In the tough times of the eighteenth century, people had plenty of work to do. However, if you lived in eighteenth century America, you had a lot of work to do. Most raw materials and supplies came only on ships and were heavily taxed. Everyone in their community did their share of work in order to stay alive. Colonial trade was important in the economics of the colonies, and Americans saw many different trades in their communities. One of those trades, cutlery, was especially important.
Today, cutlery means utensils or tools for eating, but back then, cutlery meant a whole different type of thing. Since most foods were fingerfoods at that time, cutlers saw little use in making forks and spoons. Instead, they forged knives, ax blades, swords, lances, and things of that sort. They even made nail clippers and two-in-one blades! However, to make those things, you need skill and experience in the trade. Most cutlers got those skills from being an apprentice, or working at a trade without pay to see how a job gets done.
In eighteenth century New England, living in cities was rough, especially during the revolutionary war. Families usually contained four or more children, and money was tough to earn. People saw opportunity in different trades, and according to their interest in them and the job's difficulty, chose the one they thought would be the best for themselves and their family. People paid for food, clothing, tools, and supplies by exchanging their items for the things they wanted. If one person did not want the thing that a person offered, they would have to find another supplier. At the present time, people exchange money for goods and services, unlike the goods and services offered for them back in the day, although sometimes, it still happens.
To get supplies for a trade was tough in the beginning. For example, cutlers either had to mine their own iron and coal or purchase them from Europe.