A smith, or metalsmith, is a person who makes things from metal.
Metal smiths were very important before industrialisation because they made metal tools for farming (especially the plough) and weapons for fighting in wars. Because of the importance of smiths, the name of their craft ('Smith') turned into a surname.
Etymology of smith[change | change source]
Types of smiths[change | change source]
Types of smiths include:
- an arrowsmith forges arrow heads;
- a blacksmith works with iron and steel;
- a bladesmith forges knives, swords and other blades;
- a coppersmith, or brownsmith, works with copper;
- a fendersmith makes and repairs the metal fender before fireplaces, protecting rugs and furniture in mansions and fine estates, and often looks after the fires as well;
- a goldsmith works with gold;
- a gunsmith works with guns;
- a locksmith works with locks;
- a pewtersmith works with pewter;
- a silversmith, or brightsmith, works with silver;
- a tinsmith, or tinner, works with light metal (such as tinware) and can refer to someone who deals in tinware;
- a swordsmith is a bladesmith who forges only swords;
- a whitesmith works with white metal (tin) and can refer to someone who polishes or finishes the metal rather than forging it.
Artisans and craftpersons[change | change source]
The ancient traditional tool of the smith is a forge or smithy, which is a fire which allows compressed air (through a bellows) to heat the inside of the forge until it is hot enough for metal to become more malleable so that it can be hammered into the shape that is required. Smith or smithy refers to the hammering onto the metal using an anvil to support the work. Anvils come in many sizes and shapes.
The term, metalsmith, often refers to artisans and craftpersons who practice their craft in many different metals, including gold, copper and silver. Jewelers often refer to their craft as metalsmithing, and many universities offer degree programs in metalsmithing, jewelry and blacksmithing as part of their fine arts programs.