Smith (metalwork)

craftsman fashioning tools or works of art out of various metals

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


The word smith means "to hit" or "to strike". Originally, smiths made things from metal by using a hammer.

As an English suffix, -smith at the end of a word means a craftsmen. For example, a "locksmith" makes locks.

Types of smiths


Types of smiths include:

Artisans and craftpersons


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.

A tinker is a metalsmith who mends kettles, pots and pans. They were often poor, itinerant workers (walking from place to place looking for jobs).



Machinists are metalsmiths who produce high-precision parts and tools. The most advanced of these tools, CNC machines, are computer controlled and largely automated.