Blacksmiths (also known as forgemasters or architectural metalworkers) are skilled craft workers who use heat and tools to forge and shape metal to produce and repair a variety of decorative or functional metalwork items. Typical items made or repaired include wrought iron gates, staircases, furniture, candlesticks, light fittings, parts for carriages and vintage agricultural machinery, garden railings, metal fire escapes, security grills and reproduction weapons and armour.
There is a skills shortage in the traditional building sector, in particular, a shortage of blacksmiths, lime plasterers, heritage slaters and steeplejacks, which is threatening the thriving number of traditional building renovation projects.
Traditional building skills training and previous experience in metalwork fabrication and welding, together with creative talent and artistic design skills, are essential for blacksmiths, as are project management, negotiation and marketing skills.
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Blacksmiths require a secure, well-lit and well-ventilated workshop with sufficient space for a forge, tools, equipment and supplies of fuel and metal. Forges require suitable ventilation and fire-proof flooring. Change-of-use planning permission may be required if the premises were previously used other than for similar business purposes under Use Class B1, which covers light industrial production.
As well as specialist equipment for their forge premises, start-up blacksmiths will need to budget for equipment such as a tablet, laptop or PC and a good quality digital camera for documenting ideas and taking photos of finished products for marketing and design protection purposes.
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