Whitesmith vs Blacksmith vs Silversmith: What’s the Difference?

The art of shaping or forging metal is an ancient process. The evolution of metal working into various specializations was due to the advancement of human life and new forms of metal. The two forms of metalwork, that is, blacksmithing and whitesmithing, were part of this evolution.

Essentially, both blacksmiths and whitesmiths (also tinsmiths) work with metals, but there is a difference between them. If you would ask someone about the difference between blacksmith and whitesmith, the first thing you will get to hear would be “aren’t they both the same?” Well, they aren’t. Calling a blacksmith a whitesmith or a whitesmith a blacksmith may offend the hardworking professionals.  Therefore, it is important to know the factors that differentiate them.

blacksmith vs whitesmith differences in different perspectives

The Differences between Blacksmiths and Whitesmiths

Here, we have elaborated the differences between a whitesmith and blacksmith on the basis of different factors, written on the headings-

The Basics

A blacksmith’s work is heavy. It has lots of effort, loud noises, heavy hammer work, and grunts. The reason for this is the heavy metals a blacksmith uses in his workshop.

On the other hand, a whitesmith’s work is delicate and related to light metal such as tin. The working process is meticulous and gentle as opposed to the heavy tasks of blacksmith.

On the other hand, a whitesmith’s work is delicate and related to light metal such as tin. The working process is meticulous and gentle as opposed to the heavy tasks of blacksmith.

The blacksmith uses hard iron to make heavy products, and a tinsmith usually goes after the aesthetics of the product. Whitesmith deals with light metals, where the focus is mostly polishing.

Origins of Blacksmithing & Whitesmithing

The craft of blacksmith is an ancient one. It originated in the cradle of Syria, around 1500 BC. The skill spread across the continents, from Middle East to Asia to Europe and finally to the America. The craft is so essential that even after such a long time, it has survived the time and has not lost its popularity. Blacksmiths in the medieval period were vital in both military and domestic settings.

Whitesmithing is not an ancient craft. It originated from Britain and mainland Europe in the late 15th Century, but during the 18th and 19th centuries, the skill gained popularity. During the American Independence movement, the British were keen on protecting whitesmithing supplies from the rebel forces. The craft of whitesmithing was a crucial factor in saving the British economy.

Work Settings

Historically, depending upon their nature of work, blacksmiths’ working spaces ranged from castles to quaint villages and from bustling cities to wild settlements. The modern blacksmith works in workshops. The equipment and the tools retain the medieval culture.

Whitesmith on the other hand had small shops, and their modern shop is the advanced form of it. You can still find some old structures. Unlike the blacksmiths, whitesmiths do not require open spaces with rough settings.

Working Process

As a process, the work of a blacksmith is thunderous and messy. The blacksmith works with heavy tools and heavy metals. A lot of heavy work is going on in a blacksmith’s workshop. The devices are appropriate for the heavy products a blacksmith makes.

Meanwhile, a whitesmith’s work is less bulky and cumbersome. The craft is more about gentle taps than heavy bangs. The difference is due to the nature of work and metals.

The Tools

A modern blacksmith gets lots of tools from the market and stores. However, a traditional blacksmith likes to make and shape his tools. The heavier the metal, the heavier the tools, and the messier the workstation.

Whitesmith’s work is more about aesthetics. Historically, the colonial whitesmith covered the iron and steel sheets in a molten tin. The sheets were then polished and shined. The purpose was to make the piece look attractive to the eyes. The sheets were usually 10 to 13 inches long and between 25 to 35 centimeters thick. With the advancement of technology, tools have evolved.

As mentioned before, blacksmiths are more than capable of shaping and designing their tools. The principal tools are the sledgehammers, blacksmithing anvil, and hand hammers. The anvil comes in various shapes and sizes, but the professional blacksmith requires an anvil weighing 120 kilograms.

For the measurement processes, a blacksmith possess callers, dividers, a set square, and a ruler. The hand hammers are weighed as per the needs of the blacksmith. The traditional ball-peen hammer weighs up to 750 to 1250 grams, whereas a sledgehammer ranges from 3 to 5 Kilograms. The hammers should have sturdy shafts and handles.

A blacksmith requires various types of chisels such as hardy and sets. The sets are for cutting and hardy is for the anvil holes or eyes for shaping out holes in a workpiece. Tongs for holding the workpiece and bolster plates for removing warps and setting the hot iron piece to a straight shape.

On the other hand, a tinsmith uses smaller anvils that weigh up to 12 lb. It’s a little piece as compared to the anvils of other crafts.

A tinsmith uses sheet hammers that are very good at bending metal pieces and shaping metal sheets. Apart from sheet hammers, a whitesmith utilizes chasing hammers, wooden hammers, and creasing hammers. All of the above hammers have different purposes, mainly for the shaping of the workpiece.

Tin Snips is another tool that a tinsmith use for cutting metal sheets. They work just like scissors cutting paper. Seaming pliers act as the tongs in tinsmiths, and stakes are used to bend the workpiece as per the shape of the stake beneath.

Scrapers are a hand tool that scrapes the metal from the top of a flat surface. However, the essential tool in a whitesmith’s arsenal is a soldering iron. It’s the process in which two metal pieces are joined to one another using a filler.

The Products

The blacksmith works with various tools and creates everyday household products like nails, bolts, screwdrivers, horseshoes, farm tools, weapons, and armors. The blacksmiths are also skilled in making decorative materials like swords, daggers, furniture, and sculptures.

White smith on the other hand produces tin cups, plates, canteens, lanterns, kettles, candlesticks, chandeliers, and pans.

What are the Differences Between Blacksmith and Silversmith?

Blacksmiths and silversmiths have many similarities. They both design, shape, and forge metal into the desired object. What’s different is what they create from that process. A blacksmith forges iron or steel in order to make horseshoes, nails, hammers, etc., while a silversmith creates silverware such as forks, knives, etc.

Who is a Silversmith?

Silversmiths create silverware out of silver (either raw or sterling) which can be jewellery pieces such as necklaces, brooches, rings etc., tableware for serving food at banquets or daily use cutlery sets; decorative household articles such as vases or tea sets.

The items created by a silversmith can be either in the form of cast objects, such as hollow-ware (such as teapots) and jewelry or wrought objects such as flatware cutlery sets, etc., which are made from silver heated until molten then hammered into shape with the use of hand tools.

Silversmiths must have had an apprenticeship to learn their trade over time while living with them and being paid very little.

A Blacksmith creates metalwork out of wrought iron and steel; whilst a Silversmith works primarily on Silver products for decoration or daily life including jewelry pieces like rings, necklaces brooches, etc.;

Conclusion

Blacksmiths and whitesmiths both very much differ from each other; however, people often confuse them as one. Although, they both have the same work but the heavy metal worker earns more than a white metal worker because of the nature of work and the heavier metal.

Furthermore, there are multiple things that differentiate them from each other and that was what we tried to cover for your assistance. We hope that now if someone asks you about the difference between blacksmiths and whitesmiths, you will know the answer.

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