
Before the Iron Age
Gold, silver, and copper all occur in nature in their
native states, as reasonably pure metals - humans probably worked these
metals first. These metals are all quite malleable, and humans' initial
development of hammering techniques was undoubtedly applied to these metals.
During the Chalcolithic era and the Bronze Age, humans
in the Mideast learned how to smelt, melt, cast, rivet, and (to a limited
extent) forge copper and bronze. Bronze is an alloy of copper and approximately
10% to 20% Tin. Bronze is superior to just copper, by being harder, being
more resistant to corrosion, and by having a lower melting point (thereby
requiring less fuel to melt and cast). Much of the copper used by the Mediterranean
World came from the island of Cyprus. Most of the tin came from the Cornwall
region of the island of Great Britain, transported by sea-borne Phoenician
and Greek traders.
Copper and bronze cannot be hardened by heat-treatment,
they can only be hardened by work-hardening. To accomplish this, a piece
of bronze is lightly hammered for a long period of time. The localized
stress-cycling causes the necessary crystalline changes. The hardened bronze
can then be ground to sharpen it to make edged tools.
Clocksmiths as recently as the 19th century used work
hardening techniques to harden the teeth of brass gears and ratchets. Tapping
on just the teeth produced harder teeth, with superior wear-resistance.
By contrast, the rest of the gear was left in a softer and tougher state,
more capable of resisting cracking.
Bronze is sufficiently corrosion-resistant that artifacts
of bronze may last thousands of years relatively unscathed. Accordingly,
museums frequently preserve more examples of Bronze Age metal-work than
examples of artifacts from the much younger Iron Age. Buried iron artifacts
may completely rust away in less than 100 years. Examples of ancient iron
work still extant are very much the exception to the norm.
Concurrent with the advent of alphabetic characters in
the Iron Age, humans became aware of the metal iron. In earlier ages, iron's
qualities, in contrast to those of bronze, were not generally understood
though. Iron artifacts, composed of meteoric iron, have the chemical composition
containing up to 40% nickel. As this source of this iron is extremely rare
and fortuitous, little development of smithing skills peculiar to iron
can be assumed to have occurred. That we still possess any such artifacts
of meteoric iron may be ascribed to the vagaries of climate, and the increased
corrosion-resistance conferred on iron by the presence of nickel.
During the (north) Polar Exploration of the early 20th
century, Inughuit, northern Greenlandic Inuit, were found to be making
iron knives from two particularly large nickel-iron meteors. One of these
meteors was taken to Washington, D.C., where it was remitted to the custody
of the Smithsonian Institution.
The Hittites of Anatolia first discovered or developed
the smelting of iron ores around 1500 BC. They seem to have maintained
a near monopoly on the knowledge of iron production for several hundred
years, but when their empire collapsed during the Eastern Mediterranean
upheavals around 1200 BC, the knowledge seems to have escaped in all directions.
In the Iliad of Homer (describing the Trojan War and Bronze
Age Greek and Trojan warriors), most of the armor and weapons (swords and
spears) are stated to have been of bronze. Iron is not unknown, however,
as arrowheads are described as iron, and a "ball of iron" is listed as
a prize awarded for winning a competition. The events described probably
occurred around 1200 BC, but Homer is thought to have composed this epic
poem around 700 BC; so exactitude must remain suspect.
When historical records resume after the 1200 BC upheavals
and the ensuing Greek Dark Age, iron work (and presumably blacksmiths)
seem to have sprung like Athena, fully-grown from the head of Zeus. Very
few artifacts remain, due to loss from corrosion, and re-use of iron as
a valuable commodity. What information exists indicates that all of the
basic operations of blacksmithing were in use as soon as the Iron Age reached
a particular locality. The scarcity of records and artifacts, and the rapidity
of the switch from Bronze Age to Iron Age, is a reason to use evidence
of bronze smithing to infer about the early development of blacksmithing.
