S-hooks have long been a household staple because they are so handy for hanging things. From hanging plants to pots and pans, S-hooks are a simple solution to many problems. Blacksmiths made S-hooks in Colonial and Frontier times for use in barns and stables. The design is simple and elegant; read on to learn more.
The technological developments that resulted in the Iron Age took many years. Metallurgy was a difficult and dangerous science, but by the twelfth century B.C., the Iron Age was beginning in Greece, Persia and India. With new techniques for working metal, smiths were able to forge more sophisticated tools, weapons, and household objects. In Yangtze, China, forged metal objects have been found dating back to the sixth century B.C. S-hooks became an important household tool in the nineteenth century.
S-hooks are versatile and can be used to hang many items. One end of the S-hook can hook over a wire or board and the free end of the S-hook can hold something else. Particularly, women in the nineteenth century used different sizes of S-hooks to hold their cooking pots above fires. S-hooks were used as burner dials are used today: short s-hooks for simmering (because they held pots higher above the fire), long s-hooks for boiling (because the pot was closer to the flames).
Today, there are many types of S-hooks, but they all have the same shape. Some are long and slender, some are shorter and thick. S-hooks can be made of wrought iron, galvanized steel, stainless steel, bronze or any other type of robust metal. They can also be plated with a variety of metals such as nickel, zinc and chrome.
In the nineteenth century, blacksmith apprentices usually spent their first several months blowing the large billows to heat the fire in the forge. This was difficult but necessary work, and because it was unskilled labor, apprentices were perfect for the job. Also, from the vantage point of the billows, an apprentice could watch a skilled blacksmith and learn from him. When an apprentice was finally allowed to make something by himself, an S-hook was usually his first project. An S-hook is relatively easy to make but teaches the process of smithing and allows the apprentice to make a useful, salable object.
Some S-hooks, particularly those designed for use on playgrounds, are bendable enough to be altered using an S-hook tool. This tool looks like a pair of gardening loppers and is strong enough to open or close S-hooks. This type of tool is especially useful if you are hanging swings with an S-hook.