What does a blacksmith do?
Blacksmiths shape and join metals to make items such as wrought-iron gates, railings, furniture, tools and horseshoes. This is achieved by heating metal in a forge until it is soft and workable. Blacksmiths then hammer, bend and cut the metal into shape before it cools again.
This role could specialise in:
- industrial work, making items such as specialist tools, fire escapes or security grills
- artistic or architectural metalwork, such as decorative ironwork, gates, sculptures and furniture
Depending on the type of blacksmithing, this job could include:
- working with a forge or furnace
- using traditional hand tools, such as hammers, punches and tongs or anvils
- using power tools, such as power hammers, drills, grinders, air chisels and hydraulic presses
- using engineering machinery, such as pillar drills, centre lathes, milling machines and welding equipment
- working with various metals, including wrought iron, steel, brass, bronze and copper
- heating metal to the right temperature so that it can be shaped
- joining metals together using various blacksmithing methods
- applying 'finishings' to metal or products
This role may also specialise in artistic work, which would normally involve being self-employed and selling work at craft shows, galleries and fairs, as well as doing the administration needed for running a business. This would either involve producing original designs or creating pieces based on instructions from clients.
Some blacksmiths are trained and registered as farriers, fitting shoes to horses alongside their blacksmithing work.
What do I need to do to become a blacksmith?
To do this job, you will need to have good hand-to-eye coordination and practical skills. If you enjoy working with tools and machinery and you like being creative, then this job could be ideal for you.
You can become a blacksmith by learning the trade from an experienced blacksmith who is willing to offer on-the-job training. You can also learn some of the skills you need by completing a full-time college course.
You may be able to train for industrial blacksmithing by doing an apprenticeship in engineering, combining training for NVQs in fabrication and welding with working for a blacksmith or specialist company. You will need to check which schemes are available in your area.
You can also learn some of the skills you need by doing a full-time course that focuses on either traditional blacksmithing skills or design.
Where to find out more
Where could I be working?
You would often be self-employed or work in a small business, so your hours would depend on your workload.
Forges vary in size from small sheds to large engineering workshops.