The English word smith is cognate with the somewhat archaic word, "smite", which means "to hit" or "to strike". Originally, smiths were craftsmen who shaped or formed metal with hammer blows. However, the old etymological guess of "smite" as the source of "smith" is without foundation. The word smith derives from an old Teutonic word, smeithan, to forge. The root is seen in the Greek word σμίλη, a burin.1
In pre-industrialized times, smiths held high or special social standing since they supplied the metal tools needed for farming (especially the plough) and warfare. This was especially true in some West African cultures.
Types of smiths include:2
- An Arrowsmith forges arrow heads for the Fletcher (an arrow-maker)
- A Blacksmith works with iron and steel (this is what is usually meant when referring just to "Smith")
- A Bladesmith forges knives, swords, and other blades
- A Brassfounder works with brass
- A Coinsmith works strictly with coins and currency
- A Coppersmith (also known as brownsmith) works with copper
- A Fendersmith makes and repairs the metal fender before fireplaces, protecting rugs and furniture in mansions and fine estates, and frequently cares for the fires as well
- A Goldsmith works with gold
- A Gunsmith forges guns
- A Locksmith works with locks
- A Pewtersmith works with pewter
- A Scythesmith forges scythes.
- A Silversmith, or brightsmith, works with silver3
- A Swordsmith is a bladesmith who forges only swords
- A Tinsmith, tinner, or tinker works with light metal (such as tinware) and can refer to someone who deals in tinware
- A Weapon-Smith forges weapons like axes, spears, flails, and other weapons.
- A Whitesmith works with white metal (tin and pewter) and can refer to someone who polishes or finishes the metal rather than forging it.
- A Zincsmith works, fabricates or builds with zinc in sheet or bar form.
The ancient traditional tool of the smith is a forge or smithy, which is a furnace designed to allow compressed air (through a bellows) to superheat the inside, allowing for efficient melting, soldering and annealing of metals. Today, this tool is still widely used by blacksmiths as it was traditionally.
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, enameling and blacksmithing under the auspices of their fine arts programs.4
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Smith". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- John Fuller, Sr., Art of Coppersmithing, Astragal Press, 1993 (reprint of original edition, 1894) ISBN 1879335379page needed
- Rupert Finegold and William Seitz, Silversmithing, Krause Publications, 1983, ISBN 0-8019-7232-9
- Tim McCreight, Jewelry: Fundamentals of Metalsmithing, Hand Books Press, 1997, ISBN 1-880140-29-2
|Look up smith in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikisource has the text of a 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article about Metalsmith.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Smiths|
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