Architectural metalworkers are specialised blacksmiths who work directly with architects and shopfitters. They may make their own designs and sketches, but usually they work under assignment of architects who supply them with drawings.
They specialise in manufacturing all types of metalwork for homes, buildings and retail stores. Some of the things they make are fixtures, templates and balcony and banister railings, specialised window and door frames, door knobs and handles, specialised shelving, counters and any other metal finishes or decorations that the architect or shopfitter requires for the project. Other items they could make include large, intricate hinges for bank or hotel doors, metal patterns for fire-place decorations, chandeliers, restaurant or pub fixtures, or fancy crosses for churches and towers. They might be commissioned to make a metal sculpture or a fancy, metal sign.
Architectural metalworkers need to have a thorough knowledge of the different types of metal and be able to give advice where necessary.
The process will be as follows: first they liaise with the architects or shopfitteers, then they draw up templates of the design, which gets traced on to the metal. They mark cut lines on the metal, which can be brass, copper, steel or alloys. They then cut, bend, shape and forge the metal to the desired shape by means of various machine tools such as metal band saws, power shears, fly presses and swage machines. The metal is heated in a furnace to make it malleable.
Architectural metalworkers use soldering, brazing or welding techniques to join the different parts of the metal pattern together. They complete their task by fixing the door, pattern or template to the building.
Architectural metalworkers may specialise, such as with iron and steel manufacturers or building contractors. They may specialise in manufacturing specific objects such as steel doors or patterns.
Architectural metalworkers mostly work in workshops equipped with benches, tools and machines. Sometimes, when furnace heating and blacksmithing is done, it becomes extremely hot inside the work area. In the course of their work architectural metalworkers often visit building sites, which allows for variation in the work situation.
They need to keep up-to-date with architectural trends, technology and skills, and generate new ideas and share them with the architects. It is important that they take pride in their work and meet the deadlines.
Schooling & School Subjects
Grade 9 certificate
Some employers prefer higher qualifications
There are 3 ways to qualify as a registered artisan:
1. An apprenticeship is a fixed contract between company and apprentice, ranging in duration from between 18 months and 4 years. At the end of the contract, the apprentice writes a trade test leading to professional certification.
2. A learnership is a structured learning programme ranging from about a year to 3 years. A learnership comprises theoretical and practical training. Practical training is conducted on site (on the premises of the organisation). This has the advantage that the learner gets experience whilst training.
3. TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) colleges offer theoretical training to prospective artisans via the new National Certificate Vocational (NCV). During this 3-year programme (levels 2 to 4), learners complete a school-leaving certificate (NCV) similar to the new National Senior Certificate (NSC) in schools. They are also exposed to a practical workshop component.
All learners are required to complete a practical internship under the supervision of an experienced artisan. As an alternative to doing the full qualification, a learner can apply to do a skills programme at a TVET College. Skills programmes are short practical hands-on courses.
For more information about qualifications and skills programmes, contact your nearest TVET College. TVET Colleges are accredited and funded by a SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) such as MerSETA or ChietaSETA. They also receive bursary funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the NCV programme.
South African Institute of Welding
52 Western Boulevard
Off Main Reef Road
Tel: (011) 298-2100