The art of blacksmithing has been around since ancient times, which means it is bound to have seen many changes and innovations throughout the years. While many smiths still practice forging today, this craft and its tools are quite different from the historical craft. As humans advanced and experimented with innovative technology, they also advanced blacksmithing tools. Learn how technology has changed blacksmithing over time and how we’ve arrived at today’s lineup of forging tools and techniques.
Types of Technology Advancements in Blacksmithing
There have been several technological advancements throughout history that have sparked growth and evolution in the blacksmithing industry. In many cases, smiths had to evolve and practice their skills in new ways to keep up with rising technology and demand.
For example, the invention and more widespread use of electricity changed how blacksmiths could work and the tools they used. The rise of automation and mass production threatened to leave the art of blacksmithing behind entirely. Nowadays, computers and software can help further automate the process. While many forging skills remain the same, the tools smiths use to practice these skills have evolved in many ways.
A Brief History of Blacksmithing
The art of blacksmithing has grown and evolved ever since people first started using metals to craft tools and weapons in ancient times. As ancient peoples discovered new metals such as iron, bronze, gold, and steel, they also experimented with new forging methods, fuels, and primitive technologies. One of the most prosperous times for blacksmiths throughout history was the Middle Ages, when almost every town or village had a local blacksmith. However, technological advancements weren’t always in the traditional blacksmith’s favor.
How the Industrial Revolution Changed Blacksmithing
The rise of mass production and assembly lines during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries forced blacksmiths and their art to change and adapt drastically. While the demand for iron and steel products increased, traditional hand-forging methods couldn’t keep up with the production that assembly lines offered.
Artisan and handcrafted products took more time to produce, so smiths had to adopt the technology and techniques that mass production teams used. Many blacksmiths adopted steam-powered hammers and guns to increase their production efficiency and keep up with demand. Other smiths utilized their skills while working in mass production and assembly lines.
The Road to Modern Blacksmithing
Another period where blacksmiths were forced to adapt was during the Great Depression. Many people couldn’t afford the handcrafted, artisan items that smiths created. However, the art survived the economic struggles, and many people started to pursue blacksmithing again as an art form in the 1970s. By this time, smiths had access to electric and gas forges, further allowing them to increase production and experiment with new metals and techniques. Metal was no longer a restricted commodity, so workers could create accessories, tools, jewelry, and more with many styles of forges and equipment.
21st-Century Blacksmithing Technology
This leads us to blacksmithing in the 21st century, where blacksmithing techniques and technologies are present everywhere. The craft has experienced a resurgence, with more and more artists becoming interested in metalworking. Forging techniques also lend themselves to many industrial processes, such as metal fabrication and building.
Some welders, smiths, and other branches of blacksmithing are starting to utilize automation technology to further increase productivity and efficiency. In fact, “robotic” automation processes could be the future of metalworking in many industries.
Examples of Modern Technology in Blacksmithing
You can find these robotic and automated machines and processes in a variety of manufacturing warehouses, workshops, and more. While many blacksmiths still use traditional hammers and chisels, others are embracing welding guns and tools, electric grinders and hammers, laser cutting tools, and more.
Blacksmiths can even use 3D printing machines to create intricate tools, molds, and prototypes for their works. Whether you prefer the traditional methods and techniques classic blacksmiths used to practice or have embraced this new wave of technology, there’s no denying that these modern tools can help the field grow and evolve once again.
Ways Traditional Blacksmithing is Used Today
Many modern industrial processes have traditional blacksmithing techniques to thank for their growth. For example, fields such as construction, manufacturing, fabrication, and more use welding and other metalworking processes daily.
However, no matter how advanced blacksmithing techniques and technology become, there will always be a demand for handcrafted products and items. We’ve seen automation happen before with the Industrial Revolution, yet traditional blacksmithing remained strong. Humans have never lost their appreciation for handcrafted and unique items, even with the rise of mass production and automation.
How To Update Your Own Blacksmithing Workshop
If you’re interested in diving into this new and quickly evolving field, consider starting with your own home workshop. Anyone can turn their home workbench into a blacksmithing setup with the right tools. Here at Cast Master Elite, we help blacksmiths of all skill levels find the tools they need to practice this craft.
Whether you want to follow the traditional model or embrace innovative technology, we can help you find a variety of tools for the job. For example, if you’re looking for a blacksmithing furnace, we offer modern propane forges to help you increase your efficiency and experiment with new materials. Consider upgrading your workshop’s charcoal or coke-powered furnace to a modern gas or electric-powered choice. We also offer a wide selection of traditional tools such as anvils, hammers, and other accessories.
This has been a look into how blacksmithing has changed over time due to technology. While many of the tools that smiths use have changed and evolved, the age-old techniques of metalworking and hammering have largely remained the same. This shows how valuable the art of blacksmithing and its processes have been to society throughout history.
This craft has even seen a resurgence in modern times, both in large-scale industrial manufacturing and in handcrafted artisan metalworking. If you’re interested in exploring these traditions and techniques, consider browsing our selection of blacksmithing tools and accessories here at Cast Master Elite.