A blacksmith used tongs to hold the hot metal
while he hammered the metal to shape it
A smith is someone who works with metal. A blacksmith works with black metal (iron). It required strength to hammer a piece of raw metal until it was shaped into something useful.

Almost every prairie community had a blacksmith shop. The shop was usually near the livery stable (barn). The shop had very large doors so horses, wagons and farm implements could fit inside.


The main tools of the blacksmith were a forge, a hammer (sledge) and an anvil.

sledge from clipart etcanvil from

a sledge and an anvil

drawings : a forge | a hammer | an anvil

a small forge

The blacksmith heated metal (iron) in a forge which contained coal. He pumped the bellows and forced air through the coals in the forge. The more he pumped the bellows, the hotter the fire became. Once the metal was red-hot he would use tongs to hold the metal on his anvil. Then he would hammer the hot metal into different shapes with his sledge. The metal was then cooled in a tub of water. It would get very warm from the heat of the fire, so the blacksmith would open the large doors to let the heat escape. The open doors also provided more light.


tongs from Clipart ETC


Other blacksmith tools included shears, files, metal saws, grinders and metal bending equipment.

chisel from Clipart ETC

blacksmith's chisel


Some of the items that a blacksmith made were:
  • plough shares, sickles, scythes
  • metal parts for wagons and carriages, wheel rims
  • tools, axe heads, hammers, shovels, hoes, pitchforks
  • nails,screws, bolts, hooks
  • knives, forks, spoons
  • pots and pans
  • fireplace tools
  • door hinges
  • chains
  • cowbells
  • horseshoes

grindstone from Clipart ETC

grindstone for sharpening

The homesteader relied on the blacksmith to repair broken ploughshares (plowshares), other farm implements including metal parts of carriages and wagons. The blacksmith also sharpened the ploughshare blades and other blades (axe, saw, sickle, scythe).

shodding a horse
A farrier was trained to fit shoes on horses.
Some blacksmiths were also trained to shod horses.

Horses needed shoes to protect the hooves. A farrier worked with horses. He shaped the shoe to fit the horse's hoof, rasped the hoof, then burned and nailed the shoe on the hoof. A blacksmith trained as a farrier put shoes on horses.

With the arrival of cars, trucks and tractors the blacksmith shop was replaced by the garage.
PHOTOS inside a blacksmith's shop : photo 1 | photo 2

| Early days - an introduction | Coming to Canada | Building a home |
| Survival - food & clothing | School, general store, blacksmith |
| Inside a settler's home | Transportation | Fun & games | Pioneer communities |
|Links | Canada | Web Pages for Students |

web page by J. Giannetta
updated 2011

clipart from Clipart ETC

information and drawings of tools from -
Sask. Western Development Museum Teacher's handbook