By:Jacob Haschalk


Do you know how many different jobs there were in colonial times? There were a lot. First, one of the many jobs is a tanner. Next, have you ever heard of a metalworker? For the most part, metalworkers' last name was Smith. Lastly, there was a woodworker. Without these craftsman, the colonial people would not be able to have the products they needed.


The tanner job generated a bad stench. It was a law that only professional tanners could make leather. The first step to making leather was to mark the owners initals in the hides. If it was a heavy hide they usually cut the hide in half. Tanning involved soaking the animal hide in solution with different tree barks. Popular tanning barks were black oak and hemlock. Some products made from this leather were shoes, hats, pants, and aprons.


All metal workers typically had the last name Smith. All colonial smiths worked with refined metal. Refined metal could be shaped in any way. Alloy is when two or more metals are mixed. One common thing in a blacksmith's shop was a forge. A forge is a big pot where the metals are heated up to the point of melting in order to then shape into products. Welding is when two or more metals are melted together. Different metalworkers used different hammers because a gold metalworker would not use a sledgehammer. Those are different facts about the metalworker.


Did you know the first woodworkers to arrive in America were overwhelmed by the forest size? Woodworkers used lots of different tools like axes, saws, hammers, and clamps. A plane is another tool they used. The plane was used to shape and smooth pieces of wood. It took a lot of time to finish a project. There were different kinds of woodworkers such as a cooper. A cooper made barrels for crops such as beer, whiskey, or grains. The final step done in woodworking was called plannishing. Plannishing was flattening metal into bands that would go around a barrel to hold the wood pieces together.


You've now learned about some of the jobs from the colonial times. Being a tanner might have been a difficult job because you had to be around the stench of the solutions they used. The medalworker's job was interesting but maybe noisy listening to all the hammering of metals and it also might have been very warm from the forge pots. Woodworkers had the opportunity to be creative with many different types of trees to work with and the various tools. I would have liked to have tried being a woodworker because I would be able to be creative with design.


  • Alloy: a metal made by melting and mixing two or more metals

  • Hemlock: an evergreen tree with soft wood.

  • Product: something that is made or grown to be sold or used.

  • Sledgehammer: a large heavy hammer with a long handle

  • Welding: to join pieces of metal together by heating the edges then joining them

  • Forge: a place where objects are made by heating and shaping metal


Books:Craftspeople Bernardine S. Stevens ©1993, and Daily Life In Colonial America Dan Nardo 2010
Online:Gudersen,Joan R."Colonial Life In America"World Book 2015