The Blacksmithing Quiz



By: Marie Hullett

6 Min Quiz

Image: ilbusca/E+/GettyImages

About This Quiz

Blacksmithing may seem like a lost art, but today, there are still many craftspeople who forge functional and artistic pieces with iron, steel and other metals. In order to create items like shovels, hinges and hooks, the blacksmith must heat the metal to extremely high temperatures and use various tools to mold it. As you can imagine, this dangerous feat requires immense training and skill. 

Blacksmiths have a rich history that dates back to at least 1350 B.C., according to historians. An iron dagger discovered in Egypt, most likely forged by a Hittite craftsperson, is the earliest evidence of the art. Ancient peoples ranging from the Romans to the Phoenicians and Aztecs likewise reference metal smiths in their mythological traditions. Centuries later, 800 to 500 B.C. marked the Iron Age, when the practice quickly spread across Greece and the Balkans. 

Are you interested in trying the craft yourself, or do you simply want to learn more about its fascinating history? Take the following quiz to test your knowledge!

What device does a blacksmith hammer on?

Blacksmiths have used anvils since the Bronze Age to hammer and bend iron and steel into its desired form. Constructed from a sturdy slab of metal in a range of sizes, anvils serve as an ideal workbench for smiths. Cover your ears around blacksmiths and their anvils, though -- hammering on one can be extremely loud!


What is a blacksmith who shoes horses called?

A farrier is a type of blacksmith who creates shoes for horses from metal. Traditionally, farriers utilized only iron, but today, they often work with steel and aluminum, too. Before attaching the horseshoes with small nails, the farrier must first trim and shape the hoof.


What is the origin of the "black" in "blacksmith"?

Blacksmiths got their name from the black color that iron becomes when it's heated to extremely high temperatures. Before forging, the metal is a light, silvery color.


Which term describes the process of thickening the metal?

Upsetting refers to the blacksmithing process of thickening parts of the metal. For instance, the blacksmith might heat one end of an iron rod and hammer it to make it wider.


Which term describes the process of lengthening the metal?

Drawing refers to the process blacksmiths use to lengthen metal. For instance, a blacksmith might heat and flatten a square chunk of metal with a hammer, thereby lengthening it while still maintaining its width.


Which of the four elements does traditional blacksmithing utilize?

Traditional blacksmithing uses all four elements: Earth, air, water and fire. The blacksmith uses iron from the earth, hot air to heat the coals, water to cool the metal when necessary, and fire, to shape it.


What is the hearth that blacksmiths use to heat metals called?

A blacksmith uses the forge to forge metals. After heating a piece of metal in the forge, a blacksmith can use hammers, chisels and other tools to shape it. While traditionally heated by coal, today, forges may also be heated by natural gas, propane, oil or charcoal.


How hot can a coal forge get?

Coal forges can reach temperatures up to 3,000 F, which renders metals like iron ideal for forging. The melting point of iron is about 2,800 F.


What substance does a blacksmith use to prevent the metal from oxidizing?

Blacksmiths often mix borax and ammonium chloride to create a "flux," which is a substance that helps prevent metals like iron and steel from oxidation. The white, powdery substance helps prevent the metal from rusting when heated.


What are blacksmith apprentices called?

Blacksmiths often hire apprentices called strikers to support their workload. In many cases, the striker must swing a heavy sledgehammer to help execute major forging tasks, which is where the name originates from.


What device delivers a blast of air into the forge?

A bellows is a device used by blacksmiths to send air into the forge, which helps raise the temperature of the fire. When you squeeze together the device, which contains an air bag, it blows air into the flames.


How long does a blacksmith have to forge a piece of iron once it's hot?

Heated iron cools down within a few seconds, so blacksmiths must act extremely quickly to forge the metal. After about three seconds, the blacksmith must plunge the iron into the forge again to re-heat it before working on it further.


Which of the following is not a way to forge iron?

Though blacksmiths draw, bend and upset, they do not squeeze the metal. Drawing refers to lengthening the metal, bending refers to curving it and upsetting refers to making it wider.


Which of the following objects might a blacksmith forge?

Blacksmiths often create manual tools like axes, hoes, shovels, chisels and hammers. Conveniently, they can then use some of these tools in their practice.


What is the process of creating holes and decorative patterns in metal called?

Blacksmiths use chisels or punches to create holes and patterns in metal, which is called punching. For instance, a blacksmith might need to punch holes in a piece of wall decor or a door hinge.


In which time period was blacksmithing considered one of the "seven mechanical arts"?

