A village blacksmith from the 1800s walking into today’s blacksmith shop would find many familiar sights. The anvil, forge, hammers, tongs, and vise in the modern shop may even have been made during his time. He would see a kindred spirit in his modern counterpart, hunched over the anvil bringing a piece of hot iron to life with rhythmic blows of the hammer. What our village smith would not recognize would be the power tools—welders, drills, grinders, and power hammers that save the modern smith both time and sweat. Most of all, he might be surprised by the products of our modern smith and the blacksmith’s evolving role in his—or her!—community.

For centuries, blacksmiths were the craftsmen and artists who ...

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