Tradesman Charlie

IN a nod to medieval times, 14-year-old Charles (Charlie) Turner spends hours at his forge and makes tools and hardware for the townsfolk.

He is the modern day village smithy who at just 13 tried to study welding at TAFE but was turned down for being too young.

Charlie has been supplying his family farm with tools for the past two years and now he has a range of products at new store Double C Saddlery, under his brand name "Strike while the iron's hot". 

"I love metal," he shrugs.

He makes hoof picks, knives, candelabras, swords and he even made his own forge.

By reclaiming what others have thrown out, young Charlie has built himself a forge at the end of his parents' garden.

Each day after school he heads to his forge and makes his wares.

It's not what you would typically think a teenager would spend his days doing in 2014. But Charlie is far from typical. He does admittedly use the internet and is fond of Youtube, but he is most likely watching blacksmithing tutorials.

Charlie suffers from Irlen Syndrome which has made reading and writing difficult to grasp. He wears coloured lenses to help ease the burden and takes out his frustration on hot pieces of metal.

He works hard on the family farm to earn pocket money to buy supplies for his craft and can open a modern blacksmithing book to any page and turn his hand to the project in front of him.

His family have been behind him 100 per cent but they are not about to give him an easy ride. "He doesn't get anything unless he earns it," said mum Heather. 

Charlie first became fired up about blacksmithing when he visited Timbertown at Wauchope.

Watching blacksmith Doug create practical items using iron, anvil and a hammer lit some fire deep inside Charlie that only burns stronger with age. 

He loves what he does and is resourceful enough to be able to find most of the necessary components of his trade. Timber cut offs to make knife handles, council pick up for bibs and bobs including his gas forge and old horse shoes from friends. 

Charlie is currently saving for a large anvil - something he has struggled to source by more thrifty means.

Charlie Turner 14 in his homemade Forge

Charlie Turner 14 in his homemade Forge

A collection of Charlie's products at Double C Saddlery Australia in Wingham

A collection of Charlie's products at Double C Saddlery Australia in Wingham

There has been much help along the way, not least the "brilliant" neighbours who are patient with the antics next door; younger sister Emily who plans to be a journalist has written about her brother and inspired this article; and local craftsmen who have been generous with their time and tools.

But it is Charlie's dad who is apparently the greatest advocate and harshest critic. It would seem the Turners are shaping their children as capably as young Charlie is shaping his future in the metal trades.

His sister Emily's story:

"Strike while the iron's hot" is about a boy's obsession with iron. Before grinders, welders and gas torches were around, forges, anvils and hammers were the thing to bend the iron. A 13 year old boy was inspired by a tormenting black smith at timber town, who was forging a leaf for him. His journey started with knifes then fire pokers and racks, now he is starting to sell his passion but he still makes things for his friends.