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4 Blacksmiths

Although blacksmiths do not work directly with stone, stone working would be almost unthinkable without them. In that sense blacksmiths are stone workers too. They make the hammers, chisels, pry bars and chains without which most stone could be neither carved nor moved. And they sharpen chisels, again and again.


A pile of newly re-pointed and re-tempered granite points.Indian blacksmiths constantly make and resharpen and temper the carving tools of the stone craftsmen. When working with granite each fire-sharpened steel tool lasts for 3-5 minutes only. San Marga Temple workshop, Peenya, India


In Mamallapuram, granite is carved with short fire-sharpened chisels that only last three to five minutes. In these workshops the blacksmith is busy nearly the entire time the carver is busy. Each chisel is sharpened then tempered to the right hardness for the stone that is being carved. The place where the hammer hits has to be tempered differently from than the point carving the stone. Hammers too often have two tempers. Tempering is an exact science yet most blacksmiths work intuitively, guided by experience and the change of colours that the metal goes through as it changes temperature.

An individual mason is likely to have simple blacksmith skills. Specialized blacksmiths accompany itinerant masons in order to maintain tools. This can mean improvising a forge under less than ideal circumstances. In China, a temporary forge might be made by digging into the earth and hooking up a temporary blower.

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