During the Middle Ages, people referred to the blacksmithing craft as one of the seven mechanical arts, alongside tailoring, agriculture, masonry, warfare/hunting, trade and cooking. High-class society typically did not partake in these practices.


When did the demand for blacksmithing jobs begin to plummet in the West?

The Industrial Revolution, which took place from about 1760 to 1840, completely changed the nature of manufacturing across the world. As societies shifted from hand-production to machine-made technology, blacksmiths were increasingly replaced by machines.


In which industry is there still a sizable demand for blacksmiths?

While blacksmithing is not very popular for use in the creation of tools, technological parts or automotive parts today, there is still a demand for blacksmiths in the architectural industry. Blacksmiths often create fences, railings and other ironwork; they are also involved in the conservation and restoration or historic buildings.


Which type of iron has the highest carbon content?

Cast iron contains the highest proportion of carbon in it compared to wrought iron, steel, and other varieties. It contains about 2 to 4 percent carbon, which makes it harder and more brittle than other types.


What was the first type of iron blacksmiths used?

The earliest blacksmiths worked with wrought iron, since it is essentially pure iron that has been heated in a forge. While steel took over many wrought iron applications due to its superior strength, wrought iron is often still used for decorative pieces.


What do you call the process of smelting metal and pouring it into a mold?

Cast iron is too brittle too be formed with help of a hammer or chisel. Instead, a blacksmith must pour the heated iron into a container. When it hardens, it maintains its intended shape.


What is the front end of the anvil called?

The pointed, curved front part of the anvil is called the horn, which allows the blacksmith to create corners and curvatures in the metal by way of hammering. Some anvils have several horns of different sizes and shapes, which can produce varied effects.


Which biblical figure is believed to be a blacksmith?

Genesis 4:22 describes Tubal-Cain as a "forger of all instruments of bronze and iron." At the very least, experts think he was a metalsmith of some kind.


Which of the following American inventors was originally a blacksmith?

Thomas Davenport, the creator of the first DC electric motor in 1834, was a blacksmith. When he found out that Penfield and Taft Iron Works discovered a new method of ore separation using an electromagnet, he used similar technology to create the electric motor.


What do blacksmiths use to grip flat pieces of metal?

A blacksmith uses tongs to grip metal pieces and heat them in the forge. There are several different varieties utilized for metal of various shapes and sizes. Some varieties include duck-bill tongs, box-jaw tongs, and flat-jaw tongs.


How might a blacksmith cool down the metal?

Blacksmiths often dip the metal into water to lower its temperature. This helps ensure the metal is safe to touch; it also serves to quickly harden it.


What color does the iron appear when the blacksmith forges it?

Blacksmiths can most easily bend and shape iron when it's yellow-orange in appearance. This coloring signifies that it's very hot and soft.


Why do blacksmiths often forge in the dark?

Since the color of the metal indicates its temperature, blacksmiths sometimes switch off or dim the lights to best judge its hue. When the metal becomes yellow-orange, it is hot enough to forge; when it turns red, it can be welded.


In the Middle Ages, villagers would often use a blacksmith's coals for which additional purpose?

During Medieval times, villagers often used a blacksmith's leftover coals to bake bread or occasionally roast meat. After a blacksmith's workday, someone would come to scoop up the coals to heat the baker's oven.


What is the process of making metal tougher to prevent breaking called?

Tempering involves heating and reheating the metal to improve its ductility and decrease brittleness. Through this process, a blacksmith can help ensure the metal won't crack under pressure.


Which of the following movies include blacksmith-made weapons?

Hollywood happens to employ a blacksmith or two, including Tony Swatton from Los Angeles, who forged the swords seen in Pirates of the Caribbean. He also created the Infinity Gauntlet in Thor, the hook from Hook, and custom crucifixes in Sons of Anarchy.


Where was the first known evidence of blacksmithing discovered?

Historians discovered a dagger constructed from iron in Egypt, which is believed to date back to about 1350 B.C. Experts think the Hittite people invented the practice of forging and kept it a secret for generations.


What material does a whitesmith work with?

Instead of iron and other black metals, whitesmiths work with white metals like tin and lead. Unlike blacksmiths, whitesmiths primarily work with cold metal.


What is another word for a blacksmith's workshop?

A blacksmith's workshop is often called a smithy. Occasionally, a smithy may also refer to the blacksmith or the forge. In fact, many people today have the last name "Smith" due the prevalence of the profession throughout history.


What material is a blacksmith's apron typically made from?

Blacksmiths' aprons are typically constructed from heavyweight leather, which helps prevent injury. Flying tools, high heat, and fires can pose serious hazards, but safety equipment like a durable apron and safety glasses can improve blacksmiths' safety.


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