Saturday, January 29, 2011

When Can You Call Yourself a Blacksmith?

What Does Define a Blacksmith?

I know you probably had this question asked of you many times. But at what point in metal working are you really allowed to call your self a blacksmith? I mean going out and pounding on a few pieces of metal isn't really blacksmithing. What does define a blacksmith?

This is actually a tricky question.

In North America there is no governing body of blacksmiths, so legally
anyone who works with steel could call themselves a blacksmith. This
causes a whole lot of confusion with the general public. A cold
fabricator calls themselves a blacksmith but charges 30% of what a
person who works with hammer and anvil and shapes the hot steel. The
fabricator only has 30% of the time into the project.

There are measurable fundamental skills associated with blacksmithing.
Do all of these have to be mastered for a person to call themselves a

There are tools required for the work. Can a person call themselves a
blacksmith if they don't have the tools required to do the job?

Should a person call themselves a blacksmith until they are making an income from the smithing? Should it be a full time income?

Is it more esoteric? Such as when a person has to smith. When they are
drawn to it as a passion. Some would say "When it is their blood". A
number of smiths have told me of this calling back to the anvil when you
have been away from it for a while.

My Opinion

A person can call themselves a blacksmith when they have a good ability with the basic techniques with hot steel.

Drawing out, pointing, shouldering, flattening, punching, twisting,
square corners, hot cutting, splitting, curve generation, tool making,
upsetting, forge welding. They also have the facilities to do the work.
This may be as simple as a back yard forge, anvil and hammer.

It really is a gray area and each person has to make their own decision
when they can call themselves a blacksmith. There is no-one to call them
on it ( In North America) except their customers, which often are not
well educated in the difference between hot work and cold work.

David Robertson
Artist Blacksmith