Despite being subject to rust, iron replaced bronze as
soon as iron-wielding hordes could invade Bronze Age societies and literally
slice through their obsolete bronze defenses. Iron is a stronger and tougher
metal than bronze, and iron ores are found nearly everywhere. Copper and
Tin deposits, by contrast, are scattered and few, and expensive to exploit.
Iron is different from most other materials (including
bronze), in that it does not immediately go from a solid to a liquid at
its melting point. H2O is a solid (ice) at -1 C (31 F), and a liquid (water)
at +1 C (33 F). Iron, by contrast, is definitely a solid at 800 °F
(427 °C), but over the next 1,500 °F (820 °C) it becomes increasingly
plastic and more "taffy-like" as its temperature increases. This extreme
temperature range of variable solidity is the fundamental material property
upon which blacksmithing practice depends.
Another major difference between bronze and iron fabrication
techniques is that bronze can be melted. The melting point of iron is much
higher than that of bronze. In the western (Europe & the Mideast) tradition,
the technology to make fires hot enough to melt iron did not arise until
the 16th century, when smelting operations grew large enough to require
overly large bellows. These produced blast-furnace temperatures high enough
to melt partially refined ores, resulting in cast iron. Thus cast iron
frying pans and cookware did not become possible in Europe until 3000 years
after the introduction of iron smelting. China, in a separate developmental
tradition, was producing cast iron at least 1000 years before this.
Although iron is quite abundant, good quality steel remained
rare and expensive until the industrial developments of Bessemer process
et al. in the 1850s. Close examination of blacksmith-made antique tools
clearly shows where small pieces of steel were forge-welded into iron to
provide the hardened steel cutting edges of tools (notably in axes, adzes,
chisels, etc.). The re-use of quality steel is another reason for the lack
The Romans (who ensured that their own weapons were made
with good steel) noted (in the 4th century BC) that the Celts of the Po
River Valley had iron, but not good steel. The Romans record that during
battle, their Celtic opponents could only swing their swords two or three
times before having to step on their swords to straighten them.
On the Indian subcontinent, Wootz steel was, and continues
to be, produced in small quantities.
In southern Asia and western Africa, blacksmiths form
endogenous castes that sometimes speak distinct languages.
In the medieval period, blacksmithing was considered part
of the set of seven mechanical arts.
Prior to the industrial revolution, a "village smithy"
was a staple of every town. Factories and mass-production reduced the demand
for blacksmith-made tools and hardware.
The original fuel for forge fires was charcoal. Coal did
not begin to replace charcoal until the forests of first Britain (during
the AD 17th century), and then the eastern United States of America (during
the 19th century) were largely depleted. Coal can be an inferior fuel for
blacksmithing, because much of the world's coal is contaminated with sulfur.
Sulfur contamination of iron and steel make them "red short", so that at
red heat they become "crumbly" instead of "plastic". Coal sold and purchased
for blacksmithing should be largely free of sulfur.
European blacksmiths before and through the medieval era
spent a great deal of time heating and hammering iron before forging it
into finished articles. Although they were unaware of the chemical basis,
they were aware that the quality of the iron was thus improved. From a
scientific point of view, the reducing atmosphere of the forge was both
removing oxygen (rust), and soaking more carbon into the iron, thereby
developing increasingly higher grades of steel as the process was continued.
During the eighteenth century, agents for the Sheffield
cutlery industry scoured the British country-side, offering new carriage
springs for old. Springs must be made of hardened steel. At this time,
the processes for making steel produced an extremely variable product—quality
was not ensured at the initial point of sale. Springs that had survived
cracking through hard use over the rough roads of the time, had proven
to be of a better quality steel. Much of the fame of Sheffield cutlery
(knives, shears, etc.) was due to the extreme lengths the companies took
to ensure they used high-grade steel.
