In my last trip, I had the opportunity to meet Uncle Sobri who is currently working full time as a blacksmith. Uncle Sobri has his own shed which he shares with some other blacksmith. I was pretty amazed at the amount and variety of machinery he has. Although the place can be quite rickety, you can see that a lot has happened there. Some tools are really worn out and I am sure have been used very very well.
Uncle Sobri mainly makes rubber tapping knives now, as he needs to make something that is able to sell . However, all the rubber tapping knives he makes are sent further north like Baling and Betong, as Kedah itself does not have much rubber plantations anymore. According to Uncle Sobri, most have converted to Palm Oil.
Uncle Sobri making Rubber tapping knives
When I dropped by on the second day of fasting, i did not see anyone else working, but Uncle Sobri. He was hammering his rubber tapping knives in his simple forge and anvil , tucked in one corner of his shed. He was gracious enough to take a short break and show me the shed and it’s surroundings.
The shed is pretty well equipped , and there are at least 3-4 furnaces , and about 8 power hammers and about 10 anvils scattered around . All are in working order except for one power hammer which has been dismantled for servicing, and a few other small machines where parts have been stolen. Sadly, not many are used anymore, as the youngsters prefer to work in the factories now.
One of the power hammers And an even older one
Some machines I noticed were bench grinders, a small wood lathe machine ( probably unused for 10 years ) , metal cutting machinery , hydraulic press, circular saw and many more. I’d say this shack is pretty well equip. Only problem is there is no one using it.
Anvils and more anvils
Waking around the shed, you can really see that this place has been used very well. According to Uncle Sobri, this shed was used by his late father. At that time, blacksmithing was one of the main industries in Pekan Darat , and this place was bustling with activities. He said then, youngsters would come over after school and work at the forge for some pocket money, as well as to learn the tricks of the trade. Even the womenfolk would sharpen newly made knives and parangs in front of their houses for a few ringgit.
Uncle Sobri with a kacip.
Uncle Sobri’s small workspace , with the furnace ahead and anvil on the left.
Below is one section of the shed that really amazes me. This section is where they clamp the rubber tapping knife to be ground down . Check out the amount of metal shavings! It looks like a huge pile of sand and even like a sculpture . They must have not cleaned this place for ages, and I’m sort of glad actually. Even the wooden bench used to clamp the rubber tapping knives is very worn out. Try and count the number of nails holding it together and you should be able to guess it’s age!
The sharpening / grinding section
The clamping bench
Just about 2 meters away from Uncle Sobri’s workspace, there is another shed with another blacksmith. Unfortunately, when I was there, he was not around and I did not get the chance to meet him. From what I understand, this guy does make parangs . So i hope to come again soon and get some made up. I’m keen to see if he can make some nice and good pieces.
Another workshop just nearby
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