Chin Sim, 68, is one of the last blacksmiths in Malacca. He learnt the trade when he was 12 and is still working despite his loss of hearing due to the loud sound of constant hammering of metals. Heating the metal have also scarred his hands. Working at Jalan Tukang Besi, he makes metal tools and repairs and polishes knives for butchers and fishmongers.
“The shop next to mine also used to be a smithy too, run by two brothers,” Chin gestured to a shuttered shop on his left. Looking up from the street level, this writer could see the old structure’s roof falling to pieces.
Chin was 12 years old when he started learning the blacksmith’s trade from his great-grandfather Chin Wing Lee, whose name is on the board hanging above the small smithy’s entrance.
These days, Chin runs his smithy just to fill his days, as none of his brother’s children are interested in taking up the trade.
“People still come to me with jobs, such as this chopper which I’m grinding now to give it its edge,” the smith gestured at the billhook he had been grinding with a power tool.
His forge is a small affair, suitable for making small items. Not surprisingly, his customers’ requests are commonly for items such as the billhook, kitchen knife or parang, which can be easily forged.
It’s a far cry from the time when he and his predecessors helped forge ships’ anchor chains on the 100-year-old anvil, which, Chin claims, was imported from England by way of Singapore.
Address: Jalan Tukang Besi, Melaka