Everett Griner talks about blacksmithing, a profession of the past, in today’s Agri View.
From: Growing Seasons
Blacksmithing in Rural America
The town blacksmith shop was a busy location throughout the year, but it felt especially welcoming on cold winter days, when heat from the glowing coals in the forge warmed the building. The rhythmical sound of hammering metal and the distinctive smell of burning charcoal identified his workshop.
At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, farming was done with the power of horses and the skills of a blacksmith were important to the local economy. The shop was a popular destination, to wait for repairs of equipment, have horses shod and hear the latest news.
A blacksmith was a skilled craftsman, who heated iron to shape it, using a forge, anvil, hammers, specialized tools and a tub of water. The forge was the hearth where iron was heated over clean burning coals. Large leather bellows were used to regulate the temperature of the forge, through piped air. A chimney pulled smoke up and out of the building.
The blacksmith’s anvil was a large block of iron, mounted on a heavy timber post. It had a flat top and a pointed horn, for hammering and shaping the heated iron.
A blacksmith used a variety of hammers, tongs, chisels and punches to create, repair, rivet or weld. With a vise and files, he refined the rough edges of his ironwork. The ability to shape iron, by heat and tools, has been a highly valued skill throughout history.
By the early 1900s, an American blacksmith’s work had grown to include repairing all types of manufactured, horse-drawn farm machinery, wagons, carriages and sleighs. He also sharpened plows, saws and other tools. For raw materials, the blacksmith ordered lengths of heavy iron and steel (iron with carbon), delivered to town by the railroad.