Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dave Canterbury‎The Pathfinder School Learning Center

◦ The word “blacksmith” refers to iron, which was known as the black metal, and smith, meaning a smiter of metal (as in tinsmith or silversmith). The blacksmith was traditionally held in high esteem, because all trades known to mankind were dependent on the blacksmith. Most blacksmiths were toolmakers. They repaired things for people in the neighborhood and had to know how to work with different metals. In the 18th and 19th century, there were four types of tools. Tools for the farmer were axes, plow points, hoes, shovels, etc. Tools for women included cooking, sewing, and household tools. Tools for hunting and warfare were knives, tomahawks, gun parts, etc. Tools for industry and other trades were needed, including those for the blacksmith himself.
◦ Most blacksmith’s shops were small and poorly lit, with little new iron to make any product at all. The main tools were a forge and bellows, an anvil, hammers, and a small selection of files and tongs.
◦ Apprenticeships were used in the blacksmith trade in the Colonies. The masters gladly took on an apprentice at no charge, but few boys in the Colonies served seven years. A four or five year term, was the norm and sometimes less if the boy ran away like Ben Franklin did. The master agreed to teach the apprentice the secrets of the trade and to feed, clothe, and supply lodging until the end of his contract. At the end of his term he became a journeyman. In most circumstances, the master let boys attend school in the evening to learn the three R’s.
◦ Since there was not a lot of money being circulated in the Colonies, the blacksmith might take payment in other ways. For example, if a woman needed a roasting fork for her kitchen, she might make a new shirt for the blacksmith to wear.
◦ The making of nails was a big demand. It was busywork for an apprentice, a woman whose husband was off fighting in the Revolutionary War, or for slave children on a plantation. It took very little heat from a fire and very little equipment to make nails.
◦ The blacksmith in the 18th century could make or repair just about anything of that time, but probably his greatest accomplishment was what is known as the American Ax. Sometime around 1700, the blacksmith added a square poll on the back of the ax, which added more weight. Then by the mid-1700s, the ears were added to the eye, the square poll was elongated, and the eye was changed from round to a triangle shape. All of this added to the stability in the swing of the ax and it has seen very little change in the last 250 years.
◦ Another important invention, that took place in the 1740s -1750s, was the pipe tomahawk. These were highly prized by the Native Americans, for they loved to smoke and make war on the settlers. The Native Americans already had the tomahawk, beginning with the first encounters with Europeans. This version added a pipe bowl and hollowed out the handle to create one of the biggest trade items used by Native Americans as well as white settlers. These were produced until well after the Civil War.
◦ Nine out of ten colonists were farmers. With farmers, you had livestock, and with livestock, you needed a blacksmith to shoe them. These men were called farriers and were also the first veterinarians, for they took care of lame and sick animals. Farriers left the tool-making to the more skilled blacksmiths who concentrated their skills on hardware, implements for the kitchen and the ironing of wagons and carriages. This post text was copied from John Stewarts Page-

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