During the first half of the nineteenth century, the US
government included in their treaties with many Native American tribes,
that the US would employ blacksmiths and strikers at Army forts, with the
expressed purpose of providing Native Americans with iron tools and repair
During the early to mid-nineteenth century, both European
armies as well as both the U.S. Federal and Confederate armies employed
blacksmiths to shoe horses and repair equipment such as wagons, horse tack,
and artillery equipment. These smiths primarily worked at a traveling forge
that when combined with a limber, comprised wagons specifically designed
and constructed as blacksmith shops on wheels to carry the essential equipment
necessary for their work.
Lathes, patterned largely on their woodturning counterparts,
had been used by some blacksmiths since the middle-ages. During the 1790s
Henry Maudslay created the first screw-cutting lathe, a watershed event
that signaled the start of blacksmiths being replaced by machinists in
factories for the hardware needs of the populace.
Samuel Colt neither invented nor perfected interchangeable
parts, but his insistence (and other industrialists at this time) that
his firearms be manufactured with this property, was another step towards
the obsolescence of metal-working artisans and blacksmiths. (See also Eli
As demand for their products declined, many more blacksmiths
augmented their incomes by taking in work shoeing horses. A shoer-of-horses
was historically known as a farrier in English. With the introduction of
automobiles, the number of blacksmiths continued to decrease, many former
blacksmiths becoming the initial generation of automobile Mechanics. The
nadir of blacksmithing in the United States was reached during the 1960s,
when most of the former blacksmiths had left the trade, and few if any
new people were entering the trade. By this time, most of the working blacksmiths
were those performing farrier work, so the term blacksmith was effectively
co-opted by the farrier trade.
20th and 21st centuries
During the 20th century various gases (natural gas, acetylene,
etc.) have also come to be used as fuels for blacksmithing. While these
are fine for blacksmithing iron, special care must be taken when using
them to blacksmith steel. Each time a piece of steel is heated, there is
a tendency for the carbon content to leave the steel (decarburization).
This can leave a piece of steel with an effective layer of unhardenable
iron on its surface. In a traditional charcoal or coal forge, the fuel
is really just carbon. In a properly regulated charcoal/coal fire, the
air in and immediately around the fire should be a reducing atmosphere.
In this case, and at elevated temperatures, there is a tendency for vaporized
carbon to soak into steel and iron, counteracting or negating the decarburizing
tendency. This is similar to the process by which a case of steel is developed
on a piece of iron in preparation for case hardening.
A renewed interest in blacksmithing occurred as part of
the trend in "do-it-yourself" and "self-sufficiency" that occurred during
the 1970s. Currently there are many books, organizations and individuals
working to help educate the public about blacksmithing, including local
groups of smiths who have formed clubs, with some of those smiths demonstrating
at historical sites and living history events. Some modern blacksmiths
who produce decorative metalwork refer to themselves as artist-blacksmiths.
In 1973 the Artists Blacksmiths’ Association of North America was formed
with 27 members. By 2013 it had almost 4000 members. Likewise the British
Artist Blacksmiths Association was created in 1978, with 30 charter members
and had 2013 about 600 members and publish for members a quarterly magazine.
While developed nations saw a decline and re-awakening
of interest in blacksmithing, in many developing nations blacksmiths continued
doing what blacksmiths have been doing for 3500 years: making and repairing
iron and steel tools and hardware for people in their local area.
World Championship Blacksmiths'/ Farrier Competitions
The World Championship Blacksmiths'/Farrier Competition
is held annually, during the Calgary Stampede. Every year since 1979, the
world’s top blacksmiths compete in Calgary, Alberta; performing their craft
in front of thousands of spectators to educate and entertain the public
with their skills and abilities. The competition consists of a series of
forging, horseshoeing and team events, which sees competitors earn points
to qualify as one of the top 10 finalists as they compete for $35,000 in
prize money. The winner is crowned The World Champion Blacksmith. The competition
uses six tons of coke (fuel made from coal) and 1,300 linear feet of steel
As of 2015, the Blacksmiths' Competition is an invitational
competition consisting of four teams of four blacksmiths competing for
an $8000 prize.