Launceston blacksmith shop uses ingenuity | Photos, video

Owen Wensley and Gus Edmondson make things that people just can’t find anymore.

But to do that, they’ve first got to make their own tools.

The pair started the engineering and blacksmithing business Copperhead Industries about eight months ago, and operate out of a studio at the old Peter’s Ice Creamery on Talbot Road, South Launceston.

They got into the old art of blacksmithing through “mucking around” in backyards.

Eventually, as word spread that they were moving on from “mucking around” to actually making items, they decided there was the need to offer their services on a business level.

“There are a couple of people in Tasmania who are artisan blacksmiths, but there is not a whole lot who do practical stuff,” Wensley said.

“No one is really doing it as a commercial business.

“We make stuff that people can’t buy.”

“We make stuff that people can’t buy.”

Their jobs come in all shapes and sizes.

On one side of the studio are architectural cornices.

“There’s a big house at Avoca that is being restored,” Wensley said, explaining that they were provided with one of the original cornices to mould and recreate.

“We do a fair bit of work for Victorian-era houses, people who are renovating them and you just can’t buy those pieces anymore.”

At the other end of the scale, an in-progress sculpture takes up the floor of the studio.

The guys were given a loose direction from the client, to create a sculpture piece using three old wheels.

Then, in the corner, is a prototype smoker, made out of an old beer keg.

Being such an ancient craft, Wensley and Edmondson have the era-appropriate tools to match.

This includes a shaping machine that’s more than 100 years old, which served its time in Australia’s history.

“It was made in about the late 1800s to early 1900s, in Sydney, ” Wensley said.

“It was part of the Lithgow arms factory, in World War II, it’s got all the tags still.”

But there are still some tools that they just can’t buy.

For example, they used the shaper to transform old railway sleepers into anvils for the blacksmith forge.

“We’ve gone ahead and made most of our gear,” Edmondson said.

“We’re making tools as we need them.”

“A lot of the tools that we want you can’t buy, or just don’t exist,” Wensley added.

This comes right down to the furnace, which they created themselves out of old gas bottles.

“It’s a learning curve,” Wensley said.

“We’ve had a few spectacular fails.”

But, each fail is a lesson learnt, they said, and they’re exploring every avenue to find out more about the craft.

“We’ve even found a few old guys who used to work in foundrys when they were young,” Edmondson said.