Making a living from a small-scale metalworking depends on being able to make products that
customers want. So it is important to find out what people are looking for. It is also important
to make good quality items that will not fail, and it is important to get the price right.
This technical brief looks at some of the options when running a small-scale metal fabrication
workshop within developing countries.
Metal can be manipulated in a number of ways from casting, blacksmithing or forging to
machining and joining to produce all manner of tools and equipment.
Small scale metal workshops
In many developing countries much of the
metalworking takes place by the roadside in the
open. In Kenya this type of unofficial enterprise
is called Jua Kali which means in the sun shine
The Practical Action (formally known as ITDG)
Jua Kali Project was set up to work with small-
scale artisans in the informal sector to create
employment & income generating opportunities.
In many instances the equipment that these
workshops have available to them is limited. To
address this limited access to manufacturing
equipment Practical Action has set up tool hire
workshops that allows small-scale metal
workshops to use expensive equipment such as
lathes, drills, and milling machines
Figure 1: Kennedy Otieno repairing a
How to make metal products
sugar crusher for jaggery production.
Migori, Kenya Photo credit: Practical
Small-scale foundries often start by casting
aluminium as the temperatures required are
much lower. An outline of small scale casting in
developing countries is described in Metal
Casting: Appropriate Technology in the Small
Foundry by Steve Hurst, Practical Action Publishing.
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